Using Wikitext on the FamilySearch Wiki

Creating or adding to articles on the FamilySearch Wiki is easy but first time users probably aren’t familiar with wiki markup text.    Wiki markup text is a simple markup language that creates the tables, links, formatting and formatting we see on a published wiki page.  The code is interchangeably called wiki markup or wikitext by users and in help articles.  I refer to it as wikitext in the article.

Even though wikitext isn’t hard to learn, most users will use the WYSIWYG Rich Text editor to add information to articles.

FCK Editor

If you find instances where the editor won’t create the exact presentation you want on your wiki article, you’ll need to click on the ‘Disable’ rich text editor link and manually add the wiki markup commands required to create the display you envision.

A wikitext cheatsheet article has been created on FSWiki for reference that shows the most commonly used wikitext commands.  Bookmark it for future reference.


Another wikitext cheatsheet is found on Wikipedia.

Both the FamilySearch Research Wiki and Wikipedia are based on Mediawiki, which was initially developed for the Wikipedia site.

Wikipedia tells us that there isn’t a “commonly accepted standard wikitext language … but that it is dependent on the wiki software implemented on a wiki site.”

That statement is witnessed on the FSWiki.  Even though both FSWiki and Wikipedia use the same wiki engine, some of the wikitext code used on Wikipedia doesn’t work on FSWiki.  The same is true of some code with the latest release of Mediawiki on your own wiki site.  Most wiki sites have some wikitext differences due to the styles and controls they have implemented, but the basic wikitext commands are consistent on all sites.

Common wiki markup errors encountered on the FamilySearch wiki are:


  • Captions.  Users frequently wonder why captions under images don’t show after they’ve saved their wiki markup coding.  Under image captions only display on the FSWiki when they associated with an image frame or if the image is displayed as a thumb. .


  • Text treatments found in the latest release of Mediawiki don’t work on FSWiki due to stylistic controls.
  • Some examples of this are:
    • Superscript
      • This is <sup>Superscript</sup>
    • Subscript
      • This is <sub>Subscript</sub>
    • Small
      • <small>smaller text</small>
    • Big
      • <big>big text</big>


We are used to simply inserting tables into documents we create in word processing programs.


Creating them using the Rich Text Editor just as easy, but the ‘fancy’ tools in Word or other similar programs don’t exist in the basic Rich Text Editor.

if you have questions about the editor, refer to the Help;Adding basic tables to an article page for assistance and to the FCK Editor Users Guide for complete instructions.

Users can create articles using Microsoft Word and save it in MediaWiki format if they add the Microsoft Office Word Add-in for MediaWiki.  Once written, simply save them in Mediawiki format and paste the results into your wiki page article.

Another external solution is to use OpenOffice and add the OpenDocument Export Extension to it.  Once again, write your article and save or export it to wiki format.

Some of the above comments may appear to be warnings to novice wiki posters that they should never be able to post anything on the FS Wiki.  That interpretation simply isn’t true.  Everyone can easily create or update articles on the FS Wiki. Most posters don’t write articles that require any tool other than the Rich Text WYSIWYG editor used on the wiki.  If they do encounter problems or have questions, there are many users and assigned support missionaries who can help them resolve any formatting issue.

If you have genealogical research and general historical information that can be shared with the genealogy community and even as future reference for yourself, don’t hesitate to create an article on the wiki.   Confirm that the topic hasn’t already been covered or that if it is mentioned, hasn’t fully covered the subject before you start your own article.

Remember that the FS Wiki is not to record your family information, but is rather a research aid that provides general background information, topic specific knowledge and links to resources both on FamilySearch sites as well as the web in general.

If a modification is needed in an existing article, don’t hesitate to add to or correct it.

The wiki was created to help all genealogy researchers and is maintained and expanded by folks from all walks of life.  Join in and help create and maintain this excellent genealogy resource.

Update : 27 Mar 2012

I was just shown a document titled “New Wiki Contributors Training – Lesson 8 – Dated 06 Oct 2011 that was written by Lise Embly.  It is excellent and and should be read by any and all contributors to the FamilySearch Research Wiki.

Lise gives us in-depth information and the associated images about the Word Plugin and the use of  Open Office and Libre Office to create wiki pages.  It is Highly recommended reading.

Copyright (c) Lee Drew 2012-03-19 08:00:00
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About lineagekeeper

Family history research is a favored avenue of relaxation. It is a Sherlock-like activity that can continue almost anywhere at any time. By leveraging a lifetime involvement in technology, my research efforts have resulted in terabytes of ancestral data, earning me the moniker of Lineagekeeper. And yes - We are all related to Royalty.