A file description page.

When you upload a file, it is placed on the server and a file description page is created. It is intended to provide information such as:

  • The description of the file and any other information relevant to the file, such as transcripts of its contents, intended usage, etc.
  • The origin of the file (author and source)
  • Licensing
  • Categorization
  • Additional technical information, such as other versions of the file

Note that files aren't limited to just images: Sound clips, videos, fonts, PDF documents and other file types that can be uploaded to the wiki all have description pages associated with them.

All files are placed in the File: namespace. Other terms include namespace 6 page or the deprecated image description page.

How do file description pages work?

The description page consists of four parts:

  1. The file itself (if it can be previewed, like image files) or a link to it (for eg. PDF documents)
    • When the file is an image, the description page will display it in its base resolution (if smaller than 1024px) or as a thumbnail 1024px wide (larger images). In the latter case, links to other sizes and the full resolution will be displayed below.
    • If a thumbnail is generated, the image might be subtly different, as thumbnails are generated by MediaWiki and optimized for the web.
  2. An "About" tab that contains:
    • An editable description of the file (see below for details)
    • A list of pages on which the file appears. This list only includes pages where the image is displayed. It does not include links to the file description page, or direct links to the file from CSS, JavaScript, or Special:ThemeDesigner.
  3. A "File History" tab that contains:
    • The history of uploads for that file, which also allows for reverting to earlier versions
    • A link to upload a new version of that file
  4. A "Metadata" tab, if additonal metadata of the file is available.

How do you link to a file without displaying it?

File description pages have another useful purpose beyond information: You can use a leading colon in the link to the description page to create a link instead of displaying the image.

For example: [[:File:Flower.png]] or [[:File:Rainbow.jpg]].

If you want to pipe trick the namespace name away, you can just do this: [[:File:Flower.png|]], which results in Flower.png. Pipe tricking can be very useful in discussions about a file, in case your community is divided about which file to use in a certain situation.

How to replace a file?

The image itself can be updated by uploading a new image with the same name via upload tools, or by using the "Upload a new version of this file" link at the bottom of the "File history" tab.

How to edit a file description?

The description visible through the "About" tab can be edited like normal article text by clicking the "Edit" button.

This area allows normal article wikitext. The initial description is updated with the contents of the upload summary supplied by the user when uploading the first version. This text also shows up in the "File history" section in the "Comment" column.

Description of the image

You may wish to describe the image, providing a short summary of its contents or intended use. This is useful for users who do not have direct access to the image or use screen readers.

For example, "Image of a goldfish in a small tank".

Author and source information

An example of reasonable sourcing and licensing information in an "About" section

Wikis are a community effort and crediting creators of files uploaded to wikis is a big part of that. It's good practice to provide general information about the author and source when uploading, both to keep track of sources used on the wiki and to allow verification and updating of files when possible.

If the image is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (CC-BY) or similar, attributing the copyright holder is mandatory to avoid violating the terms of the license and causing a copyright violation.

Note that even if the image is public domain or under a license that doesn't require attribution, including sources is simply good practice: Your wiki might be around for ten, twenty, or a hundred years, and subsequent readers or editors may find this information useful to verify, expand, or improve upon the wiki.

Licensing information

All files should be provided with a file copyright tag to establish its license.

You can do this by:

  • Adding the correct template (such as {{Fairuse}} by hand.
  • Choosing from a license selector dropdown at the time you upload the file.

If applicable, provide a link to documentation of the licensing terms (i.e. a "Terms of use" or "About" page for the website where you got the file).


By adding a category tag on the file page, files can be in the same category as other pages, but they are not included in the count of articles in the category, and are displayed in a separate section, with a thumbnail and the name for each.

The upload form starts with a blank field blank for introducing an "upload summary", you can place categories here, and thereby apply a category to an image without editing the file description page later. You can also add categorization code to your file copyright tags, allowing you to automatically apply categories just because you've used a certain copyright tag.

Remember: Categorization works the same way for articles and file description pages.

Other versions

If other versions (especially a larger version) of the same image exists, it can be helpful to link to them. For example:

  • [[File:Goldfish-in-tank-large.jpg|larger version]] ([[:File:Goldfish-in-tank-large.jpg|info]])
  • [[File:Goldfish-in-tank2.jpg|different camera angle]] ([[:File:Goldfish-in-tank2.jpg|info]])
  • [[File:Goldfish-in-tank-textfree.jpg|text-free version]] ([[:File:Goldfish-in-tank-textfree.jpg|info]])

Text-free versions may be useful when using the same image in different languages.

Is it possible to prevent editing a file?

Administrators and content moderators can protect a file description page, which automatically protects the file itself, preventing users without specified rights from re-uploading that file or uploading an file of the same name.

Use this ability sparingly. In general, files should only be protected if they're the subject of an edit war (for instance, multiple different versions are uploaded in a short span of time) or used widely across the wiki and uploading new versions without due consideration might adversely affect the wiki's functionality. Locking every file on a wiki should never be done.

See also

Further help and feedback

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.