WikiProject Short descriptions
ShortcutsWP:WPSHORTDESC, WT:WPSHORTDESC (talk)
CategoriesWikiProject Short descriptions, Pages with short description
Project banner template((WikiProject Short descriptions))
Has goals?Populate all articles with short descriptions, and improve existing descriptions

This is a project to populate all Wikipedia mainspace articles with a suitable short description, and to improve existing descriptions.

State of the project[edit]

There are a total of 6,848,116 content pages in the main namespace, of which 358,960 are disambiguation pages.

Out of 6,489,156 articles — 5,538,243 have a short description and 950,913 do not have a short description.

5,538,243 / 6,489,156

85.346% complete

This search finds all articles that have had the ((short description)) template added. The remaining descriptions are generated by infoboxes or other templates.

Recent progress
Approximate statistics since July 2020
Date Articles with
short descriptions
Total number of articles
(including disambiguation pages)
Percentage of articles
with short descriptions
8 July 2020 1,100,000 6,115,000 18.0%
29 December 2020 1,440,000 6,215,000 23.2%
15 April 2021 2,027,000 6,282,000 32.3%
19 October 2021 2,478,000 6,396,000 38.7%
12 November 2021 3,791,000 6,406,000 59.2%
15 February 2022 4,009,000 6,452,000 62.1%
23 May 2022 4,364,000 6,503,000 67.1%
3 January 2023 4,781,930 6,597,400 72.5%
25 September 2023 5,096,525 6,719,582 75.8%
25 October 2023 5,136,243 6,734,013 76.3%
25 December 2023 5,213,928 6,761,907 77.1%
28 January 2024 5,263,307 6,775,839 77.7%
25 February 2024 5,315,618 6,788,970 78.3%
25 March 2024 5,356,339 6,802,440 78.7%
25 April 2024 5,405,531 6,816,669 79.3%
27 May 2024 5,477,532 6,827,883 80.2%
25 June 2024 5,517,348 6,840,932 80.7%

Note: The article counts prior to March 2023 are rounded values taken from Size of Wikipedia: The data set.

See checklists of current progress.

Progress in biographies

1,800,567 / 2,100,132

85.726% complete — Last updated: 24 June 2024

Why help to make sure that all articles have a short description?[edit]

Short descriptions appear in Wikipedia mobile and some desktop searches, and help users identify the desired article. When viewing an article, some mobile Wikipedia Apps also display the description below the page title.

Articles that are lacking a short description appear in search result lists simply by their titles, with no annotation. If all titles were self-evidently clear, it would be immediately obvious which one relates to the article of interest, but very often that is not the case. Titles alone can be ambiguous or otherwise not comprehensible to non-specialist readers, as well as to readers who are not fluent speakers of English.

How to write a short description[edit]

Main page: Wikipedia:Short description

The easiest way to add and edit short descriptions on desktop is to make use of Shortdesc helper. Alternatively, in the source code editor insert the short description template to the very top of the page, above all other article headers and templates. The format to use is ((Short description|Your short description here)).

If a short description would be redundant you can use "none", thus: ((Short description|none)). See WP:SDNONE.

Adding and editing short descriptions[edit]

Short descriptions can be added and edited using the standard wiki markup editor (edit source), but it is often easier to enable Short description helper in Preferences | Gadgets, in the Editing section.

Editing using the Shortdesc helper gadget

Editing with shortdesc helper

If the article currently has no short description, you will see a message to that effect. Click on Add, type in a new short description (or drag and drop from the article text, editing as appropriate), then Save. If a short description already exists you can Edit it, or click on Export to push the text, as-is, to Wikidata.

If Wikipedia has no short description, but there is an existing Wikidata description, you have the option to Import the Wikidata text as-is into Wikipedia (not generally recommended), or to Import and Edit (preferred).

A cogwheel icon that appears after you click Edit provides various usage options. By default, adding a short description to a Wikipedia article also adds the description to Wikidata if missing there. This can be changed in the settings. To edit a short description that is already on Wikidata, click on one of the links (not shown in this example) in the Wikidata item description or Q-number to open the item at Wikidata.

Difference in formatting conventions:

When a description does not yet exist on Wikidata and a new short description is supplied all in lower case, Shortdesc helper sends the text in lower case to Wikidata while simultaneously formatting the short description correctly in Sentence case for the Wikipedia page. However, when exporting a modified short description to Wikidata it is necessary to go to Wikidata and manually edit the description there to change the first uppercase letter to lower case.

Shortdesc helper will provide a standardised edit summary describing the edit. A custom edit summary can be added using the "summary" button.

Other useful scripts

What if I want to see the text that is used on Wikidata?

Wikidata maintains its own texts which are not linked in any way with Wikipedia short descriptions (although Short description helper can display the Wikidata text to help editors construct a suitable description for Wikipedia). Wikipedia page Short descriptions and Wikidata item descriptions serve different purposes and are not required to be the same. If you want to view the Wikidata item description, you can:

Neither the Wikidata item description nor the Wikipedia short description should give a definition of the subject covered by the article; see WP:SDNOTDEF and Wikidata:Help:Description#Descriptions are not definitions for more details.

Auto-generated and bot-generated descriptions[edit]

As the short description is article content, any bot or template generated short description may be overridden with a better short description by an editor. If there is a dispute about whether the new description is better, discuss on the article's talk page. If the lead section of the article is so confused that it is not possible to work out what the article is about, leave an appropriate maintenance tag or, if you can, fix it yourself.

Auto-generated from infoboxes and other templates

See also: Category:Templates that generate short descriptions

Already done

This list is incomplete; you can help by adding missing items.
Template Approximate number of articles
((Disambiguation page short description)) 348,368
((Infobox settlement)) 554,768
((Infobox Australian place)) 15,236
((Infobox element)) 334
((Infobox number)) 404
((Infobox musical artist)) 120,036
((Infobox musical interval)) 42
((Day)) 365
((Year nav)) 2,751
((Given name)) 17,619
((Surname)) 64,930
((Infobox museum)) 3000–4000 / 10,105 (when Type includes one of: Museum / Hall / Gallery / Center)
((Infobox hospital)) 6,162
((Infobox church)) 14,365
((Infobox television episode)) 11,397
((Year nav topic)) 6,997
((Infobox album)) 160,085
((Infobox professional wrestling team)) 651
((Infobox kana)) 57
((Infobox dam)) 5,500
((Infobox Unicode block)) 338
((Infobox Doctor Who episode)) 479
((Infobox radio station)) 21,685
((Humorous essay)) 226
((Wikipedia how-to)) 328
((Infobox football club season)) 19,446
((Infobox NRHP)) 72,000
((Infobox professional wrestling event series)) 227
((Infobox royalty)) 21,000
((Infobox rugby club season)) 108
((Infobox television station)) 3,700
((Infobox UK place)) 25,000
((Information page)) ? / 354
((Infobox song)) Some portion of 70,000
((Infobox sports season)) 5,200
((Infobox video game)) 27,000
((Infobox NFL biography)) 21,000
((Infobox baseball team season)) 3,219

To do next

Name # of articles total # without short description
((Infobox book)) 51,000 14,800
((Infobox station)) 55,000 9,800
((Infobox mountain)) 28,000 9,000
((Infobox election)) 30,300 7,360
((Infobox military installation)) 9,600 4,800
((Infobox religious building)) 12,000 3,800
((Infobox sports competition event)) 11,500 3,100
((Infobox locomotive)) 4,700 2,800
((Infobox planet)) 4,600 2,400
((Infobox play)) 4,100 1,200
((Infobox RNA family)) 1,200 900
((Infobox artist discography)) 5,700 700

Bot-generated

Templates and modules

Templates and modules that are useful for this/created for helping with short descriptions:

Can I use the Wikidata text if it is good?[edit]

Yes, but only if it complies with the guidance at WP:SDFORMAT, including the length recommendation (the vast majority of short descriptions are shorter than 40 characters). If it is good, you can copy it to Wikipedia in one click using the helper gadget, or choose to edit the text beforehand. There is no legal issue with copying, as all Wikidata texts are in the public domain.

Can I use a bot to copy over text from Wikidata?[edit]

No. The idea of bulk-importation from Wikidata has been rejected in an RFC. Wikidata texts are often not suitable as they are not subject to Wikipedia's policies, and have a different purpose.

Which articles can I work on?[edit]

Start with topics where you are sufficiently familiar to be able to write a good short description. If you run out, do anything that you are confident you can handle. If in doubt, leave it out. When dealing with biographies, follow the WP:BLP policy scrupulously. Don't add a date of birth unless it is properly sourced in the article.

How do I find articles with no short description?[edit]

The search parameter -hastemplate:"Short description" identifies articles that do not have the template ((short description)).

You can simply use the input box below:

What should I do about a bad short description?[edit]

((subst:Uw-longsd)) can be used to warn editors who continually add very long short descriptions (documentation here). You can also write a personalized message addressing the problem, which may be more effective or appropriate in some cases.

Join the project[edit]

Add your signature to the bottom of the list of project members.

Userbox[edit]

Add ((User Short descriptions)) to your user page to be included in Category:WikiProject Short descriptions participants. The userbox looks like this:

This user is a participant in WikiProject Short descriptions.

You can also display a top icon as well, by adding ((Short descriptions topicon)) anywhere in your user page.

Tracking categories[edit]

Counts of different types of pages having short descriptions

Categories for this project

Counts of Short description vs. Wikidata

Counts of modules/templates that create short descriptions

Maintenance categories[edit]

Maintenance category to identify problems with the template parameters

Maintenance categories to list pages with descriptions over 100 characters

Issues with Short descriptions

Database reports[edit]

Category tree[edit]

To display all subcategories click on the "►":

Monthly checks[edit]

Discussions[edit]

Previous and current discussions on English WP short description and WikiData descriptions

Note: Template talk:Short description redirects to Wikipedia talk:Short description

Discussions related to short descriptions
When Where What
2017-03-27 Administrators' noticeboard Hard to detect mobile vandalism
2017-03-28 Village pump (technical) Discussion at ANI about Wikidata use in mobile view
2017-03-30 Village pump (proposals) RFC Remove description taken from Wikidata from mobile view of en-WP — 2017-03-30 Withdrawn
2017-03-30 Village pump (proposals) Blockers to having short description on mobile
2017-11-09 Template talk Some history and explanation of this template for those without the time or inclination to read the full discussion
2017-12-08 Village pump (proposals) RFC Populating article descriptions magic word
2018-02-07 Wikipedia talk 2018 State of affairs - Short descriptions
2018-02-17 Manual of Style talk (position of) Short descriptions (in articles)
2018-04-14 Template talk Infobox settlement - short descriptions
2019-04-13 Manual of Style talk Where to put ((short_description))
2020-05-15 Village pump (WMF) Update: Scheduled shutdown of Wikidata descriptions on EnWiki
2020-08-03 WikiData Pi bot 14 — Import short descriptions from the English Wikipedia (bot task to copy English WP short descriptions to WikiData) Green tickY 2020-10-20
2020-08-03 Wikipedia talk Copying short descriptions to Wikidata — Reference to Pi bot 14 / Pi bot 5
2020-08-03 Wikipedia Bot Requests Pi bot 5 — Synchronise short descriptions with Wikidata (bot task to copy all WikiData descriptions to English WP) — 2020-09-15 Denied
2020-08-06 Village pump (proposals) RFC Synchronising short descriptions and Wikidata descriptions — 2020-09-05 Closed No
2020-08-07 WikiProject talk + RfC on bot-importing short descriptions to and from Wikidata — Reference to the above
2020-08-07 WikiProject talk Bot proposal to create short descriptions from scratch
2020-08-07 Wikipedia talk + Report-assisted importing of short descriptions — Reference to the above
2021-07-20 Redirects for discussion Proposal to delete the 7 Aliases for Short description template — 2021-07-29 closed as Clear consensus to delete the first 5 — 4 deleted

Phabricator tickets[edit]

Some of the Phabricator tickets related to short descriptions
Opened Ticket Title Closed
2018-01-03 T184000 Magic word on English WP to override display of Wikidata short description 2018-04-09
2018-05-04 T193857 Support 'noreplace' keyword in ((SHORTDESC)) 2018-07-02
2020-03-25 T248457 Fully terminate use of Wikidata item descriptions as short article descriptions for English Wikipedia articles 2023-01-29
2020-06-30 T256817 [EPIC] Replace Wikidata descriptions on enwiki with local descriptions — Parent to T257486, T257488 and others 2022-01-28
2020-07-08 T257486 Switch search to use local descriptions on enwiki 2021-04-26
2020-07-08 T257488 Adding/editing descriptions should modify the local article, not Wikidata 2021-04-26
2020-07-13 T257867 Adding/editing descriptions should modify the local article, not Wikidata — iOS task 2021-04-26
2020-08-04 T259617 Article description editing API — Overview of managing local descriptions
2020-08-04 T259622 System Administrator disables Wikidata fallback for article descriptions — Live on 2020-10-13
2020-08-25 T261237 Update terminology for "Article Descriptions" to match across feature — iOS app 2021-04-26
2020-09-03 T261977 Add tool tip for editing Wikidata descriptions in the iOS app 2021-04-26
2020-09-21 T263493 Reader gets appropriate article short description in search results — REST API — Live on 2020-10-13
(First direct display of Short descriptions on desktop skins)
2020-10-19
2021-04-08 T279702 Suggestededit-add_1.0 is suggesting bad short descriptions on en.WP; short description feature should be disabled until fixed 2022-04-21
2021-08-18 T289214 Switch to OOUI TitleInputWidget for the link-inserter in WikiEditor — Live on 2021-10-14 2021-11-08
2021-12-09 T297341 Brand-new editors are still being guided to adding terrible short descriptions on en.WP (follows on from T279702)