Help:Navigation bar

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The navigation bar provides links to the most important locations in the wiki and supplies site administrators with a place to add a persistent collection of links. For instance, most wikis will link to their main page and some useful tools.

Under the default skin, the navigation bar appears to the left along with the search bar and toolbox, but the placement varies between skins.


The contents of the navigation bar can be edited using the MediaWiki:Sidebar message page. To access this page, enter "MediaWiki:Sidebar" into the "search" box and click Go. As of MediaWiki 1.9.0, the default page will not appear to exist; this is normal. Click "create this page" to edit the navigation bar the first time.

The format of this message is as follows:

* navigation
** mainpage|mainpage
** Special:Recentchanges|Recent changes
** forums-url|Forums
**|MediaWiki home

This snippet demonstrates the various formats available for use.


The navigation bar can be split into sections, each with a heading of its own. The heading for each section is taken from the first-level list element (in the example above, "navigation", for instance).

If this text corresponds to the name of a system message, i.e. a page with that title exists in the MediaWiki namespace, then the text of the message is used as a label, otherwise the title is used as-is.

Example: if you put <a href="somewhere">navigation</a> into your wiki's MediaWiki:navigation you get a link to the page somewhere instead of just plain text. Of course, headings can be plain text if you prefer.


The second-level list elements each correspond to a link on the navigation bar, where the format is:

** target|label

The link target does not depend on the interface language set in the preferences, while the link label can be made to depend on that, and taken from the database or the language file:

  • If the MediaWiki page with the name target exists then the contents of that MediaWiki page is taken as link target (internal, interwiki, or external).
  • Else, if there is a default message in the site language with ID equal to target, that message is taken as link target.
  • Else, target itself is taken as link target (this does not work for some external links, notably those with "&" in it; use the first method instead: make a page in the MediaWiki namespace).
  • In the case of existence of the MediaWiki page with the name label (followed by /interface_language_code if the interface language set in the preferences is not the default) then the contents of that MediaWiki page is taken as link label.
  • Else, if there is a default message in the interface language with ID equal to label, that message is taken as link label.
  • Else, label itself is taken as link label.

In the example above, Main Page contains the name of the main page, e.g. Main Page, and so both the target and caption are expanded to that text. However, Special:Recent changes does not exist, so in the case of the example, the label text for the second item is used as-is. This has the disadvantage that the preference setting of the interface language does not work for such a label.

The third element references Forums-url, which will contain the full external URL for the "forums", while using a plain label. Item four demonstrates direct linking to an external source.


Unable to edit

The usual cause for being unable to edit the page is having insufficient permissions to do so. Since the page is in the MediaWiki namespace, permission to edit the user interface text is required. By default, this is available to all sysops, but may be customised on your wiki installation.

Changes not showing up on all pages

MediaWiki performs aggressive caching at various levels, which often causes the navigation bar to persist after changes. Purging the cache of affected pages should correct the situation. To perform a mass-purge of all caches at once, truncate the objectcache table in your database or touch the LocalSettings.php file (you may have to do both).

Lowercase links

If your links are not being capitalised as intended, trying adding spaces around the bar character, eg

* | Download