Fictional infoboxes containing elements of alternate history fiction, especially infoboxes derived from those of Wikipedia (and other wikis using the MediaWiki software), became a fairly popular form of AH artwork on AlternateHistory.com during the 2010s. They have since been seen by some as staples of the site, alongside AH flags, maps and illustrations.
This tutorial is meant for all of those AH.commers who keep asking, over and over again, how one can make all those nifty fictional infoboxes. Threads asking about such advice crop up with great regularity, and though there have been some scattered tutorials on the subject, there wasn't much of a centralised source. Hopefully, you'll be able to glean some useful advice from this article. (If you have any suggestions for article additions or improvements, please visit the official AlternateHistory.com Wiki discussion thread to provide feedback. Thanks.)
1. If you're going to create an infobox via Wikipedia, please bear in mind that Wikipedia is a professional site and it's necessary that you don't disrupt its everyday functions. Do not edit real articles under any circumstances ! You could cause pointless damage, be suspected of vandalism, and banned from editing Wikipedia for a good while. Though making infoboxes is fun, you need to go about it responsibly. Do not, under any circumstances, try to upload fictional infoboxes masquerading as real ones onto Wikipedia. Do not try to pass them off as real ones either. Aside from getting banned from Wikipedia, it also reflects badly on you as an infobox maker. The first unwritten law of infobox-making is: “Be patient and don't be an asshole.”
2. If you are using Wikipedia, the place to create an infobox in is the Sandbox. This is a public training article that people can use as a training ground for their Wikipedia editing skills. However, as the Sandbox is a public space and visited by all people editing Wikipedia, it's not exactly ideal for infobox making. Luckily, there is a better solution: If one registers a proper user account on Wikipedia, they get their own personal Sandbox for free. Though extreme overuse of this Sandbox is also not recommended, a Wikipedia user is free to use it for their own purposes, without needing to worry about other people's edits.
3. Many people make the initial mistake that they need to save their infoboxes in the Sandbox. This is not necessary at all. In the vast majority of cases, once all the basics of an infobox are put into place (the infobox formatting text + the content text and links), one only needs to press the Preview button and take a look at the Wikipedia preview of the infobox. This is functionally the same as previewing any Wikipedia article, it just takes place in the Sandbox instead. Why not save, then ? You only really need the image of your finished infobox.
4. To save that image, you need at least some basic image-viewing and image-editing software. Centre the infobox (or a part of the infobox) in a way that it's nicely visible on your screen. Then press the “Print Screen” key on your keyboard. (On most desktop keyboards, it's above the larger key “Insert”.) Pressing “Print Screen” will create a copy of your entire screen at that moment. Open up image editing software and copy paste (CTRL+V) the screen into that software. Save the image via that software, ideally in .png format. Type a brief name for the image, then type .png and save the image to some work folder on your computer. Once the image is saved, you can use the same software (or a more sophisticated one, if needed) to edit it.
5. Another step in getting the infobox done is to crop it. As you've copied an image of the whole screen, you'll probably also see the rest of the Sandbox editing field and tools, the rest of the Wikipedia (or other MediaWiki) layout and GUI, and even parts of your browser window and operating system taskbar. So, it's time to crop the screen capture image you have. If you are already satisfied with the look of your infobox and don't plan to do any more editing on it for the time being, crop it and save it. Depending on the software, use the selection tool or cropping tool for the space around the whole infobox, in a manner that encompasses all of it, or at least all that is visible of it in your particular screen capture. Once you're satisfied with the selection, order the software to crop the selected part of your image, with your infobox. Save the cropped image under a new name. Or save it by overwriting your screen capture image (though do this latter alternative only if you're certain you no longer need the screen capture image).
6. If the infobox is long/tall and you had to save several screen captures of it (say, two), you can crop the parts of the infobox first, then create a new blank image with dimensions that would fit both parts. Paste the two parts of the infobox into the new blank image, carefully align them together in a logical manner, then anchor the selections in place. Save the new blank image as your new, completed infobox. Don't forget to save it as a .png ! Whenever you with a different format than .png, the details of the infobox become distorted. Your infobox will no longer look crisp. Saving in another common format, such as .jpg or .bmp, causes that all the time. (Saving in other formats than .png is to be avoided when making AH maps and AH flags as well.)
7. If you need to use custom images in your infobox, but those images are not uploaded onto Wikipedia, don't fret. You don't need to do any uploading at all. You might need to do a bit of image-editing, though. Take the photo or other image you want to include in your infobox. Resize that chosen image to a size that would fit the infobox. Copy the image, either whole or by cropping it, then paste it onto the image of the infobox. Don't let it go just yet ! While it's still highlighted as movable, move it gently over to the spot in your infobox where you want to put it. Once you've fitted it into a position inside the infobox that you're happy with, click outside of the copied image, to anchor it into that position. (If you need to, work with a copy of the image you want to insert. This prevents you from losing or overwriting the original size of the image, if you accidentally screw up.)
8. But what if the space in the infobox is not large enough to be an adequate fit for the image you want to insert into the infobox ? Don't worry. Bear in mind that a defining feature of an infobox are its borders, i.e. the border lines of a box. With image-editing software, you can quickly create additional space within an infobox. First, find the position in which you want to create extra space within the infobox. Then select and copy all of the infobox above or below the place where you want to create the space for the image. Paste the selected part of the infobox onto the main infobox image, but once again, don't deselect it yet. Grab the copied selection and move it either upward or downward of the place where you made the split in the infobox. Make sure that the lines in the copied selection line up with the lines on the main infobox image. Once you're happy with the new position, click outside of the selected copy to anchor it. Delete the now-redundant space between the original infobox image and the part of it that you've moved. In most image-editing software, you can use a selection tool or eraser tool to do that. Please be mindful of the fact that you shouldn't delete the borders themselves. Those need to stay, to keep the illussion of a continuous wiki infobox.
9. Never forget that most copy/paste and editing actions can be undone by using a CTRL+Z key combination and redone by using a CTRL+Y combination.
10. To what article the links in an infobox lead is completely irrelevant. The links are there purely for show, to give the illussion that they are genuine links to some genuine AH Wikipedia articles, or similar content. You can use any link to a real Wikipedia article behind these. For instance, you have a link to a fictional article about how Napoleon defeated all of Europe by 1812. Or an article about the fictional Pope Awesome I or whatever. You can create that fictional link by typing the following sort of wikilink into the formatting of the future infobox: [[Train|Napoleon's victory in 1812]]. The “Train” bit of our link example can be any existing article on Wikipedia. The second half of the link, the one that actually appears in the infobox, should contain the fictional name of the fictional article the infobox is supposedly linking to. In this case, it's our earlier spitballed idea of Napoleonic AH. Of course, you could also change it to [[Train|Pope Awesome I]], or [[Cat|Pope Awesome I]], or anything other, really.
11. A wiki infobox looks best if all of its links appear unused. Sometimes, some links that you've recently used on Wikipedia will appear darker than in their default state, when they appear in a more lighter colour. An infobox where links have been used will also look like this. As fictional infoboxes are meant to look representative, it's better to depict all wikilinks in them in their default state, as “not yet clicked by a reader”. To fake this in your fictional infobox, simply use a wikilink that you haven't clicked before in recent times (the last few days, etc.). Type the name of the article you hadn't clicked to yet in the first half of the link. This will ensure all of the links included in your infobox will appear in the default colour. Given how the particular article is irrelevant, you can link to the exact same article from all the links in the infobox.
Work in progress.
1. A few years back, I decided to make some infoboxes for a fictional alternate history airline. The airline was Lemurian Ducal Airways and its subsidiaries, a flag carrier airline for the AH country known as the Grand Duchy of Lemuria (in ATL Madagascar). Here's how I made the infoboxes.
Wikibox discussion - With some good basic advice.