An example of an infobox
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An infobox is a fixed-format table designed to be added to the top right-hand corner of articles to consistently present a summary of some unifying aspect that the articles share and sometimes to improve navigation to other interrelated articles. Many infoboxes also emit structured metadata which is used by DBpedia and others. The generalized infobox feature grew out of the original taxoboxes (taxonomy infoboxes) that editors developed to visually express the scientific classification of organisms.

The use of infoboxes is neither required nor prohibited for any article. Whether to include an infobox, which infobox to include, and which parts of the infobox to use, is determined through discussion and consensus among the editors at each individual article.

What infoboxes do

Infobox templates contain important facts and statistics of a type which are common to related articles. For instance, all animals have a scientific classification (species, family and so on), as well as a conservation status. Adding a ((taxobox)) to articles on animals therefore makes it easier to quickly find such information and to compare it with that of other articles.

Infobox templates are like fact sheets, or sidebars, in magazine articles. They quickly summarize important points in an easy-to-read format. However, they are not "statistics" tables in that they (generally) only summarize material from an article—the information should still be present in the main text, partly because it may not be possible for some readers to access the contents of the infobox. In particular, if infobox templates hide long columns of data inside collapsing tables, then readers using assistive technology may miss their presence entirely.

Many infoboxes also emit metadata such as microformats (see the microformats project).

What should an infobox contain?

In general, data in infobox templates should be:

What should an infobox not contain?

In general, data in infobox templates should not be:

Adding an infobox to an article

There are two steps required to add an infobox to an article:

  1. Locating the infobox
  2. Editing the article

Locating the infobox

In order to use an infobox in an article, an editor must know its name, parameters, and how those parameters are intended to be used. Because infoboxes are kept in a namespace separate from articles, it takes some effort to identify an infobox by name. Once the editor has the name, however, it is straightforward to look up the infobox's documentation.

There are two ways in which an editor typically locates which infobox he or she wants to use:

For example, the article D-Terminal contains an infobox. To determine which one, simply edit the article:

((Infobox connector
...
))

The "((Infobox connector" identifies the markup between the enclosing braces as a use of the "connector" infobox. The editor can look up the documentation for the template, including a list of parameters, in the Template namespace under Template:Infobox connector.

Editing the target article

In accordance with Wikipedia's Manual of Style, infoboxes should be placed at the top of an article after any disambiguation links and maintenance tags.

The infobox documentation page usually contains a convenient "blank" template that can be copied directly into the target article. The template consists of opening ((() and closing ())) double braces that contain the name of the infobox and a list of parameters without values. An editor then fills in the value for each of the parameters to the right of the corresponding equals sign.

For example:

((Infobox person
|name    =
|image   =
|caption =
...
|website =
))

might be filled out like this:

((Infobox person
|name    = Casanova
|image   = Casanova_self_portrait.jpg
|caption = A self portrait of  Casanova
...
|website =
))

In this example, the names of the parameters ("name", "image", "caption", "website") are fixed in the design of the infobox and described in its documentation. A parameter that is misspelled, falsely capitalized, or is not supported by the infobox implementation does not display at all. To find out exactly which parameters are functional, look at the infobox's template page. Anything not listed there will be ignored, even if it works in some other infobox. If you believe that another parameter needs to be added to a given infobox template, then suggest that on the infobox's talk page.

The infobox documentation describes which parameters are required and which are optional. Required parameters display between triple braces (for example, (({requiredparametername))}) when previewed or saved. Optional parameters may be left empty or omitted entirely.

Troubleshooting

If you added an infobox and it didn't display correctly, here are the common errors:

Adding an image to an infobox

Main page: Help:Infobox picture

Images are generally specified using the image and caption parameters. However, the template may use a different name for this parameter. For example, ((Infobox album)) uses "Cover" instead of "image" and "Caption" instead of "caption".

The image parameter sometimes requires the Wikipedia:Extended image syntax; other times it requires only the image file name depending on the tastes of the editor who created the infobox. An editor can determine this either by experimenting (using the "preview" function) or by consulting the infobox template documentation.

Many images in infoboxes should have a special text alternative for people who cannot see the image.

Designing an infobox

Main page: Help:Designing infoboxes

It is a good idea to seek the opinions of other editors before embarking on a design of a new infobox or redesign of an existing one. Most requirements are already met by an existing infobox and most of the remainder can be met with a tweak. Unnecessary duplication leads to clutter and article divergence. Prototype your new design in your own user space. Once prototyped, propose the infobox changes to the appropriate WikiProject and gain consensus before deploying your new design in the template namespace.

For detailed guidance on how to design infoboxes, see Help:Designing infoboxes.

Deleting an infobox

Requests to delete an infobox should be brought to the attention of Wikipedia:Templates for discussion and any WikiProjects associated with the infobox. A template may be merged with another rather than deleted outright.

See also