Wikisource:Serial works

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Serial works

Thoughts on handling serial works on Wikisource.

When a work is published as a single book it is easy to proofread and host on Wikisource: all of the pages are together in the right order and can be transcluded into one page, or one page and its subpages. Works are not always published in so convenient ways, however. Sometimes a work is published in multiple, separate parts. This can cause problems in putting everything back together properly on Wikisource.


Works of both fiction and non-fiction can be published as serial works. The whole work is split up and published separately in instalments.

Some novels have been published in monthly parts, called "part-publication". Examples include The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens and Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray.

It is common for periodicals of all types to publish articles or stories in instalments over the course of several issues.

Something similar can occur if, for example, a poem is used as an epigram in its original setting (or for any other work originally published within another work).

The problem[edit]

If the serial work is represented on Wikisource in instalments, it will be difficult to read. A reader may not be interested in the rest of a periodical and they might be confused the subpage structure or separate pages. As an editor, it can be awkward to link up the different parts of a work when it is spread over different pages (and not sequential subpages). It would just be convenient to have everything in the same place. It would be especially convenient for that place to be at the root level[1] and not a subpage of anything else.

However, the periodical (for example) needs to be represented properly as well. A different reader may want to read the whole periodical as it was on original publication. Wikisource's dedication to faithfulness requires that the whole work be hosted in a manner that matches the original.

Attempting to merge the product of several print-publications into one page in the main namespace would be a somewhat fraudulent synthetic work, it would misrepresent the original and it may cause some technical problems for the software on which Wikisource runs. Most of the same is true of creating "fake" scans, using just the combined bits from multiple sources to create a complete, if stitched-together edition for proofreading and transclusion.

A solution[edit]

Wikisource is data on a computer, not print on paper. As the proofread pages are held in the workspace, the Index and Page namespaces, and transcluded across to the main namespace, they can simply be transcluded twice (or more if necessary).

The different instalments should be transcluded into the periodical as normal. They can also be transcluded as subpages of a separate, root level instance of the whole work. It would be as if each instalment were a separate chapter under a root level table of contents. If the work is already in sections or chapters, they can be split up as normal for subpages, as long as no instalment overlaps with another.

Poems (or other elements) can be extracted from a page into the root level as well as being in their proper place in a larger work. This can be done with Labeled Section Transclusion (LST).

Wikisource still has one version of the work. It is just being presented in alternative ways via transclusion.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Different editions cannot be combined, as then you would no longer have a link to a specific publication. All instalments must come from the same series of the serial work. If a work was serialised in Alphamagazine in 1920, then all instalments have to come from the 1920 run in Alphamagazine. If it was also later serialised in Betamagazine in 1930, or even a later reprint run in Alphamagazine in 1925, the different runs cannot be mixed under the same root level page. It could not be, for example, chapter 1 and 2 of Foo from Alphamagazine (1920), followed by chapter 3 from Alphamagazine (1925), followed by the final chapter from Betamagazine (1930), all under the root page Foo. Each of those would need to be separate versions.

Transclude to the serial[edit]

Each work needs to be maintained as part of the larger work. The serial or collective work should be transcluded as normal.

Transclude to a standalone page[edit]

Part publications[edit]



  1. The page at the root level (a "root page" or "base page") is not a subpage of any other page; it is a standalone page, although it might have subpages of its own. Foo is at the root level; Foo/Bar is not. See also Wikisource:Glossary.

See also[edit]