Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (footnotes)/Archive 2

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Can't test footnote links while previewing an edit

I noticed that you can't test a footnote while previewing an edit. Not a major issue but is there a way around this? —Christiaan 23:18, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)

not really (that I know of), we rely on counting of external links, and the page we are linking to isn't updated until after pressing save. I'll list it in disadvantages. I think fixing it would need a change in MediaWiki where the whole point is to avoid that. Mozzerati 07:07, 2005 Feb 21 (UTC)

A little off-topic

Don't really have an opinion on the above discussions, but for me a disadvantage of any footnote system is that (and other people may well have said this elsewhere already) you can't tell exactly what the footnote "covers". Suppose that an article reads "John Maitland was an Impressionist painter. He was born in Penzance. His father was a vicar."

Now suppose an editor comes along, who owns a credible book that states that Maitland was indeed an Impressionist painter and son of a vicar, but that says nothing about where he came from. How is that editor supposed to express that? "John Maitland was an Impressionist painter[1]. He was born in Penzance. His father was a vicar[1]." This is possible, but for long articles it becomes impractical and error-prone. Also, you probably don't want to have one footnote per sentence or sentence fragment, but, on the other hand, a footnote at the end of the first or at the end of the last sentence of a paragraph may incorrectly suggest to the reader that the entire paragraph is backed up by that reference. So, maybe it'd be useful if a footnote could be stated to belong to a range of text. -- March 5 2005 (comment from an Anon IP)

Hi; there are several points in there and I'll try to separate them and answer / comment on each
  1. you can't tell with footnotes what the note is about
  2. you might want to use the same reference multiple times and it starts getting to heavy
  3. you want to know exactly which fact each source is covering
  4. a future footnote system might want to tell where the footnote coverage starts and ends in the text
1) is true straight up, but is probably a place where the future footnote system which is to come should use link titles either to show a summary or the whole footnote.
2) is a matter of careful editing; I'd suggest that the footnote should say which facts it covers and probably give a page number; that way you could give one or more footnotes at the end of a sentence and then explain in each what the source states.
3) I think has a similar answer; I think the footnote should say what facts are covered unless it exactly covers a whole sentence or quote.
4) Is a really nice idea, but I don't see how to implement it safely. The footnote coverage might be quite long and might overlap with other markup. How would you imagine it looking in the wikitext? Could you give an example for a short fact and for a long one.
Mozzerati 13:42, 2005 Mar 5 (UTC)

Possible degenerate cases for this system and how to work around them

Here are the ways in which this system can get screwed up, and how to fix it when they happen.

More footnotes than references, or vice versa.
First, identify if this is a numbering problem, or an actual content problem.
Count the number of instances of {{an| in the wikitext, and make sure that is the same as the number of {{anb| lines in the references section.
If they don't match, then it's a content problem, otherwise, it's a numbering problem.
For numbering problems, look for the regexp \[\[[^\] ]+\]\], i.e. straight numbered external links, and add descriptive text to them(which is good style anyway). Then make sure all the {{anb| lines begin with #. Then, click on each of the back links, and re-order the ref section to reflect them. That will fix numbering problems.
Content problems need to be fixed by looking adding or removing footnotes.

Feel free to add more, or move this to the main page. JesseW 06:41, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Your section is a good idea, but seems to technical to add to the main page. I'd like to think of ways of doing it which work without any scripting / advanced editor knowlege. This can be done by following the links between reference and note back and forward and identifying where the sequences get out of sync. E.g.

  • click on the first note
  • check that the reference number you reach matches
  • click on the reference number
  • check that you return to the correct note
  • repeat for the next and subsequent notes.
  • if one link does not match, fix it.
  • if the reference sequence skips one, there is probably a raw numbered URL in the text. Convert it to a footnote instead.

Other optimisations are possible, but more difficult to explain. Mozzerati 21:20, 2005 Mar 30 (UTC)

Tooltips implementation?

I've just implemented tooltips (based on hnote) into the mn template. The idea is to use the link titles to let the reader work out what will be at the other end. Please see if it works okay for you. See the what links here for examples to check. If it works we should do the same to Footnote3. Mozzerati 21:20, 2005 Apr 24 (UTC)

Thus modified, footnote3 could be dis-encumbered of its need to keep the notes in the correct numerical order by giving slightly different instructions to the editors. Rather than linking to a numerical list of notes, the notes link into the list of bibliographical references, which could be in alphabetical order for neatness, but really don't have to be in any sort of order. So the tag {{note|Dent, p. 42|Dent}} yields a hyperlink to target "Dent", which is (hopefully) immediately before the bibliographical entry for the work by Dent. If the link is hovered over, we see "Dent, p. 42" in a tooltip.
As an added bonus, non-footnote external references in the text no longer break the numbering scheme of the footnotes, because no numbering scheme is needed.
The downside is that since more than one note can point to the same bibliographical reference, there is no good way to implement the backlink in the note. On the other hand, that's what a "back" button is for. Shimmin 22:52, Apr 24, 2005 (UTC)
Swap the order of your template arguments, and you could start doing this today. {{Ref|Dent|Dent, p. 42}} would safely have its second argument ignored for the time being. --Doradus 18:37, Apr 25, 2005 (UTC)

Manual numbering versions of templates "ref" and "note"

I've created manual numbering versions of the "ref" and "note" templates: Template:rf and Template:ent. To my eye, they produce better looking text. For an example of their use see Thucydides. Comments? Paul August 02:47, Apr 30, 2005 (UTC)

That's similar to what "ref" and "endnote" looked like before I decided (rightly or wrongly) that I liked the auto-numbered version better, except yours has a "semantic link" rather than relying just on the number (which is definitely an improvement). One problem people cited is that the superscripted numbers are so small, they are hard to click. --Doradus 04:22, Apr 30, 2005 (UTC)

Well I chose the small size (and sacrificed auto-numbering so as not to see bracketed superscripts) because it is looks cleaner and is less visually distracting, which is a complaint that many people have concerning inline citations (e.g. see Talk:Attalus I) and I don't find them hard to link myself. Paul August 04:55, Apr 30, 2005 (UTC)

I've now changed Template:rf to use an internal link to fix the problem (which it inherited from template:ref) mentioned below. Since it doesn't auto-number, it doesn't need to use an external link. Paul August 17:32, Apr 30, 2005 (UTC)

See also Wikipedia:Footnotes Named Footnotes. Rd232 22:28, 6 May 2005 (UTC)

How does this all compare with Wikipedia:Footnote4 my own manually numbered footnote system? Can we unify them and delete one suggestion? Mozzerati 15:26, 2005 May 14 (UTC)

These templates, Template:rf and Template:ent, were based on the templates Template:ref Template:note. Their use produces inline references and endnotes which are:

  1. small (i.e. enclosed by the <small> and </small> tags)
  2. manually numbered
  3. unbracketed
  4. superscripts
  5. semantic internal links to the corresponding endnote or reference

Their use is very similar to the other templates. The syntax of the template is: {{rf|ref_number|ref_name}}, where "ref_number" is intended to be a number used to sequentially number the reference and coressponding endnote, and "ref_name" is a name given to the reference and corresponding endnote, which is used for semantically associating and linking them.

For example if "{{rf|1|first_note_name}}" is placed here:1 the text will display a small superscript number one which if clicked causes the text to jump to the first endnote below. While if {{rf|2|abc}} is placed here:2 clicking on the displayed superscript two, jumps to the corresponding endnote below.

Okay, some of this is a matter of taste / presentation. I have made bracketed/slightly larger footnotes since if we don't do that then it is difficult for peolpe with low vision to see them and for those with Motor Impairments to click on. This should, in the end, be solved with CSS so we can support both.
The order of the arguments is different though. I think that's quite important, and hopefully we should choose the same one. I chose {{<command>|<name>|<number>}} and I feel that's better since I think less important / more likely to be optional arguments should be at the end. In this case, it means that I could just change the template to match that of {{an}} and it would immediately start being auto numbered. It would be a good idea, whilst we have so few cases, to use a script to do semi-automatic fixing. How do you feel about my order? Was there any particular reason for doing it the other way? Compatibility with {{fn}}?
Mozzerati 05:09, 2005 May 18 (UTC)

I chose the order I did (number, name) because it seemed more logical to me that way. To me, the number seems like the most "important" argument, It is the number which is displayed, and it is the number that I have used to look fro to find the reference or note when editing. Also in the case of the note, where in addition to the number, some morph of the note name will often also be displayed, the number and note will occur in the same order: i.e. the note associated with


will often look like:

37 Livy 27.33.

More importantly though, reversing this order would make editing a lot harder. I've had quite a bit of experience now using these templates. (see First Macedonian War, which now has 51 notes) And I can assure you that, it is easier to find reference "33" scanning for {{rf|33|Polyb_9.30}} rather than {{rf|Polyb_9.30|33}}. And, since these templates are manually numbered, and since I definitely want the references and notes to be in numerical order, I've unfortunately had to renumber the notes many times, and this means lots of scanning the text looking for references. And the renumbering is easier to do, at least for the note numbers, since they are all aligned in the same column. Paul August 01:28, May 19, 2005 (UTC)

based on this, and assuming nobody else comments, I think I will swap the order of arguments in my mn template to match yours. Anybody else think this is a bad idea? Mozzerati 21:46, 2005 May 19 (UTC)
By the way, I found Wikipedia:Footnote4 a bit confusing. The "How to use" says to use "mnb" for the reference and "note" for the note: "Just choose a one word descriptive name for your reference and put {{mnb|<name>|<number>}} at each point where you want the footnote number to be and put notes at the bottom of your document # {{note|<name>|<number>}}, while the "Example" section shows using "ref" for the reference and "note" for the note, and the article itself uses "mn" for the reference, and "mnb" for the note. Paul August 22:32, May 19, 2005 (UTC)


^1 This is the first endnote. It was produced by the text:{{ent|1|first_note_name}} Clicking on the small superscript "1" to the left will cause the text to jump to the location on the page where the corresponding reference is, in this case the reference named "first_note_name".
^2 This is the second endnote. It was produced by the text:{{ent|2|abc}} Clicking on the small superscript "2" to the left will cause the text to jump to the location on the page where the corresponding reference is, in this case the reference named "abc".

Paul August 18:39, May 17, 2005 (UTC)


Am I the only one here that finds it nearly impossible to actually read the footnote marks? After superscripting, underlining and enclosing in square brackets, all I can make out is a blob. And, frankly, subsequent numbers just look like slightly differently shaped blobs. --Azkar 20:09, 31 May 2005 (UTC)

To me they look fine. I guess, however, that that will vary according to eyesight. Several sugestions;
  • if your eyesight is normal you might find that simply selecting a bigger font helps. Most modern browsers have this function, (e.g. view->zoom in or view->text zoom->larger).
  • if your browser doesn't have very good font support, you could try switching to firefox which seems to work to me.
  • if you are already forced to view at a font size which takes too much space, then you could consider screen magnification software which will give you quick variable zoom
  • if this doesn't solve your problem, or you don't like the screen magnifiers, then rework the macros and wikipedia CSS style sheets so that we have a separate style for footnotes. Then configure this style for your own needs.
if you try all these and still have problems, lets try to work something out.
Mozzerati 20:27, 2005 May 31 (UTC)

Race and intelligence

If you thought the papal page had many footnotes, please have a look at Race and intelligence. Since we are trying to polish that article, I started to go through the references, but was frustrated after a few edits.

Currently, the references to articles are in two clusters: in the footnotes, and in the References section. I want to clean this up. But how?

As you can see, there are quite a few references in the body text to the same journal article, for example to Neisser et al. (1996). Currently, some of them are external links in the body text, some of them are footnotes, and some of them are Author (Year) citations that match an entry in the References section.

If I follow the guidelines, it seems that the best cause of action is to have these things all be footnotes (different ones, for sure), and then let the footnote text by of the form

Neisser et al. (1996)

From there, the reader can then manually go through the References section to finally recover the article. Currently, the second footnote is an example of this style (the reference itself is in the Introduction). Following this cause of action, all referenced works would turn up in the References section, and the Notes section would consist mainly of very short footnote texts like the above. This is markedly different from what has been done in the Pope's article, where the Notes section contains all the referenced works. Am I misunderstanding something? Arbor 14:25, 21 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Egads! This article has a separate page just for its references, plus a pile of footnotes! -- Beland 04:28, 7 October 2005 (UTC)

Footnotes vs. inline web references

User:SEWilco, through his bot, recently converted inline web references (i.e. []) into ref / note pairs on the ice core article, see diff: [1]. Frankly, I like the footnote scheme that people have put together, but I think that the conversion of inline weblinks is a bad idea. For one thing, everyone using wikipedia is used to the [#] style for indicating off-site links. For another, it introduces an extra click and page load (to move down to the ref section) before one gets to the information. At SEWilco's suggestion, I am posting here to get a third/fourth/fifth/etc. opinion. Dragons flight July 7, 2005 06:46 (UTC)

One fewer click is useless if the link goes dead without information which describes the source which is being referenced. The links represent supporting material, which is what References represent. (SEWilco 7 July 2005 07:01 (UTC))
  • I agree with SEWilco's reasoning about proper referencing. Most articles don't bother with citations, and for the most part, I believe they are unnecessary. As long as the references appear at the bottom of the article it is good enough. However, if you want to include them, I prefer the smaller, less obtrusive footnotes that SEWilco is adding. As for the "extra click" argument, my gut reaction to something like is always, "Oh my god! An extra CLICK! Oh the humanity! Whoa is me! What is this world coming to when you have spend an extra second clicking your mouse!" By the way, if your browser actually reloads the page when you click on a footnote link, you need to upgrade to a better browser. Mine just jumps down to the bottom without reloading. Ok, I think I've adequately expressed my opinion on this. —Mike July 9, 2005 18:26 (UTC)

Formal reference with inline links?

Is there perhaps room for a compromise here? You want to include the formal reference style. For online links, could we do that without the ref / note? In other words, keep the direct inline link, but also add a {{Web reference}} at the bottom for each one? It wouldn't provide an automatic link between the two, but if one needed to deal with a broken link or something like that, one could still match them up by looking at the URLs. Dragons flight July 7, 2005 07:32 (UTC)
This is part of the WP citations problem. There are needs for documentation of sources but no support for citations in MediaWiki. There have been proposals for various behavior of links, such as popup citations, selectable citation views, and a multi-link citation symbol could offer access to either the external link or citation details. A template similar to {{ref}} could emit both an external link and a link to citation details. But those are details of presentation, once the citation info exists and references to it exist. Part of the citation problem is also lack of support for editing citations, such as not having a References edit window in addition to a Section edit window, which makes creation of citations more awkward. (SEWilco 7 July 2005 16:30 (UTC))
I agree that it is a presentation issue, but since the effect of your changes is to convert from one style of presentation to another, that is what needs to be discussed. When I click on wikilinked text, it takes me straight to the relevant content. I strongly believe the same should by true for externally linked content, which is why I think the extra step of embedding external links in {{ref}} is very awkward. As above, I would accept adding web citations to the end of an article for the purpose of detailing when and what content was used (though this gets awkward for articles with many external links). As a practical matter though, even with web citations, most dead links are likely to stay dead. Dragons flight July 7, 2005 18:37 (UTC)

Dead link reference

Are you qualifying your "dead links are likely to stay dead" with a restriction to "web citations"? Citations in References often are to sources other than web sites, and a full citation should allow a chance of finding the source even if an online link goes dead. (SEWilco 8 July 2005 08:46 (UTC))
I'm not sure exactly what you are saying here, but to clarify, I mean that in the case of materials which are only found online, having a full citation of the form provided by {{web reference}} probably is only going to help in relatively small fraction of the cases after the link goes dead. Which is to say that online materials have a tendency to either exist or not. In my experience, it is less common for material (at least of the sort worthy of referencing) to have broken links simply because it were moved, or to be able to find alternative copies at other locations. Dragons flight July 8, 2005 18:11 (UTC)
Yes, by definition materials which are only found online are less likely to be available once they are removed. A link to the materials may go dead for several reasons; a site reorganization may move material to a new URL and it can be rediscovered with a site search, while a deletion of material causes loss of material unless there are other copies online or archives. One of the differences between an inline link and a "web reference" template is the template contains dates which may make it easier to find an archive of when material did exist (searching WP History to find the date of an edit can be awkward). (SEWilco 8 July 2005 18:52 (UTC))

There are an increasing number of archives (way back machine, etc) that attempt to archive EVERYTHING on the web at various points in time. Please don't AUTOMATICALLY delete dead links as they can be used in these archives even if not on the Live web. The main problem with references is people don't supply them and when they ARE supplied in the text they are moved to the bottom in an external link section, disconnected with what they are providing evidence for, someone deletes them because "Wikipedia is not a link directory", then the data gets deleted or altered for lack of an evidence trail. 07:10, 10 July 2005 (UTC)

What you describe as the "main problem" seems to describe some types of edits which people may do to text (containing links or otherwise) for various reasons. Wrapping an external link within a citation which has footnotes pointing to the citation establishes the connection between what you describe as "text" and "evidence", and establishing the citation as belonging within a References/Notes section will discourage its further movement. (SEWilco 07:59, 10 July 2005 (UTC))
In case you're referring to previous mention of it, the SEWilcoBot citation bot does not automatically delete anything. It does move around unreferenced citations and may indicate if a link is dead. (SEWilco 07:59, 10 July 2005 (UTC))

Dead links already

Incidentally, did you notice that the first several inline links in Ice age are already dead?[2]. As I said, it's now somewhat difficult to find the source material. SEWilcoBot's currently primitive URL processing didn't detect the content of the links have nothing relevant, which are returning a 200 code with an error message. (SEWilco 7 July 2005 17:53 (UTC))
Do you mean ice age or ice core? William M. Connolley 2005-07-08 18:37:47 (UTC).
Ice core. Oops. (SEWilco 8 July 2005 18:43 (UTC))

Ref/Note links in old article versions

I too like inline links. Also, the ref format does odd things when you are looking at page diffs! William M. Connolley 2005-07-07 08:47:14 (UTC).

What "odd things" are you seeing on page diffs? (SEWilco 7 July 2005 17:42 (UTC))
If you click on them, you end up back on the current version of the page, which... doesn't have the refs on. William M. Connolley 2005-07-07 18:08:27 (UTC).
Oh, you're clicking within a past version, not looking at a diff. I see that a {{note}} link in a diff page contains a version qualifier, although the {{ref}} link does not include a version qualifier. Something apparently is different in the processing of ref and note. (SEWilco 8 July 2005 08:46 (UTC))
Bug 2781 filed. [3] (SEWilco 06:56, 10 July 2005 (UTC))

Bot talk

Wrt SEW above, that the ref is better in case the link goes dead... that just isn't true, if all the ref is, is a bot-converted version of the link. Its no help at all. William M. Connolley 2005-07-07 18:08:27 (UTC).

We're discussing external links, references, and Footnote3, not my present bot. And if someone creates a Reference with a title like "From Shakespeare to Defoe: Malaria in England in the Little Ice Age" there is a chance of finding the document if that link later goes dead. (SEWilco 8 July 2005 07:27 (UTC))
No we're not: as DF says at the start: User:SEWilco, through his bot.... At least *I'm* not. If I want to talk about your bot, where should I do it? William M. Connolley 2005-07-08 13:39:52 (UTC).
Talk about the bot at User talk:SEWilcoBot or User talk:SEWilco. (SEWilco 8 July 2005 17:13 (UTC))
I concur with SEWilco, the main issue is whether the change is a good one, not how it is accomplished (assumming that the use of the bot as an editting tool performs as well as any human for this purpose). Dragons flight July 8, 2005 18:11 (UTC)

Invite more discussion

I would like to acknowledge that current guidance at Wikipedia:Cite sources and Wikipedia:Manual of Style (links) both seem to support your preference for avoiding direct online links, though in both cases this guidance seems to have been added in the last several months and I can find no significant discussion of it on either talk page. Seeing as how our discussion seems thus far to have attracted little interest aside from the three of us with a vested interest in ice core, I would like to posts links to this discussion at the village pump and the two aforementioned style talk pages. Any objections? Deciding how to portray links to websites is certainly an issue that deserves input from more people than the three of us. Dragons flight July 8, 2005 18:11 (UTC)

Go ahead. (SEWilco 8 July 2005 18:52 (UTC))
I think you made your invitations too long. (SEWilco 9 July 2005 02:34 (UTC))


Here are some existing citation and style guidelines and tools. (SEWilco 8 July 2005 20:43 (UTC))

How to cite sources?

I started this whole footnote revolution with Footnote2. To be honest, I don't really care how things are cited, so long as they are. I use WikiBib to cite everything (that is what I made it for). I think it is most important to turn external links into citations. Why? Because Wikipedia is above all else an encyclopedia, and a bulleted list of plain and uninformative links is irresponsible. We need to provide the reader with the author of the page, the actual title of the page, the copyright of the page and the day that we accessed the page. There are 1.3 million external links on Wikipedia, and tens of thousands of them are broken. There exists no meta-data surrounding them with which to judge their merit. Is it worth it to check for each one? When was it entered into the article? There is no easy way to find out.

Ideally, Wikipedia would use an intermediate citation format and users could choose which style they would like to see. Those handy with PHP have shown, however, that they probably aren't too interested in implementing something like this. That said, I object to any sort of a bot standardizing references (unless it is adding meta-data to otherwise plain external links). No formalized way of displaying data is superior over any other way. It is and always will be a preference unto each person --Alterego 02:58, July 10, 2005 (UTC)

I agree more metadata is necessary, and is one goal of several projects. The mentioned bot is intended to improve the quality of the citation descriptions, and the present "Title" extraction is only a first version: User:SEWilcoBot#Citations bot Presentation of the information can be expected to vary as the software and user interfaces are changed, and the preceding discussion is only about presentation. (SEWilco 06:13, 10 July 2005 (UTC))
A partial solution to the dead link problem is Wikipedia:Dead external links. -- Beland 04:28, 7 October 2005 (UTC)

Using footnotes under images

Does anyone have an idea why the auto-numbering goes for a toss, when I use it inside images? See the image under Economy_of_India#Mixed_Economy, which shows it as 2, while it links to the footnote numbered 3. I think it maybe be a mediawiki bug. I am already using Wikipedia:Footnote4 for templates, hence I am using this for footnotes. pamri 10:58, July 18, 2005 (UTC)

Your notes are out of order. In the text, they're in the following order: ref|pce-village, ref|sachart-bangladesh, ref|sector-emply-chart, ref|rti-example. In the notes section, they're in the following order: note|pce-village, note|rti-example, note|sector-emply-chart, note|sachart-bangladesh. Rearrange the notes in the same order as the "refs" and all should be well. —Wayward 11:27, July 18, 2005 (UTC)
Thanks for the reply. But it's hopelessly screwed up now after I arranged it in the correct order. pamri 13:51, July 18, 2005 (UTC)
Sorry, I can't figure out what's throwing them out of whack. The notes are in the right order, they all link correctly, yet they're numbered 3, 1, 2, 4, respectively. Just to test, I went to another article with notes and added a new note to a picture; it worked correctly. —Wayward 07:27, July 19, 2005 (UTC)
I've rearranged the notes so at least the numbers match. —Wayward 07:41, July 19, 2005 (UTC)
Thanks. What do you think of this method (look for (Ch.4, pg.63-67 Nehru (1946))); using Harvard referencing instead of manual numbering. I can then replace ref/note with manual numbering. pamri 07:53, July 19, 2005 (UTC)
I recommend you use the standard author-date system for text citation, which would look like this: (Nehru 1946, 63–67). There is no need for text references and footnotes. —Wayward 08:25, July 19, 2005 (UTC)
The problems with that article are due to external links in templates, which are confusing the sequences of footnotes. (SEWilco 04:06, 15 September 2005 (UTC))

Two things I shouldn't have to do

  1. insert a #
  2. insert a <br />

--Alterego 05:03, August 15, 2005 (UTC)

When do you have to insert BR? (SEWilco 02:41, 15 September 2005 (UTC))
I think that may have been a formatting error - I haven't experienced it since the first time. I'm still unsure of why you have to manually insert the #
It is because there is an implied BR at the end of a template, and two BR cause numbering to restart, so if # is put in a template then you have to put the entire list on a single line. As to your BR need, various tinkering has a couple of times broken template behavior and you might have noticed when it was broken. (SEWilco 04:03, 15 September 2005 (UTC))


I note WP:CITE mentions there is no consensual usage of footnotes or a footnote system. Therefore, why is this listed as a guideline? I can see no discussion on this page regarding making it a guideline, nor at WP:CITE. Hiding talk 08:08, 15 September 2005 (UTC)

Beland (talk · contribs) was the one who put the tag there; I suggest asking him. Having said that, CITE predates this proposal which is now in very common use. Apparently most problems that were previously discussed haven't turned out to be serious. No new enhanced proposal has been introduced (except Footnote4 which added manually numbered notes and has been re-absorbed into Footnote3). Maybe some move to update those pages is not a bad idea? Mozzerati 19:22, 16 September 2005 (UTC)
If, as a consequence of Hiding's initiative, FN3 gets accepted as the mainstream footnote guideline I would proceed like this:
  • Move the present wikipedia:footnotes page to wikipedia:footnote1
  • Move the present wikipedia:footnote3 page to wikipedia:footnotes
  • Re-style that page, so that it's no longer "footnote3"-the-exception-to-"footnotes", but "footnotes"-formerly-"footnote3" including a general introduction to footnotes, and still linking to the former footnote systems (only systems "1"; "2"; "4" and maybe "5", see below)
  • change the WP:FN3 shortcut so that it redirects to wikipedia:footnotes too.
  • and don't forget to update help:footnote, which now should be properly linked from the footnotes page too (not with the alert box I put there).
--Francis Schonken 23:17, 18 September 2005 (UTC)
Hi there. As I understand it, there are three available referencing systems for linked references and footnotes: the an-anb system, the ref-note system, and Paul August's (very nice) manually numbered system. The only difference between the first two systems is the appearance of the arrows next to the footnotes, and the ease (or difficulty) of remembering whether "ref" goes in the text or next to the reference (there is a similar claim for "anb"). I think the an-anb system has the upper hand among the two, and was brought into use earlier, but there are many who like the ref-note thing too. I only discovered Paul's system recently, and I confess to liking it the best: it has the most professional look and is very cleanly done (it has the sort of typography and "look" you'd see in a scholarly text). The downside might be that numbers have to be entered manually, although that's actually a plus when dealing with multiple refs to the same work. Is there any consensus on standardization?—encephalonὲγκέφαλον 20:00, 16 September 2005 (UTC)
No, the downside for as well "footnotes-the-very-old" (fn-fnb), "footnote 2" (an-anb) and "footnote 4" (mn-mnb) (and I suppose also Paul's rf-ent templates, which I suppose a combination of "footnote 2" and "footnote 4" with an improved lay-out, but too small numbers in the text), is the work someone coming after you and wanting to insert a footnote has with it. You need to renumber. The lay-out question of the type of arrow now used for "footnote 3" (ref-note) is not the essence of that type of footnote. It has switched a few times in the past, and maybe the upward v is not the final lay-out. But it'll do for the time being I suppose, seen that after differing opinions it is what it is now. The up-side of the footnote 3 system is it's ease of use. Indeed you need to remember the ref-note sequence (I had only to return to the guideline page once, in order to remember it: "note" is the note, so "ref" can only be the tag used in the text). But after that only joy of work, working with these footnotes. Of course you'll still be free to use the other footnote systems. But that's not very kind to your fellow-wikipedians coming after you working on the same pages. --Francis Schonken 23:17, 18 September 2005 (UTC)
For examples of Paul's rf-ent templates in use, see Thucydides and Wheeze.—encephalonὲγκέφαλον 20:04, 16 September 2005 (UTC)
Very nice. It would be helpful if Usage notes were in Template talk:Rf. (SEWilco 21:06, 16 September 2005 (UTC))
"Nice" as lay-out may be, apart from the rf numbers in the text being too small. Nice to work with, no way (apart from "Paul" and "Encephalon" who are apparently used to this alternate system). I don't feel like TfD-ing templates very often. This time this feeling creeps on me. Experimenting with new footnote systems in encyclopedia pages is not advised IMHO, even if their guideline is on some talk page. If you want it to be used, add it as wikipedia:footnote5 {{proposed}} How-To guideline. And await what your fellow-wikipedians think of it before using it in wikipedia articles, apart from "maybe", big "maybe", one or two examples. --Francis Schonken 23:17, 18 September 2005 (UTC)
An example of ref-note is Jew, which includes several links to the same source. (SEWilco 21:02, 16 September 2005 (UTC))
tx! --Francis Schonken 23:17, 18 September 2005 (UTC)

Francis, thanks for your comments. You wrote,

No, the downside for as well "footnotes-the-very-old" (fn-fnb), "footnote 2" (an-anb) and "footnote 4" (mn-mnb) (and I suppose also Paul's rf-ent templates, which I suppose a combination of "footnote 2" and "footnote 4" with an improved lay-out, but too small numbers in the text), is the work someone coming after you and wanting to insert a footnote has with it. You need to renumber.


  • (an-anb) is exactly the same as (ref-note), except that 1. (an-anb) was established earlier, and 2. The arrows are different (and, well, 3. one uses an,anb, while the other ref,note). You do not have to manually number an-anb; it numbers automatically, just like ref-note. In fact, when ref-note was created there was some confusion as to why it was—it didn't (and still doesn't) offer anything that the an-anb system doesn't. The discussion over why there was a need for ref-note when an-anb was already available and did the exact same thing took place on this very page, which you can still see if you scroll up. It seems to simply have drifted off without conclusion, with the result that both templates ended up being kept, and people have used both. I agree that of the five systems (an-anb, ref-note, mn-mnb, fn-fnb, and rf-ent), an-anb (and ref-note) are the easiest to use because of the autonumbering. {fn-fnb) is the worst: it autonumbers, but the footnotes are linked to the numbers intext, so that when the numbers change, the entire thing breaks down. With the other systems, each reference is always linked to the correct footnote; even if the number changes, it will always go to the right footnote, because they are linked with a name. The only differences between these 4 newer systems is whether 1. they autonumber (an-anb and ref-note do, rf-ent doesn't, not sure of mn-mnb) and 2. how they appear (ie. cosmetic features like arrows, numbers, etc). The two systems that both autonumber and link with names are an-anb and ref-note.


"Nice" as lay-out may be, apart from the rf numbers in the text being too small. Nice to work with, no way (apart from "Paul" and "Encephalon" who are apparently used to this alternate system). I don't feel like TfD-ing templates very often. This time this feeling creeps on me.

  • There's no need to place Paul August and me in scare quotes, Francis, we're quite real and not at all unusual. :) With respect to ease of use, all footnoting systems currently require some learning; once you "get" one system, the others are intuitive (which goes for any type of linking we do on wikipedia; it's a bit hard to do wiki markup at first, but once you "get" it, it's fine). The problem with rf-ent (Paul's system) is the manual numbering— and I agree with you that this can be tedious, and really shouldn't be used in large articles that see frequent changes. There's no need to immediately start TfDing everything in sight however :). Calm those creeping urges, Francis. I'm sure a version with autonumbering can be made; if so, it can be considered with the rest in any concensus discussions we have. Note that no one here unilaterally created templates and began using them: there have been attempts at concensus for a long time—just scroll up to read this page.
  • It's probably best for all of us (and by all of us I mean everyone interested in the future of references and citations in WP articles, including editors who prefer the Harvard style such as Steven Johnson below, who I note with some disappointment has decided to label the participants on this page "footnote fans") to try and reach a consensus on:
    1. one footnote template that will be used whenever numbered references in the Vancouver style is preferable for the article (as is usually the case in bioscience/medicine articles per Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals, see WP:CITE), or when the traditional footnotes-bibliography style is preferred (see for example Angkor Wat)
    2. a clear policy or guideline that says citations are always recommended on WP in line with WP:V, WP:RS, WP:CITE, but that the form of citation (ie. Harvard v Vancouver v Footnote-Bibliography V AIP etc) can be tailored to the type of article written.

I wonder which shall be more challenging :). Best—encephalonεγκέφαλον 23:12, 20 September 2005 (UTC)

(an-anb) is exactly the same as (ref-note) because the latter began as a simple copy because for some it is easier to remember what "ref" and "note" mean. People then tinkered with the appearance of the one which they used. (SEWilco 03:21, 21 September 2005 (UTC))
Yeah, maybe I mixed up. I can't even find any more where an/anb is explained in a guideline and/or proposed guideline and/or inactive guideline (proposal).
Well I found out about the whereabouts of an/anb explained in a guideline (biting my nose as a fact) - consequently I adapted wikipedia:footnote3#See also --Francis Schonken 13:15, 23 September 2005 (UTC)
I only see that among footnote proposals footnote3 is the one most actively supported; that Paul's system is not even a proposal (so how could it compete with footnote3 system? If Paul didn't even take the trouble to propose it to the community?); that an/anb is footnote3 but the less prominently supported version, still on the guideline page; that footnote2 system means manual numbering; that footnote4 is obsolete while redundant; that what's on the wikipedia:footnotes page is so deprecated, it needn't even be mentioned any more. So for numbered footnotes, presently, it's footnotes3 that should be advised to users that start using footnotes for the first time, until someone is successful in presenting a better system to the community, superseding the present "state of the art" which appears to be footnote3. There is however presently no consensus that something else is better.
I never put anything on a vote-for-deletion type of list in my whole life, so let that be clear. So I don't have these creeping urges, but as for Paul and Encephalon's alternate footnote system: if it's not proposed as a proposed guideline, it would be better to TfD it. It's presently sending the message "don't edit the Thucydides article, while it has a footnote system you don't understand", unacceptable IMHO. --Francis Schonken 02:15, 23 September 2005 (UTC)
Happy to see both of you having a discussion. I'm bowing out—might I just clarify before leaving that the rf-ent templates are not "Paul and Encephalon's alternate footnote system": I had nothing to do with the creation of these excellent templates. I merely like them, have used them, and oppose their deletion. Credit for their creation goes, I believe, to Paul. Best wishes for a fruitful discussion—encephalon 15:17, 28 September 2005 (UTC)
The first method of doing notes that I was introduced to on Wikipedia was the kind that can be found in Attalus I. That article uses straight forward html to create natural manually numbered notes. The style of notes implemented by rf/ent is based on the style used there. Is it that style of notes that you object to? Or the use of the templates? If it is that style that you wish to forbid, consider that Attalus I is a featured article and that the note style was not considered a problem during its FA discussion. If the templates were TfD'd, but that style was not outlawed, I would still use that style[1], it would just be more work (for me and other editors). I realize using notes — of any style — makes it somewhat harder for subsequent editors to edit the article. But I think the gain in verifiability is worth it. Notice also, that since the note numbers are semantically linked, it is not really essential that the note numbers actually be in order in the text[2]. So a subsequent editor could simply rearrange the text or add a note, without bothering to renumber the notes. As far as them being "proposed as a proposed guideline" or else they should be Tfd'd, I'm not sure what that means. What are you suggesting that I propose? That editors use these templates instead of others? As far as I'm concerned, that is up to the individual editor, they can use them or not as they see fit. I happen to use the style of notes implemented by rf/ent because in my editorial opinion, they look better. I use the templates because they are easier to use than writing out the html by hand. I don't like the auto-numbering system because I don't like the way it looks, and its use conflicts with using external links. As for documenting the usage of fr/ent I would be happy to write up something on the talk page of the templates. Paul August 05:06, 26 September 2005 (UTC)
"Attalus I" was FA in October 2004, so I don't see the relevance of that example?1
  • First, FA is about what users get to see, not about what editors have to work with.2
  • Second, "Attalus I" was made without footnote templates.3
  • Third, the October 2004 standard(s) for numbered footnotes by HTML or templates (if any at that time), is (are), as far as I know, not comparable to the September 2005 guideline(s) for numbered footnotes.4
rf & ent are two templates, so maybe it's better to see what the community thinks about them, September 2005. So yours is still the choice, you can propose them as footnote templates to the community, by writing a short description how to use them and post that somewhere in the "wikipedia:" namespace; or if you'd rather like that: in the "help:" namespace.5
The other way of finding out how the wikipedia community thinks about them, is rather coarse, and I don't particularly like that method, but nonetheless: personally I'm not going to write the manual how to use these alternative templates and/or propose them as a {{proposed}} guideline (at present, I don't favour these alternative footnote templates enough for that), so finding out what others think about them may be done by TfD.6
Note that I'm currently defending very hard to get "numbered footnotes" accepted as an as viable method as any other for "referencing" in the wikipedia:Cite sources meaning. So you won't have to convince me that footnotes are good for making good wikipedia verifiability.7
Having several footnote systems is however not a good idea, IMHO. If, however, the wikipedia community thinks, September 2005, that it is a good idea to have several concurrent template systems for numbered footnotes, that's fine by me, and I will support it likewise, but then the description of how they have to be used should be incorporated, or at least linked from, the current "footnotes" guideline (which is footnote3 at the time of writing this), indicating whether they're obsolete, tolerated, advised, actively supported, preferred, the unique standard or whatever nuance the wikipedia community wants to express on that.8
You see, even footnote3 is currently put to the test by Hiding's initative, by an RfC call. So, don't play hide-and-seek for templates you used: if a contributor -any contributor- stumbles in one of the articles where these footnote templates were used, that contributor is entitled to get an easy way to a manual or description how they work; And if a contributor -again, any contributor- wants to find out how wikipedia footnotes work by typing "wikipedia:footnotes" in the search window, that contributor should be able to get to that same information, without browsing talk page texts. --Francis Schonken 16:02, 26 September 2005 (UTC)
1 Footnotes generated with "footnote 3" templates (the "label" variant9, described on the guideline page) - I don't see that much lay-out difference, apart from the reference numbers in the text being a bit bigger and easier to click, while not too big so they would be disturbing. --Francis Schonken 16:02, 26 September 2005 (UTC)
2 I particularily like footnotes to be in good order; what's with you guys wanting them in wrong order?10 But, FYI: "label" type footnote3 footnotes can be put in wrong order and still work correctly, as I demonstrated for another guy who wouldn't believe it, at wikipedia talk:Cite sources--Francis Schonken 16:02, 26 September 2005 (UTC)
More notes
^1 The relevance is that rf/ent use the same style of notes (with slight modifications) as Attalus I. — Paul August 17:35, 26 September 2005 (UTC)
^2 FA are about all aspects of the article. — Paul August 17:35, 26 September 2005 (UTC)
^3 Yes it is the style of notes which is the important thing not the templates which implement that style. — Paul August 17:35, 26 September 2005 (UTC)
^4 What are the 2005 guidelines? — Paul August 17:35, 26 September 2005 (UTC)
Wikipedia:footnote3 is presently guideline, as in category:Wikipedia guidelines (note that the series of "guideline" templates, with incorporated categorisation did not yet exist in October 2004). Footnote3 is the only of the footnote guideline proposals that is presently guideline in this sense (the others are marked "inactive", by template). See Wikipedia:Template messages/Project namespace#Policies and guidelines for available templates, and Category:Wikipedia proposals for a (very) short intro on which templates go where. --Francis Schonken 14:06, 27 September 2005 (UTC)
Thanks. I wasn't aware that Footnote3 had been designated as a "guideline". Does this mean that Footnote3 has been chosen by the community to be the reccomended way to do footnotes?
Yes - how many more times has that to be repeated? --Francis Schonken 11:27, 28 September 2005 (UTC)
Where was this decided?
Ask Beland, see above. Sorry, I get a bit tired of you not reading prior discussion all in this section, and wanting this section to be written out a second time, just for your personal use. --Francis Schonken 11:27, 28 September 2005 (UTC)
^5 As I said above I'm not particularly interested in promoting the use of the rf/ent templates. I would prefer that editors use whichever tools they see fit, however if what you are saying is that you want me to write about them so that others can comment on them, I'd be willing to do that. Where do you think would be the best place do that? — Paul August 17:35, 26 September 2005 (UTC)
Above, I already suggested wikipedia:footnote5 (with a {{proposed}} template on top of such new page). What part of that suggestion was not clear? If you start that page, I'll add a link to that page from footnote3's "see also" section. Post it on RfC and/or in "Village pump/policy" is another suggestion, but I leave that to you, if you think it a good idea. --Francis Schonken 14:06, 27 September 2005 (UTC)
Thanks. Sorry, it wasn't that I didn't think any part of what you said wasn't clear. It was simply that I missed seeing you say that. I certainly don't remember you saying that anywhere to me. I would be willing to write something about rf/ent at wikipedia:footnote5, although as I said above I am not interested in proposing the use of rf/ent as a "Wikipedia policy, guideline or process" (quoting from {{proposed}}) So I wouldn't feel comfortable adding that template. I simply want to be able to use those templates. Are you saying that I can't use them unless they are a "guideline"? — Paul August 18:12, 27 September 2005 (UTC)
See above, either propose it as a "guideline", either we find another way to ask the wikipedia community what they think about it. But don't keep pretending that isn't the choice. --Francis Schonken 11:27, 28 September 2005 (UTC)
^6 I don't see what good it would do to delete these templates. Is that what you want? Why? As I said above if the templates were deleted I would continue to use the same style that those templates implement, it would just be a lot harder and error prone. Is it really that style you want to prohibit? If so that is not an appropriate discussion for TfD. — Paul August 17:35, 26 September 2005 (UTC)
^7 Great! And, I want to thank you for all your hard work. If you would like some help in convincing people of the importance of reference citation, and the advantages of notes over in-line citations, I'm willing ;-) — Paul August 17:35, 26 September 2005 (UTC)
My stance is "as good as any other" (so, not by definition "better"); further, my stance is that the type of referencing should be left to the discretion of the editors, adapted to the type of article they're writing. But avoid to have too many differing styles for the same type of referencing. --Francis Schonken 14:06, 27 September 2005 (UTC)
You seem to have inferred that I think that notes are "better" than "in-line citations". I didn't mean to imply that. But I do think that "notes" have advantages, (as do in-line citations). In most situations, I prefer to use notes. — Paul August 18:12, 27 September 2005 (UTC)
^8 It would be good if we could all agree on a single style to do notes and citations. But until we have a clear consensus, we shouldn't try to impose a single style. I would be glad to try and incorporate the rf/ent templates into whatever guidelines exist. But frankly I'm am a bit confused about how to do that. I tried to figure out all theses footnoteN pages awhile ago but I was left scratching my head in puzzlement, are you suggesting that I create a footnote6 page or whatever the next number is? (as an aside I don't think "footnote", is really the correct term). — Paul August 17:35, 26 September 2005 (UTC)
I think you're mixing type and style: "in-line references" is a type; "Harvard" is a style of in-line references. So, again, I think choosing type of references should be a matter of convenience, left to the choice of the editor(s) of an article - and I think that should be always so; only limiting the number of styles per type should definitely be an objective: I can start with trying to standardise that without waiting, while I don't think types should be limited to any particular set, apart from not extending the set of types with anything not frequently used by several editors. --Francis Schonken 14:06, 27 September 2005 (UTC)
Ok. Yes I wasn't being clear. I think we agree. Unless, that is, you want to limit the styles, so as to exclude the use of rf/ent. I would not agree with that, so far. — Paul August 18:12, 27 September 2005 (UTC)
Read what I wrote just above your comment: I do want to limit styles for an identical type, and as style the rf/ent is a redundant double of "label" kind of ref/note style, because they're *exactly* identical type of footnotes (whether used as "references" or not).
^9 Yes the "label variant" is much better. I hadn't seen it before. Although I would prefer that was the default, since it would be easier not to have to type so much. By the way there is there still the problem with external links screwing up the auto-numbering? — Paul August 17:35, 26 September 2005 (UTC)
Auto-numbered external links still screw up the auto-numbering of "ref" references to footnotes, but not of "ref label" references to footnotes. All this is in the wikipedia:footnote3 guideline. I don't understand your "not to have to type so much" comment, for which of the footnote systems did you intend that remark? --Francis Schonken 14:06, 27 September 2005 (UTC)
I meant it is easier to type {{rf|1|1}} than {{ref label|one|1|1}} . — Paul August 18:12, 27 September 2005 (UTC)
OK, and I agree "label" kind of ref/note templates being complex, while I think the footnote3 guideline OK in promoting the auto-number variant as first choice, and "label" kind of ref/note templates only as an accessory for re-using footnote numbers. People wanting to use "label" kind ref/note templates "stand-alone" is not made impossible by the guideline, but I'd not promote it (and that is *exactly* as it is in the footnote3 guideline now.) --Francis Schonken 11:27, 28 September 2005 (UTC)
^10 I don't want them in the wrong order. I was just trying to answer your concern about making it harder for other editors to edit articles which contain rf/ent templates. For a print medium, it is essential that the note numbers be in numerical order, since otherwise it would be extremely difficult to match up the numeral in the text with the numeral in the note. However since rf/ent provides links between the numeral in the text and the note, and visa versa numerical order is not really essential. Esthetically, however, I do like the note numbers to be in order. And I will myself go to the trouble of manual renumbering to achieve this. — Paul August 17:35, 26 September 2005 (UTC)
That's why the wikipedia:footnote3 guideline rather promotes the plain ref/note templates than the "label" variants, describing the use of these "label" variants only for several references to the same footnote (which occurs, for instance, in tables). --Francis Schonken 14:06, 27 September 2005 (UTC)

Footnotes are not a guideline for references

If you read the Wikipedia:Cite sources page, you'll notice that there has never been consensus that numbered footnotes should be used for citing references. In contrast, it recommends using Harvard referencing (Author, Year).

The disconnect between that page and this one disturbs me, especially the fact that this one lists itself as a "Wikipedia guideline" and implies that everyone should be using footnotes for citing sources.

What seems to have happened is that all the footnote fans have congregated here and formed their own "consensus" independent of the larger community of editors interested in citation style.

—Steven G. Johnson 20:01, 20 September 2005 (UTC)

The discussion about citations often includes mention of people preferring numbered links, but due to their not being available defer to (Author, Year) format as a secondary preference. Some express a preference, but these two styles are repeatedly discussed. (ie, Wikipedia_talk:Cite_sources/archive1#Why_APA.3F) I think since Footnote3 appeared in 2005, a number of those preferring this style have reached here when looking for citation methods; those who prefer other methods probably aren't looking here. (SEWilco 03:55, 21 September 2005 (UTC))
However, comparing the activity here to elsewhere may suggest the relative amounts of interest. Note how little discussion took place in Wikipedia_talk:Cite_sources#Inline_links_vs._Reference_citations. (SEWilco 03:55, 21 September 2005 (UTC))
Don't mix things. The "footnote3" guideline is not about whether this should yes or no be the only system to make references. there's no so-called contradiction between using author-year references (which are very appropriate for referencing the background of a whole article); and on the other hand in-line footnotes, that are not always necessarily about references: yes footnotes support "cite sources" - nobody ever said that they are or should be the only system for citing sources, neither did anyone say the opposite "that they couldn't be used for references"; but there was some sort of consensus they're the most advised system among the 4 or 5 or 6 systems of numbered footnotes.
It's maybe not even up to the cite sources guideline to make a unique decision on that. That guideline could perfectly advise several methods for referencing. But where it mentions in-line numbered footnotes as one of the possibilities, as one out of several methods, then one of the available "footnote" systems should maybe the one that is most advised. And presently that's "3" and not 0 or 2 or 4 or an/anb or Paul's system.
Also, somebody removed the "guideline" template from the project page. There was no consensus to remove that template, so I put it back. Until some sort of consensus is (re-)established. --Francis Schonken 01:53, 23 September 2005 (UTC)
And I updated Wikipedia:Cite_sources#Numbered_footnotes_for_external_citations: it still mentioned a no longer existing disadvantage of numbered footnotes, now perfectly covered by the footnote3 software. --Francis Schonken 10:22, 23 September 2005 (UTC)
That there is no mutual exclusiveness of Harvard/APA style references on the one side and numbered footnotes on the other is for instance clear from this example: Gymnopédie#Notes and References --Francis Schonken 11:56, 23 September 2005 (UTC)
Rewrote intro of the footnote3 guideline --Francis Schonken 06:59, 24 September 2005 (UTC)

Footnote3 has been discussed and this is the correct place.

Before we assume vandalism, let's assume good faith. Steven has perhaps not been following the various citation discussions and this discussion has been going on for a while, so maybe he missed the earlier discussions.

Footnote3 has been publicised;

A large number of earlier concerns have been addressed by many people. Saying that this has not been widely discussed seems incorrect to me. Mozzerati 09:34, 25 September 2005 (UTC)

Please give a reference who would have said this had not been widely discussed? --Francis Schonken 06:41, 26 September 2005 (UTC)

I don't comment on this one outside the wiki medium.

The (recent) page history of wikipedia:footnote3 is very well known to me, and I can only conclude that that page history shows nobody having asserted "that this has not been widely discussed". --Francis Schonken 14:19, 27 September 2005 (UTC)

I think the mention of how widely this has been discussed are due to the above comment that this was produced by footnote fans in isolation of other citation participants.[4] I don't think that is the case; when I was looking for citation formats I found the Footnote discussions and ended up here. There haven't been many participants in discussions about citations, so it is hard to judge how much of a community exists and how many are involved where. (SEWilco 16:25, 27 September 2005 (UTC))

(Summary moved to a new section below --Francis Schonken 15:36, 28 September 2005 (UTC))

Guideline template

I have removed the "guideline" template from this page. I think we need more discussion about this. I do not think there has been enough of a consensus developed for this yet. Paul August 13:17, 28 September 2005 (UTC)

I have put it back, there was no consensus to remove it, while I assume there was consensus when it got there (otherwise it wouldn't have been there for several months, as simple as that). Nor I, nor, apparently, Paul know how the previous consensus was defined or reached. But that doesn't make it less a consensus. Removing the "guideline" template is a major change, so, consensus to remove the template is needed before an editor on his own can decide to remove such template.
Since I don't agree to remove the guideline template, there is presently no consensus to remove that template.
Try and convince me otherwise.
I move my proposed summary of the discussions below, so that we can check whether a consensus can be reached regarding that summary. --Francis Schonken 15:36, 28 September 2005 (UTC)

As far as I can tell the {{guideline}} tag was added just a month ago, by Beland (talk · contribs) on August 27 [5]. I have no reason to assume that there was a consensus for this change. In fact I have found no discussion regarding this at all. What I have found is the following:

  • 08:08, September 15, 2005: Hiding (talk · contribs) wrote above: I note WP:CITE mentions there is no consensual usage of footnotes or a footnote system. Therefore, why is this listed as a guideline? I can see no discussion on this page regarding making it a guideline, nor at WP:CITE.
  • 20:06, September 20, 2005: Stevenj (talk · contribs) removed the "guideline" tag, saying: remove guideline tag (see talk): [6].
  • 22:03, September 24, 2005: Stevenj again removed the tag writing: this is not a guideline for citing sources; it has been developed independently of the Wikipedia:Cite sources page and not defended there
  • Encephalon (talk · contribs) also seems to have some concern that labeling this a guideline might proscribe the usage of other ways of doing footnotes.

Given the above concerns I don't really see a consensus here.

I also don't really see any one giving any reasons why this should be a guideline, and what the implications of that means for other note (by the way this is the better name for these, not footnotes) systems and styles. There has been some talk by Francis of deleting rf/ent, and there seems to be some attempt to justify their deletion by citing the "fact" that this is a guideline. Frankly that is one of my chief concerns. I don't think we should try to impose a single footnoting system or style, at least not yet. I strongly support source citation, and I strongly support the judicious use of notes (I would say I am a "footnote fan") But I think we need to build a consensus for this, not just railroad it through. I know it is difficult trying to make decisions through consensus — we are all impatient — but that is the Wiki-way. And in the long run any other way will be counterproductive. (as an aside to Francis: I don't think it is helpful to call my edit vandalism, which it most certainly was not) Paul August 17:51, 28 September 2005 (UTC)

I can't agree with Paul's deliberate attempts to break a prior consensus. --Francis Schonken 06:34, 29 September 2005 (UTC)
I am not trying to break a prior consensus. My view as I expressed it above, is that as far as I can tell there was no prior consensus. As I said above I see no evidence to of any consensus. In fact I see no evidence of any discussion at all. Just asserting that there is a consensus does not make it so. Where was the discussion? If you can't demonstrate that there was a discussion where consensus was achieved, then i will continue to doubt that it exists. (As an aside to Francis, mischaracterizing my actions in an inflammatory way is not helpful) — Paul August 13:40, 29 September 2005 (UTC)
My concern stemnmed from the fact that I've been using the footnote 2 system since about June, because no footnote had any consensual support and I thought we were free to pick and choose, and at the time I understood the mechanics of 2 better. I'm not fussed which footnote is made the guideline, just that there has been adequate discussion, and I couldn't find any. It also puzzled me that WP:CITE contradicted this page, and rather than amend it I thought it would be better to get some discussion. I admit I was slightly alarmed to discover footnote2 had been deprecated without any announcement to that effect as I wasn't relishing the conversion of footnotes. Hiding talk 18:11, 28 September 2005 (UTC)
I'm engaged in harmonising WP:CITE with the footnote guideline. And as Hiding says: which footnote systems are available is another discussion from the tedious discussion at WP:CITE to discredit footnotes entirely for use as a support of wikipedia:verifiability - neither of these two separate discussions give however a doubt that there was a previous consensus about footnote3 being a guideline. --Francis Schonken 06:34, 29 September 2005 (UTC)

Consensus proposal

OK, I think we all basicly agree. Can I summarize in these four points:

  1. Wikipedia:Footnote3 remains guideline after Hiding's RfC question about this;
  2. All other previous "numbered-footnotes-by-templates" systems as listed in the "see also" section of footnote3 are still technically supported, but not encouraged, while no longer "state of the art";
  3. Wikipedia:Footnote3 is not a "style & howto" guideline giving instruction on which style to apply for good wikipedia references (that is topic of WP:CITE), while Wikipedia:Footnote3 is a technical guideline on how to implement numbered footnotes with a set of templates. Besides, numbered footnotes also have other uses than citation of sources (e.g., text clarifications without referencing to anything);
  4. Wikipedia:Footnote3 describes a technique that *can* be used in support of Wikipedia:verifiability, there's no unanimous decision it can't be used for that, nor for a general discouragment of people wanting to use this type of footnotes for citing sources.

Further comments? --Francis Schonken 11:58, 28 September 2005 (UTC)</nowiki>

I broadly agree, yes, but does that mean I have to convert all my footnotes? :(Hiding talk 18:13, 28 September 2005 (UTC)
I don't think you are required to convert. If you want an article converted, I can see if my bot can handle it. (SEWilco 19:46, 28 September 2005 (UTC))
Indeed, I don't see what's unclear about "technically supported but not encouraged" (point 2 of the consensus proposal). The present version of that consensus proposal says: you can use the alternate footnote methods ad infinitum, you can find the guidelines about how they work, but the ref/note templates are explained first in the guideline, and you have to scroll to the "see also" section for the links to the other alternatives.
As for conversion of one type of references to another, that's in point 3 of the consensus proposal: that point states that changing reference style is a subject of WP:CITE, not of the footnote guideline, the footnote guideline only explains which footnote systems are available, and how each of them works. --Francis Schonken 06:24, 29 September 2005 (UTC)

Guideline proposal

I found the process for proposing a guideline: Wikipedia:Policy_thinktank#How_to_propose_a_new_policy Footnote3 describes how to use footnotes, but a summary and explanation of reasoning should be assembled.

  1. Create a new page with a rough draft of your proposal. Try to include:
    • A brief summary of your proposal.
    • An explanation of the reasoning behind the proposal.

— (SEWilco 19:54, 28 September 2005 (UTC))

This seems like a reasonable course of action. I will remove the "guideline" tag until the above proposal is "accepted" Paul August 20:22, 28 September 2005 (UTC)

See above, where I wrote:

If, as a consequence of Hiding's initiative, FN3 gets accepted as the mainstream footnote guideline I would proceed like this:
  1. Move the present wikipedia:footnotes page to wikipedia:footnote1
  2. Move the present wikipedia:footnote3 page to wikipedia:footnotes
  3. Re-style that page, so that it's no longer "footnote3"-the-exception-to-"footnotes", but "footnotes"-formerly-"footnote3" including a general introduction to footnotes, and still linking to the former footnote systems (only systems "1"; "2"; "4" and maybe "5", see below)
  4. change the WP:FN3 shortcut so that it redirects to wikipedia:footnotes too.
  5. (and don't forget to update help:footnotes, which now should be properly linked from the footnotes page too (not with the alert box I put there) - this point has already been executed, by Trevor - diff --Francis Schonken 06:53, 29 September 2005 (UTC)).
--Francis Schonken 23:17, 18 September 2005 (UTC)

There's still no consensus to remove the guideline template from footnote3.

The points mentioned by SEWilco, retrieved from the guideline on writing guidelines have all been executed previously, are still included in the footnote3 guideline, after which it was converted into a guideline some time ago.

If someone wants another guideline on footnotes replacing the present one, such alternate proposal can be filed as described in guidelines, summarised by SEWilco, and also by myself higher on this page. As long as such new proposal is not accepted as a guideline (either as a replacement or an addition), there's no hail to be expected from de-guidelining the present one. --Francis Schonken 06:53, 29 September 2005 (UTC)

I think that Footnote3 has been accepted by those who are using footnote style. However, it seems the Footnote3 document glosses over some material and could be improved with more clarification for newcomers. I'll add some such material. (SEWilco 14:08, 29 September 2005 (UTC))

I am not trying to de-guideline this page. I am saying I see no evidence that it was ever properly guidelined in the first place. The discussions on this page and elsewhere suggest that it was not. But perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps it was properly guidelined and I just missed it. If you can show me where that occurred I will stop objecting to the "guideline" template (and apologize for wasting everyones time ;-) I took SEWilco to be saying above that he agreed with me and that this page needed to be proposed and accepted to properly become a guideline. Perhaps I misunderstood him. However based on his presumed agreement, I again removed the "guideline" tag. (By the way Francis, please stop characterizing that action as "vandalism". It is either a careless use of language, or something worse.) Paul August 14:32, 29 September 2005 (UTC)

Actually, the above process in Wikipedia:Policy thinktank is oriented toward Wikipedia policy. Most guideline documents indicate that guidelines are generally adopted rather than specified-and-accepted, as Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines#Types of guidelines states: "In addition to the generally accepted policies listed above, the following guidelines have been suggested by various participants". Footnote3 followed the Wikiproject path rather than growing out of a defined policy. Making footnotes be a mandatory style would require a policy. (SEWilco 16:23, 29 September 2005 (UTC))
The 3500 pages which link to Template:Ref suggests some amount of awareness and adoption of the method. (SEWilco 16:32, 29 September 2005 (UTC))

Ok, although I am not altogether happy with how this has been handled, as long as no one else cares to voice a concern, I will drop my objection to calling this a guideline. I will however interpret that it is a guideline, to mean that, of those who are interested in and use notes, that, of all the publicized template systems, the preferred, one is footnote3. Is that a fair statement? My chief concern, as I said above, is that the use of other less preferred or less publicized template systems (in particular my current favorite rf/ent) will be somehow prohibited. Francis has mentioned several times now, submitting these templates to TfD. And has implied that the "fact" that footnotes3 was a guideline justified this. I think that would be inappropriate. And I don't see what that would accomplish, since the same style that those templates implement could just be done manually. It would all just be harder and more error prone, and less editor friendly. I also think it is premature, at best, to try and impose the use of a single template system, however beneficial having a single system might be. Paul August 18:54, 29 September 2005 (UTC)

Oh no, don't twist my words around. I invited you several times to publicize how the rf/ent footnotes work. If you (or someone else) doesn't publicize how they work, they're potentially confusing to editors opening a page containing them. Editors should not be supposed to be thus technically experienced that they must be able to find out by themselves how these footnotes work. And if you're not going to do something about that, I think it best to ask the wikipedia community's opinion what they think about these templates. TfD is not deleting, TfD is asking what others think about it.
And this has nothing to do with footnote3 yes or no being a guideline. The only thing involved is that templates that are not self-evident, and for which no guideline how to use them is available, should not be floating around on pages, while any wikipedia page should be inviting anyone to contribute, as much as any other page. Using a footnote system that might be "hermetic" to some wikipedians, is some sort of "appropriation", against wikipedia policies (see, e.g., NPOV tutorial). --Francis Schonken 19:43, 29 September 2005 (UTC)

Calm down Francis. I apologize if I've misrepresented what you've said. All I said was Francis has mentioned several times now, submitting these templates to TfD. And has implied that the "fact" that footnotes3 was a guideline justified this. You have mentioned TfDing these templates at least three times above. And you have also expressed your dislike for those templates, and in rather strong terms above. However, If you did not mean to imply that there was any connection with footnote3 being the "guideline" for numbered notes, and the argument for TfD'ing, then I misunderstood you. However I assure you I was doing my best to represent what I understood you to be saying. So the charge of "twisting your words around" is undeserved. Yes you have suggested that I document these templates several times, and I've said several times that I was willing to. I agree with you that I should have done this before now, and to not have done so was a disservice to my fellow editors. I hope to rectify that in a few days. Paul August 03:14, 30 September 2005 (UTC)

When did TfD become a style consensus forum? (SEWilco 15:40, 30 September 2005 (UTC))
As far as I know never, nor should it be. Paul August 18:17, 3 October 2005 (UTC)

Well Stevenj has chosen to remove the "guideline" tag again saying "like Paul August, I agree that there is not enough consensus to label this a "guideline" (please debate it on Wikipedia:Cite sources) …" . Francis has again reverted saying "Paul August agrees it to be a guideline, dear Stevenj, please follow debates on talk page". Well what I said above was: "… as long as no one else cares to voice a concern, I will drop my objection to calling this a guideline." Since Steven has chosen to voice a concern, I have removed the "guideline" tag again. I think that those who want this to be a guideline should do as Stevenj suggests and debate the issue on Wikipedia:Cite sources. Paul August 13:59, 30 September 2005 (UTC)

I haven't been following all this discussion. But both I and Dragonsflight have objected to the use of this system in articles like medieval warm period. Those objections are unresolved. William M. Connolley 14:22, 30 September 2005 (UTC).

You object to any use of footnotes, to certain use of footnotes, or to this style of footnotes? (SEWilco 15:36, 30 September 2005 (UTC))
Please refresh your memory of the discussion above which you participated in. William M. Connolley 15:47, 30 September 2005 (UTC).
I think you're referring to the previous objection to the overall use of footnotes, not their appearance. State any objections to the present discussion about Footnote3 as a Guideline for footnote styling. (SEWilco 17:39, 30 September 2005 (UTC))
Whatever. I'm objecting to this thing being a guideline in the hope of keeping it out of any articles I'm interested in. William M. Connolley 19:16, 30 September 2005 (UTC).
Agree with William, while FN3 is nice this should be at the discretion of editors. We don't need or want a guideline in this area. Christopher Parham (talk) 06:35, 5 October 2005 (UTC)
  1. Basicly I think it's up to those collaborating on the content of an article to decide which techniques are used to make clear and reliable references. Choosing these techniques is however a topic of WP:CITE, and not of the footnote(s) guideline(s). William is probably in the wrong place for voicing his objections. See also #Consensus proposal above.
  2. Medieval Warm Period seems like a battlefield immediately after ceasefire to me. Indeed a sort of "peace treaty" was negotiated on its talk page. But I still see too many dead bodies lying around in the "Medieval Warm Period" article itself, for it being anything near to eligible for (for example) Wikipedia:Peer review. Since I'm no collaborator to the content of that article I don't have a sight on whether the references system of that page is the most appropriate or not. Maybe it's the best of what could be agreed upon. But I object to use that article as a standard template for all articles William M. Connolley happens to be interested in (I suppose that's not how William meant it, but it sort of came out like that). How references are presented is IMHO something to be decided on a by article basis, as the result of a collaboration of those working on the content of that article (at least, that's how I read WP:CITE presently). --Francis Schonken 09:30, 2 October 2005 (UTC)
    1. No, MWP wouldn't be my choice. A far better example is the excellent global warming article. William M. Connolley 20:40, 3 October 2005 (UTC).
    2. And also: I agree absolutely, the ref style should be done on what that articles editors want. This is why I'm flagging it up, because on solar variation Enochlau has been saying stuff like I'm not taking sides unilaterally. It's Wikipedia style guidelines (and he has had no prior editing of the article). William M. Connolley 20:44, 3 October 2005 (UTC).

How would you think about applying this brand new template, instead of the general "guideline" template (BTW Enochlau appeared to have misinterpreted footnote3 as being a style guideline): {{Wikipedia subcat guideline}} |how-to|Footnotes Would that be a better approach? --Francis Schonken 10:17, 5 October 2005 (UTC)

  • Change conventionally to usually, and that would make sense. I'm not sure if a template is needed though; just place that content in the first paragraph of the page. BTW, the list of 5 changes you suggest be done if this is made a guideline should probably be done anyway. They would make the location of this page, which is probably what people want when they type in wikipedia:Footnotes, much more obvious. Christopher Parham (talk) 13:52, 5 October 2005 (UTC)
  • Template:Wikipedia subcat guideline updated (as you can see above) - slightly different from what you suggested, but I suppose it can work this way;
  • Re. 5 steps: If the discussion whether or not this is a guideline is "over" (is it?), I think it is possible to proceed with these steps. Admin powers might be needed for step 2. Note that "step 5" is already performed. Step 3 is already partially performed. --Francis Schonken 06:21, 6 October 2005 (UTC)
I implemented the proposed page moves. I'm sure there's more arguing to do, but at least we've apparently agreed that this page should be the starting point for that. -- Beland 03:37, 7 October 2005 (UTC)


I got fed up of coming here to copy the following:

<!-- How to add a footnote: 
   NOTE: Footnotes in this article use names, not numbers. Please see [[Wikipedia:Footnote3]] for details.
     1) Assign your footnote a unique name, for example TheSun_Dec9. 
     2) Add the macro {{ref|TheSun_Dec9}} to the body of the article, where you want the new footnote.
     3) Take note of the name of the footnote that immediately precedes yours in the article body. 
     4) Add #{{Note|TheSun_Dec9}} to the list, immediately below the footnote you noted in step3.
     5) Multiple footnotes to the same reference: see [[Wikipedia:Footnote3]] that explains how to do that.
   NOTE: It is important to add footnotes in the right order in the list!

every time I wanted to put some footnotes into an article, so I've created a template to do it. Just type {{subst:Footnote3text}} into the edit box and it'll be pasted in for you.

CTOAGN 22:55, 1 October 2005 (UTC)

Solar variation discussion

There is a discussion about reference styles taking place at Talk:Solar variation#Referencing, where Footnote3 has been used since March. (SEWilco 17:51, 3 October 2005 (UTC))

Implementing redirects

Wikipedia_talk:Footnotes/archive1#Purpose_of_keeping_an.2Fanb_different_from_ref.2Fnote.3F notes that ref/note and an/anb are essentially the same thing, though due to internal naming differences, you can't do ref/anb or an/note. As suggested there, I'm redirecting "an" to "ref", "anb" to "note", and as a corollary to keep compatibility, {{an num}} to {{ref num}}. The only visible difference I can see is that the an/anb templates use "↨" as a return-link character, and ref/note use "^". The latter is the result of a considerable futzing with Template:Note and discussion on Template talk:Ref. If it needs to be changed again, that's the place to discuss it, I guess. -- Beland 04:05, 6 October 2005 (UTC)

I now also built an example with the "ref num" template on the guideline page (footnote 4), however the backlink (from the footnotes section upward) seems not to work (clicking from the "ref num" to the "notes" section no problem however). --Francis Schonken 07:28, 6 October 2005 (UTC)
I tried to fix the backlink, but that broke the forward link. (I reverted that change.) From this, I would say that {{ref num}} is incompatible with {{note}}. I would like to suggest eliminating {{ref num}} from this document, and change it to suggest using {{ref label|GraemeMcRae|314|a}} and {{note label|GraemeMcRae|314|a}} instead, as demonstrated here.[314]
I agree. Ref_num was a concept which omitted the paired linking of ref_label/note_label. (And ref_num is documented as having no backlink.) Note_label could create a backlink to ref_num but not as cleanly as using the same parameter values in ref_label/note_label pairs. (SEWilco 05:42, 5 November 2005 (UTC))
Worse than not cleanly — not at all. If {{ref_num}} / {{note_label}} pair either has a non-working forward link or a non-working backlink. This could be fixed by implementing {{note_num}} or by deprecating the use of {{ref_num}}. I prefer the latter. I see the comments discouraging its use. I would go farther and avoid mentioning the {{ref_num}} at all. I would remove it from Wikipedia:Footnotes as well as from Template:Ref.—GraemeMcRaetalk 06:27, 5 November 2005 (UTC)
Please do so. (SEWilco 05:29, 6 November 2005 (UTC))
I had intended to do this, but I see you beat me to the punch. Still, there were references to ref_num, and footnote 4 still used ref_num in the article, so I corrected that. Unfortunately, using the ^ character as a backlink caused some sort of html syntax problem, because the character can't be used as part of the name of an anchor in some circumstances too convoluted for me to grasp. So I solved that problem by letting the third parameter of both ref_label and note_label to default to char_94, and I render this character as ^. That way, the default value of the third parameter serves this use well, and -- this is the good part -- both the forward link and the backlink work correctly!—GraemeMcRaetalk 05:19, 10 November 2005 (UTC)
Hi Beland, thanks for your delicate disentanglement of Gordian knots ;) - "merging" the two sets of templates as you did seemed a tackish operation some time ago, but you performed it, and it's OK for me.
Just wanted to ask you to have a look at my 5-step plan above (#Guideline proposal) - we're near to the point that everyone agrees these steps can be performed. But for step 2 sysop powers are needed. Since you possess these magical powers may I ask you to keep handy for when we totally agree to perform that step (hoping somewhere soon)? --Francis Schonken 06:33, 6 October 2005 (UTC)
Page moves implemented. (See above.) -- Beland 03:37, 7 October 2005 (UTC)
Many, many thanks! --Francis Schonken 14:22, 7 October 2005 (UTC)


I wrote:

Footnotes are not the same thing as references. Footnotes are referenced by a specific passage in the body of the article. The citation is given in a numbered list (using "#") in the "Notes" section near the bottom of the article. Items in the "References", "Futher reading", "External links", and "See also" sections, if they exist, are put in an unnumbered list (using * to make bullets). They are not referenced by a specific passage in the text. Please see Wikipedia:Cite sources for complete information on using these sections.

and this was reverted to:

These numbered footnotes are not the only means used on Wikipedia for references - these footnotes aren't even always "references" in that sense, see Wikipedia:Cite sources that gives an overview of style recommendations and techniques for building good Wikipedia references.

Is there any particular reason? I find the previous version, and this reincarnation of it (second quote), to be rather vague and confusing, which is why I rewrote it (first quote). I should probably also have added that footnotes can be used for any purpose for which they are useful, not just references. -- Beland 03:40, 7 October 2005 (UTC)

Oh, and also that you can use the Harvard (Author, Year) system or inline external links as an alternative to footnotes. -- Beland 04:28, 7 October 2005 (UTC)
I think the "Footnotes are not the same thing..." version is more descriptive. (SEWilco 04:46, 7 October 2005 (UTC))

It was I who reverted the intro to what I had written after debate, occasionally involving some light "edit warring", etc...

"Footnotes are not the same thing..." is a bit more confusing, while there are pages that *exclusively* use footnotes for making good references to external sources, and use footnotes *exclusively* for references (and not for non-reference commentaries). And that is allowed by the present version of WP:CITE (BTW, I put that description of that being "allowed" there too, also involving debate, and some "light edit warring", etc...) - for these wikipedia articles "footnotes" and "references" are the same thing, the wikipedia community consenting.

The basic philosophy: separate the two things: WP:CITE should not explain the details of WP:FN3, as WP:FN3 should not attempt to explain the details of WP:CITE, so that both can evolve each their own way, never being "conflicting" guidelines again (well, how about that for an ideal!)

--Francis Schonken 14:18, 7 October 2005 (UTC)

You know, what I originally wrote is still pretty confusing, and I see your point about wanting to make the two pages entirely orthogonal. What about something like:

Not all references are made using the footnote templates described on this page. Please see Wikipedia:Cite sources for guidance on references and alternative markup.
Also, not all footnotes are references to documentary sources. Feel free to use them wherever you think they would be useful. (For example, a special note regarding a table header, or an exception regarding a specific entry in a table is commonly made in a footnote.)

? -- Beland 03:48, 9 October 2005 (UTC)

Yeah, looks better, although, I don't know, couldn't the second paragraph of your proposal be put in simpler language. I'm not, of course, an English language expert (not being a native speaker) - "documentary sources" is a concept terminology I understand of course, but not the usual terminology in WP:CITE, nor in wikipedia:reliable sources if I recall well. --Francis Schonken 13:16, 9 October 2005 (UTC)
How about: "Also, not all footnotes are citations of information sources. They are also used for clarification or other notes about material. Common uses include explaining the meaning of a table header, or an exception regarding a specific entry in a table." (SEWilco 21:41, 9 October 2005 (UTC))

Sounds good to me. Adding to the project page. -- Beland 23:58, 11 October 2005 (UTC)

Inline links discouraged in favor of more complete sources

Comments requested at Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)#Inline links discouraged in favor of more complete sources. (SEWilco 08:04, 11 October 2005 (UTC))

Harvard style support

Support for Harvard style referencing has been added with {{ref_harvard}}. I updated Alchemy to use it. At present it generates <sup> style links. Should it create links which are the same size as text? (SEWilco 18:57, 16 October 2005 (UTC))

That is not Harvard referencing. Please stop going around changing it. SlimVirgin (talk) 17:23, 18 October 2005 (UTC)
In what way is "(Harvey 1995)" not a Harvard reference? (SEWilco 17:44, 18 October 2005 (UTC))
It is. That's not what you were reverting to.
You're now deleting references sections from other articles e.g. Alchemy, and inserting an almost illegible footnote system. Please stop this edit warring. If this page ever becomes policy, then you can go around changing things, but not before. SlimVirgin (talk) 18:00, 18 October 2005 (UTC)
My references in Alchemy contain all the sources which have been there, with additional detail. (SEWilco 18:06, 18 October 2005 (UTC))
  • The style for {{ref_harvard}} now produces links using normal sized text. Is it somehow preferable to make references less distinctive? (SEWilco 18:38, 18 October 2005 (UTC))

Software changes

  1. Whatever happened to implementing citations directly in the software? See Bug 192, for instance. I would rather see the reference section automatically generated by the software, which would allow various formatting options, like printable footnotes, javascript popups for people who want to use them, an auto-generated references section for those who don't, etc. Wiki isn't paper, and I don't see why we should have to jump back and forth to a references section with a kludgy template when software could allow other formats for references. Is anyone working on this?
  2. Why is this a guideline? — Omegatron 19:14, 17 October 2005 (UTC)
  1. As mentioned in "Design Goals", this method is intended to "get something working with the current Wikimedia software." When new tools are available the existing incantations can be updated. You'll have to find a MediaWiki developer to ask about implementing in software any style changes or citations database abilities.
  2. This is a guideline because it "explains wikipedia's current best practice". (SEWilco 03:54, 18 October 2005 (UTC))


314. a This is an example of an out-of-sequence numbered footnote

Insert a footnote, add an example, and add clarity I hope

I'm a new user (but an experienced technical worker with a brain too small to be willing to learn more about things than I'm forced to), and I had real problems understanding this article. So I clarified both to help other new users -- maybe more editors will actually use the article in the future -- and also to help me when I've forgotten all I know now and need to consult the article again.

But I did NOT clarify the latter parts of the article, which I don't begin to understand. Based on experience, I can quickly just ignore them without trying to understand them. I'll leave a note on SEWilco's talk page that I think someone needs to move some of this text to footnotes or the talk page, if we Wikipedians put value on having clean guideline articles. Also I don't know how to fix the box in Helping editors unfamiliar with footnote templates. Not that I'll bother using that box anyhow.

However I will continue to use both template pairs, "ref/note" and "ref label/note label", which I like and which are sturdy enough to work well. The latter pair even work for travel just within the Footnotes section itself, which is how I myself will do all my future multiple uses of the same footnote, if any. See the article itself. To insert a footnote, I did have trouble using the templates correctly in the presence of a fixed, out of sequence footnote, last night (Sunday night) when Wikipedia was so slow I gave up on Previews and just did Save pages. But this morning, my brain works normally again and so does WP so I could do it just fine, a piece of cake. For7thGen 19:05, 21 November 2005 (UTC)

Multiple references to the same footnote

Narrating my experience may be helpful. When I was doing the above work on clarity I needed to insert 2 new references to the same footnote [2]. I had the unpleasant experience of finding the old references that needed to be changed, buried in a long article, in order to maintain them. This unpleasant burden gave rise to the idea of multiple references only within the footnotes section, to avoid this worst part of their maintenance task.
Thus, the above-mentioned inserting a footnote and example to show the within-Footnotes referencing. For7thGen 20:15, 22 November 2005 (UTC)

Are URL-only links an acceptable citation style?

A straw poll is being taken based on whether using only URLs in an article is an acceptable style for citing sources instead of having more detailed citations. See Talk:Global cooling#SEWilco.2C disruptive reverts.2C and citations. (SEWilco 23:45, 24 November 2005 (UTC))

SEWilco is presenting a misleading view of the debate. The real debate, which he has escalated into a revert war on both Global cooling and Kyoto protocol, is over his pushing of his cumbersome footnotes style into these articles with no regard to the consensus of the editors working on these articles. He has been advised against this [7]. Please carefully consider the debate history on those articles if you plan to comment. Vsmith 01:44, 25 November 2005 (UTC)

Vsmith is presenting a misleading view of the situation, where the original article had dead URL-only links with numbered format, being replaced with standard Wikipedia:Footnote numbered links to citations. See the discussion in Talk:Global cooling, and if you wish see Vsmith's alternative whose errors and weaknesses are described in Talk:Kyoto Protocol. While he complains of consensus, Vsmith's edit is even more dramatic a style change than numbered links. (SEWilco 05:59, 25 November 2005 (UTC))

Please see also Wikipedia:Requests for comment/SEWilco. William M. Connolley 10:13, 25 November 2005 (UTC).

Multiple footnotes linking to one source

In articles where there's more than one piece of information obtained from the same source, how is this resolved? I read through the whole page, but all it did was confuse me more. I'm not really satisfied with the existing footnote system at any rate — it strikes me as too clumsy and error-prone. So, by the way, does anyone know if inotes are an acceptable form of footnoting for say, featured articles? Johnleemk | Talk 12:57, 27 November 2005 (UTC)

Sometimes the text reference indicates information such as a page number. One possibility is to use a separate citation for each location, perhaps including references upward such as Ibid. If using a style with a single citation for a source, you could use a list within the entry for details (using "#" creates a numbered entry, while "#*" can create a bulleted item within the same entry; if using {{note_label}} the uplinked labels can be placed where appropriate). (SEWilco 02:53, 28 November 2005 (UTC))
What about references from websites? Johnleemk | Talk 19:30, 1 December 2005 (UTC)
Can you rephrase the question? (SEWilco 04:46, 2 December 2005 (UTC))
Websites don't have a page number or anything of the sort. But if I want to cite a webpage twice, I'll have to either point to the same footnote or duplicate it. Both solutions seem a bit icky to me — the first involves too much fiddling with the software (I think) and the second will be confusing. Johnleemk | Talk 07:35, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
  • If you're referring to the entire web page, handle that the same as multiple references to a book.
  • If you're referring to a section within the web page, you can create a list for each section for which you have details.
  • You can create a list within the footnote, just as this is a list within the preceding comment.
  • Each item for which you want to specify additional details can have an entry in the list.
  • Any {{note}} links and backlinks can be placed ahead of the appropriate list entry, so following a {{ref}} will jump directly to the appropriate entry in the list. (SEWilco 16:47, 2 December 2005 (UTC))


I'd actually like to examine whether we really want to use Ibid as a reference. Not many readers know what it means, and some style manuals have deprecated it (mostly because they use Harvard references, which don't need to be duplicated). The second link from Ibid mentions that it is used in "older articles". I'd suggest that we don't use Ibid on Wikipedia for the same reason that we avoid other unnecessary Latin.

What I'd suggest, instead, is using a brief version of the previous reference, such as the author's last name, or one or two words of the title if that doesn't work. (The Chicago Manual of Style uses this in some cases.) I've just changed Xanadu House to do this, and I think it's much more understandable. Should we add this as a style guideline? rspeer 05:38, 4 December 2005 (UTC)

When referring to a preceding citation, SEWilcoBot is oriented toward using the title with "(See above)" linked to a previous citation. I avoided "Ibid" due implications of its meaning, and to avoid problems due to a new citation being inserted between the original and where "Ibid" may have been used. (SEWilco 06:02, 4 December 2005 (UTC))

WP:V citations

Recent revisions and revert

User:SlimVirgin recently modified the page to make it more consistent with other policies and style guides. User:SEWilco almost immedialtely reverted calling the edit POV. I have reverted back as the points addressed are important and I cannot see a supposed POV problem. Perhaps SEWilco feels this is his personal project and doesn't like modification and clarification by others, I don't know. Anyway, discuss the changes, don't just revert. Vsmith 17:44, 15 December 2005 (UTC)

Thanks, Vsmith. I tried to bring the page into line with WP:V and WP:CITE. Both make clear that numbered embedded links and Harvard referencing are acceptable as citation styles too. This page gave the impression that numbered embedded links were not acceptable. SlimVirgin (talk) 18:07, 15 December 2005 (UTC)

New Cite extension

I wrote an extension which will hopefully improve the status of citations, see Wikipedia:Village pump (technical)#New Cite extension. —Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason 01:29, 21 December 2005 (UTC)

The Village Pump section mentioned above has since been removed. This citation extention is brilliant though, and this page should probably be rewritten/added to at some point, to incorporate this new style. <ref>Footnote</ref> creates a footnote. The footnotes are collectively displayed at the point where <references/> is displayed. And it even supports using the same footnote in several places, by incorporating a name="" in the ref-tag.
Joy[1], referencing[2]. O, the joy[1].
  1. ^ a b Joyous day
  2. ^ Referencing
As you can see, there are still some bugs to be worked out, with numbering and such. Still, it deserves some attention. See -- Ec5618 00:27, 29 December 2005 (UTC)
Very nice, at least for simple footnotes. For more complicated use (using Ibid. and such), it might be easier to maintain the notes if they can be edited in a single section, rather than having to search through the entire article for the previous one. —Kirill Lokshin 00:41, 29 December 2005 (UTC)

Current linked-footnote superscripts foul up line spacing

I'm not sure if this is exactly the place to raise this niggle, but all here seem to be hard at work on footnotes, so here goes:
I know it might seem petty, but I find the increase in line spacing that linked-footnote superscripts create detracts from Wikipedia's otherwise generally very good presentation. Using unlinked footnote/subscript characters from a font (like this: ¹  [described by my Windows XP Character Map program as character U+00B9]) doesn't alter the line spacing. Can Wikipedia's linked footnote subscripts be made to behave similarly?  I would offer to program whatever changes would be necessary, but know I don't have the know-how. Would anyone who does be up for sorting this out?  I'd be happy to help if there's some way I can.
Thanks, David Kernow 23:48, 22 December 2005 (UTC)

Look up the AUTOINCREMENT fix (there presently is a link to the discussion in the ToDo list at the top of this page). As it produces sequence numbers, you may be able to track from there what causes the actual characters to be emitted. (SEWilco 04:15, 23 December 2005 (UTC))

Thanks for your reply, SEWilco. Having visited the link you mention, however, I don't see how/where it address line spacing – unless I'm somehow missing the obvious. If so, please point out and my apologies in advance for stupidity. Best wishes, David Kernow 11:35, 23 December 2005 (UTC)

Arbitration Committee is crazy

I don't know how much longer I can participate. The Arbitration Committee, in violation of Wikipedia policies and Arbiration policy, dragged me into a farce of a case and now placed me on Probation and forbidden me from following policy Wikipedia:Verifiability and improving citations. [8] Another example of the need for Wikipedia:User Bill of Rights so we know the rules and arbitration actions are limited. (SEWilco 20:33, 23 December 2005 (UTC))

"How-to guideline" template

I repeat my proposal above (well, some months ago) to use following template on wikipedia:footnotes as a replacement for the {{proposed}} template:

Blue check.svg This page is a how-to guideline for Wikipedia, reflecting how the authors of this encyclopedia address certain issues. This guideline is intended to help you improve Wikipedia content. Feel free to update this page as needed, but please use the discussion page to propose major changes.

[[Category:Wikipedia {{lc:how-to}}|{{ucfirst:Footnotes}}]]

Why do I propose this now?

Does anyone oppose the use of that template?


Should we list this again on wikipedia:current surveys or wikipedia:village pump (policy) or any other similar place?

--Francis Schonken 22:34, 23 December 2005 (UTC)

  • I Support the change to {{Wikipedia subcat guideline}} but also think you should list it on village pump. Even if that is not done, because of the Chrismas and New Year break that many take, you should consider waiting a couple of weeks from the New Year before implementing such a change so that no one can argue that it was done while most were off doing other things. --Philip Baird Shearer 23:51, 28 December 2005 (UTC)

Footnotes: ref-tag

Partially copied from the MOS -- Ec5618 02:20, 3 January 2006 (UTC)

Recently, Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason has been working on a new software footnote[1] system.

  1. ^ See m:Cite/Cite.php for details.

There may still be some bugs to be worked out, so it can't yet replace all other styles of footnoting. And since there doesn't appear to be a page dedicated to this footnote style, I'm not sure where to post. I'm trying to find a way/place to generate discussion. -- Ec5618 02:20, 3 January 2006 (UTC)

That system, currently minimally described at meta:Cite/Cite.php, is looking pretty darn good. I've been using it to good effect. I suggest that we restructure this to turn the sections describing {{ref}}/{{note}} into level-3 sections, all within a single level-2 section, then add—probably ahead of that, because I think it is a preferred method—another level-2 section in which to start writing about <ref> -- Jmabel | Talk 04:31, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
If nobody objects, I'll have a go at this in a day or two. I don't see much reason to use footnotes3 anymore, since this new system has none of the downsides of footnotes3 (although there might of course be the odd bug or two). We need to remedy this quick. I'm tired of having to refer to the user-unfriendly m:Cite/Cite.php, and frankly, I'm a bit concerned some people who don't know much about this system will pointlessly expend their energy "fixing" the footnotes. I've already had to revert one edit that switched back to footnotes3. Johnleemk | Talk 13:49, 13 January 2006 (UTC)
Agreed. Just politely explain to them what we're trying to do. I'll back you up if you get reverted. Any chance of a conversion of MDAC? - Ta bu shi da yu 13:49, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
Good. The only bug/downside I can think of at the moment is that it's not possible to include a reference from within an image, or even image description. Check the code:
[[Image:Mergefrom.gif|Image description including reference <ref>There's an image.</ref>]], which produces

Image description including reference [1]

I'm not sure when this can be fixed, as even the developer hinted that it was beyond his control at this point: Apparently MediaWiki is just wired this way. (Oddly the reference does appear in the references section. -- Ec5618 14:05, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
It is odd that images behaved OK when I tested for image note sequencing on Avar's test site. (SEWilco 16:28, 17 January 2006 (UTC))

For the record, I would hug Avar if I ever met him for making this footnoting system! I've come up with an idea on how to make {{ref}} and {{note}} backwards compatible, but it would require a code enhancement. See User talk:Ta bu shi da yu/footnote-idea. - Ta bu shi da yu 14:25, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

Is there any news on this topic? -- Ec5618 11:30, 2 February 2006 (UTC)


Wikipedia:Good_article states that footnotes are recommended; here, it is stated that they're not even specifically preferred. (Personally, I think footnotes are a very poor idea. Look at the Britannica for example, there are very, very, very few footnotes: an encyclopedia is not a high-school essay; or at least, shouldn't be.) But either way, consistency would be nice. Bill 11:54, 14 February 2006 (UTC)

Removed " (footnotes are recommended)" from Wikipedia:Good articles
This is in line with Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Climate change dispute 2 (ArbCom case closed 23 December 2005) --Francis Schonken 12:29, 14 February 2006 (UTC)

Meta cite

I'm going to rewrite the how-to part of this page to meta-cite over the next few days. There was broad agreement above to do this. Hipocrite - «Talk» 16:22, 17 February 2006 (UTC)

Please do so on a separate page, e.g. Wikipedia:Footnotes/Cite.php
Question: meta:Cite.php was not clear to me whether inline numbered external links are compatible with this system (and if so: how?)
Anyhow, I'd avoid HTML-like tags - can this system be implemented by something that looks a bit more familiar in wiki-surrounding, e.g. {{cite|...}} instead of the <ref>...</ref> type of stuff? --Francis Schonken 16:42, 17 February 2006 (UTC)
Not a coder. Let's see if numbered links [9] work with[2] this [10] system[3]. Summary? Better than they work with ref-note, but worse than you would hope.
Better? if both start numbering from "1" (which they apparently do) this is not really an improvement... Usability near to zero, because it makes the presupposition that people who read the encyclopedia immediately remark the difference in size of the numbers between square brackets (and that they are also pre-enlightenend what this difference in size signifies)... --Francis Schonken 17:15, 17 February 2006 (UTC)
Looks like the pipe to a letter refrence is wonky right now. Hold on. Hipocrite - «Talk» 17:27, 17 February 2006 (UTC)
  1. ^ There's an image.
  2. ^ a test
  3. ^ another test

Hipocrite - «Talk» 16:47, 17 February 2006 (UTC)

On that note, however, I'll talk to people to see if changing the "ref" template to use this format could be done. I think it can, but I think that it would be a bit too bold for me to try to impliment that myself. I really do believe the current footnote style has been badly depreciated, and that should go back up. Hipocrite - «Talk» 16:49, 17 February 2006 (UTC)

I don't think it needs to be on a separate page. This article isn't called "ref/note templates" or anything of the sort; it's about Wikipedia footnotes, so it should describe the currently preferred footnote method. Also, calling the page "Cite.php" is really obscure, and it makes a thoroughly unimportant implementation detail (the name of the PHP file that produces this functionality) part of a guideline; that's silly. rspeer / ɹəədsɹ 16:52, 17 February 2006 (UTC)

Take the page name you want, but not on this page. wikipedia:footnote6 or wikipedia:Footnotes/Temp or whatever you like ("e.g." above meant that I only gave an example of what a possible pagename could have been)
ref/note and their label variants can be used on the same wikipedia page. There's nothing that says they can be used on the same page with the cite.php tags.
Avoid confusion, please! --Francis Schonken 17:09, 17 February 2006 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Footnotes/Temp now contains the edits introducing the new system. --Francis Schonken 17:31, 17 February 2006 (UTC)
Let's be clear however - every time an article is made with a plain vanilla ref-note format, god kills a kitten. The longer we wait to get rid of all mention of plain vanilla ref-note style, the more dead kittens are piling up. Leave it there for Harvard, but the tags are just better than ref-note. The guideline - hell, the policy "Don't use ref-note, use ref-refrences unless there is a really compelling reason" would pass with flying colors. Hipocrite - «Talk» 17:40, 17 February 2006 (UTC)
It's not about "better" or "worse" (I also think, on first sight, I like the new system better)
It's about Wikipedia:Footnotes#Helping editors unfamiliar with footnote templates (which is a "subst:" inserted commentary on many pages now, and not OK for referring to the new system)
and about Wikipedia:Footnotes#Design goals (not the "design goals" for the new system)
and about Wikipedia:Footnotes#Migration strategy (not the "migration strategy" for the new system - is there already any migration strategy for the new system? If yes, maybe start with proposing it)
and about Wikipedia:Footnotes#How does it work? - this is not how cite.php works
and about Wikipedia:Footnotes#Converting citation styles this is the REALLY tough one, maybe read the ArbCom case before entering this minefield
and about Wikipedia:Footnotes#Disadvantages and future improvements - well some of these improvement are no longer "future" in the cite.php system, are they? This should be sorted out and an adequate description of remaining (new?) future improvement should be given...
and the WP:FN3 shortcut which is *only* the ref/label system (too long a history to tell)
please don't go live with a new how-to description without adequate examples being visible on the page
etc... --Francis Schonken 17:58, 17 February 2006 (UTC)
Ok, I'm rewriting the page at temp basically from scratch to refer only to ref-refrences and harvard. Hipocrite - «Talk» 18:21, 17 February 2006 (UTC)
I moved the "footnotes" page back to wikipedia:footnote3 (where it historically comes from), and made WP:FN a disambig page, pointing to "FN3" and the temp page. That's no more than a temporary solution too, maybe the best of several bad solution, I hope.
Good idea for what you want to make of the temp page! --Francis Schonken 18:29, 17 February 2006 (UTC)