Categories: WikiTree Help | Profile Improvement Project | Styles and Standards

This page offers recommendations and best practices for creating and editing the text/narrative section of a profile.

After clicking on the Edit tab of any profile where you are on the Trusted List or that is otherwise Open for editing, you will see a space labeled "Edit Text". Text entered in this space becomes the narrative that appears below the vital statistics (name, birth, marriage, death, etc.) on the profile page. This is your opportunity to put flesh on the bones of ancestors and invite collaboration from members of the WikiTree community who share your interest in or relationship to the person.


What is the purpose of the narrative?

At its most basic, the purpose of the narrative is to tell the story of your ancestor, by providing more detail about the vital statistics, including explanations and information about where you got the information (source citations).

The narrative can also be used to describe anything else you think would help a reader understand the person or that would help someone else who may be researching the same family or a family with similar characteristics. For example, when and/or why the spelling of a surname changed.

What information should be included?

The narrative of each person will be unique, but it should always be easy to read and understand — clear, concise and well organized. Toward that end, keep the following principles in mind when writing the narrative:

Simple Narrative

If you have limited information, you may only need two sections:

Simple Sample

Longer Narrative

When you have a significant amount of information, consider breaking the narrative into subsections. Subheaders might include, but not be limited to:

== Biography ==
=== Origins === (or Disputed Origins if confusion about parentage exists)
=== Early Life ===
=== Family ===
=== Occupation ===
=== Death & Legacy ===
=== Timeline === (example)
== Research Notes ==
== Sources ==
== Acknowledgements==

If the narrative is particularly long, it's recommended that you include a one or two paragraph summary. This should be above the Biography heading and should not have a subheader of its own.

Ideally, you should include a source citation for every fact included in the narrative. Be sure to note when a fact is disputed or when there is contradictory information.

Help the reader navigate WikiTree by linking to profiles of other individuals you reference in the narrative, such as parents, siblings, spouses and children.

If you have photos, consider scanning then uploading them and attaching them to the profile.

Include categories, if appropriate.

Always be mindful of the privacy of living individuals.

Longer Sample

See also: Bio_Ideas

Where can I find more examples?

Here are some examples of different ways people have fleshed out narratives:

  1. Summarize census data, transcribe the contents of a will or obituary: example.
  2. Document the research that has been done on this ancestor, perhaps highlighting missing or disputed facts or sources: example.
  3. Document the case for or against a particular interpretation of facts: example.

Other examples:

How do I format the text of my narrative?

WikiTree uses "wiki mark-up" tags for formatting text that appears in profiles. But you don't need to know them. Each narrative text box has a set of buttons at the top for making words bold, italicized, underlined, and for adding links to other web pages. More editing tips.

How should I edit a narrative that's already been created?

All profiles for persons born more than 200 years ago are Open and can be edited by any member of the WikiTree community who has signed the Honor Code. To edit "younger" profiles, you need to be on the Trusted List for that profile.

You should not hesitate to improve upon a biography that someone else has started. Collaborative editing is what a wiki is all about. That said, it's a good idea to be sensitive to other contributors. Please see Communication Before Editing.

Always feel free to eliminate data that does not add information about, or specific context to, the profiled individual, such as program specific information generated by an uploaded GEDCOM. See GEDCOM-created biographies.

Always feel free to delete and integrate duplicative content left from past merges.

Note that all changes made to any profile are tracked and may be viewed through the Changes tab. This is great for when you may accidentally remove something important or want to see the history of the contributions made by others.

This page was last modified 15:06, 23 May 2017. This page has been accessed 254 times.