This page describes how to write good content for Wikijunior. It is not intended to substitute for or contradict anything in the Wikibooks Manual of Style. Rather it is intended to clarify and help editors write for the intended audience of Wikijunior.
Think about Your Readers
First, think about your audience. Wikijunior books are for children. Children do not have the same interests or capabilities as adults. Also a twelve-year-old child has vastly different capabilities to process written information from a six-year-old child. Each book should discuss its intended audience including the specific age of the expected readership.
Think about the Whole Book
Remember that each individual article or chapter is part of a larger book. Use a writing style and format that is consistent with the rest of the book. Don't repeat information given in other articles or chapters.
The writing style you use should be simple and direct. Writing so that children can understand is very important. Write conversationally, as you would speak to another person. Write positively and with enthusiasm.
- Use active voice.
- For example: Write "The cat ate the bird." instead of "The bird was eaten by the cat."
- Use correct grammar and spelling.
- Keep sentences short. Break long sentences into smaller sentences.
Use common words whenever possible. Do not use big words when simpler language would work.
- Define uncommon words within the article itself, or in a glossary.
- Define technical vocabulary or jargon as it is used.
- Do not use slang, figures of speech or local idioms.
- Effective use of adjectives and adverbs make your writing more compelling.
- For example: In the sentence "She wept bitterly." the verb "wept" is intensified by the adverb "bitterly".
It is important that Wikijunior books are accurate. Wikijunior books should use Neutral Point of View (NPOV). This does not mean that all points of view need to be represented, just that no point of view is given undue weight. If there is a well-known controversy about a subject, simply mentioning that there is a controversy without going into detail may be appropriate.
If the book is about a science topic it should reflect scientific consensus. When you use words and phrases like “probably”, “might have”, and “experts think that”, give more information to explain why people think what they do. It's good to show the scientific method at work, theories being weighed based on evidence.
- For example: Instead of "Experts think Velociraptor had feathers.", you could say "Experts think that Velociraptor had feathers because related dinosaurs had them."
Sometimes it is necessary to simplify an idea to make it more understandable for children. If you can explain a concept with Newtonian physics, it's not necessary to explain it with quantum physics. However it is important that these simplifications be identified as such within the text.
Analogies can help young people understand complex or unusual concepts. When explaining a challenging concept, think about ways in which it is similar to something kids are likely to have experienced, and write that analogy.
Information to Include
Authors should concentrate on the most important concepts and interesting facts rather than writing about every minor detail. Keep individual articles and chapters concise. Include unique and interesting facts about the subject, facts that could strike the imagination of young readers.
Pictures and Diagrams
Children like books with pictures. Sometimes a photo can convey important and interesting facts about a subject that would be difficult to express in text. Use pictures to help explain ideas and illustrate the subject of the text frequently, whenever it makes sense. Pictures should illustrate what things look like. Captions should explain the photograph or diagram and also include some interesting information about the subject. For example:
- Instead of “A picture of a lion.” a better caption would be “A sleeping lion. Lions sleep up to 20 hours a day.”