Basic PmWiki editing rules

authors (basic)

The pages on this site are wiki-based pages, which means that pages can be created and edited by multiple authors. To edit a page, click the Edit link that exists somewhere on the page, usually in the header or footer. Some pages may be password-protected, depending on the system's security policies, but many systems allow open editing of pages.

PmWiki is not WYSIWYG - When editing a page, you see the markup text that describes the content of the page. The basic rules for page markup are simple:

  1. Use a blank line to start a new paragraph more.
  2. To make a list, start each line with # for numbered (ordered) lists or * for bulleted (unordered) lists more.
  3. To make a heading, start a line with two or more ! marks; !! is a subheading, and !!! is a sub-subheading more.
  4. To emphasize text, enclose it in 2 or 3 single quotes; ''text'' for italics or '''text''' for bold more.
  5. To make a link to another page, enclose the page's name in double brackets; for example [[basic editing]] links to this page.
  6. To make a link to another site, type its address, such as [[]]. Email links must have "mailto:" before such as

If you want to experiment with editing a page, try it on the Wiki Sandbox. You can edit the Wiki Sandbox without affecting anything important on this site. On talk pages and discussions, it's courteous to sign your contribution; using ~~~ effectively 'signs' the name that you provide in the Author field on the Page Edit form.

Examples of common markups

The tables below demonstrate many of the common markups used to format pages. The left column shows what to write to achieve the effect, the right column shows the effect of the markup. More details are available from the text formatting rules and other documentation pages. An exhaustive list of default markup is available as the markup master index.

Paragraphs and line breaks

What to type

What it looks like

Consecutive lines will be merged together as part of the same paragraph.

One or more empty lines will start a new paragraph.

Two backslashes at the end of a line
force a line break.

Or use this markup:
to force a break.

Further reading:

  • text formatting rules for more information on linebreaks, indented or hanging paragraphs.
  • wiki styles for centered or right justified paragraphs and "floating" text (boxes), borders and much more.


Start each line with # for numbered (ordered) lists or * for bulleted (unordered) lists:

  • Bullet list
  • Another item
    • More asterisks produce sub-items
    • etc.
  1. Numbered lists
  2. Another item
    1. more hashes produce sub-items
  1. List types
  2. can be mixed
    • numbered list with unordered sub-list

Learn more about lists (including definition lists) and list styles.


Headings are useful for creating a "well-structured" page. They're not just for making big text.

What to type

What it looks like

Major Subheading

Minor Subheading

And More


Text emphasis

To emphasize, enclose text in apostrophes (single-quote marks), not double-quotes.

What to type

What it looks like

Emphasize (italics), strong (bold), very strong (bold italics).


To make a link to another page, enclose the page's name in double square brackets.

What to type

What it looks like

Practice editing in the wiki sandbox

Note that words are automatically capitalized in page titles. The link above links to the page WikiSandbox.

Text after a pipe (|) is used as the link text:

Practice editing in the practice area.

Endings become part of the link text, parentheses hide parts of the link name:

wiki sandboxes.


When linking to a page in a different WikiGroup, provide the group name, followed by a separator, and then the page name:

Main.Wiki Sandbox shows group + name

Wiki Sandbox shows only name

Links to external sites

bare url:

link text: PmWiki home

Links as reference to external sites

bare url:

link text: [1]

Colons make InterMap (also called InterWiki) links to other wikis:

What's an Wikipedia:aardvark, anyway?

Links to nonexistent pages? are displayed specially, to invite others to create the page.

PmWiki supports more link types and a lot of display options, see Links to learn more.

Escape sequence

If you don't want Wiki markup to be processed, but lines reformatted use [= =]. Can also be used inline.

markup is ''not'' processed but lines are reformatted

Preformatted text

Preformatted text is displayed using a monospace font and not generating linebreaks except where explicitly indicated in the markup.

Note that very long lines of preformatted text can cause the whole page to be wide.

For preformatted text with markup (e.g. emphasis) being processed, start each line with a space:

 Lines that begin with a space
 are formatted    exactly    as typed
 in a fixed-width font.

If you don't want Wiki markup to be processed, use [@ @]. Can also be used inline.

Text escaped this way has
the HTML ''code'' style

You can also use the escape sequence preceded with a space on the first line.

 The   '''escape sequence''',
preceded by space(s) on the first line,
is    rendered          preformatted.

You can enable code highlighting for preformatted blocks with recent PmWiki versions.

Horizontal line

Four or more dashes at the beginning of a line

produce a "horizontal rule"


Simple tables use double pipe characters to separate cells:

head 1head 2head 3
cell 1cell 2cell 3

See simple tables and advanced tables to learn more about the rich feature set of PmWiki tables.


See Images

Character formatting

What to type

What it looks like

  • Monospaced text
  • Text with superscripts
  • Text with subscripts
  • deleted strikethrough text
  • inserted underline text
  • big, bigger text
  • small, smaller text

Use WikiStyles to change the text color .

Page titles

The (:title:) directive sets the page's title to something other than its page name.

The name of this page is "BasicEditing", and its title is "Basic PmWiki editing rules".

Page description

  • The (:Description Page description here:) directive sets the page description. The description is used by search engines, and can be displayed in search results and in page lists.

The summary description of this page is "PmWiki's basic editing rules".

Page summary

The summary of this page is "PmWiki's basic edit syntax".

I'm new to PmWiki, where can I find some basic help for getting started?

The Basic Editing page is a good start. From there, you can just follow the navigational links at the top or the bottom of the page (they are called Wiki Trails) to the next pages, or to the Documentation Index page, which provides an outline style index of essential documentation pages, organized from basic to advanced.

How do I include special characters such as Copyright (©) and Trademark (® or ™) on my wiki pages?

See special characters on how to insert special characters that don't appear on your keyboard.

How can I preserve line-breaks from the source text?

PmWiki normally treats consecutive lines of text as being a paragraph, and merges and wraps lines together on output. This is consistent with most other wiki packages. An author can use the (:linebreaks:) directive to cause the following lines of markup text in the page to be kept as separate lines in the output. Or a wiki administrator can set in config.php $HTMLPNewline = '<br/>'; to force literal new lines for the whole site.

Can I just enter HTML directly?

By default (and by design), PmWiki does not support the use of HTML elements in the editable markup for wiki pages. There are a number of reasons for this described in the PmWiki Philosophy and Audiences. Enabling HTML markup within wiki pages in a collaborative environment may exclude some potential authors from being able to edit pages, and pose a number of display and security issues. However, a site administrator can use the Cookbook:Enable HTML recipe to enable the use of HTML markup directly in pages.

Where can I find more documentation?

See the documentation index and the markup master index pages.

This page may have a more recent version on PmWiki:BasicEditing, and a talk page: PmWiki:BasicEditing-Talk.

Page last modified on March 02, 2023, at 08:59 PM
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