Wikipedia:Inline citation

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An inline citation is a citation placed at the end of a sentence or paragraph for the purpose of cataloging where the information came from. Inline citations may include electronic and print references, such as books, magazines, encyclopedias, dictionaries, and the internet. Having inline citations makes an article much more researcher friendly, since it tells the reader where exactly he/she can check the given claim.

Inline citations and Wikipedia

A number of Wikipedia articles have inline citations: in the case of Featured Articles and, to a lesser extent, Good Articles and A-Class Articles, inline citations are considered mandatory. There are currently four primary ways to add inline citations to an article; each has its own benefits and drawbacks. In general, a page that uses inline citations should use only one type of citation to prevent style and arrangement conflicts. For more information on this subject you may wish to consult the style guide Wikipedia:Cite sources; also see Wikipedia:Harvard referencing. Note that WP:CITE, which is the relevant guideline, does not favor any one of the following styles over any other.

Harvard referencing

See Wikipedia:Harvard referencing and Harvard referencing for how to cite material that is not online by adding the author and date in parentheses (round brackets) after the sentence. This is probably the simplest way to reference material that is not on the Web.

Hyperlinking/embedded links

Information obtained off the internet may be cited directly into an article by creating a hyperlink extension after the information you wish to cite. This can be placed at the end of the clause, sentence, or paragraph for which you are providing a citation. To insert the hyperlink you must enclose the link in square brackets, like this [ at the beginning and ] at the end. For example, if you were to cite the Main page of the English Wikipedia, you would type:


This will produce a blue, numbered box at the end of the sentence or paragraph, like the one seen at the end of this sentence. [1]

A full citation should then be added to the References section at the end of the article (See WP:CITE for more information). It should be noted that very few Featured Articles use this style, and a common objection during the FAC process is 'remove external links from main body (which refers to this style of inline citation), transform into proper inline citation style'.

"Reference" and "Note" templates

This method may be used when citing Internet sources or written material such as books, magazines, instruction manuals. This template works by creating small numbers in a text which, when clicked on, direct a reader to the proper citation at the bottom of the page.

Both the reference template and the note template consist of two parts: {{ref|word reference}} and {{note|word reference}}. If you wish to use these templates then begin by placing the {{ref|}} template in the article where you wish to cite the presented information. After the "|" include a small word reference for the citation; this will tell the computer which link it should jump to when a reader clicks on the article citation.

Here's a working example: to cite the book ''The Navy'', insert a reference tab—'''{{ref|}}'''—at the end of this sentence and place the words "Navy1" after the vertical line so that it looks like this:{{ref|Navy1}}[2]. Notice how a small number now appears at the end of the previous sentence; this contains the information that will be cited in the reference section. Click on the small number at the end of the previous sentence to continue with the example.


This is a relatively new method for citing sources, and can be used to cite any type of information. This method automatically arranges the references presented in an article through the use of two tags - <ref> and </ref>. Information that will be cited for the inline citation is placed between the two tags. If you are citing an electronic source configure the information between the tags by hyperlinking; include a brief description of the information. There are several templates that can help with the citation format. Also, make sure the reference section is correctly configured. Click on the link at the end of the sentence for more information on configuring the reference section with this method.[1]

If multiple citations for the same source are included in the article, and you are using the <ref> and </ref> tabs, you can reconfigure the first <ref> tab to create small letters that link to the same spot. This can be accomplished by adding name="X" to the first <ref> tag so that it looks like this:<ref name="X">.[2] As before, this will generate a number at the end of the sentence. Replace the "X" with a word to denote which source the computer should jump to when multi-linking like this.[2] Notice that this method of citing creates the same number for each entry cited with a <ref name="X"> citation, in this particular case, that number is 2. Click on one of the two previous links to see what this produces in the reference/notes section.

The ref tags should be placed according to WP:FN.

For a complete guide on this method see

References/Notes section

This is a reference section (or, alternatively, a note section). This is where sources for the inline citations and other information presented in an article are placed. A reference section should not be confused with an external link section, for purposes of Wikipedia they are considered separate entities. This particular reference section has been configured to help better illustrate the types of references presented when using the above links, and there fore should not be considered a solid example of a reference section on Wikipedia. For more information and the relevant style guide on reference sections see WP:CITE.

Reference section and "Reference" and "Note" templates

^ Notice the underlined arrow to the far left, this is the result of the "{{note|" reference. At the moment, the note reference looks like this: {{note|Navy1}}. Recall that the above link you clicked on to get here was titled {{ref|Navy1}}, so this is the correct corresponding link. To create the underlined arrows like the one that took you here place a {{note|}} template followed by the correct word description for the given information. Place the reference material you are referring to after the completed {{note|}} template, and ensure that the {{ref|}} and {{note|}} templates are correctly linking to each other by checking the spelling. There are several templates that can help with the citation format. For example, the full reference for the Navy citation should read as follows:

{{note|Navy1}} Naval Historical Foundation. The Navy. Barnes & Noble Inc, China ISBN 0767076218X

Inline citations that make use of the reference and note templates do not generate numbers for the corresponding links; this can be corrected by placing a "#" before inserting the template text, as shown below:

#{{note|Navy1}} Naval Historical Foundation. The Navy. Barnes & Noble Inc, China ISBN 0767076218X

This will generate a full-sized number which should correspond with the number clicked on for an information's source, as in the example below:

  1. ^ Naval Historical Foundation. The Navy. Barnes & Noble Inc, China ISBN 0767076218X

In the case of the above example the number 1 now appears before the book The Navy is cited. Recall that the number you clicked on to get here was a 2, so the link and its number do not correspond; in this case, it is because of the hyperlink discussed in the previous section. Since this article exists merely to explain the function of the reference and note templates this is not of concern; however, if this problem occurs in an actual article it means that something has caused the numbers and sources to miss-match.

Reference Section and Cite.php

  1. Configuring a reference section using Cite.php
  2. 2.0 2.1 Notice how the letters now appear at the left hand side in front of the link. This is because each of these two entries share the same name, in this case "Example", and have been configured to link to one spot to save room.

If you are using the cite.php method (the <ref> and </ref> tabs) all you have to do when creating a reference section is insert the following text:
<div class="references-small">
<references />

The {{reflist}} template will also add the above and is a succinct alternative. The software will automatically generate a list of a references for the inline citations provided in the article.

Inline citations & article classes

There is no specified amount of inline citation that an article must have before being eligible for nomination as a Featured Article, Good Article, or (when applicable) A-Class article, and no particular style is favored over any other. The best advice is on the FAC page: an article should be tightly written and comprehensive. If one inline citation is all it takes to make it tightly written that's ok; if you need 100 inline citations that's ok too. However, aim to prioritize the 15-20 most important or potentially contentious facts in the article and cite them to reliable sources.

See also