Wikipedia talk:Citing sources/Archive 17

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Citing Statistics

Most of the articles that I edit are sports related. Most of the time, I do not think stats should be cited. The exception to this is in the case of statistics under dispute (See: Ty Cobb - re: batting average). Are there other exceptions where statistics should be cited? //Tecmobowl 07:42, 31 May 2007 (UTC)

Why do you think that citing sources should be the exception rather than the rule? Finell (Talk) 15:35, 31 May 2007 (UTC)
In general, I don't. However, in the case of sports articles, a players' statistics are generally indisputable facts accepted by the public. // Tecmobowl 09:06, 2 June 2007 (UTC)
Not only do I not believe that, you're missing something important. Let's say an article correctly gives a batting average, but doesn't include anything to verify the information. Then, someone else changes that batting average (perhaps as an error, or perhaps as vandalism). How does anyone looking at the page know whether the first figure or the second figure was correct and how do they know where to look to verify the information? Sources are vital for statistics.GDallimore (Talk) 11:32, 19 June 2007 (UTC)
FWIW, not all statistics, even sporting ones, are indisputable. A simple statistic like soccer first team appearances may need clarification as one body may count league and cup matches, another might count friendlies - a source can be useful in clarifying ambiguity. Similarly, there are many "official" charts for music and book sales. Spenny 12:55, 19 June 2007 (UTC)

Which system?

I' was recently advised to adapt the references in the article Steenbok to the Footnote system, which I duly did, although as a traditional publisher, I prefer the Harvard system. Now I read this article and you do not seem to be preferring one over the other. Please advise—GRM 08:54, 2 June 2007 (UTC)

Either system, used correctly, is fine. Please please ignore people telling you otherwise or refer them to this guideline. Christopher Parham (talk) 16:56, 2 June 2007 (UTC)
Despite the policy of neutrality, most Featured Articles (at least those I have seen on the Main Page), are heavily footnoted.Finell (Talk) 23:24, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
The cite.php mechanism is more commonly used, for various reasons, but Harvard refs are completely acceptable in featured articles. Gimmetrow 23:51, 28 June 2007 (UTC)

Referenceing the IUCN Red List status in taxoboxes

I have a feeling that I have seen one or more animal articles where contributors have been able to add a Footnote to the reference for the IUCN Red List categorization within the taxobox. Can it be done? If so, can someone tell me how to do it? Thanks—GRM 09:07, 2 June 2007 (UTC)

See WP:TX. The variable is status_ref. Circeus 12:53, 2 June 2007 (UTC)

Can sources be cited without directly refrencing to websites and such?

I'm saying this because I have seen a video game article claiming that its refrences are the game's manual (and similar). I was thinking whether to put up a maintenance note for this or not. Any help? Nightmare77 00:01, 3 June 2007 (UTC)

Printed materials that are avaliable to the public through purchase or at libraries can certainly be used as sources, provided they were published by a reliable publisher. A mainstream video game manufacturer would ordinarily qualify as a reliable publisher. --Gerry Ashton 00:05, 3 June 2007 (UTC)
(edit conflict) In addition to Gerry's accurate statement, you should take into account that a video game manual may be appropriate to support some statements in an article (e.g. "the goal of the game is to collect as many points as possible") while not appropriate to support others (e.g. "#1 bestselling title"). Christopher Parham (talk) 00:07, 3 June 2007 (UTC)
As was recently mentioned, information printed on a can might be relevant (cite as "product label"). The information doesn't have to be online, the information just has to exist. (SEWilco 00:49, 3 June 2007 (UTC))
I know that it just has to exist but it's just confusing me because, similar to what the other gentleman stated, I'm pretty sure that the game manual does not say that a certain decision in the US port of the game was met with critcism and such. Power Instinct <- Just go to this article and read all the claims it makes, and every other article related to it, including character articles and etc. Nightmare77 20:09, 3 June 2007 (UTC)
You are undoubtedly correct; such claims are obviously not supported by the existing references. See Wikipedia:Citing_sources#Unsourced_material for guidelines on what to do in this situation: you can (1) find a source, (2) add a {{fact}} tag, or (3) remove the statement from the article. Christopher Parham (talk) 20:13, 3 June 2007 (UTC)
Ok thanks for your help. The guy who maintains those articles though is a very stubborn and arrogant person who gets mad easily and hates me a lot. If he reverses my editing and such, I will report it to you...that's what I should do, no? Nightmare77 03:58, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
Wow, I think it's troublesome you think I hate you, which I don't. But if you have a personal problem with me, you can, you know, try talking to me about it? It's not hard. I, in fact, encourage people to talk to me if they have a personal issue with me. I'm not a complete jerk.
That's all I wanted to say. Anyways, go add "[citation needed]" tags to it all ya like, I gave up on it. Gonna give it its own wiki~ --Ralf Loire (Annoy) 05:27, 5 June 2007 (UTC)

Partial rewrite

Hello, I have attempted a partial rewrite of the part of this page beginning with "How to cite" through the end. The major changes were:

  • Restructure the page -- the first section discusses basic referencing (i.e. general references). The next section discusses inline citations. The goal of this was to put guidance on full citations first, since an understanding of them is necessary to the use of any inline citation system.
  • The footnotes and Harvard systems are moved ahead of embedded links. It seems evident that Harvard and footnotes are the two main systems here; embedded links is a distant third in terms of what we encourage people to use.
  • The sections on dealing with dead links and tagging uncited material are consolidated under a heading "Dealing with citation problems."

So far as I know there are no substantive alterations made. Feel free to revert my changes, edit them further, or discuss them below. Christopher Parham (talk) 01:22, 3 June 2007 (UTC)

I don't intend this as criticism of your partial rewrite or as a comment on your changes, except to the extent that I think deeper changes are needed. I think that the article should have the following main sections (titles are rough):
  1. Why sources should be cited
  2. When to cite sources
  3. What information a source citation should contain
  4. Ways in which sources may be cited
  5. Dealing with citation problems
  6. Tools useful in citing sources
Numbers 1, 2, 5, and 6 are now sections. Numbers 3 and 4 are not. The content which I think belongs in numbers 3 and 4 is mostly present in the article. I would rename How to cite sources to be Number 3 and Inline citations to be #4, and would move Citation templates into #4. Subsections in #4 would need some rewriting, and spots elsewhere probably deserve some rewriting.
I don't think that the material contained in the current Footnotes->Section headings subsection or the current Further reading/External links section belongs in this article at all. I believe that this article should try to be, as its intro describes it, "a style guide, describing how to write citations in articles." Considering WP:SS, I believe that guidance pertaining to where citations should be placed in articles should be left to WP:GTL. Some of the material relating to article layout which is currently in this article contradicts WP:GTL. I believe that to the extent that this article contains material relating to article layout, that material should agree with WP:GTL.
If there is any chance that it would not be wasted effort, I'm willing to take a whack at a rewrite draft along these lines. If I did that, I think that it would probably be best for me to do it in my user space, and tweak it there until there is consensus here on moving the rewrite into Wikipedia space. Comments? -- Boracay Bill 11:33, 3 June 2007 (UTC)
To address some of your points:
  • I wanted to limit the renaming of sections due to the fact that there are likely to be a large number of anchored links tied to the current section names.
  • I think this reorganization probably moves closer to your ideal layout than existed before. However I don't think your proposed division is as good as the current one. First, because "what information" is basically only a paragraph. Second, because the current structure puts everything that everybody ought to read under "how to cite"; and then puts the three different systems under their own heading. In your system, the three citation formats would be mixed in with material that applies to all of them, which I think would be more confusing.
  • Generally, "citation templates" belongs next to "full citations". The templates being discussed are ways of formatting full citations.
  • The further reading/external links section explains what to do with material that is not a citation, which is actually a useful part of the guideline -- often IPs come along and make no edits to an article other than to add material to the references section. This section of the guideline makes clear that those additions should be moved to further reading or deleted. I agree that this section should be kept brief.
  • The article is bound to contradict WP:GTL because there is no way that GTL can describe the vast number of different formats and layouts used for citations. (Even now there are multiple acceptable citation styles this article doesn't really touch upon.) To my knowledge everything described in the article is, in practice, an accepted form that appears in featured articles. Glancing at GTL I don't see any serious contradictions, but if they are there it is most likely GTL that is not reflective of current practice.
Christopher Parham (talk) 15:11, 3 June 2007 (UTC)
I'd like the lead in to be rewritten from the bullet list to something more narrative that expresses the goals - I guess there are really only two main points that are to be emphasised: credibility and contentiousness (the 2 Cs if you like), and the current bullet points say those things in different ways.
The other bit that is missing is around dealing with problems where it needs to be emphasised that aside from the living potential libel issue, it is a natural state of Wiki that articles develop and the lack of a citation should not be carte blanche for the rapid removal of information - deletion should normally be the last resort unless there is a sound basis for the information being considered false. I've definitely seen wiki-lawyering of citation get in the way of an evolving article.
Final point is that people need to be assured that it is fine for undisputed fact of "common knowledge" to be uncited: I would hate to see people feel that they needed to cite a statement such as "Manchester United are one of the most famous football teams in the world." even if some Manchester City supporter (that is me by the way!) might be a little aggrieved at the statement. Spenny 15:53, 3 June 2007 (UTC)

<unindent> Thank you very much for this rewrite, and in particular for making it clear that articles can be supported with references by the provision of general references – this was the way I did a few articles in the days before workable linked footnotes, and it would be tedious in the extreme to get the books out of the library again (if they were still available) and go through them searching for page numbers. The current enthusiasm for extreme referencing seems to be getting out of hand at times, and it would be helpful to have guidance that quality rather than quantity of references is important. I've had to deal with a tag added because the number of references didn't look enough for the length of article – as it happens, several references used were under External links, as had been common at the time of writing it, but the tagger hadn't bothered to look through the links and had just counted the number explicitly listed under references. We seem to be in a position where a few poor references will be accepted, but one very good general reference will result in incessant demands for more. .. dave souza, talk 23:01, 3 June 2007 (UTC)

The changes are definintely an improvement, thanks! I do not feel that the section headers need changing. here 03:38, 4 June 2007 (UTC)

I agree that this is a great improvement, but there is a very small addition that I find problematic. Under the Wikipedia:Citing_sources#How_to_cite_sources it now states: "In some articles, where all sources used for the article are cited inline, a separate section for general references will be omitted." I realize the "some" language makes it rather inderminate, but this seems to contradict the existing language in Wikipedia:Citing_sources#Embedded_links and Wikipedia:Embedded_citations both of which state that a "References" section is required. This seemingly minor difference has already been the cause of confusion and I think it is worthwhile to make a change. I would suggest removing the "In some articles, ..." sentence, but others might have other suggestions. Nposs 05:14, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

A references section is required for embedded links precisely because the sources are not cited inline -- no author, title, date information is presented inline. The sources are linked inline but citation details are provided in a reference section. Christopher Parham (talk) 14:34, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
That is how I view the situation, too. So then, this statement should be removed: "In some articles, where all sources used for the article are cited inline, a separate section for general references will be omitted." Nposs 15:35, 6 June 2007 (UTC)


Lets say someone famous has a Wikipedia page, and they decide to help contribute to it. However, someone would say many of the things they said needs to be sourced. However, the article is about a person, and that person edited it themselves, adding good, new information to their article. Are they allowed to do this without any citation neededs? Or would you have to prove it somehow, like make a video, upload it, and say "this user is my profile on Wikipedia, and I am adding information to my article." Could someone please answer this telling me wether a person who has a Wikipedia page could do this? Xihix 20:54, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

See WP:AUTO. Also, good information is information that can be verified. The identity of Wikipedia editors usually cannot be confirmed at all, and in the rare cases it can, it is too much trouble to expect an ordinary reader to be able to do it. Therefore, if the only reason to believe a piece of information is true is that a Wikipedia editor says so, the information is unreliable. --Gerry Ashton 21:08, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

Citing Email

I'm working on John Robb (GG theorist) and there is a lot of biographical information missing that I would like to include. John is fairly accessible through his website and through email, would it be acceptable to email him asking for some information and then put that on wikipedia, citing the email as a source. I'm talking thinks like birth date and location, school attended, jobs worked, fairly basic stuff that would really help round out the article. I'm just looking for some guidance before I try to do this. I don't want to waste my time if it won't be a valid source for the article. Grant 21:54, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

No. E-mails by definition are sent to certain individuals, and are therefore not accessible to the public for verification. --Gerry Ashton 22:35, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
Presumably, if he can point you to where such information is published by a reliable source, or since it's about himself if he chooses to put the info on his website, these options would be ok, but either way a verifiable source is necessary. ..dave souza, talk 22:52, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

How to find sources

The link Reliable source in How to find sources goes to a horribly complex disambiguation page. It seems to me that this topic needs more discussion to give guidance. At the moment the section on how to cite sources is rather too biased towards Googling. Generally I do not see quoting a Googled web page as much more reliable than a wiki link. If I follow the technique suggested, it says to me that the process is "Guess a fact" then "See if anyone else's guess matches". This is a Bellman's Rule of Three approach. In fact that section is encouraging a Dan Brown interpretation to the meaning of research, and by implication is suggesting the process is one of retro-fitting original research into wiki policy. (I've got quite irritated by that section, the more I think about it :) )

This is a necessary section but it needs to be far more authoritative before it deserves to be on the main page: it needs to state some sort of hierarchy of quality, some tests for the veracity of the data, and it needs to warn of the dangers of citing without quality undermining the citation process.

Spenny 07:39, 7 June 2007 (UTC)

i fixed link [1] . if a googled page qualifies wikipedia:reliable sources then it should be ok. as for section is concerned "finding source" is always for already existing content. Racky pt 11:55, 7 June 2007 (UTC)

I removed the section on finding sources for the following reasons:

1. The section is all about Googling. WP:RS makes it clear that there's much much more to finding sources than that.

2. It's badly misleading. If you Google a sentence and get a hit that is not a reliable source.

3. In any case it's not directly relevant to this article, which is about citing sources not finding them. That's why the article's title is "Citing sources". Finding sources requires an article in its own right and guess what, there is an excellent one at WP:RS which has several further useful links.

4. The section is badly written and almost devoid of any useful content.

andy 12:09, 7 June 2007 (UTC)

I should have been bolder. However, if you read through the article, there is not an obvious link into wikipedia:reliable sources - indeed the nutshell link goes to verification. I think a lead in paragraph needs to be put in to the How to cite sources just to point in that direction. I'll be brave. Spenny 14:09, 7 June 2007 (UTC)

Google searches as references

Some users are inserting Google searches as references in articles. See, for example, Royal Rife#References. This can't be kosher, can it? Is there a stated policy against this that I'm missing? -Sean Curtin 05:31, 9 June 2007 (UTC)

I have several discussions among editors where the consensus was that performing a google search is original research, since slight variations in the search terms can lead to much different results, and because the same search performed at different times can lead to different results. I think the place to discuss this would be [[Talk:WP:NOR]]. --Gerry Ashton 16:12, 10 June 2007 (UTC)

Le Corbusier pseudonym for Charles -Edouard Jeanneret

My name is Francis Corbisier,and ethymologic research has given me some information.Source :Noms de Familles en Belgique Romane: corbesier,corbisier,corbusier,corvoisier,corvisiercorbugy,corbusy(belgian walloon forms)name of a trade, old french or oldwalloon ( Liège )forms derived from corvois=cuir de Cordoue, leather from Cordoba/Spain.Name goes back to 13th century


Hi. I've recently added ProQuest references to the William Shakespeare article, an action that has been questioned by editors on Talk:William Shakespeare. ProQuest is basically a collection of various databases that contain various publications. The content on ProQuest databases that are available represents an exact copy of what can be found in the publication. For example, a copy of the New York Times that can be bought on the streets of New York can be found on ProQuest with no changes made to the text itself. Now the question that arose on Talk:William Shakespeare is: Is ProQuest a reliable source that is generally accepted in Wikipedia? As far as I know, many academic institutions use various databases in order to help their students access information like this. Shouldn't Wikipedia use subscription databases as well? If ProQuest is acceptable as an intermediate source (convenience source), what is the best method of citation? Must we use the APA, MLA, or the Wikipedia citation templates?--Romeo in love 15:48, 12 June 2007 (UTC)

    • Proquest is in general not a reference, Proquest is a system for accessing references. The reliability of Proquest is the reliability of the source you access through it: if its the NYTimes, it has the reliability of the NYTimes; if it's Prevention magazine, it has whatever reliability that source has.
The access that any individual user will have to Proquest will vary depending on the library or institution he's affiliated with--some parts are very expensive and specialized, some the opposite. What the user will be able to see also varies--richer libraries buy access to as much full text as possible, but there are less expensive portions of each segment showing only abstracts, purchased for example by many public libraries. Most of the material on Proquest is available on other services as well--there are approximate equivalents sold under the Wilson, Ebsco, Omnifile, Academic Index, FirstSearch, and other trademarks--what libraries will have varies; there is so much duplication that almost no library buys all the possibilities.
So the reference must be made to the source, because you do not know what version the user will have, and then the proquest link is added as a convenience. So if you are using the "cite"templates, you do not cite Proquest using the cite web template, you cite the NYTimes using the cite news template, and include the link to Proquest for those who have it. They may have it available in other versions: in print, on microfilm, from Lexis, from the NYTimes directly as a subscriber,... Given the publication date of the article and its title, anyone can find it on whatever system they have. You can also use any of the other citation styles--just give the main reference first to the actual source, then say "available in (whatever you used) and give the url and the date accessed. There are some editors trying to get everyone to use cite templates, but the essential thing is to stick with whatever the rest of the article uses.
In using most versions of Proquest, the link to use is at the bottom of the information about the document and before the text--it will usually give in at least subject, author, publication title, doi and document url. That is the url to use, not the one in your browser. It's good to use the doi also--its a unique numerical identifier for the document which works on any system. (magazine articles have them, newspaper articles do not) Any librarian can help, and will furthermore know the details of whatever system is available in that particular library. DGG 01:29, 14 June 2007 (UTC)

Proposal on similar topic

A few of the regular editors here might want to get involved in the discussions going on at Wikipedia:When to cite... an essay/guideline proposal that is very similar, but not exactly the same as sections of this guideline. I am concerned that if accepted we could end up with conflicting guidelines on the same subject. I am not saying that we will... only that there is a potential. One thing the proposal is trying to do is answer the question: "when DON'T you need to provide a citation?" Please pop over, read the essay and comment Blueboar 14:16, 14 June 2007 (UTC)

is vice macmahon really dead

is he

No--Wizardman 11:44, 15 June 2007 (UTC)

Taylor Allderdice High School reference format

The twelfth reference at the Taylor Allderdice High School article is a rather long one. I'd like to streamline it if that's possible, although there are concerns that doing so may distort the reference. So is it possible to streamline it without losing the integrity of the reference? This website [2] suggests two possible styles that I think could be adopted:

but I wouldn't know what fields go in where and how it would corrupt the reference. Appreciate any thought or help people can give. Hiding Talk 13:22, 15 June 2007 (UTC)

"Footnotes come after punctuation"

See these sections for previous discussions on this subject.

The prescription on where to place references tags was added to Wikipedia talk:Footnotes by SlimVirgin at 05:38, 17 May 2006 without any agreed consensus to do so. The prescription on where to place references tags was added to Wikipedia:Citing sources by SlimVirgin at 18:54, 29 October 2006. --Philip Baird Shearer 11:22, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

I don't know where this standard comes from, but I would suggest it be re-worded at least. For scientific articles, the industry standard is to put the citations before punctuation. Aside from the logical fallacy of having the citation in the folowing sentence (which is probably largely a matter of taste), all the leading scientific journals (Nature, Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) put the citations before the punctuation. I think conistency of our science articles with the global scientific standard (and humanities with the humanities standard, etc.) is more important than trying to impose a Wikipedia-wide style, so I would suggest the section be changed to reflect the diversity of approaches in the real world, or removed altogether. --Stemonitis 06:52, 16 June 2007 (UTC)

I have never seen a footnote come before punctuation. Do you mean like this[1]? SlimVirgin (talk) 07:28, 16 June 2007 (UTC)

Exactly like that. I can send you (or anyone) copies of articles from Science, Nature and PNAS to show how they do it, if you like. The formats differ slightly between journals, but all are consistent in their use of citations before punctuation. The other, "lesser", science journals tend to use fuller citation styles (Surname et al., 2006), which aren't really relevant here. --Stemonitis 07:30, 16 June 2007 (UTC)

I just looked one of them up, and they do indeed place refs before punctuation. It looks kind of ugly, like this[2]. It was decided when the ref tags were first used on WP that we'd do it the way most publishing houses do, which is refs after punctuation, and it's kind of stuck, I think. SlimVirgin (talk) 07:37, 16 June 2007 (UTC)
It would look particularly weird within a quote, and if it's a long article with lots of footnotes and large numbers, as in — Smith argued: "Volunteers should not be paid for their time[127]." SlimVirgin (talk) 07:44, 16 June 2007 (UTC)
I checked articles at both Science and PNAS, and did not see superscript footnotes before punctuation. The Science front-page article "Tracking Solar Gravity Mode" only uses superscript footnotes for the authors, and places them after punctuation. The rest of the article uses non-superscript inline numbers. Could you point to one article from these journals that has footnotes before punctuation? Gimmetrow 15:00, 16 June 2007 (UTC)
I don't see any great value in differentiating between those citations which are superscript and those which are not — that is merely a stylistic issue. PNAS citations come before punctuation: "The species are mainly self-pollinated (4), but they occasionally outcross as demonstrated by reports of natural hybrids between D. fladnizensis and D. nivalis (5)." Likewise Science: "Rare LDD events also provide the essential link between habitat fragments (12) and facilitate species coexistence—for example, by enabling competitively inferior species to persist alongside competitively superior species through greater LDD capacity (16)." The fact that they're not in superscript is of little importance. --Stemonitis 20:58, 16 June 2007 (UTC)
On the contrary, it is an essential difference. Superscripted ref marks are footnotes. Non-superscripted parenthetical or bracketed numbers are a variation of Harvard refs, go before punctuation like other Harvard refs, and are common in technical and scientific publications. Gimmetrow 23:08, 16 June 2007 (UTC)
I'm afraid I can't agree with you there. The difference between "(Surname et al., 200x)" and "(1)" is massively greater than the difference between "(1)" and "[1]". In both cases, they refer to an item listed elsewhere, whether you call it a footnote or a reference list. Since Wikipedia is not paginated, there is page foot to put footnotes at, so such a distinction is not possible. To claim that a slightly smaller print size makes a critical difference while the inclusion or concealment of authors' names and year of publication makes none is clearly absurd. --Stemonitis 17:39, 17 June 2007 (UTC)
Well, I find the superscripting to be critical. Non-superscripted numbers before punctuation is a standard and common-used LaTeX style option interchangeable with Harvard refs. On the other hand, I am not aware of any style guide which suggests, let alone encourages, superscripted numbers before punctuation. Gimmetrow 22:49, 17 June 2007 (UTC)

Well, some of the problem with quotes is by-passed if you use British-style punctuation (as I do): someone said "a notable phrase"[2]. Ugliness is entirely in the eye of the beholder, and I find it much more jarring to have the citation outside the sentence it refers to, perhaps because I'm used to reading scientific papers. Since a variety of approaches clearly exists, I think it would be reasonable to reflect this in the guidelines. It is more important that we have consistency within articles and within topics than throughout the entire project. Science articles should at least be allowed to use this widespread and respected standard. --Stemonitis 08:27, 16 June 2007 (UTC)

I use British style exclusively and IMHO it should be the one adopted by default. The reason is simple and has nothing to do with aesthetics: Americna style does not allow to differentiate between a reference or footnote pertaining to an entire paragraph (in British style, put after punctuation) or to one sentence or even the last part of one sentence (in British style, put before punctuation). British style provides information, American style obscures information. Simple as that. Dysmorodrepanis 13:14, 16 June 2007 (UTC)
Do you have any evidence this is a national style? In any event, it still conveys no information on wikipedia unless it is possible to distinguish this convention from random placement, which is very common. The location of the ref mark is too fragile to encode information. Gimmetrow 15:00, 16 June 2007 (UTC)
Yes, I'd like to see evidence that it's a national style, as I'd never seen it before last night. Also, how is putting refs before punctuation more informative? What do you do if you have one ref for a number of sentences or a paragraph? SlimVirgin (talk) 21:08, 16 June 2007 (UTC)
Sorry, I see the last point was answered above. But refs-after-punc can still be used to source part of a sentence. SlimVirgin (talk) 21:10, 16 June 2007 (UTC)
It's not "national" style, these are just the terms that have popped up in the discussion here and elsewhere. German publications, for example, tend to use before-and-after ("British" style in the above), but IIRC the "American" style is as per Chicago Manual. At any rate,
"Also, how is putting refs before punctuation more informative? What do you do if you have one ref for a number of sentences or a paragraph?"
Note that "British" style uses both, as I said above. If it would always put the refs before punctuation, it is of course not more informative. By using both possibilities, it is readily apparent (if you care to care about such issues) what part of a paragraph is sourced by what reference. Using after-punctuation style, it is not; any reference may pertain to the entire paragraph or any constituent part thereof, and apart from reading the reference itself (not just the citation) there is no sure way to tell which is which. Dysmorodrepanis 21:59, 16 June 2007 (UTC)
Unfortunately, if it is not readily apparent whether a note mark is placed intentionally or accidentally, a convention using notes both before and after punctuation is indistinguishable from random noise, and so contains the same information as random noise. If a convention using both can be shown to exist (so far this has not been shown), it still would not follow that Wikipedia should endorse it as an option. WP does not use American-style punctuation within quotations, for instance. Gimmetrow 22:49, 17 June 2007 (UTC)
Amen. Just for info, WP:FN says:

Where to place ref tags

Place a ref tag at the end of the term, phrase, sentence, or paragraph to which the note refers.[3]

When placed at the end of a clause or sentence the ref tag should be directly after the punctuation mark without an intervening space,[3] in order to prevent the reference number wrapping to the next line.[3] The same is true for successive ref tags.[2][3] The exception is a dash[3]—which should follow the ref tag. This is the format recommended by the Chicago Manual of Style.[4]
3. ^ a b c d e This is the convention used in the Chicago Manual of Style.
4. ^ "Note reference numbers. The superior numerals used for note reference numbers in the text should follow any punctuation marks except the dash, which they precede. The numbers should also be placed outside closing parentheses." The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th ed. 1993, Clause 15.8, p. 494.

note: I neglected to sign the above, which was an unsigned earlier comment by myself. Continuing on, though...
I've re-removed the {{dubious}} tag just restored by User:Stemonitis. The edit summary which accompanied the restoration of the tag said: "(restore {{dubious}} tag - no consensus is apparent on talk page, and no compelling reason for this rule has been given.)
Looking again at the WP:FN page from which I got the quote above, I see that it has a notice box at its head which a contains notice beginning as follows:
This page is considered a style guideline on Wikipedia. It is generally accepted among editors and is considered a standard that all users should follow.
That speaks to the question of the need for a consensus on this talk page regarding points covered by that style guideline, I think.
Regarding the compelling reason for this, that is explained in the quote above from said style guideline — the reference is placed directly after the punctuation "... in order to prevent the reference number wrapping to the next line." -- Boracay Bill 09:14, 18 June 2007 (UTC)
You have merely asserted that there must be a consensus, because the text wouldn't be there if there wasn't, without providing any direct evidence of consensus either historical or current (n.b. consensus can change). And the placement of references before or after punctuation makes no difference to line wrapping becuase there is no whitespace involved in either case (and in any case, judicious use of non-breaking spaces can solve any potential problems in that regard). None of these arguments has any bearing on the matter at hand, therefore.
I am not saying that putting citations after punctuation is wrong, merely that we should not be insisting upon it, when the most respected publications in a given field use a different format. I ask again, is there any compelling reason why this aspect of the guideline should be enforced, and if not, can it be re-worded to reflect the variation between topics, please? I think something like "footnotes at the end of a sentence or phrase are usually placed immediately after the punctuation, although scientific publications put the citation before the punctuation, and this method is also acceptable". This would make it clear that in most cases, post-punctuational citation is de rigeur, but without ruling against other methods. --Stemonitis 10:16, 18 June 2007 (UTC)
Don't go screaming "consensus can change", please. It's to you to demonstrate that it has changeg, not to use to provide "any direct evidence of consensus either historical or current." The fact it's been in the guideline for well over a year and cited in countless FACs is testament to consensus (as Wikipedia:Consensus,of which WP:CCC is a part, clearly states).Circeus 16:12, 20 June 2007 (UTC)
Sorry, I was unclear. I merely meant that consensus should be allowed to change. Rules are not written in stone here, so to quote the length of time something has been a guideline as supporting evidence is quite a circular argument. Similarly, FA discussions tend to insist on guidelines being followed to the letter, but I don't think this necessarily counts as evidence of consensus. They are insisted upon because they are written down as guidelines, not necessarily because of the underlying consensus, it seems to me. --Stemonitis 05:57, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
I suggest that this discussion on contesting the Wikipidia style guideline set forth in WP:FN be moved over to Wikipedia_talk:Footnotes (the talk page fot that style guideline), where it more properly belongs. -- Boracay Bill 13:05, 18 June 2007 (UTC)
But it does not just affect footnotes, though these are the format in which there is the non-breaking space problem. A move to WP:FN would be appropriate if anybody would argue for addition of a non-breaking space. But this is not the case. Dysmorodrepanis 14:02, 18 June 2007 (UTC)
I am not contesting the style, merely its ubiquity. --Stemonitis 13:50, 18 June 2007 (UTC)
I have left a note at Wikipedia talk:Footnotes, alerting those people to this discussion, and I would suggest that the discussion continue here, just to keep it all in one place. --Stemonitis 15:38, 18 June 2007 (UTC)
Thanks. The discussion belongs here because the fundamental issue concerns the scope of a citation, not the placement of a note link. There is no convention or software support for establishing which part of an article is being referenced by a citation.
How far back from a note link does a citation refer?
The ambiguity can be resolved by the following convention:
  • A citation extends to the previous citation or to beginning of the paragraph.
This convention defines the scope of each citation.
I can imagine that in the future, with additional software support, editors will be able select a block of text for a citation, and readers will be able to click anywhere in an article and see the associated citations.
--Jtir 18:50, 18 June 2007 (UTC)
Add: A citation at the end of a sentence applies to the previous citation within that sentence or otherwise to the beginning of that sentence. (I think this is the way its usually used here. ) —Preceding unsigned comment added by DGG (talkcontribs) (01:55, 21 June 2007)
That would be m:Wikicite. -- John Broughton (♫♫) 13:32, 19 June 2007 (UTC)
I would oppose the adoption of a convention like that as unworkable in practice and generally unnecessary. The scope of a citation is precisely the facts that it supports; the structure of citations does not imply any information about what material comes from that citation. In general, if it is important to note what material is supported by a particular citation, that information can be supplied in the citation itself (e.g. "this work supports the following three paragraphs"). Christopher Parham (talk) 18:26, 19 June 2007 (UTC)
I entirely concur with Christopher Parham. Dysmorodrepanis 19:34, 19 June 2007 (UTC)

To return to my original point, and at the risk of sounding like a broken record, has anyone got a good reason why I shouldn't re-word the guideline as suggested above, which will not require sweeping changes, but will allow a widespread scientific method of citation to be used. If I don't hear anything over the next few days, I will assume that nobody objects. I think it is now clear that there are no technical issues to worry about, but I may have overlooked something else. --Stemonitis 06:52, 20 June 2007 (UTC)

What exactly are you proposing? So far, nobody has pointed to a single style guide which even suggests using superscripted note marks before punctuation. I see no reason to change anything. Gimmetrow 06:55, 20 June 2007 (UTC)
The style guides used by the most presitigious scientific journals all clearly call for the footnotes to be placed before punctuation. In Science and PNAS, they are not superscript, but I don't believe that makes any difference, as I have outlined above. A footnote is a footnote whether you use superscript, subscript, a number in a circle, Roman numerals or whatever; they are all numbers referring to a reference in a numbered list. The Nature group of journals do use superscripts for references. I want to change the wording so that rather than insisting on having footnotes after punctuation (which is not a style I have seen in scientific publications), it would allow them to come before punctuation, at least for science articles. The change I suggested above (and I'm open to suggestion to improve the wording) was "footnotes at the end of a sentence or phrase are usually placed immediately after the punctuation, although scientific publications put the citation before the punctuation, and this method is also acceptable". --Stemonitis 07:14, 20 June 2007 (UTC)
I still find superscripted and non-superscripted different. I've said I have no problem with non-superscripted bracketed numbers before punctuation (assuming this is consistent within an article). These are common in scientific publications largely because of LaTeX, in which a cite may be rendered with Havard refs or a number of other forms with trivial changes. It would probably be nice if Wikipedia had a mechanism to do numbered, non-superscript citations, but aside from inline urls, it doesn't really exist to my knowledge. Someone could probably create a set of templates, or add the functionality to the Harvard ref templates.
With superscripted ref marks, it does not necessarily follow that because one publication does something, WP must allow for that too. (I still haven't found where Nature requires this.) I know one publication using superscripted numbers both at the 1start and the end of phrases cited as a form of "scope",1 but I wouldn't expect to use that convention on WP. WP has a number of in-house styles, and "superscripted ref marks come after punctuation" has pretty much become one of them. Gimmetrow 08:35, 20 June 2007 (UTC)
If there are already a number of styles, then adding one minor variant probably won't make much difference. I can send you example Nature articles if you like, to see how they do it; it's certainly not a start-and-end style, which I have never seen. --Stemonitis 09:27, 20 June 2007 (UTC)
I wasn't clear. Wikipedia has a number of in-house styles which rule out other styles. Some issues with dashes and American-style punctuation in quotes come to mind. These exist in other publications, but WP doesn't use them. I would suggest that the "superscripted footnotes after punctuation" is one of these house styles. I know what Nature articles look like, but I was unable to find where Nature actually requires superscripted footnotes before punctuation. Gimmetrow 22:56, 20 June 2007 (UTC)
I still don't quite understand your query aobut "requirement". All Nature articles are formatted exclusively in that manner. Isn't that clear evidence that that's the only format they accept? We don't need to see their private style manual in full to be able to work out what they prefer — we can see the results in print. --Stemonitis 05:49, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
Stemonitis: Stop asking us to look at printed articles - that would be original research. Show us their style guide. I know we're not talking about an article but it's their style guide that would support your arguement, not their (possibly incorrect) application of their style guide. Garrie 04:06, 22 June 2007 (UTC)
It is so vastly unlikely that they've been misapplying their own stlye rules for the last many years that we can ignore that possibility outright. As you say, WP:OR applies to articles, not to guidelines. Most publishers do not make their in-house style manuals public, but that doesn't prevent us from seeing exactly what they are by the output they produce. --Stemonitis 05:48, 22 June 2007 (UTC)
Most journals, Nature included, make their style guides available online for authors. I have looked through it and haven't found this detail in the style guides. Can you find it? Gimmetrow 06:16, 22 June 2007 (UTC)
I've looked again, having found nothing the first time, and come up with this: [3]. It isn't explicit about placement before or after punctuation, but they do state that articles are subedited to conform to the house style. In my experience, many journals provide examples rather than written-out rules for authors to follow, usually along the lines of "consult a recent issue". I really don't think the fact that they haven't made their in-house rules available to the public is of any significance. --Stemonitis 06:35, 22 June 2007 (UTC)
Journals provide "guidelines for authors" (here's one I would use [4]) that are very much less than "manuals of style". There is no way that academics would bother with manuals of style for each journal! In the old days, these details would be handled by copy-editors. These days it often done with templates / mark up. Like the LaTeX cite package, the citation is marked up *before* any punctuation and the placing / formatting of the citation mark in the text is determined in processing. FWIW this journal (like all the Elsevier ones?) uses [<number>] referencing before punctuation. Even for superscript marks, it seems slightly inconsistent to use "logical" quoting and then move citation marks over punctuation (but not dashes of course, because that would be?). 11:03, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

I concur with the long-standing consensus on Wikipedia about footnotes after punctuation; super-scripted footnotes are not the same as the Harvard style in use in the journals mentioned, and aren't comparable. Putting super-scripted footnotes before punctuation looks ridiculous; I don't think we need to change our online style. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 03:54, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

Whether or not is looks "ridiculous" is entirely a matter of taste and carries no objective weight. I think it looks ridiculous to have the citation off in the next sentence or clause; others don't. I was looking for reasons against it, rather than opinions. I will stress again: I'm not looking to make footnotes before punctuation mandatory, merely tolerable. Finally, the journals mentioned do not use "Harvard style" (Surname and Surnams, 200x), which was exactly my point in the first place. --Stemonitis 05:45, 26 June 2007 (UTC)
I agree with the practice of placing super-scripted footnotes after punctuation, which is the most common format standard that I see in academic publications which pertain to my areas of interest. The only exception to this is if a sentence includes citations for certain specific words or ideas which occur in the body of the sentence that are being cited independently, a practice which I have seen used particularly in medical literature. But even in those exceptional cases where embedded footnotes are used, the final note on the sentence seems to always follow the period. Buddhipriya 05:59, 26 June 2007 (UTC)
Note that WP:FN does not require that every footnote be at a punctuation break. I know you did not say that, but it reminded me that I've seen a few people who moved citations to the end of a clause because they throught every cite had follow some punctuation. Gimmetrow 06:55, 26 June 2007 (UTC)
But this is not always the case — the most authoritative scientific journals (which is my area of interest) use a different format, and I can't see a reason (nor has one yet been given) why I shouldn't be allowed to use it. I have only ever been asking for a little leniency to be added to the guideline, not for a general switch to a different method. --Stemonitis 06:07, 26 June 2007 (UTC)
Nature does not allow for multiple styles in this regard. Why should Wikipedia? Consistent typography provides a uniform appearance to articles, especially featured articles. Does it really matter that much what that style is? Whenever I've submitted an article to a journal, I've done my best to make the article correspond to whatever happened to be the journal's consistent style, not the other way around. Gimmetrow 06:55, 26 June 2007 (UTC)
Finally, we reach the crux of the issue, which is how much standardisation is possible and how much is desirable. Wikipedia is not paper and is far bigger than any other reference work is ever likely to be. It covers diverse fields is considerable depth, each with its own academic history and traditions. Yes, consistency lends a certain sheen to Wikipedia, but it is much more important that the different branches of Wikipedia are true to the methods used in their respective fields than that Wikipedia as a whole should be made uniform (even if that were possible). It is commonplace in humanities, for instance, to insist on individual page numbers for cited statements, but this would look ridiculous to someone used to scientific citation. I'm sure there are aspects of scientific citation which would jar to a humanities specialist. There is little advantage to be gained from having all of Wikipedia's articles, whether they be about characters in soap operas, historical battles or biological taxa all formatted identically, but it does make sense for articles on each of these topics to reflect the established style used outside Wikipedia. --Stemonitis 07:09, 26 June 2007 (UTC)
Well, If you want to write articles in the style commonly found in journals on scientific topics, which is non-superscripted numbers before punctuation, please do so. Gimmetrow 08:03, 26 June 2007 (UTC)
<Ref> tags unfortunately don't give us that option. They produce superscripted numbers in square brackets as standard, and as I've mentioned before, scientific journals are split between superscript and non-superscript; I see no reason to insist on only non-superscript numbers before punctuation. --Stemonitis 08:41, 26 June 2007 (UTC)
You are not required to use the cite.php (ref tag) mechanism. The superscript form of the style that you want exists in scientific literature, but it's not the majority style. I see no reason to change the guideline; has anyone supported your proposed change? (Not counting User:Dysmorodrepanis, who wants something else.) Gimmetrow 16:13, 26 June 2007 (UTC)
While we are not truly obliged to use cite.php, there is a de facto requirement to use it. Very few decent articles do not, and the inconsistency caused by using alternatives is far greater than the internal inconsistency introduced by adding the flexibility of allowing punctuation to follow citations. --Stemonitis 06:08, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

SlimVirgin you wrote above "It was decided when the ref tags were first used on WP that we'd do it the way most publishing houses do, which is refs after punctuation, and it's kind of stuck, I think. You added the prescriptions on where to place references tags (Wikipedia:Footnotes SlimVirgin at 05:38, 17 May 2006 Wikipedia:Citing sources SlimVirgin at 18:54, 29 October 2006). It was some time after tags had been in use on Wikipedia pages and there has never been a consensus for this. --Philip Baird Shearer 11:22, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

It is not just scientific articles which use other conventions. The "uniform stylistic rules and conventions which must be used by all the institutions, bodies and agencies of the European Union" says in 8.1. Footnote references: "figure in superscript between parentheses with same value as the text, preceded by a fine space and followed by any punctuation". This article in the International Review of the Red Cross clearly shows that the use of the footnote before punctuation. --Philip Baird Shearer 11:36, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

That example doesn't show superscripts; its shows inlines, as in Harvard refs. You may use those on Wiki if you like, but the superscripted footnotes of cite.php are not the same as Harvard inlines. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 14:00, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
Harvard referencing include an author and a year. The latter example does not show Harvard references. It shows numbered footnotes, which is exactly what we're discussing. The differences in type size and vertical placement pale in significance before the inclusion of author and year. --Stemonitis 14:23, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

SandyGeorgia you wrote above "I concur with the long-standing consensus on Wikipedia about footnotes ...". Now that I have included the links to the initial edits and links to previous discussions about this, do you now realise that there has never been a consensus on this issue? Indeed did you read in a previous discussion that shortly after the prescription was edited in by SlimVirgin that there were about 12,000 articles where the footnote came before the punctuation mark. Even if one assumes that 90% of those were unintentional that still left 1,200 articles that had been deliberately structured that way. Those footnote tags on those pages were probably added by a lot more people than have expressed agreement with the prohibition on placing reference tags before punctuation marks. --Philip Baird Shearer 17:39, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

Against this backdrop, I feel justified in restoring the {{dubious}} tag. There clearly is disagreement here. The best solution in the long term may be simply to remove that section from the guidelines. We don't need to prescribe such things. --Stemonitis 17:46, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
There appears to be a handful of editors, perhaps only one, arguing that Wikipedia should not have a style of its own. For our purposes, having footnotes after punctuation is useful; it helps ensure that there is some, and not two. (I do not recommend being obnoxious about this; this page is a guideline, after all.) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:15, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
While I appreciate the irony in adding the dubious tag before the full stop, it's not really justified. Philip wants a style which allows for footnotes both before and after punctuation within the same article to encode some sort of information. There is, I think, a pretty clear consensus against that, and the linked discussions (I've fixed one) which have raised this issue for over a year, without a change to the guideline, are proof. What you want is less objectionable, but I just don't see a good reason to change the Wikipedia style at this point. Gimmetrow 18:28, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
Gimmetrow did you read this one? "I've changed the project page to reflect the current state of non-consensus. --Ligulem 09:28, 14 June 2006 (UTC)". After an initial edit war I have refrained from altering the pages, but that does not mean I agree with the current wording. It is not I who is trying to force editors to adopt any particular style. --Philip Baird Shearer 19:03, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
I think that this guideline should be descriptive on this issue not prescriptive. We could rewrite the section in this guideline to point out that as recommended by style guides fu bar that some editors prefer footnote tags to go after the punctuation, but that some other editors prefer that the footnote tag goes before the punctuation so that it is clear if the citation is for that clause or for all the clauses since the last footnote or the start of the paragraph; and that which ever choice is made for an article page there should be a consensus to change from one style to the other. --Philip Baird Shearer 18:41, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

Arbitrary section break

This section is too large to edit, so I'm adding a section break. We're going over the same points. Philip has regularly brought up some convention that would attach some meaning to whether a ref mark is before or after punctuation. They could occur both ways in the same article. Despite being asked for months, he has not provided a style guide which talks about this convention. I think it's pretty clear that consensus is against anything like that, both for stylistic and technical reasons. It's not clear how this convention would be distinguished from random placement. Now, there *is* a style used outside Wikipedia which puts ref marks before punctuation all the time, and this is what Stemonitis is proposing be allowed. While I don't see a great reason to change Wikipedia's style on this regard either, it's clearly a different issue. Please keep these issues distinct. Gimmetrow 19:52, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

Actually, Philip makes several points. Firstly, that the guideline should be descriptive, not prescriptive. Secondly, that different styles are possible and are in fact used. Thirdly, that consensus should be reached at each article for a change of style. All of those points are generally applicable even if we ignore the meaning that placement would have under his system. You cannot discount his entire message because you disagree with one aspect of it. I don't necessarily agree with that aspect of it, but the remaining points are good points and are pertinent to the discussion we've been having before. --Stemonitis 05:47, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
I was not suggesting that it is my words or no words. I am happy to go with a compromise that does not give the alternative explanation of what it means to place a footnote to the right of a full stops, (particularly when it is at the end of a paragraph). For example as mentioned above the revision edited into Wikipedia:Footnotes by Ligulem on 14 June 2006 as a compromise to this previous discussion, (one which at the time I thought had put this issue to bed) is quite acceptable to me. --Philip Baird Shearer 08:46, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
And to me. Any dissenters? --Stemonitis 09:17, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
Fine; there is no consensus. This will at least have the benefit of stopping GA hassling people over it. I would deprecate any effort to encode information in footnote placement; because it will mislead people reading other articles, where the convention is not adopted. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:16, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
Well, I tried to change the wording to reflect this small consensus that there is no consensus for the enforcement of pre-punctuational citation, but was reverted by SandyGeorgia because there was "no consensus". If there is no consensus now that it be so, then it should not be included in the guidelines, which should not only reflect the consensus, but should also reflect the lack of consensus. If there is no consensus for a guideline (and there seems not to be consensus for this aspect now, even if there was once before), then it should not be kept merely because it's been around a long time. There does seem to be acceptance that the practice is not universal, because the {{dubious}} tag has tended to be left alone. That must, however, be only a temporary measure. If consensus cannot be reached that the guideline is to remain as stated (and there are several voices fairly adamantly against it), then it should be re-worded to reflect the new consensus or lack thereof. I cannot understand why my change was undone, but I am loath to make it again directly. I do not honestly know if there was consensus in the past for this (Philip Baird Shearer asserts there was not; SandyGeorgia asserts that there was), but there certainly seems to be none now, and nobody objected to the proposed wording linked by Philip Baird Shearer, with both myself and Pmanderson concurring. It's not a large statistical sample, but it's all I had to work on. It also seems like a harmless change, because people who are uncertain and looking for advice will still default to the post-punctuational style as currently required, but it will allow those who prefer to do it otherwise to do so, and will hopefully cut out the many edits which consist of merely switching from one style to the other. --Stemonitis 06:37, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
I've tried an edit which recommends after punctuation, but deprecates switching. Let's see what happens. I do think that relying on switching between before and after punctuation is a recipe for misunderstanding, and have said so; but if someone disagrees, fine. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:36, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

The new text

PMAnderson added

Some words, phrases or facts must be referenced mid-sentence; we recommend placing footnotes at the end of a sentence or phrase immediately after the punctuation. For example: President Bush called for a halt to the violence,[3] and opposed a timetable for withdrawal.[4]
Some editors prefer other styles. Each article should be consistent, and editing solely to change this placement is deprecated, like changes in date style and between national varieties of English. Some style guides recommend changing the placement of footnotes depending on whether the footnote applies to the whole sentence or clause. Some editors are wary of this, since it is uncertain whether readers will understand the distinction; and if they rely on it, they will be mislead. It is clearer to state the scope of a note inside the note.

The problems with this text:

  1. We do not recommend placing footnotes at the end of sentences or phrases, as if that's where they *should* appear. The previous form said that when footnotes fall at the end of a sentence or phrase, they are placed after punctuation.
  2. It's good that consistency is mentioned (this was a serious problem with the version suggested by Philip), but simply saying "editors are wary" of Philip's convention is far too weak. Consensus is against Philip's convention.
  3. "Some style guides" - Philip has been asked for style guides, and has not provided any.
  4. Articles at FAC will be edited to make the placement consistent. I still see no reason to make this change, but if it happens, the style will have to be either consistently not before punctuation, or consistently not after punctuation. Not mixed. Gimmetrow 15:03, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

If this change finds consensus, then it would need to be phrased something like:

Some words, phrases or facts must be referenced mid-sentence; footnotes at the end of a sentence or phrase are placed immediately after the punctuation according to the Chicago Manual of Style.[5] For example: President Bush called for a halt to the violence,[6] and opposed a timetable for withdrawal.[7] Some editors prefer to place footnotes before punctuation, as found in Nature. Each article should consistently follow one style or the other.

Where to from here? Gimmetrow 15:20, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

The clause about the CMS is ambiguous; are we recommending this, or observing that they do? I would decide what advice we should give, and put CMS in the footnote. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:41, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
Some words, phrases or facts must be referenced mid-sentence; we recommend that footnotes at the end of a sentence or phrase be placed immediately after the punctuation.[8] For example: President Bush called for a halt to the violence,[9] and opposed a timetable for withdrawal.[10] Some editors prefer to place footnotes before punctuation, as found in Nature. Each article should consistently follow one style or the other.
Some words, phrases or facts must be referenced mid-sentence; the Chicago Manual of Style provides that footnotes at the end of a sentence or phrase are placed immediately after the punctuation.[11] For example: President Bush called for a halt to the violence,[12] and opposed a timetable for withdrawal.[13]Nature places footnotes before punctuation. Most editors prefer the first; some editors the second. Each article should consistently follow one style or the other.
Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:48, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

These are getting better, but I would like to avoid "we recommend". Gimmetrow 16:32, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

Some words, phrases or facts must be referenced mid-sentence; footnotes at the end of a sentence or phrase are placed immediately after the punctuation according to the Chicago Manual of Style.[14] For example: President Bush called for a halt to the violence,[15] and opposed a timetable for withdrawal.[16] The journal Nature places footnotes before punctuation. Most editors prefer the first; some editors the second—each article should consistently follow one style or the other.
You can not know if this is true: "Most editors prefer the first; some editors the second" it could just as easily be written "Some editors prefer the first, many editors the second" or "Some editors prefer the first, some the second, and most don't care as they never footnote anything". --Philip Baird Shearer 17:04, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
This paragraph does not leave open the possibility of other styles such as that displayed in this article: "The Law of Air Warfare" that appeared in International Review of the Red Cross no 323. How about a bit of both:
Some words, phrases or facts must be referenced mid-sentence, while others are referenced at the end. Many editors put the reference tags after punctuation, which is recommended by the Chicago Manual of Style (CMoS),[17] but some editors prefer other styles shuch as those used by Nature (journal). Each article should be internally consistent, but editing solely to change from one style to another throughout an article is deprecated unless there is a consensus to make the change.
--Philip Baird Shearer 17:00, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
This is better. The previous versions, with a semicolon after "must be referenced mid-sentence" suggested that the Chicago Manual of Style somehow affected that, which it doesn't; it is true regardless of citation style. The only change I would suggest is to replace "Nature]" with something more general. Despite some comments above, other eminent journals also put footnotes that are clearly not Harvard–style references before punctuation. At the very least, it should be "the Nature journals", but something like "many academic publications" would convey the meaning without getting bogged down into specifics. --Stemonitis 17:26, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
Not all journals of the Nature group do it as Nature does, so that's inappropriate. And I very strongly object to Philip's wording for reasons already given multiple times. Gimmetrow 18:08, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
I still object to any change; Wiki is not print, it's online, and it's big enough now to have its own style that makes sense for the medium. We don't need to do what one journal does, particularly when it's not superscripted as cite.php is. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 18:13, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
None of these adopt Nature's style; they permit it. Some editors will in fact use it, whatever this page says, and working guidelines should be descriptive, especially over such a triviality as this. Deciding whether "before punctuation" is wrong is more pointless an argument than whether BC or BCE is wrong. I think after punctuation looks better myself; but I see no harm in editors on other articles disagreeing. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:12, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
In my view any consistent, comprehensible style is fine; consistency across articles is generally of little or no value, so there is no reason not to let article writers use any format they find sensible. Christopher Parham (talk) 01:01, 30 June 2007 (UTC)
PBS' example does not persuade me deeply; I see one note before a comma, one before a dash, and the rest after punctuation; this is as likely to be a typo as a style. I propose a middle road: Philip likes his style; Gimmetrow doesn't — let's say so.
Some words, phrases or facts must be referenced mid-sentence, while others are referenced at the end. Many editors put the reference tags after punctuation (except dashes), as is recommended by the Chicago Manual of Style (CMoS).[18] Some editors prefer the style of those journals, like Nature, which place references after punctuation. Some editors prefer mixed styles; but other editors deprecate them, and they are open to being misunderstood. Each article should be internally consistent, but editing solely to change from one style to another throughout an article is deprecated unless there is a consensus to make the change.
Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:22, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

In scientific publishing there does not appear to be a consensus on whether superscripted reference citations should go before or after punctuation. On the one hand there is the editorial standard of Nature, which—beyond any reasonable doubt—is to use superscripted reference citations and to place them before punctuation. However, not all prominent scientific journals that use superscripted citations follow this standard: case in point is Physical Review B, a journal not quite as prestigious as Nature, but nevertheless a highly respected outlet for condensed matter physics. As it happens, while the other sections of the Physical Review (A, C, D, E, and Letters) use the bracketed format of reference citations, the B section uses the superscripted one (see [5]). The superscripted reference citations of Phys. Rev. B always go after punctuation, as in ...the series is convergent only if the overlap integrals are small.10 That is a quote from Phys. Rev. B v. 1. p. 1 (1970), but I checked a bunch of articles in recent issues, and they all use this style as well. (There are now quite a few articles available without subscription at [6] if someone without institutional subscription wishes to repeat the exercise.) Just as is apparently the case with Nature, the relevant editorial rule is not stipulated anywhere explicitly, but is clearly enforced at the post-acceptance processing level. This, I suppose, weakens the case against the recommendation currently in place at Wikipedia:Citing_sources#Footnotes_come_after_punctuation. Reuqr 05:07, 30 June 2007 (UTC)

The example I gave is probably is not a mistake as the ICRC International Review does not seem to suggest a position for a footnote tag (although they do make other suggestions). See Guidelines for submitting manuscripts to the International Review of the Red Cross ->the Instructions for referencing and footnotes for the International Review of the Red Cross . Just to prove it here is a third article from their journal which uses footnote tags only after the punctuation marks.
I don't agree that finding other styles weakens the case for changing this prescription that only the CMS should be used, I think it enhances it because it shows that there are many different styles in use. In fact there is probably enough information on this talk page to create an Wkikipedia article on the subject. However I think there is no harm in formulating the words that some editors prefer to use one specific style (CMS) because it gives guidance to those who have never placed a footnote on an article and they will appreciate it, while not annoying other editors who are used to seeing other styles and have used that style on pages they edit. I don't want a prohibition on using other styles, because that encourages some editors to change the style on a page, quoting this guideline as a club to do it, without a local consensus. That leads to disharmony and edit wars. --Philip Baird Shearer 09:19, 30 June 2007 (UTC)
If "don't agree"'s to me, I did not mean that, merely that I doubted the example was a mixed style. Septentrionalis PMAnderson

Everybody but Sandy seems to dislike prohibiting "after punctuation"; what we say about a mixed style needs work. I propose adding, in about 24 hours:

Some words, phrases or facts must be referenced mid-sentence, while others are referenced at the end. Many editors put the reference tags after punctuation (except dashes), as is recommended by the Chicago Manual of Style (CMoS).[19] Some editors prefer the style of those journals, like Nature, which place references after punctuation. Each article should be internally consistent, but editing solely to change from one style to another throughout an article is deprecated unless there is a consensus to make the change.

At that point we can discuss or edit to a convergence on mixed styles. I like my proposal above, of course; but nobody else has commented. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:34, 30 June 2007 (UTC)

I don't know what you mean by `everybody but Sandy,' and your text above still has the problem that it appears to tell people to make all ref marks coincide with punctuation. I would much prefer that the style used on Wikipedia for the better part of a year remain--I see no reason Wikipedia cannot have a house style, and so I object to changing the guideline to allow for the "Nature" style, which is rightfully theirs. But if we are making it a principle that Wikipedia has no in–house style, then we might as well throw out much of the MANUAL_OF_STYLE, which is just as “descriptive, not prosciptive” as this point. On the contrary, when something is a tmbad ideatm, it is rightly discouraged or disallowed. I am not alone in the opinion that PBS's convention is a tmbad ideatm, and should not be used, and if any article using PBS's convention makes it to FAC, I am fairly confident the consensus will be to change the article regardless of what this guideline says. I frankly don't see why there is a fuss over such a trivial typographical issue―with any other publication, you would make your text conform to the publication's style. Gimmetrow 01:39, 1 July 2007 (UTC)
Septentrionalis I am in favour of your wording. As for a roll you own inhouse style "be carful what you wish for" Gimmetrow you might end up with my style, (which is used by many other people than just me, see for example United Nations), and then you would be even less happy ;-) Just to satisfy my curiosity if someone is using Nature style how would one indicate that a citation was for a whole paragraph without tagging every sentence in the paragraph if no tags are allowed after a full stop? --Philip Baird Shearer 14:13, 1 July 2007 (UTC)
I suppose in general Nature papers are so limited in length that you never get the chance to waffle on for a whole paragraph based on a single reference. If, on the other hand, it is unavoidable, then you could either place it at the first sentence from which the others follow, or at the end of the last sentence where the most important facts are, depending on which is most appropriate. --Stemonitis 15:52, 1 July 2007 (UTC)
I don't think there is any way commonly used in scholarly works to indicate exactly which facts are supported by a given citation, except for quotations, or when there is a written description of the scope of the citation. Otherwise, you just have to read the source and decide what it applies to. You could try to invent a scheme, but inventing new punctuation, and enforcing it, seems like a highly unlikely scenario for Wikipedia. --Gerry Ashton 16:09, 1 July 2007 (UTC)
I would support Septentrionalis's wording. Gimmetrow: throwing out most of the manual of style would be a good first step. Christopher Parham (talk) 16:48, 1 July 2007 (UTC)

I apologize to Gimmetrow; I took his earlier post as being neutral on the question of whether we should permit "after punctuation", and objecting to the words by which this was done. I would answer his present objections thus:

  • I have no objection to adding Frequently, a reference tag will coincide with punctuation. before "Many editors..."; however, I do not see the implication that it always will without the addition.
  • I intentionally proposed a text that says nothing at all about PBS's mixed style. If there is consensus to prohibit it, we can add that in too; or whatever else there may be consensus to say. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:20, 1 July 2007 (UTC)
  • There will never be consensus on this remarkably minor point of style perhaps we should just say that it should be consistent within an article. DGG 01:50, 2 July 2007 (UTC)
I can't find a way of interpreting Pmanderson's text to say that all citations must coincide with punctuation, and in fact it reads that way much less than the current text. Would it be clearer changing "after punctuation" to "after any punctuation"? If that is the only grounds for rejecting the new wording (apart from a desire to over-regulate the position of citations), then I think the new text should be installed. The consensus seems (to me) to be that we should not be dictating where citations go in relation to punctuation, and the guideline should reflect that as soon as possible. --Stemonitis 05:55, 3 July 2007 (UTC)
Done. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:50, 3 July 2007 (UTC)

Done? Now it reads like this:

Frequently, a reference tag will coincide with punctuation and many editors put the reference tags after punctuation (except dashes), as is recommended by the Chicago Manual of Style (CMoS). Some editors prefer the style of those journals, like Nature, which place references after punctuation.

Don't both these sentences say the same thing? Or is the "difference of opinion" restricted to whether to place a footnote ref tag before or after a dash (in which casse this should be made clear)? Also, saying, "Frequently, a reference tag will coincide with punctuation," is confusing in an MoS that is supposed to tell editors where to put the footnotes; where a footnote call appears is not a given. Also, coincide is the wrong word; the punctuation mark and footnote call do not occupy the same space. What the near universal rule says is that where a footnote is placed adjacent to a punctuation mark, it should precede a dash and follow all other punctuation marks. And the CMos is not the only support for its prescription; the U.S. Printing Office Manual of Style prescribes the same rule, and I could probably come up with others if pressed.

Does anyone really think that this[20], is as attractive typographically as this,[21] is?

It is amazing to me that prescribing and following what is a nearly univrsal typographic convention has generated so much controversy on Wikipedia—or at least on this page. Finell (Talk) 22:28, 3 July 2007 (UTC)

Please read the whole of this section as this is discussed in detail above. It is not nearly universal typographic convention see this style guide] as an example of a different one other styles are mentioned above --Philip Baird Shearer 23:08, 3 July 2007 (UTC)
Erm, read on, that is footnotes not references. the same style guide says under General: There are two different systems for presenting the references in the text for a bibliography; one is numerical (the numbered system), the other is alphabetical (the Harvard system). In the numbered system, references are indicated by numerals in square brackets, placed after the punctuation, and the bibliography is printed in numerical order, also using the numerals in square brackets. Wow! in in-situ example of the need to check citations rather than assume them. Being British, I assume we ignore the EU as a matter of principle. :) Spenny 23:18, 3 July 2007 (UTC)
Note that "General" is on a page specifically about writing Biographies, not any other type of EU document. --Philip Baird Shearer 10:33, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
Er... Sort of like Template_talk:Ref#Combining_Ref_and_Note_family_templates_with_the_alternative_referencing_style, eh? -- Boracay Bill 13:41, 4 July 2007 (UTC)
In fact, I came to the conclusion that I am the confused one in this case, I suspect I am not the only one :) Perhaps the fundamental problem is that this is too hard! Spenny 18:58, 4 July 2007 (UTC)
guidline clash

Noting Spenny's comment above it looks like the EU is not the only organisation that has more than one way of advising people on how to use footnotes! I copied the new text from this article into the WP:FOOT article 09:17, 4 July 2007 Philip Baird Shearer (Talk | contribs | block) (16,137 bytes) (ref tags: Altered to the same wording in Wikipedia:Citing sources#Placement of footnote reference tags as agreed in Wikipedia talk:Footnotes#Footnotes are placed outside punctuation) This has been reveted by:

  • SlimVirgin twice with the comments: "there is agreement that ref tags go after punctuation, as in the overwhelming majority of books/journals" and "this is the place to discuss changes to this page, and when it was last discussed there was a strong consensus in favor of this version; if you want to re-open that discussion, please do".
  • Crum375 "I think this [perscription to use CMS] is the consensual version"

So now we have the position where the two guidlines WP:CITE and WP:FOOT that contradict each other. I guess the debate will have to be held all over again on Wikipedia_talk:Footnotes --Philip Baird Shearer 10:33, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

WP:CITE and WP:GTL also have conflicts. Personally, I think that guideline conflicts are not a good thing. I think that one way to reduce conflicts would be for guideline pages to limit their assertions to the areas which their intros declare that the pages address. -- Boracay Bill 12:11, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

Templates: wikicite, wikiref, ref family, note family

I have removed the info on Template:Wikicite and Template:Wikiref from the See Also section.

Removed: "Template:Wikicite - makes a simple numeric reference (eg, number in square brackets), for use in a "References" section."

Observed behavior:

  • {{wikicite}}
  • {{wikicite | id= Atwood-2003}}
  • {{wikicite | id= Atwood-2003 | reference= Atwood, Margaret (2003). ''Oryx and Crake'', Toronto: McClelland & Stewart. ISBN 0-77100-868-6. }}
Atwood, Margaret (2003). Oryx and Crake, Toronto: McClelland & Stewart. ISBN 0-77100-868-6.

Removed: "Template:Wikiref - makes a simple Harvard-style reference (eg: Smith 2006)."

Observed behavior:

  • {{wikiref}}
  • {{wikiref | id= Atwood-2003}}
  • {{wikiref | id= Atwood-2003 | reference= Atwood, Margaret (2003). ''Oryx and Crake'', Toronto: McClelland & Stewart. ISBN 0-77100-868-6. }}
Atwood, Margaret (2003). Oryx and Crake, Toronto: McClelland & Stewart. ISBN 0-77100-868-6.

Also see Template_talk:Ref#Documentation. -- Boracay Bill 23:18, 16 June 2007 (UTC)

Stating the obvious is not original research and there needs to be a grace period for hard-to-find references.

I have made statements relative to citing sources on the talk page for no original reserach. Please go there for more information. Rsduhamel 17:28, 17 June 2007 (UTC)

"This article does not cite any references or sources."

In the case of the article in question, I wrote the text of the Wiki page Oh no, Mrs. Burke! I thought you were Dale!. The topic of that page and all of the facts related to the topic concern one line of dialogue from a nationally broadcast television commercial in which I appeared. I have provided links to readily viewable video of the commercial itself, online. All other facts about this commercial and its history presented at the Wiki page are verifiable by any viewer simply by viewing the contents of the external website accessible via the link. Virtually all of those resources found at that site are natioanally or internationally published documents about the commercial and/or its dialogue, along with complete transcripts - indeed, the original script itself - from the commercial featuring the dialogue. Nonetheless, this Wiki page has been recently tagged: "This article does not cite any references or sources." I would like to know how to provide any more unambiguous, reliable sources for the information I have provided, as those as the external links provided link to complete and unambiguous data concerning a piece of US television history. Please advise. 22:54, 19 June 2007 (UTC) A.Burke

I think that your problem is probably with not having met the requirement:
All citation techniques require detailed full citations to be provided for each source used. Full citations must contain enough information for other editors to identify the specific published work you used.
If you will look over at WP:GTL, you will see that such citations typically are placed in a separate section named "References", "Notes", or "Notes and references" located near the end of an article. I have edited the page to add such a section and to place a full citation there for the online source which you had referenced in an inline external link. The article would be better if you could provide full citations for some of the examples which you mention (e.g., issue number, date, and page number where some of the ads you mention can be found and, probably of more interest, for the cartoon gags, comic strips, and book reference, and episode identification where variety shows which you mention did skits and jokes about this ad0 (see WP:TEMP). That's my take on it, anyhow. -- Boracay Bill 08:41, 20 June 2007 (UTC)
Unfortunately, some editors do not read articles when looking for citations, they look for footnotes. (I recall a case in which a Harvard referenced article was objected to, as unreferenced; but that is exceptional.) I agree that Bill's advice would improve the article (for anothe example, which Bombeck book?). Septentrionalis PMAnderson 13:19, 2 July 2007 (UTC)


At Wikipedia Project: Professional Wrestling we have a problem. The problem being that the bulk of what is written about by the project members occurs on TV and PPV, and is then reported on by websites but the websites themselves (including and the like) cannot be relied on as a good reference, and a small set of editors from outside the project have been stubbing pages down because we lcak the right sources. Having looked at TV pages I see that it is possible to use TV episodes as a source and on one WP:PW page I have added a group of sources using the Pay-Per-Views as references and I have been told that this is the place to discuss sources. So if anyone could look at Hell in a Cell and ignore the content (the article is in need of heavy re-writing) and tell me what they think about the sourcing. Darrenhusted 22:51, 20 June 2007 (UTC)


Is is possible, if you really have gone and found out the info in a book, to have a reference directly to an actual book if it is written in the book? If so, how would you refrence it on the page? ~Bella 15:34, 21 June 2007 (UTC)

Perhaps the easiest way is to use a citation template, see {{cite book}}. Spenny 17:34, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
Use the same method as other references in the article. Don't start using citation templates in articles that don't already use them, because some people don't like them (for good reasons). --Gerry Ashton 19:24, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
That advice is a bit stronger than the guideline in the project page for this article. See Wikipedia:Citing_sources#Citation_templates. -- Boracay Bill 23:23, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
Spenny's link was great and I was going to use the template on the this book's page (under the 'Other' catagory.) because, as you might see, it (and all the other books in the series) have templates saying that the info isn't cited, so I was going to use the citing book template for these articles in certain sections. The book the info would be cited from is the actual book itself. Would that be alright? ~Bella 00:25, 22 June 2007 (UTC)
I took a quick look at the article, and it seems as though the Unreferenced template might be inappropriate. At first glance, it appears that all the information in the article comes from the book that is the subject of the article, Into the Wild. The info box provides all of the bibliographic information on the book, so the source of the information is cited.
It is not considered good practice for an article about a book to merely consist of a plot summary and other information that can easily be obtained by reading the book; it is better to provide summaries of the opinions of book critics and similar information. However, that is a matter of writing a good article, not a matter of citing sources. --Gerry Ashton 01:19, 22 June 2007 (UTC)

Notes vs References

Is there a tool that can create the References section, if the Notes section exists and has all the footnotes in it, or does the References section (ie, "alphabetised list of refernece material used") need to be manually created? If it has to be done manually, that sucks big time. I am referring to articles like this (linked to a diff just in case someone "fixes it" for me) where the {{tl:footnotes}} has been sugst'd in the Notes section, so far only one of the cited sources has been placed in the References section. Garrie 04:10, 22 June 2007 (UTC)

A "citation" should have full bibliographic content. However, that content can be split up various ways in an article. If the notes (the parts between <ref> and </ref>) contain full biblio info, a references section just to alphabetize them is perhaps a nice touch, but optional even for featured articles. If the notes only contain partial references (Smith, 2000, p.5), then a section listing full biblio info is needed. But to answer your question, no, there is no tool that I know of to generate these lists from available data in an article. Gimmetrow 04:27, 22 June 2007 (UTC)
According to Wikipedia:Guide to layout, for the References section one should: "Put under this header, again in a bulleted list, any books, articles, web pages, et cetera that you used in constructing the article and have referenced (cited) in the article". If you follow the talk page for that guide to layout from time to time you see discussions on just this point of how best to keep the Notes and References section in sync, including various non-standard solutions that can be seen in some articles, including featured ones. I agree with the issue that keeping these sections coordinated manually is inconvenient, but I am not aware of an automatic solution. Buddhipriya 01:43, 25 June 2007 (UTC)
I doubt whether, due to the wide range of citable sources, there can be a more convenient solution. Look at the citation templates: they are humongous, and even at that, they are not able to handle all sources correctly. Dysmorodrepanis 13:39, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
I have a major problem with the <reference> ... </reference> thing in articles. If I want to add a new book or article title to the list -- one that I have not attached a specific footnote to -- I click the EDIT button for that section, . . . and, lo and behold, there ain't nothing there. I end up either having to add another item manually after the closing tag (which is dumb) or to create a new section called "Further Reading" or something. Where in the wikiworld do you find the actual sources being referred to? Believe me, I'm a professional (now freelance) editor and I understand the theory and practice of footnotes, bibliographies, and citation -- and I've written a dozen or more lengthy articles for Wikipedia and contributed to a couple hundred more -- but I'm obviously not getting something about this particular system. --Michael K. Smith 20:30, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
See Wikipedia:Footnotes. Separately, see Template_talk:Ref#Documentation. -- Boracay Bill 22:30, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
...and if it's in the first section, you have to edit the entire article. If the article is dozens of k, this is unnecessarily painful. Another reason why there should be some functional system. I'd like to see one where one only inserts an anchor in the text (like in Harvards refs), and this is linked to the reference which itself is in the refs section. Basically, the Harvard ref system is technically nice, but the cite template is dysfunctional and overloaded. Such a system would make it easier to copy/paste commonly-used refs too, make it easier for newbies to edit the article, make it easier to arrange the refs in some sort of order as is considered good practice in most sciences and (I think) all encyclopedias...
The profusion of refnotes has progressed in some articles that "You can de facto NOT edit this page right now anymore", because if you don't use an external editor like ultraedit, you simply have to spend an inordinate amount of time to puzzle shown text from refs. It sucks major-league, it deters new users, it makes pages less edit-friendly, it makes it very hard to even find a reference except at the specific fact to wehich it pertains (or supposedly pertains - refchecking is also hampered), and thus eventually causes errors and outdated info to accumulate. I'd go as far as to say that using the < ref > format as default is in direct violation of Wikipedia's core principles, for the obfuscated code it creates precludes contributions except by hardcore users who find it worthwhile to sacrifice the time to wade through lines and lines of code which more properly should be in a dedicated section elsewhere.
But people seem more concerned to bloat the cite template even more into uselessness, than to scrap the whole ugly thing and build something that finally works. There is no place to even discuss this issue properly; the "scientific standards" project is all but dead. I have virtually ceased editing at present because it's simply to time-consuming to waste 80% of my time on format and 20% on content. It SUCKS. It is disgraceful. Where else in publishing would such an unordered mess of references be deemed acceptable? Dysmorodrepanis 20:13, 4 July 2007 (UTC)
While viewing the article (not in edit mode) click on the "^" next to the reference, and you will jump to the place in the article where the citation occurs. Edit that section of the article, and you will see the text of the citation between <ref></ref> tags. --Gerry Ashton 22:29, 28 June 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for all the contributions on this issue, even if you haven't helped me with Wagga Wagga, New South Wales#References and notes with it's multiple citation of Morris, Sherry (1999). Wagga Wagga, a history. Wagga Wagga: Bobby Graham Publishers, p 134-140. ISBN 1-875247-12-2 (20 counts alone) Garrie 05:23, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

For that, one solution is to use "short notes". Footnotes might look like <ref>Morris, p.15-16.</ref> and <ref>Morris, p.17-20.</ref> and you would put "Morris, Sherry (1999). Wagga Wagga, a history. Wagga Wagga: Bobby Graham Publishers. ISBN 1-875247-12-2" in a References section. Gimmetrow 05:41, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
Another solution seen here and there is to use a named ref something like <ref name=abc>(citation)</ref>, say, followed by something like <sup>p. 12-13</sup> then, elsewhere, something like <ref name=abc/>, followed by something like <sup>p.23-45</sup> -- Boracay Bill 11:31, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
I don't think Boracay Bill's suggestion is such a good idea, because the identification of part of a work isn't always as simple as page numbers. For example, if referring to a dictionary, it is common to write something like "s.v. condenser" to direct the reader to look up the word condenser in the dictionary. Also, some books have dashes in the page numbers, so chapter 8 might have pages 8-1 through 8-45. Even if an article does not have any such "messy" sources yet, it may in the future, so it would be better to choose a scheme that will accommodate them. --Gerry Ashton 13:29, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
You're right that my offhand example above is not a comprehensive solution applicable in every conceivable situation; it wasn't offered as that. The dictionary reference is probably best handled inline in most cases (s.v. inline). What I was trying to get across with my example was one possible citation style (one of many possible styles) which is realizable using available tools. For example, if an article's Bibliography section contains an entry like:
..., then something like the following in the article text: Why did sex, that bizarre perversion of straightforward replication, ever arise in the first place? What is the good of sex?(Dawkins 2006:43). might well trigger the association "Page 43 of Dawkins' Selfish Gene" in the mind of the reader upon encountering the citation, without the need for the reader to break the flow of his reading to look up a footnote. Of course, it is also possible to use a footnote to impart information about the referenced material which the article writer does not wish to break the flow of the article. (e.g. <ref>{{Ref harvard||Dawkins2006|Dawkins 2006:43|}} With this question, Dawkins introduced a discussion of the gene itself as an evolutionary survival unit.</ref>. -- Boracay Bill 23:26, 4 July 2007 (UTC) (copyedited 05:14, 5 July 2007 (UTC))
This "breaking the flow of reading/getting an idea about the source" (author and - more importantly in most cases - date) is exactly what I'm missing with the present ref tags It's impossible to assess the reliability of a source without breaking the flow of reading. And if precisely these options for citing you give here were possible without inserting the ref details into the displayed article text but by sorting them alphabetically in the ref section as most all peer-reviewed journals require, AND without using this horrible cite template that breaks for sources with too many authors, that breaks when errata are published, that breaks when non-standards sources are used, that breaks, in brief, far too often because WP:NOTPAPER and possible sources are too diverse to cover all possibilities, a robust solution for citing sources would exist. ;-)
I have to correct some 10 refs in an article at present, because they are contradicted by a new scientific publication. Luckily, the article uses neither <ref> nor {{cite}}. I don't want to think of the extra work necessary if one would have to separate miles of reference code from the displayed text... Dysmorodrepanis 03:37, 6 July 2007 (UTC)
If you have popups, which every serious editor should get, it's not so much of a problem as you can view the reference just by hovering your mouse over the number. On the other hand, a heavily referenced article, as most articles should be, is highly unreadable with references given on the fly, and for someone who is not familiar with reading academic journals are also somewhat alienating. Richard001 03:43, 6 July 2007 (UTC)
True, but what's more significant: that people who usually don't care much about sources can understand it, or that people who do find it worthwhile to use it? WP has an acceptance problem in the scientific community; except for those with knee-jerk bias, it doesn't have an acceptance problem among the public at large anymore.
Also, sometimes it is good to be able to distinguish sources from explanatory notes, which is not possible with the ref tag. Sometimes, refs need further discussion, because they have partly been refuted, they are generally not considered reliable, etc - a meta-reference, if you will. For example, there is a freely available book on Cenozoic birds that is extremely comprehensive and in many cases the only freely available source... but it is not very reliable. Can't not cite it, but to cite it without comment is a Very Bad Thing. And of course, an assertion that a ref is unreliable in some aspect needs itself to be referenced.
Popup is of no use for me, because I need to be able to switch between handfuls of references at once (I do many reviews of phylogeny literature, and then I usually have 5-10 reference PDFs open at any one time; most of them I opened from a WP link). The de-facto SOP is not very useful for professionals and others who find the references important in their own right. To most users, references are more a kind of quality control - the simple fact that they exists suffices, no matter what format they're in.
But I agree that Harvard cites make a more unwieldy layout than reftags. Still, they're used in scientific literature - the gold standard as regards treatment of facts - for a reason. Superscripted small-caps Harvard refs as a solution, maybe? I think a KISS fix is needed sooner rather than later, because waiting for Wikicite just doesn't cut (Not to brag, but WikiProject Birds is making good progress to build THE best publicly accessible source on bird systematics in the history of mankind. See tanager for example - fantastic work! Referenced, discussed, everything. But there will be hundreds of papers to add in the next few years, and articles need to be refined and overhauled, refs need to be compared and evaluated. If no way exists to do this quickly and cleanly, this'll be a major pain and consequently, WP will lag behind rather than progress at the very forefront of science, as it can and should do.) Dysmorodrepanis 16:38, 6 July 2007 (UTC)
Due to the ArbCom,[7] such a tool for doing such manipulation of information in the article is not available. (SEWilco 03:47, 6 July 2007 (UTC))

Can you cite trading (baseball, football, SPORTS) cards?

There is some information that is simply not readily available on the internet, such as interesting facts about baseball players from the 60s that only played in 3 seasons.

Say for instance that I want to cite a fact from a 1966 Topps Baseball card. What would be the correct way to go about doing this? Thank you.SashaNein 16:00, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

I've wondered this myself. Basically the way I did it on Rodney Peete is probably not the right way to do it. I'd say cite the comany and year that made the card, the card number. There's no raw method of doing it do you probably have free reign there. Wizardman 16:42, 23 June 2007 (UTC)
OK. I've done that for articles on Ed Brinkman and Bill Short. Hopefully no one will have an issue with it, since it's difficult enough finding information on these players other than MLB statistics. Bill Short didn't even HAVE an article week ago. Thanks!SashaNein 17:48, 23 June 2007 (UTC)
All right, I have to stop watching this page because there's some edit war going on the main article page. If anyone wants to follow up on this hit up my talk page.SashaNein 12:27, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

Circular citations.

I had an experience with the Honeysuckle Weeks article. I am mentioning it as it is a good example on why you need to be careful with sources.

The article incorrectly listed her place of birth as Chichester although it was later proved it should have been Cardiff. Confusion arose because some editors were citing good sources that incorrectly said Chichester. It became apparent that these websites had sourced their information from Wikipedia.

In essence, Wikipedia was citing itself, and in this case the information was wrong. However, I cannot see where this would have been prevented in the guidelines. MortimerCat 22:40, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

How about something like:
Correct citation is necessary, but not sufficient. It is possible to cite, or even quote, a source out of context, in such a way as to change its meaning radically. A more specific problem occurs when, as has happened, an otherwise reliable source relies itself on Wikipedia. Then they are no more reliable than Wikipedia itself, and it is not a reliable source. The grounds for believing this has happened should be explained in full on the talk page.
Comments? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:41, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
Comment: How about adding this material as subsections in the "Dealing with citation problems" section (possibly retitling that section "Citation problems"), something like:
Out-of-context citations
It is possible to cite or to quote from a source out of context, in such a way as to change its meaning radically. The source itself may be a reliable source, but the citation of supporting material from that source is done in such a way as tt render it unreliable. Such citations should be flagged with a {{Failed verification}} tag, and the reason explained in an edit summary, an accompanying HTML comment, and/or on the article's talk page.
Circular citations
It has happened that an otherwise reliable source relies itself on Wikipedia for some of its material. In such a case, the source is no more reliable than Wikipedia itself, and is not a reliable source. Such circular citations should be removed, and the reason for their removal explained in an edit summary and/or on the article's talk page. -- Boracay Bill 00:39, 30 June 2007 (UTC)
Done, with some slight tweaks. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 13:28, 2 July 2007 (UTC)
The first part is far too wordy and looks like instruction creep. Furthermore, while Wikipedia should not cite a wikipedia mirror as a source, it's not necessarily wrong to cite some "otherwise reliable source" which appears to base its information on Wikipedia. The reporter may not have taken the information solely from Wikipedia, and in any event, an "otherwise reliable source" is responsible for what it prints. Gimmetrow 18:56, 2 July 2007 (UTC)
I believe we should not regard a part of an otherwise reliable source as reliable when it clearly depends on Wikipedia for its information. However, if an expert in a field, writing in a reliable source, chooses to quote or cite Wikipedia, we can use it on the basis that the expert wouldn't have used it if it wasn't right. --Gerry Ashton 19:18, 2 July 2007 (UTC)
I tend to agree with Gerry Ashton's point; I'm not sure it needs a change of wording: this case is rare for now, and presumably the expert isn't "relying" on Wikipedia. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:09, 2 July 2007 (UTC)
If a professional or expert points to WP, there should ideally be a citeable source on WP, it it may be taken as a hint that the person in question knows of one that should be added to WP. Dysmorodrepanis 23:46, 2 July 2007 (UTC)

(unindent) I think this comment belongs at the outer level, though it does relate to indented comments above. I see at least two separate and distinct classes of external references: (1) wikipedia (sort-of) mirrors which essentially take material from Wikipedia and repeat it under their own branding (e.g., and an increasing number of similar websites), and other sources (perhaps credible and respected on their own) which reference material from Wikipedia in their published remarks. These are separate cases (perhaps two among many) which should not be lumped together. -- Boracay Bill 12:44, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

question about citing same source multiple times

In many articles, the same source may be used to support sentences in different parts of the article and it is appropriate to reference each one. I can use WP:CITE but then each reference to the same book or article is listed completely as a separate number in the references section. For example see the refs 1 and 2 in puberty. I cannot find the method to make subsequent uses of the same citation simply refer point to ref 1 where it is listed in full. Just point me to an example of a page that does it right and I can figure it out. I am also asking this question on the talk page of WP:HELP and will watch both places for answers. Thanks. alteripse 20:13, 24 June 2007 (UTC)

First of all, the phrase "I can use WP:CITE" is not meaningful because several different methods are mentioned in that style guideline. In the Puberty article, the first citation begins <ref name=>. You could change it to <ref name=Marshall>. Then the second reference to the same work could just be <ref name=Marshall/> with the rest of the second reference removed. (Puting a / at the end of an XML tag is short for this: <ref name=Marshall></ref>. The trick works for any XML tag.) --Gerry Ashton 20:36, 24 June 2007 (UTC)
Thanks. I will try it. It will soon be clear whether I have properly understood. alteripse 20:41, 24 June 2007 (UTC)
See Wikipedia:Footnotes#Citing a footnote more than once. I also replied at Wikipedia:Help desk#question about citing same source multiple times. PrimeHunter 20:44, 24 June 2007 (UTC)
After trial and error, the correct method is actually <ref name=Marshall>Marshall</ref>. But you did get me close enough to solve it, thanks. alteripse 20:50, 24 June 2007 (UTC)
I like the effect of Harvard references but I dislike the complexity of the templates and named references. I have come to use a simple ref tag with the information of a Harvard reference inside the tag, e.g. <ref>For quotation from Doe, see: Foo (1923), p. 18.</ref> Is there a way to use the Harvard citation templates without using named references, which I find hard to maintain? Buddhipriya 01:38, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

Commercial sites acceptable refs?

Is using the product page for a company selling something, e.g. a Japanese video game, an acceptable reference if I can't find any other websites that have the same information it re. this item in English? Trying to reconcile what may not be an acceptable cite vs. using information that I can't reference without using such a site as one. --BrokenSphere 18:22, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

In my opinion, it depends on what you are citing if for. A product page should be a reliable source for purely objective facts about the product or its maker. For anything that involves opinion or product puffing (e.g., "the most popular ..." or even "one of the most popular ...", it would not be a reliable source because of WP:COI and possibly WP:NPOV. If in doubt, don't. Finell (Talk) 00:33, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
For a lot of companies, I wouldn't even believe them for distribution figures. Distribution does not equal sales: every item on a shop shelf has been distributed. The fact that 90% of it then goes to a shredder or landfill doesn't matter, it's been distributed.
But for information that they have to provide to shareholders and for tax purposes, if they say it on their website you can probably use it.
If you are using it to identify an ISBN, what format it ships on, or similar information then that's fine - they are just a primary source.Garrie 05:20, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
Actually the info that I got from this cite is a plot description and product features, and it isn't from the developer itself, it's from a 3rd party distributor that of course is selling the game. Is that OK? --BrokenSphere 14:44, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

Peculiar Citation-isms

Right, I've recently been working on a page quite hard, and I'm encountering an error frequently that I really can't explain in my head at all. This is going to come out sounding really stupid, I just need a second opinion so I know I'm not going insane. Anyways, recently I've been doing a lot of work to the article on Dominik Diamond. Under the section Dominik_Diamond#Present_Work_with_Talk_107, I added a reference to a source I had already used as a source at the beginning of the article, basically i added <ref name="Show_Changes"> to the end of the sentence, thinking it would bring up a [1] sign and all that. For some unknown reason (this is the bit which makes the least sense), after pressing the preview button, everything in the article after the point which I had sourced had mysteriously disappeared! So, thinking I must have pressed a wrong button or something, I went back to the edit box, but sure enough, the text was STILL in the edit box but NOT showing on the page!! At this point i was ready for screaming. It gets worse, because if you enter in the full citation, ie, "<ref name="">{{cite web .... etc", the page works fine, but the second you change it to just <ref name=""> again, the information disappears again (Yet is IN the edit box if you click edit!!!)

This is perhaps right up there with the most confusing thing I have found on Wikipedia. At the moment, I have left the page in the format with hidden information, as I am hoping that it is just my eyes ... or something. Could someone try and make an edit to the page to see if this is just me? If not, what the hell is going on!!!!

Keep up your good work here guys. Thanks. --SteelersFan UK06 06:16, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

Fixed. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 06:23, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
ThankyouThankyouThankyouThankyouThankyou! Nearly went insane there! Check your usertalk for a little something for your troubles. Pray, may I ask, what did you do? --SteelersFan UK06 06:39, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
Check the diff; I just added the slash (/) at the end of the named ref. When you define the ref the first time, you use <ref name="name">ref info here</ref> and when you use it the second and subsequent times, you use <ref name="name"/> with a slash. Thanks for the smile! SandyGeorgia (Talk) 06:44, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
Oh I see! Oh well this all seems so simple now...Again, thanks, and keep up the good work --SteelersFan UK06 06:46, 29 June 2007 (UTC)


Would you need to cite the release dates for a DVD? I'm reviewing List of Lost episodes for FLC, and they have a bunch of release dates that do not have citations. It occurred to me that I have no clue when these DVDs were released in Regions 2 and 4, and I only know when they are released in Region 1 if I go to Amazon and look myself. Would something like this require citations? I know that when I worked on another LOE, I cited all the regions I could, and if I couldn't get it then I removed it. Thoughts?  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 14:16, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

Remove if tagged for months?

If a particular item has been tagged with the "citation needed" tag since February, can we delete that uncited item? What is the acceptable length of time to allow something uncited to remain in an article?

It depends on the item. A controversial and potential defamatory item about a living person could be removed immediately, with an invitation to discuss on talk page and provide published evidence before being re-inserted. A controversial "fact" in a article with several active and disagreeing editors could be removed after asking for citation, allowing a couple of days for response if the inserter is not actively editing when you notice it, then remove to talk page. For an item of fact that is unlikely to be a source of controversy, and is likely false, I would move it to talk page with request for documentation. If it likely true (e.g., a medical or historical fact likely to be verifiable), leave the citation request and leave it alone indefinitely. If we removed every uncontroversial-probably-true assertion just because someone hasn't bothered to find a citation for, we won't have much of an encyclopedia left. alteripse 02:37, 1 July 2007 (UTC)
Personally, I would remove anything that has had a cite tag on it since February, though I'd first look around for a citation myself before removing it. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:41, 2 July 2007 (UTC)
Personally, I tend to do a little differently--if it is non controversial, and likely trture I just remove the tag--usually there was no good reason for it in the first place. We have quit enough problems finding sources for the controversial stuff & the things most likely false. DGG 01:29, 2 July 2007 (UTC)
There is NO justification, in my opinion, for removing a citation needed tag where a statement is unsourced and therefore not WP:VERIFYable. On the other hand, I tend not to remove an unsourced statement, even if the tag is old, unless I have reason (including an educated hunch) to believe that the statement is incorrect. Finell (Talk) 21:45, 3 July 2007 (UTC)

Help. How much time do I have?

This is my first time posting on Wikipedia. I am completely overwhelmed by what I need to read to sort out how to cite (I think that's what I need to do?) to keep the posting I submitted on the Schoharie Scary Horror Film Festival.How much time do I have to get this right? Any suggestions as to where to begin? Thank you so much. I feel so stupid. I don't eve see any tildes on my keyboard, so how do I sign?—The preceding unsigned comment was added by Studiosulu (talkcontribs) 07:09, 30 June 2007 (UTC)

There's no time limit; however, the article may be nominated for deletion at any time if someone doesn't think it meets the notability guideline. The best thing to do would be to find articles in reliable third-party sources such as newspapers or magazines and use them as references in the article. To type a tilda, press Shift and ` (which usually appears to the left of the number 1). ShadowHalo 07:26, 30 June 2007 (UTC)

Full citations - page numbers

References do not usually contain page numbers but citations do.

At the begining of the year this was included in the text under Harvard Referencing as:

Page numbers must be included in a citation that accompanies a specific quotation from, or a paraphrase or reference to, a specific passage of a book or article.[8]

and before that it was included as a whole section called Page numbers:

When citing books and articles, provide page numbers where appropriate. Page numbers must be included in a citation that accompanies a specific quotation from, or a paraphrase or reference to, a specific passage of a book or article.
  • According to Jessica Benjamin, one weakness of radical politics has been "to idealize the oppressed, as if their politics and culture were untouched by the system of domination, as if people did not participate in their own submission" (Benjamin 1988:9).
* Jessica Benjamin has argued that radical politics has been weakened by its inattention to the ways oppressed people participate in their own oppression (Benjamin 1988:9).
Page numbers are not required when a citation accompanies a general description of a book or article, or when a book or article, as a whole, is being used to exemplify a particular point of view.
  • In the 1980s several feminists explored feminist readings of psychoanalytical thought (e.g. Gallop 1985, Hamilton 1982, Rose 1986, Benjamin 1988).
  • Jessica Benjamin, for example, has drawn on Freudian and feminist theory to argue that in modern Western society, the relationship between males and females is paradigmatic for a variety of relations of domination and submission" (Benjamin 1988).
Page numbers are especially important in case of lengthy unindexed books.[9]

I am in favour of reinserting this section without the examples what do others think? --Philip Baird Shearer 09:35, 30 June 2007 (UTC)

This seems reasonable; especially with a note that most scholarly books are indexed. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:50, 30 June 2007 (UTC)
Indeed. I try using this as a SOP whenever possible. Dysmorodrepanis 16:14, 30 June 2007 (UTC)
Agreed. DGG 01:50, 2 July 2007 (UTC)
In academic sources that I use most often, the practice of just citing a book in toto regarding a concept is unusual, as it puts the burden on the fact-checker to figure out where in the book the issue is covered, or even what terms are used for it (not uncommon in my areas of interest). So I always like to see at least one page number where there is a definite reference, even if the subject is handled often in the work. Let us not forget the useful passim in a reference: E.g., "Many people like ice cream." (Reference: For an overview on the popularity of ice cream in Western cultures, see: Doe (2007), p. 1, and passim.) Buddhipriya 23:56, 3 July 2007 (UTC)
    • ^ abc
    • ^ a b xyz
    • ^ example footnote abc
    • ^ example footnote xyz
    • ^ "Note reference numbers. The superior numerals used for note reference numbers in the text should follow any punctuation marks except the dash, which they precede. The numbers should also be placed outside closing parantheses." (The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th ed. 1993, Clause 15.8, p. 494)
    • ^ example footnote abc
    • ^ example footnote xyz
    • ^ Compare The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th ed. 1993, Clause 15.8, p. 494: "Note reference numbers. The superior numerals used for note reference numbers in the text should follow any punctuation marks except the dash, which they precede. The numbers should also be placed outside closing parantheses."
    • ^ example footnote abc
    • ^ example footnote xyz
    • ^ "Note reference numbers. The superior numerals used for note reference numbers in the text should follow any punctuation marks except the dash, which they precede. The numbers should also be placed outside closing parantheses." (The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th ed. 1993, Clause 15.8, p. 494)
    • ^ example footnote abc
    • ^ example footnote xyz
    • ^ "Note reference numbers. The superior numerals used for note reference numbers in the text should follow any punctuation marks except the dash, which they precede. The numbers should also be placed outside closing parantheses." (The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th ed. 1993, Clause 15.8, p. 494)
    • ^ example footnote abc
    • ^ example footnote xyz
    • ^ "Note reference numbers. The superior numerals used for note reference numbers in the text should follow any punctuation marks except the dash, which they precede. The numbers should also be placed outside closing parantheses." (The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th ed. 1993, Clause 15.8, p. 494)
    • ^ "Note reference numbers. The superior numerals used for note reference numbers in the text should follow any punctuation marks except the dash, which they precede. The numbers should also be placed outside closing parantheses." (The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th ed. 1993, Clause 15.8, p. 494)
    • ^ "Note reference numbers. The superior numerals used for note reference numbers in the text should follow any punctuation marks except the dash, which they precede. The numbers should also be placed outside closing parantheses." (The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th ed. 1993, Clause 15.8, p. 494)
    • ^ blah
    • ^ blah