Help:Wiki Guides/Roads

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Now what?

So, you want to write about a road? Well, this guide should help step you through the process of creating a simple roads page, adding detail as we go until you get to a 5 star article, which is considered to be of the highest quality. Any improvement to a page is worthwhile, so don't think you need to do all of the sections, or indeed that you need to try to get it to jump to 5 stars straight away! Most 5 star articles have been grown over time, so every little bit of help or improvement takes a page on its way.

One important thing to remember: before clicking "Save page", click on "Show preview" - if you then look the preview of your page, you'll catch most of your errors before you've made them!

Where do I start?[edit]

Well, probably the first place to begin is to check whether a page exists already.

To do that, just type in the road number in the "search" box in the left-hand menu and select "Go". Simple, eh?

If there's a page on here, then you will get taken to it. However, you'll get taken to the present road with that number - so if the number was used elsewhere previously, you should get a link at the top of the page, similar to this:

From that, you should be able to see if the number has been used elsewhere, and if so, where. You'll also be able to click on the link, and take a look at that page.

If the road doesn't exist, you'll be taken to the "Search" page, like so:

You can then click on the red text, and it'll start the page creation process!

OK, so what about an old use of a road number where there isn't that link thing at the top?[edit]

Firstly, you need to decide what to call it. If the road number hasn't been re-used, then we simply use the road number as the title of the page. Old uses of a road number have page names which consist of the number followed by a description in brackets. The description should be something that clearly shows the road as being different from the current one - examples include B4160 (Wolverhampton) where a road runs in a single town or city, B6374 (Galashiels - Melrose) where the road runs between (or at least near to!) the places in brackets, or even A1037 (Yorkshire) where the road runs through a traditional county, but neither end is anywhere that any non-local will have heard of!

Probably the easiest way to create a page involves a counter-intuitive search. In the search box on the left hand side, type in the name of the page you want to create. As seen above, as the page doesn't already exist, you are taken to the "Search" page, where you get a red linked page name, which you can then click on, and the page creation process begins.

What about roads in Northern Ireland?[edit]

Roads in Northern Ireland share (mostly!) the same numbers as ones in Great Britain. If you're looking to create a Northern Irish road, then add (Northern Ireland) to the end of your page name, like A5 (Northern Ireland). Other places that share the same numbers (such as the Isle of Man or Jersey) have an equivalent suffix.

How about C Roads?[edit]

C (and D, and U) Roads work in exactly the same way as the major roads, but with the exception that as they are numbered by the relevant Highway Authority, then they're not supposed to be unique. They should be named like C144 (Surrey), with the relevant local authority in brackets.

Creating the perfect page[edit]

Don't worry, such a thing doesn't exist! However, you'll find that the best pages have some common items within them, which we'll explore below. Any improvement to a page is worthwhile, so don't think you need to do all of the parts. Indeed, if any look too complicated, then someone can come along and help you out.

Before you know it, you'll go from the first of these to the second:

Article Rating
Star grey.pngStar grey.pngStar grey.pngStar grey.pngStar grey.png
Article Rating

The Routebox[edit]

See main help: Help:Routeboxes

The Routebox is the fancy box that appears on the right-hand side of every roads article. It does lots of clever things, but when you're editing or creating a page, it can look quite scary. There are a lot of possible things you can add to the Routebox, all of which are gone into in detail on the Routebox's own help page. Here, we'll just look at the basics.

This is an empty Routebox, showing the most common features.

 | number        = 
 | type          = 
 | from          = 
 | to            = 
 | via           = 
 | authority     = 
 | county        = 
 | miles         = 
 | meets         = 
 | formernumbers = 
 | nowpartof     = 
 | gridref_from  = 
 | gridref_to    = 
 | outline       = 
 | sabremap      = 

As you can see, the Routebox always starts with "{{Routebox", and ends with "}}". In between the two, there are a number of labels (also known as "variables"), all of which start with "|", and then their name followed by "=". Now, let's look at the labels one by one.

Probably the most obvious label is number, which tells the Routebox what to display at the top of the box. It's usually a road number, but doesn't have to be - and it's most useful when dealing with old versions of a road.

Type is only obvious when you see what you can put here. The most common answers to type are "primary", "non primary", "motorway" or "defunct" - though there are other possibilities. This is quite important, and typos matter - superficially it just changes the colour of the top box, but behind the scenes it does other things too. Looking at each common answer in turn, "motorway" is the most obvious, whilst "defunct" is used if a numbered no longer exists in this location, either because it's been down or upgraded, or perhaps removed entirely like the original A6014. Which of "primary" or "non primary" are to be used can be a little bit awkward - if any part of the route is a primary route (i.e. has green signs), then you should use "primary", even if most of the route is non primary (i.e. has white signs). If the road is entirely non primary, then you should use "non primary" here.

Heading down the list, to and from and via are also pretty obvious - you just simply put the nearest places to the start and end of a road, and anywhere significant that the road passes through.

Miles is, fairly obviously, the length of the road. You can often get this by manipulating the "directions" part of Google Maps - though this may not always be possible! If you're writing about a road in the Republic of Ireland (or anywhere else that uses metric), then you should replace miles with km, though it works the same way. The Routebox does the maths in converting the one to the other, displaying both, but the use of miles or km controls which is displayed first.

Authority and county can be misunderstood. Authority is only relevant if the road isn't "defunct", i.e. it currently exists. In this case, Authority needs to be answered with the name of the body that looks after the road - so it may be the relevant national or regional body, or the top-tier local authority, which may be a County Council, a Metropolitan Council, a London Borough or a Unitary Authority. The road may pass through more than one, in which case they should all be listed. If in doubt, the road is probably looked after by the local authority. If you want to be clever, then simply add "[[" and "]]" around the name of the authority. This will turn the word into a link which people can then click on to move to that page. If you want to be really clever, then add "{{-}}" between authorities will give a nice space and a dot to separate them, like this:

. If the road is "defunct" or "historical" etc, then don't bother with authority.

Mmm, county. On here, county means traditional (or historic) county, and should be filled in for every road page. So, no Metropolitan Counties, no Greater London - though there is the County Map layer on SABRE Maps) to help you if you're not sure. Again, you can add "[[" and "]]" around the name of the county to turn it into a link, and "{{-}}" between counties will give a nice space and a dot to separate them. Now, of course, many counties have the same name as a current top-tier local authority despite covering a different area and to separate them out, we have separate pages for each, such as Staffordshire and Staffordshire Council, with the former being the traditional or historic county (which includes Wolverhampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Walsall and so on), and the later being the County Council area (which includes none of the above). Make sure you use the right one in county and the right one in authority! You can make it look nicer by changing the name of the link, like this: [[Kent Council|Kent]], which displays Kent, but still links to the right place. If you get it wrong, don't worry about it - someone will come along and fix it.

After that bit of complication, it might just be a relief to get back to simple things! Meets is simply that - a list of roads that this road meets, preferably all neatly turned into links with "[[" and "]]". The only thing to be careful about it is overloading the page - the M1 for example meets a huge number of roads so only put in the most important here!

Formernumbers and nowpartof are pretty simple too. If a road used to be part of another road, then put the old number in formernumbers. If a former part of this road is now part of another road, then put it in nowpartof. Oh, and if the roads you want to put here have a suffix, like B4423 (Anglesey), then you can use the same trick as in county or authority to make the link look nicer, like [[B4423 (Anglesey)|B4423]] which becomes B4423.

File:Maps gridref.PNG
SABRE Maps Grid Reference

Gridref_from and gridref_to are also fairly obvious: they're the Grid References of the start and end points of the road! They handle both GB and Irish Grids, so don't worry about that. Aha, I hear your head banging on the desk. Where on earth do you get grid references from? Well, SABRE Maps helps with that! All you have to do is find the start point of the road on SABRE Maps, and simply click on it. All of a sudden, at the bottom of the left-hand blue menu will appear the relevant Grid Reference

Simply copy and paste the Grid Reference into the gridref_from tag, then do the same process for the gridref_to tag for the other end of the road. Doing this not only adds the start and end Grid References to the Routebox, but it also allows you to click on the link that appears to display the road in SABRE Maps, but also it allows SABRE Maps to display the road using its own search facility. Clever, eh?

Note : the grid reference code on SABRE Maps is slightly wonky and can be up to 200m out - Ritchie333 needs to fix it.

The final item in our basic Routebox is outline. It's a bit complicated, but the idea is that it shows a small graphical picture of the road, including which sections are primary, non primary or defunct. It's probably best if you take a look at other roads nearby to see how it works.

Here's an example of a completed Routebox to demonstrate how items work:

 | number        = A4124 
 | type          = non primary 
 | from          = Wolverhampton
 | to            = Brownhills
 | via           = Wednesfield
 | miles         = 9 
 | authority     = [[Wolverhampton Council]]{{-}}[[Walsall Council]]
 | county        = [[Staffordshire]] 
 | meets         = [[A34]], [[A452]], [[A4150]], [[B4484]] 
 | formernumbers = [[B4155]] 
 | nowpartof     = [[B4484]]
 | gridref_from  = SO917989
 | gridref_to    = SK045056 
 | outline       = {{Non Primary | Wolverhampton - Brownhills}}

If in doubt, why don't you cut and paste the blank example from this section?

The Dab Box[edit]

See main page: Template:Dab

Phew! Don't worry about the Routeboxes, they get easier the more you do. As a follow up to that, the next item on the page is pretty easy: the Dab Box.

This is easy because most roads don't have one! It's only used where there is more than one road with the same number - so for example the two B3314s. One is the current road with the page name of B3314, whilst the other is an old road, with the page name of B3314 (Penzance). The job of the Dab Box is to show people an easy way of getting from one to the other. If there aren't two roads with the same number, then completely ignore this section!

The Dab Box (when you have one!) goes immediately under the final "}}" of the Routebox, and looks like this:

{{ Dab | the current route of the B3314 between Camelford and Wadebridge
| the original B3314 in Penzance| B3314 (Penzance) }}

It looks complicated, but again it's actually quite simple. Let's break it up into sections, each of which are separated by a "|" character (that's shift and the key to the left of "Z" on PC keyboards).

The first section simply starts with "{{" and then the word "Dab". This simply tells the system to create a Dab Box. See, told you it was quite simple!

The second section is just for you to write a very short description of the road that this page is about, whilst the third section is for you to write a very short description of the "other" page. Finally, the last section contains the page name of the "other" page, then the Dab Box is closed with "}}".

It should end up looking something like this:

This article is about the current route of the B3314 between Camelford and Wadebridge

Just as a final thought with the Dab Box: if you put it on one page, then the other really ought to have one too!

The introduction[edit]

At last! We're onto the actual writing bit now.

The Introduction section should go immediately after the Dab Box, if there is one, or immediately after the Routebox. In the introduction should go a short paragraph or two just summarising the road. If there's not a lot to say (such as a road number created in the original 1922 scheme that was renumbered in April 1924!), then the introduction is all that there is.

Introductions generally start with the same few words, like in the following example:

The Z666 is a short road that runs through rural parts of County Galway.

The subject of the page is always bolded. To get something to appear in bold, then all you have to do is put ''' either side of the thing you want to look that way. That's three single quote marks (the middle key between L and enter on PC keyboards) - double quotes won't work. Again, if you can't get it to work, don't worry about it, just ask for help on the forum.

Immediately after the subject, it's best to say where on earth it is. If the road runs through or near a large or well-known place, you can just put that. If it runs less somewhere less well known, or a rural area, then it's a good idea to put the relevant traditional county in there - enough to give people a good idea of where the road is or was!

Then just write a bit about it! As a general rule-of-thumb, if you can't write more than a couple of paragraphs, then the introduction should be the only section needed. Please try to write an introduction, though - a page without words looks very unfriendly to other people, and it shouldn't be hard to write at least something about the road. Remember to add "[[" and "]]" around anything that has a page on here, so road numbers, places, bridges, junctions and counties (with the "|" trick where necessary) should all be linked - though only once per section please.

The route description[edit]

In this bit, it's time to write about the road, in a "virtual tour" if you like. Generally if there's just a couple of paragraphs to write, then it just goes in the introduction. If it's longer than that, you'll want the separate section.

First things first, you'll need a title for this section. To put in a title, you simply put "==" (two equals signs) either side of your title, so:

== Route ==

That will not only show up as a heading, but if there's enough sections in the page, it'll also show up in a table of contents.

Start at one end (preferably the end that you've labelled as "Start" in the Routebox!), and work your way along the road, describing the route. Go into as much detail as you like - some roads only have short route descriptions, others are so long that you need to split the route decription up into sections!

If you've got a description that needs to be split, then to add subheadings, you just add "===" (three equals signs) either side of your title, so:

=== Uppermiddleofnowhere to Somewhereorother ===

Don't put subheadings in there unless each section would be at least 8 - 10 paragraphs each.

The history bit[edit]

Surprisingly (or not), a bit talking about the history of the road helps a lot when writing about its story.

Again, you'll need a title for this section. As a reminder, to put in a title, you simply put "==" (two equals signs) either side of your title, so:

== History ==

There's several questions you might ask to find out a little more about it, such as:

  • Was it created in 1922, when the original Great Britain numbering scheme came into being?
  • How about in 1935, when there was a mass revision of the road numbering in Great Britain?
  • Did it have an old number before getting its present one?
  • Or is it now "defunct" and has a completely different number? When did that happen?
  • Has part of the route changed?

Another good place to look is on SABRE Maps, where you can look through the historic mapping and see if things have changed along "your" road. You can find all sorts of tips about research in The Research Guide.

Links to elsewhere on the Internet[edit]

Perhaps not too surprisingly, most roads aren't well documented on the Internet, other than perhaps on SABRE Member Sites. If you find somewhere, then it's a good idea to put a link to them on "your" road page. The only exception to this is Wikipedia - they aren't a source of documentation, and frown on research. If there is a Wikipedia page, then you can look at any sources that they list (and if relevant, list them here) - though take care not to copy anything from a Wikipedia page. Whilst the common view is that you can simply copy Wikipedia, the legal position is that you actually can't.

Again, the heading looks like this:

== Links ==

Remember to use "Links" rather than "Link", even if there's just one! In order to link to somewhere outside the SABRE Wiki, you need to do things slightly differently. Instead of using a pair of square brackets (you know, "[[" and "]]"), you just use a single square bracket instead. Instead of using "|" to make it look nice, you simply leave a space such as:

[ CBRD:Underways]

You can make a bulleted list simply by adding a star ( * ) at the beginning of a paragraph.

SABRE Member Sites[edit]

If something is already documented on a SABRE Member Site, then don't copy or duplicate it. We're all one big happy SABRE family, and we compliment one another, not compete!

If a SABRE Member Site is a large source of information about a road, then you can add the main Member Site Template to the top of the page, between the Routebox and the Dab Box. Information about using the Member Site template and and sister template for use in sections can be found on the template page.

The Navbox[edit]

See main help: Help:Navboxes

The Navbox is the blue box that appears at the bottom of articles. It should be on every page, and come after all the writing bits, and is another item that whilst it looks quite complicated, it's actually reasonably simple.

In its most basic form, just adding the following gets you a Navbox.


If you do that, then you get the simple navbox like below, which is taken from the A605 page:

As you can see, it picks up lots of things automatically, such as pictures that have been tagged with the road, as well as other road features that have been tagged with the road. If there's nothing been tagged, then it doesn't appear.

However, we can make the Navbox do a couple of other interesting things, if we add a "cat=" bit on the end, like this example:


This looks for another template called "A600-A699", which adds in links to all the other nearby numbered roads, so that people can easily move between similar numbers. You'll find that there's already similar templates for other number ranges.

You can also use the Navbox to show roads that are geographically nearby, like this:


You can use up to five "nearby" sections. Finally, you can combine the two add-ons, so you get


Which in our A605 example, turns into the full Navbox experience!

Article ratings[edit]

See main page: Wiki:Article Rating

Nearly there now!

As you might expect, each page should have an Article Rating, basically saying how good (or otherwise) a page is. This rating is used to generate the "Star" box at the top right of an article, and also to help people target pages that need improving.

Article ratings go under the Navbox, though it's nice to leave a couple of empty lines between them!

The format of the Article Ratings section is:

<!-- Article Rating, 1-5 stars. See [[Wiki:Article Rating]] for more details -->

It's probably easiest to copy and paste that in!

Taking the two parts in turn, the bit that starts "<!-- " and ends in " -->" simply tells the page that this is just a comment, and shouldn't appear in the final text. In this case, it acts as a substitute heading so that it's easy to pick out the Article Rating section.

The second section is the Rating itself. Simply replace the "1" with the rating you think it should have, based on the criteria in the Article Rating page. Be honest, and convention is that you shouldn't award a "5" to work that you've created or improved - leave that to someone else. Bear in mind that some small pages might actually be worthy of a high rating - it's very hard to write very much about a road that existed only for a couple of years!

Page categories[edit]

Right at the bottom of the "ideal page" is the page categories.

What on earth are page categories? Well, they're the glue that holds the SABRE Wiki together, allows the Navbox to work, and helps people find relevant pages. Pages can be in as many categories as you like - there's no limit to them.

The format of the Article Ratings section is:

<!-- Categories -->

Again, the initial part between the bit that starts "<!-- " and ends in " -->" simply tells the page that this is just a comment, and shouldn't appear in the final text. It acts as a substitute heading so that it's easy to pick out the Article Rating section.

After that are simply a list of the categories that a road falls in, surrounded by double square brackets to turn it into a link.

So what categories are there?[edit]

There's quite a lot! The most important categories for a road are really the road number category, such as Category:A900-A999, and the "place" categories.

The list of British and Irish road number categories can be found in the following places:

Place categories exist for all Primary Destinations (places with direction green signs), and a wide range of non-Primary Destinations which have some importance to the road network. The starting point for finding out which places have categories is Roads by Area.

There are other relevant road categories such as Category:Ring Roads or Category:Roads from Railways - keep your eyes out for them!

Photos and Maps[edit]

This is in a separate section because where they go depends on the picture or map concerned! Pages full of just text look dull, and the best pages contain something pretty to make them look nicer. Photos and maps illustrate the page often far better than the written word - though remember that each page has its own photo gallery which means that you don't have to put hundreds of photos on a page!


File:Kylesku Bridge 5 - Coppermine - 15289.jpg
A Scottish bridge. Must be a Photo of the Month winner then!

Photos speak a thousand words, apparently. I'm not sure about that, but they certainly make a page look nicer. The best pages have at least a couple of photos on them, but don't overdo it! All photos tagged with a road number appear in that page's gallery, and a selection of them appear in the Routebox on the bottom.

To put a photo on a page, it must be uploaded to the SABRE Wiki, for which you use "Upload file" from the left-hand blue menu, and then fill in the form as appropriate. Please fill the form in as much as possible, as not only does the photo then appear in all the right Galleries, but it'll also appear in SABRE Maps in the right place. Please respect other people's copyrights, and remember that just because it appears on the Internet doesn't mean it's fair game to use. You are OK to use anything from Geograph (for which there's special bit on the top of the upload form), and anything that you've taken yourself.

Assuming you've managed that bit, how do you get it to appear on the page? Well, like this:

[[File:picture.jpg | thumb | side | caption]]
File:Illuminated N15 bridge Ballyshannon - Night Shot - Coppermine - 8291.jpg
Another bridge, another Photo of the Month Winner. But this one's Irish...

You'll notice that it looks like a simple link on steroids. So, we open with "[[" as you might expect. Then straight afterwards we need the name of the picture, including the "File:" prefix.

As usual, we separate the different parts with "|", and the second section simply says "thumb". That tells the system to show a small version of the picture - miss it out and you'll get something you don't expect!.

The third section, is side. For that, you replace the word side in the example with either left or right, depending on which side you want the photo to appear. Easy, eh?

Finally, the last part is caption, which again you replace entirely with, well, the caption you want on the picture. Don't forget to end the whole thing with "]]"!

If there aren't any photos associated with a particular road, and you haven't got any to upload, then the following needs to be put at the bottom of the article text, above the Navbox:

{{Needs Image}}

This tags the page as needing a picture on it, and adds it to the relevant Needs Image category


Maps are great. Generally, we all love maps.

Because we love maps so much, there's two major ways of putting maps into your page - firstly inside the Routebox, and secondly inline with text, in a similar way to pictures.

In the Routebox[edit]

See main help: SABRE Maps extract

Now, if you were paying attention earlier when we talked about using the Routebox, you may have noticed that there we mentioned a sabremap tag at the start, and then completely ignored it all the way through.

Don't worry, we did it on purpose!

The sabremap tag looks hideous, but it's actually quite simple.

 | sabremap      = <sabremap lat=55.89551 lon=-4.342965 layer=mot zoom=12 />

It needs to start with the text "<sabremap ", and then followed with four, let's call them subtags for now. They are:

File:Maps gridref.PNG
SABRE Maps shows lat and long of a point too
  • lat=
  • lon=
  • layer=
  • zoom=

Three of them are pretty obvious. lat is simply the latitude of the centre of the map, lon is simply the longitude of the map. Once again, SABRE Maps helps with that! Click on the point you want to be at the centre of your extract,and at the bottom of the left-hand blue menu will appear the relevant Lat and Lon of your point.

Zoom is again pretty simple - it's just a number you use to control just how zoomed in your map extract is. It's probably best to start with 11, and then select "Show preview", then adjust the number to get the effect you want. Bigger numbers are more "zoomed" than smaller ones.

The most complicated is layer. Layer controls which map you see, and most of the different map layers you can see on SABRE Maps are available to you. If you miss out layer entirely, then you get the present OpenStreetMap map. The most common layers (though there are lots of others) are:

Finally, you need to end with " />".

Remember to preview your work before saving it!

In the middle of the text using a Mapbox[edit]

If you want to put a SABRE Maps extract in the middle of your text, it's very similar.

Here's an example:

{{mapbox | map=<sabremap lat=51.20552 lon=-1.47948 layer=mot zoom=12 /> | caption=The A30 originally ran via Andover instead of Stockbridge}}

Template:Mapbox Basically, you just start by typing "{{ mapbox |", which tells the system to create a mapbox. Remember that "|" is shift and the key to the left of "Z" on a PC keyboard.

Following that, you just put exactly the same as the Routebox map example, with lat, lon, layer and zoom, again getting the lat and lon values from SABRE Maps.

Finally, if you want a caption, you add "| caption =", followed by the text that you want to show. If you don't want a caption, you can just miss that bit out. Finally, you need to tell the system that you've finished with the Mapbox by typing "}}".

Ta-da! One map, just like you see to the left.