Basic PmWiki editing rules

See also Wiki Styles Plus for a variety of styled callouts and other features.

The pages on this site are WikiWikiWeb 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.

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. Put a blank line between paragraphs.
  2. To make a list, start each line with # for numbered (ordered) lists or * for bulleted (unordered) lists.
  3. To make a heading, start a line with two or more ! marks; !! is a subheading, and !!! is a sub-subheading.
  4. To emphasize text, enclose it in 2 or 3 single quotes; ''text'' for italics or '''text''' for bold.
  5. To make a link to another page, enclose the page's name in double brackets; for example [[basic editing]] links to this page. Links to nonexistent pages are displayed specially, to invite others to create the page.
  6. To make a link to another site, type its address, such as .
  7. To place an image, simply include the URL to that image. See the Images documentation for more details on controlling image size and layout.
  8. Special characters can be entered as HTML W3C character codes (e.g. · (·) | © (©) | ° (°) | µ (µ) | Å (Å) | ± (±)). See SpecialCharacters for more information.
  9. See the Shortcuts that are provided for easier editing of scientific data.

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

To delete a page from the Wiki (please do not do this lightly!), edit the page and select the entire contents of the page. Replace the entire page with the word 'delete' (no caps) and hit save. This will remove the page altogether — only do this if you really mean it!


The table below demonstrates many of the common markups used to format pages. The right column shows the effect of the markup, the left column shows what to write to achieve the effect. 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

General Usage

What to type

What it looks like

An empty line

starts a new paragraph.

A single newline
usually doesn't affect the layout.
Use two backslashes
to break a line.

Use three backslashes

for two line breaks.

A single backslash joins the next line to the previous one.


  • lists are created by using asterisks
    • more asterisks produce deeper lists
      • the list is terminated

by the first line that is not a list

  1. Numbered lists
  2. are also possible
    1. more hashes produced deeper lists
      • and lists can nest
use list styles to maintain numbering
  1. Text between list items can cause numbering to restart
  2. this can be dealt with
An arrow (->) indents content.
Line up text to continue the indent.
Longer arrows (-->) indent further.
A reverse arrow (-<) creates a hanging indent, the first line is outdented and remaining lines are indented.
Longer reverse arrows (--<) indent further.
Definition list
list of definitions
the item's definition
another item
that item's definition
more leading colons produce deeper lists
 Lines that begin with
 a space are formatted exactly
 as typed, in a fixed-width font.

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

This text floats to the right

This text floats to the right with a frame

This text is centered.

This text is right justified.

Four or more dashes
at the beginning of a line

produce a horizontal line.


What to type

What it looks like

  • Text in double brackets become links to other pages.
  • Words are automatically capitalized in page titles.

Practice editing
in the wiki sandbox.

  • When linking to a page in a different wikigroup, provide the group name, followed by a separator, and then the page name.
  • If the separator you use is a slash, only the page name will appear.
  • If the separator you use is a dot, the full string (group name and page name) will appear.

Practice editing
in the WikiSandbox.

Which one?
Oh, in the Main.WikiSandbox.

  • Text after a pipe (|) is used as the link text, or use the alternate (and perhaps more understandable) arrow (text -> link) notation.
  • PmWiki adds capitalisation to links

Practice editing in the
practice area.

Practice editing in the
practice area.

Practice editing in the
practice area.

Advanced tables are described in table directives.

  • Endings become part of the link text.
  • Parentheses hide parts of the link name.

Practice editing in the
wiki sandboxes.

Practice editing in the

  1. as reference: [1]
  2. to a page title Basic PmWiki editing rules
  • PmWiki can use InterMap prefixes that have specific meanings.
  • Parentheses can hide those too.

What's an aardvark, anyway?

Links to external sources can be entered

  1. bare url:
  2. link text: Google
  3. as reference: [1]

Links can open in another window,
as in

Character formatting

What to type

What it looks like

  • These are all apostrophes (single-quote marks), not double-quotes.

Emphasize, strongly,
very strongly.

Monospaced text

This is a
    text block
  • Text with superscripts
  • Text with subscripts
  • deleted strikethrough text
  • inserted underline text
  • big, bigger text
  • small, smaller text

Wiki styles

WikiStyles allow text
to be in
different colors.

Headings and blocks

What to type

What it looks like

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

Major Subheading

Major Subheading With Smaller Text

Minor Subheading

And More


Page titles

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

The title of this page is Basic PmWiki editing rules, spaced as Basic PmWiki editing rules.

Block styles

  • blocks allow styles to be applied across a number of lines and paragraphs of text and images.

All of the text in this block
is purple.

  • Purple cows and purple flowers
  • Purple people eater
  • Now this list is red
  • and this text is centered
  • and this text is green and right justified
  • And this is normal

<< Introduction | Documentation Index | Creating new pages >>

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 bottom of the page (they are called WikiTrails) 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 on my wiki pages?

Use character codes to insert special characters, such as Copyright (©) and Trademark (® or ™) symbols, that don't appear on your keyboard.

Why are separate lines of text in the markup combined into a single line on output?

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. However, an author can use the (:linebreaks:) directive to cause separate lines of markup text to be kept as separate lines in the output.

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 PmWikiPhilosophy and PmWiki:Audiences. Basically, Pm feels that enabling HTML markup within wiki pages in a collaborative environment has the effect of excluding some potential authors from being able to edit pages, as well as posing a number of display and security issues. However, a site administrator can use the Cookbook:EnableHTML recipe to enable the use of HTML markup directly in pages.

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