Magic words

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A "magic word" is a string of text that is recognized by the MediaWiki software. It triggers the software to return the value of a function, such as dates, website statistics or page names.

Types of magic words

  • Behavior switch (or "Double underscore"): __TOC__
  • Variable: {{FULLPAGENAME}}
  • Tag: <gallery>
  • Parser function: {{#ifeq:x|y|true|false}}

The 4 types of MagicWords

Behavior switch

Characteristics of a behavior switch

  • Purpose: controls the layout or behavior of the page
  • Syntax: __NOTOC__


A behavior switch includes or omits certain elements of the page. It is also known as "double underscore". Behavior switches can be put anywhere in the source code of the designated page (usually at the end of the page). The behavior switch __TOC__ produces as output the table of contents exactly where it was inserted on the page.====


Characteristics of a variable

  • Purpose: returns information about the page, wiki, or date
  • Syntax: {{PAGENAME}}


Variables contain (simple) dynamic data. If a template name conflicts with a variable, the variable is used. For example, you have the variable {{PAGENAME}}. In that case, you have to transclude the template with the same name as {{Template:PAGENAME}}.

Parser Function

Characteristics of a parser function
  • Purpose: simple "programming language" for page content (mainly in templates)
  • Syntax: {{#if:{{{field|}}} | {{{field|}}} | N/A }}

Parser functions are similar to variables, but take one or more parameters.Example:

|This is a warning!

They are used for simple logic only, since they are hard to read and to maintain on a larger scale. If complex logic is required, consider Lua scripts in the "Module" namespace ( and invoke using {{#invoke:...}}

Parser functions can also be "tag-like", e.g. {{#ask:...}} from SemanticMediaWiki. For more information, refer to the MediaWiki help pages and


Characteristics of a tag

  • Purpose: often used for custom development to process dynamic content
  • Syntax: <smartlist />


Tags are implemented in PHP as part of a MediaWiki extension. Tags with "bs:" prefix come from BlueSpice (see Reference:BlueSpiceTagSearch). All others come from MediaWiki or from third-party extensions, e.g. the extension SyntaxHighlight.

How to add a magic word

Magic words are inserted directly in the source code. Some frequently used magic words can also be added directly with the VisualEditor Insert > Magic word menu item:


Related info