Help:Cite errors/Cite error ref too many keys

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This page will help you to fix the cite error message:

The <ref> tag has too many names (see the help page).

  • If you need help with a particular problem, please discuss it on the article talk page or at the Help desk.
  • If you have read this help page and find something missing or confusing, please discuss it at the main talk page.
  • Please reference this page and the page where you have the problem so we can understand your issues.
  • For basic information on the footnotes system, see Referencing for beginners; for advanced help, see Footnotes.

Overview

A footnote used multiple times may be defined with a name:

<ref name="foo">content</ref>

Any footnote can be assigned to a group:

<ref group="foobar">content</ref>

Or both:

<ref group="foobar" name="foo">content</ref>

Names for footnotes and groups must follow these rules:

  • Names are case-sensitive. Please do not use raNdOM capitalization.
  • Names must not be purely numeric; the software will accept something like ":1" (which is punctuation plus a number), but it will ignore "1" (purely numeric).
  • Names should have semantic value, so that they can be more easily distinguished from each other by human editors who are looking at the wikitext. This means that ref names like "Nguyen 2010" are preferred to names like ":1".
  • Names must be unique. You may not use the same name to define different groups or footnotes.
  • Please consider keeping reference names simple and restricted to the standard English alphabet and numerals. Failing that, including if spaces are used, the following technical restrictions become relevant:
    • Quotation marks are preferred but optional if the only characters used are letters A–Z, a–z, digits 0–9, and the symbols !$%&()*,-.:;<@[]^_`{|}~. That is, all printable ASCII characters except #"'/=>?\.
    • Inclusion of any other characters, including spaces, requires that the reference name be enclosed in quotes; for example, name="John Smith".
    • The quote marks must be the standard, straight, double quotation marks ("); curly or other quotes will be parsed as part of the reference name.
    • Quote-enclosed reference names may not include a less-than sign (<) or a double straight quote symbol ("). These may be escaped with &lt; and &quot;, respectively.
  • You may optionally provide reference names even when the reference name is not required. This makes later re-use of the sourced reference easier.

Issues and resolutions

A named reference tag can't have too many names or parameters.

Forgetting quotation marks around a name containing a space

A quoteless, multiple-word name such as foo bar will be parsed as two separate names due to the space, thus generating the error.

Also, you can only specify two parameters: name and group. You can't, for instance, format a reference with <ref style="color:red;">content</ref>, or give it an id.

A good, quick solution that is likely to work is to add double quotes around the entire name. For example, replace:

name=foo bar

with:

name="foo bar"

Forgetting name=

Forgetting name= can also cause this error.

Although name= is mentioned throughout this help page, when troubleshooting this error, it's easy to focus on searching for problems with the name while forgetting to make sure name= is there. This is especially true when editing on the mobile version of Wikipedia, since the editing tools are scaled down to improve performance, so you can't just click on the correct code under the edit window.

Remember, to use any troubleshooting help page successfully, double-check any error-causing wikitext against every single piece of the example code.

Examples

In this example, reference 1 is named foo bar, which is invalid due to the space. In reference 2 foo bar is valid as it is enclosed in quotes and reference 3 is valid as foo_bar uses an underscore.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.<ref name=foo bar>Reference 1</ref> Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.<ref name="foo bar">Reference 2</ref> Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.<ref name=foo_bar>Reference 3</ref> Curabitur pretium tincidunt lacus. Nulla gravida orci a odio. Nullam varius, turpis et commodo pharetra, est eros bibendum elit, nec luctus magna felis sollicitudin mauris. Integer in mauris eu nibh euismod gravida.

==References==
{{reflist}}

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.Cite error: The <ref> tag has too many names (see the help page). Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.[1] Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.[2] Curabitur pretium tincidunt lacus. Nulla gravida orci a odio. Nullam varius, turpis et commodo pharetra, est eros bibendum elit, nec luctus magna felis sollicitudin mauris. Integer in mauris eu nibh euismod gravida.

References

  1. ^ Reference 2
  2. ^ Reference 3

Bugs

  • T44040 (comment #Cite error ref too many keys not generated if name chunk contains other than A–Z, a–z, 0–9)

This error is not generated if the name fragment after the space contains (not just begins) any other character than A–Z, a–z, 0–9. When this condition occurs, the link is truncated after the space. In this example, although the name fragment after the space contains a different character, all three references generate the same link:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.<ref name=foo |bar>Reference 1</ref> Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.<ref name=foo !bar>Reference 2</ref> Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.<ref name=foo bar#>Reference 3</ref> Curabitur pretium tincidunt lacus. Nulla gravida orci a odio. Nullam varius, turpis et commodo pharetra, est eros bibendum elit, nec luctus magna felis sollicitudin mauris. Integer in mauris eu nibh euismod gravida.

==References==
{{reflist}}

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.[1] Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.[1] Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.[1] Curabitur pretium tincidunt lacus. Nulla gravida orci a odio. Nullam varius, turpis et commodo pharetra, est eros bibendum elit, nec luctus magna felis sollicitudin mauris. Integer in mauris eu nibh euismod gravida.

References

  1. ^ a b c Reference 1 Cite error: The named reference "foo" was defined multiple times with different content (see the help page). Cite error: The named reference "foo" was defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).

Technical

Pages with this error message are placed into Pages with incorrect ref formatting. The system message page is at Cite error ref too many keys.