Template talk:Citation needed/Archive 1

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Archive 1 Archive 2


This template looks terrible in an article. For reference, here are examples of the conventional form of an editorial note [citation needed], and the version of this template before I changed it. Citation needed This is an editorial comment, and editorial comments go in square brackets, in all types of writing. Small superscript ("superior text") is reserved for footnote or endnote references using symbols or figures (cite*, another 1), mathematical expressions (E=mc2), and sometimes ordinals (1st, 2nd).

Superscript letters are never used for long words like this template, which puts a big empty space in the middle of the text—it's an empty blot that stands out so much I can see it on my monitor from across the room, and further emphasizing it by italicizing is completely unnecessary. The note is long enough that when it appears after a period, it looks like the beginning of the next sentence rather than a note. and in many browsers superscripts also add line space above, which confuses the reader by masquerading as a paragraph break.

I'm going to change this back to a normal editorial note in brackets; please don't pick an arbitrary and unsuitable formatting style, like superscripted text—please stick to conventional editorial style. Michael Z. 2005-11-30 22:27 Z

I find the new style much more intrusive, but your arguments compelling. Jkelly 02:37, 1 December 2005 (UTC)
It's bigger, so it may look intrusive in isolation. But when you're reading an article you should find it distracts the eye much less than the other version. Michael Z. 2005-12-1 07:19 Z
Wonderful, and whatever. Get rid of the extra [square brackets] then. TomerTALK 07:26, 1 December 2005 (UTC)

I have been bold and added the square brackets back in so that this template is clearly distinguished from the text. Alternatives are welcome, but this appears to me as the best current choice. Blackcap (talk) (vandalfighters, take a look) 23:18, 21 December 2005 (UTC)


[discussion moved from user talk:Mzajac —MZ]

the square brackets look very unprofessional. maybe it's just because I've spent too much time on wikipedia. maybe they should be replaced with parentheses or glowing silver pentagrams, I dunno, but the squarebrackets look ... amateurish. TomerTALK 07:28, 1 December 2005 (UTC)

But parentheses denote a parenthetic statement. This note is an editorial remark, outside of the actual text altogether, and square brackets are always used for this purpose in professional publishing. It does stand out a bit more than round parentheses, but that's by design—an editorial remark should not be mistaken for part of the text. Since this template is meant to be a temporary notice that encourages its replacement with a reference, and it's also slightly pushing Wikipedia's rule of avoiding self-references, I think this appearance may help prompt editors to action.
And in contrast, the long superscript looks very unprofessional. I don't believe you'll find a single example of a similar usage in any publication. Michael Z. 2005-12-1 07:35 Z
Well, for me what you describe as "very unprofessional" is, I guess, what has always, in retrospect, drawn me to it. It does look very unprofessional, and I guess that's kind of how I've always used the template...as a kind of weapon against POV warriors who insist on reinserting unsubstantiated crap into articles. Reviewing how I've used the template, I realize that its very unprofessional appearance is its greatest strength--it's so obscene that trolls either come up with substantiating sources or remove their trollishness of their own accord. In retrospect, it's not how "unprofessional" it looks (although it looks unwikipedistic) that bothers me, it's that it loses its strength as a tool to cajole POV-pushers into sourcing their claims or deleting them on their own. Maybe I've misunderstood the purpose of the template...but I've always regarded it as a means of forcing the issue of WP:CITE with controversial edits. TomerTALK 07:44, 1 December 2005 (UTC)
Hm, that is a good point, although you seem to be arguing that it is both too ugly and not ugly enough. But this template currently sits in about 280 articles, so it doesn't seem get replaced with references often enough. Can we reach some sort of compromise? Underline it, give it a background or a border? None of these are normal typographic conventions like the square brackets, but the superscript is just too ugly and disruptive for me. Michael Z. 2005-12-1 07:55 Z
I'm not sure...like I said, I've regarded it primarily as a troll-fighting tool. Basically, whatever draws sufficient attention to the fact that the statement to which it's attached is being made w/o citation, works for me. Being inline with the text and set off by square brackets isn't quite enough, since people easily train themselves to ignore the contents of square brackets...and I use the template for exactly the opposite purpose. <blink>blinking</blink> text is way too obnoxious, obviously, but I don't think the fact that a statement is unsourced should be trivialized either. TomerTALK 08:00, 1 December 2005 (UTC)
How about Citation requested? TomerTALK 08:03, 1 December 2005 (UTC)
I guess the different-colored background (possibly even set off with square-brackets) is the most appealing to me. TomerTALK 08:04, 1 December 2005 (UTC)

Obviously, the way I'm accustomed to using it, it would be best as This statement made without any notable support, but that might run into just a little bit more opposition than I care to fight off... :-p TomerTALK 08:08, 1 December 2005 (UTC)

I might get convinced—don't forget the text is linked [citation requested]. Would you mind waiting a day to see how others respond [citation requested]? We can file a request for comment if that doesn't help. Michael Z. 2005-12-1 08:10 Z
I'm not completely unreasonable! :-p I will wait a week even. The only reason I noticed the change was bcz I slapped a couple of [citation needed] tags on some particularly troll-heavy articles, and all of a sudden they looked less obnoxious than I wanted them to. :-D That said, I think the pale yellow is a bit too unobtrusive (check out how it appears on LCDs, for example)... TomerTALK 08:16, 1 December 2005 (UTC)
With the use of a background colour, the brackets also help accessibility; in case the colour is lost (in a print version, repurposed text, unusual web browser) the nature of the notice is still evident. I don't mind if you add the colour to the template now to help with your troll-baiting, and change the text to "citation requested", but there may be some push-back when other editors spot the colour. Cheers. Michael Z. 2005-12-1 08:25 Z
Like I said, I'm content to wait a week for others to comment. That said, I take minor exception to your characterization of my statements as evidence of baiting. I prefer to think of my rationale as troll-demanding, but I guess, "baiting" isn't probably that non-understandable an interpretation. I don't use it as a tool intended to bait trolls, so much as a tool to warn innocent readers that trolls are at work. This is not what I regard as a "tool of first resort", rather almost as one of last resort. That said, I too am hoping to go to bed soon myself... :-p TomerTALK 08:50, 1 December 2005 (UTC)

I liked the template much better as Citation needed, i.e. as superscript. Now in the text it looks much uglier (IMHO).--Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus Talk 01:40, 3 December 2005 (UTC)

This template is not an "editorial comment": it is a "proofreader's mark"

First of all, it is not "editorial comment". An editorial comment is a normal element in the book or article. and live "forever", so to say. We don't comment the isssue. This is a wikipedia's marker that something is poorly done. I would compare them to big ugly margin marks, This thing must be clearly visible with quick eye scan. I am against color conding, since the page are already raibow: bold black, blue, red, magenta.

Unilike "editorial comment", which is a perm part of the finished text, this template will be deleted once the problem fixed.

While be bold is OK, but if people object and revert, then sorry, you have to back off. The priority is for the original version, since for a long time no one objected. And if you feel change needed, wait for consensus. mikka (t) 03:12, 3 December 2005 (UTC)

Hm, but no one reverted after reading this ongoing discussion about the format, that is until you just came along. Michael Z. 2005-12-3 05:56 Z
Hmm yes. But still I am #3 in reverting and I haven't seen anyone yet who definitely supports you. You may try to revert me (I don't object) and see what will happen. mikka (t)
I would rather reach consensus too, than edit-war. I'm not crazy about colour, either. I see your point about this being like proofreader's markup—It is like that in that it is intended to be replaced, but is also like an editorial comment in that 1. it is regarding editorial content, not merely orthography, and 2. it is visible in a published Wikipedia article. Electronic publishing makes possible what was not possible in paper books, but we should try to extend traditional typesetting conventions when possible. For reference, here's a demonstration of proofreader's marks proofmarks.pdf.
The superscripted form has absolutely no precedent in typesetting design, and is not only eye-catching, but very ungainly, to be polite. How about something with a prominent character, like this? [•citation requested•] Or using a typesetter's fist, although I suspect this may not show up on MSIE/Win without specifying a font. [cite?] Or as you suggested, be bold. [cite?] Bolder still? [CITE?] Michael Z. 2005-12-3 17:40 Z
  • Sorry, that's plain wrong. Superscripting has long been used for footnoting. As for prominent, too bold is bad either. mikka (t) 21:13, 3 December 2005 (UTC)
You just finished arguing that this is not an editorial comment because it is not "a normal element in the book or article. and live 'forever', so to say." Now you're telling me a footnote, a more normal element in a book or article than a proofreader's mark or an editorial comment.
It's true that superscripts are used for footnote references— which are as small as possible: a tiny asterisk, dagger, or number. They're never a sentence fragment or even a single word. They don't leave a big white gap following the x-height of a line of text.
Many Wikipedia articles do have actual footnote references in them, but this is not one. It is an editorial comment; it's not part of the text, but a statement about the text. An editorial comment. Michael Z. 2005-12-4 07:14 Z

An balance must be stricken between:

  • Nonobtrusiveness (no bold or bright colors), so that the eye would not be unnecessariny attracted to bright spots, breaking the the normal reading (ufortunately, it is just physiology of eye)
  • Still noticeable for a person whose goal is to fish out these marks.
  • Clear distinction from article text, i.e., understanding that this is a kind of markup, similar to {{cleanup}}. (Simply square brackets are bad, since it implies familiarity with our conventions. For untrained, any of (...), <...>, {...}, [...], /... /, - ... - , etc, are all the same.

mikka (t) 21:36, 3 December 2005 (UTC) </nowiki>

I think you're now the second one who has argued that it must be both more attention-catching and less attention-catching than any of my proposals.
Template:Cleanup is in a blue box, to show that it is not part of the text. That would be better than the weird superscripted fragment between sentences—a completely novel convention. The white space under it is precisely an unnecessary bright spot in the normal typographic "colour" of the page. This eye-distraction is exactly the kind of thing typesetters avoid.
Square brackets do not imply familiarity with our conventions; they are a standard English-language typographic convention for an editorial remark that stands outside the text! They stand out as "other", without degrading the reader's experience by interrupting the scanning of the eye across the line of text. Michael Z. 2005-12-4 07:29 Z


The best way to remove the ugliness of the template in an article is to fix the problem! - Ta bu shi da yu 02:29, 4 December 2005 (UTC)

Exactly. Which is why I prefer it to be incredibly ugly. It draws attention to the fact that unsupported/unsupportable information is being held up as fact. Like I said above, it's a tool of last resort, but it it usually rather effectively stops trolls. Making it pretty, or less obtrustive/obscene, would reduce its effectiveness. At the same time, it alerts the casual reader that an assertion is being made that may be inaccurate. TomerTALK 05:00, 4 December 2005 (UTC)
I agree completely. — BRIAN0918 • 2005-12-4 07:16
There's about 280 of them. You guys are adding these templates all over the place and leaving them in there. What you want is for it to be prominent. That is not the same thing as being ugly, poorly-designed, unprofessional. Prominent gets attention, ugly is just ugly. What a way to design an interface. Michael Z. 2005-12-4 07:18 Z
To what, exactly, are you referring? WP:AGF Tomertalk 07:21, 4 December 2005 (UTC)
Ta bu shi da yu implies that it's okay this is ugly because then it gets removed. This template is now placed in Wikipedia in about 280 places. In a month or two it will be in 500—it's not being removed, it's being added. You guys put this template in the text, and then forget about it. The ugliness doesn't help it go away, it just helps Wikipedia get steadily uglier.
Tom argues, in effect, that making the template typographically ugly helps serve its function of attracting attention. Good designers use a number of techniques to draw attention to elements on the page. Let's use a standard typographic technique to draw attention; let's not use poor design to draw attention. Michael Z. 2005-12-4 07:36 Z
I disagree that it is not being removed. I've placed this template on newly-made contributions by both anons and registered users, and have seen them immediately find sources and replace the template with that source. So it does work. — BRIAN0918 • 2005-12-4 07:46
It's been placed about 280 more times than it's been removed over the 4-1/2 months of its existence. As more people find it, the accretion will accelerate. So it should made to look as professional as most other things on Wikipedia. Michael Z. 2005-12-4 09:14 Z
I guess it's a matter of degrees of comfort then. I don't see a problem with its proliferation given the statistic you cite. Since way more than 280 articles have been created in the past 4.5 months, I'd say we're doing good that only 280 outrageously unsupported statements have been made. I'm with Brian. I've seen it removed rather quickly whereëver it's been used. Michael, do you have statistics indicating that it's been sitting somewhere in some articles for a long period of time unattended? If it has, it should, along with the statement in question, either be commented out, or removed from the article. Tomertalk 16:13, 4 December 2005 (UTC)
Evidence like that would take a lot of work to collect. A disadvantage of such a template is that it is difficult to find stale copies. I just added Category:Articles lacking sources to the template, to help with the search & destroy. Michael Z. 2005-12-5 16:13 Z

Ah. Kudos for an excellent idea!  :-) Tomertalk 00:57, 6 December 2005 (UTC)

You know this is perhaps a useless template. Next thing you know we weill have a template that only contains the link to Wikipedia --Cool CatTalk|@ 00:24, 7 December 2005 (UTC)

That could be really fun too!  :-D Tomertalk 02:48, 7 December 2005 (UTC)

template adds line breaks with lists.

Could someone with more template ability look into the problem that this template adds line breaks on lists? Here's an example:

The second example pastes (what I think is) the template text directly into the page. Can the template be made to work with lists?Lsommerer 17:19, 11 December 2005 (UTC)

I'm seeing the same problem. Template needs to be fixed. --Stbalbach 04:34, 14 December 2005 (UTC)

Thanks to whomever fixed this. LloydSommerer 17:01, 23 December 2005 (UTC)

Square brackets

I see someone has added square brackets to this. I preferred it without. Does anyone mind if I revert? SlimVirgin (talk) 08:01, 29 December 2005 (UTC)

The square brackets are appropriate, since this is an editorial remark. The formatting is definitely over-emphasized, having square brackets, a raised baseline, a smaller font, and italicized font all drawing attention to it. Any one of those would be sufficient or two at most. Michael Z. 2005-12-29 09:04 Z
The brackets are unnecessary because of the superscript, the italics, and the smaller font, all of which I think are a good idea, and which make it obvious it's an editorial insert. SlimVirgin (talk) 09:08, 29 December 2005 (UTC)
Well, I'm repeating myself here, but no serious type designer has ever used superscripted, italicized, small font to format whole words, to indicate an editorial insert or anything else. They always use square brackets for this purpose. Michael Z. 2005-12-29 17:10 Z


I just noticed this template being used on Hugo Kelly, which is currently facing AfD. It just seems a bit odd to me - I thought the preferred way to deal with unsourced claims was to remove them to the Talk page until citations were/could be provided. Thoughts? pfctdayelise 05:49, 30 December 2005 (UTC)

Well, there's more than one way to skin a cat :-). Yes, it's common (and accepted under policy) to remove stuff to talk until referenced, but this is a relatively new system which any one is free to use... it's up to you! Dan100 (Talk) 12:42, 30 December 2005 (UTC)

Change the cat

I think it would be pertinent t rename the cat for this article with something like Category:Article needing specific sources. Currently, it feeds into the same cat as {{unreferenced}} and {{Primarysources}}, but has a very different purpose,notably oin that it can be addedto an already well-sourced article without contradiction. Circeus 18:36, 21 January 2006 (UTC)

Two new versions of the template

Comments? Infinity0 talk 01:19, 19 February 2006 (UTC)

The double line version is ugly. The ?? version is unacceptable. The goal is to draw attention to the fact that a citation is needed. The ?? version does not do this. In particular, this template is typically used when a fact critically needs to be backed up by a reference because it is in dispute or otherwise doubtful. In principle, adding this tag to a statement in the article is a warning that the statement is subject to deletion unless someone is able to back it up (per Wikipedia:Verifiability). This template needs to provide a glaringly obvious indication that a citation is needed, not an obscure [??].--Srleffler 02:08, 19 February 2006 (UTC)

Well, the ?? is pretty challenging, since not only is it saying "citation needed", it's putting the statement in question marks, ie. adding touch of doubt. Infinity0 talk 15:55, 19 February 2006 (UTC)

It just looks like a rendering error to my eye, like what I get when someone uses Japanese or Chinese characters on a page.--Srleffler 16:12, 19 February 2006 (UTC)

Oh right. Well, my main complaint is that the template takes up too much space atm. Also "citation needed" says only that - it doesn't question the validity of the statement. Infinity0 talk 16:24, 19 February 2006 (UTC)

This is getting close to the discussion above under #Ugliness. Taking up too much space isn't really a problem because ideally the template shouldn't be there for very long. Any statement that gets flagged with this template should either be referenced, or should be removed in a short time. It's analogous to the "cleanup" tags, that can be placed at the top of an article that needs work. They take up a lot of space, and are a glaring distraction at the top of the article. They are meant to be. The goal is to fix the problem and remove the template, not refine the template so that it detracts less from the appearance of the article.

How about [uncited] ? Infinity0 talk 16:25, 19 February 2006 (UTC)

"Citation needed" seems clearer to me. I agree by the way that it doesn't question the validity of the statement. We assume good faith first, i.e. assume that the statement is correct, and that the editor who added it can provide a source. If you really want to question the validity of the statement, you should probably use {{Dubious}}, or just be bold and delete it.
"uncited" or even something as simple as "cite" might be OK, though, as long as it links to WP:CITE. Either would be preferable to [??].--Srleffler 17:20, 19 February 2006 (UTC)

"Citation needed" invites the reader/editor to seek out a source and post the citation in the article. "Uncited" or "??" does not. If the only argument against "citation needed" is that it is long, I don't think a change is necessary. I'm reverting the change to the template until consensus is apparent on a change. - Jersyko·talk 02:02, 20 February 2006 (UTC)

How about a single ? like so [?] to match the style of [1]? ManaUser] 21:29, 17 April 2006 (UTC)
I think a single ? or a double ?? is the best way to do this. "Citation needed" takes up a lot of room, and sort of ruins the article; We need to remember that while we're here to edit Wikipedia, a lot of other people are here to read wikipedia, and to a degree, we serve them. That's why we don't have discussions on article pages, and this whole Citation needed business goes a little too far in that direction for my taste. Mangojuice 19:42, 20 April 2006 (UTC)

Viral growth

In 2-1/2 months, this template's usage has grown from about 280 inclusions to somewhere around 2,500! If anyone is still claiming that it is okay that this template is an eyesore because it's only going to be in place temporarily, then I ask you to retract that statement, or get ready to work full-time in your local library finding references or removing this template.

Let's make it look like a small single question mark, either superscripted[?] or not [?] (two question marks are redundant), linking through the phrase "citation needed", which will be visible in the tool-tip, but redirects to Wikipedia:Citing sources. Michael Z. 2006-02-20 01:54 Z

Can't agree. If you are concerned it looks like an eyesore, I am more concerned that it has been placed on the article in the first place! Two solutions: remove the text and place on talk page, or research the facts and provide a source. The solution is not to "fix" this template: the solution is to fix the article it is used on. - Ta bu shi da yu 02:10, 20 February 2006 (UTC)
That would be great, but it's not happening. Adding this template to an article is being used as a gesture of disapproval, by editors who don't follow through and do something about the "offending" text. A great deal of discussion on this page seems to assume that having this template be ugly will somehow prompt the correcting of missing citations. If this is at all true, it's not true enough: this template is being added about 1,000 more times per month than it is being removed!
Someone please explain why [citation needed] will be removed from the page any faster than [?] or [?] will. They each look like they don't belong, and if someone is going to go to the trouble of looking up a reference, they will do it just as readily for any of them. But the first breaks all typographic conventions used in publications or on the Web, and looks like heck, especially when it is found multiple times on the page. It makes Wikipedia look home-made. We can have editorial notices pointing out missing information, while still applying some level of professional-looking typography.
There are two problems: 1 lack of citations, and 2 the poor typographic formatting of this template. The second problem does not help with correct the first. So please let's correct the second problem. Michael Z. 2006-02-20 04:44 Z
The way I look at it, an article that is missing citations or needs cleanup, etc., is not "finished". It's a draft. The appearance of a draft version of an article is not so important. --Srleffler 12:49, 20 February 2006 (UTC)
There is no "draft" distinction on Wikipedia. All articles are open to readers, are being actively edited, and are republished on various sites. If an article has a serious problem, then it should have a maintenance template at the top.
According to the good faith principle, this template says that a citation is needed, nothing more. The article should remain readable and re-publishable. This template should only mark the place where a citation is needed in a sufficient and professional-looking manner, and not purposely drag down an article's appearance. Michael Z. 2006-02-20 17:08 Z

Being an incentive to find a source shouldn't be a reason for making this template bloated. Wikipedia articles are read by everyone, and the point of the template should only be to inform the reader that the statement may not be true; without being at the expense of layout and style. Infinity0 talk 17:56, 20 February 2006 (UTC)

Template name {{fact}} misleading

Folks, I was surprised to see {{fact}} as a synomym for this page, "Citation needed." For newbies, and even experienced users like me, it's completely misleading and confusing, as it appears in the wikimarkup that this is a declared "fact" rather than something that needs "fact checking." Can someone provide an explanation for how this has evolved? -- Fuzheado | Talk 06:06, 21 February 2006 (UTC)

AFAIK, {{fact}} is deprecated. That was an older (the original?) name for this template, but should no longer be used. Deleting a template that is in wide use is a lot of trouble. It's usually better to just redirect it to the new template, and then "promote" the new name rather than the old one. In time, we should see fewer and fewer calls to fact in the wikimarkup.--Srleffler 06:38, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
Well, I still see people adding using {{fact}} to add [citation needed] to articles. Is it really that much trouble to replace them all with something like {{citeneeded}} and delete {{fact}}? --Tifego 03:50, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
Go ahead. If you replace every occurence of {{fact}} with {{citeneeded}}, you are then welcome to submit template:fact for deletion.--Srleffler 05:39, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
Somebody surely has a bot/program capable of doing that already. At least a few admins must have access to it. I didn't say it'd be easy for any user like me to do. --Tifego 18:25, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
Who has decided that fact is deprecated? It's much easier to type "fact" than "cite needed". SlimVirgin (talk) 18:31, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
Maybe somebody should decide it's deprecated. The extra ease of use of a few letters isn't justification for being incredibly confusing to new users. The name {{fact}} is pretty much the opposite of what that template is used to mean. If ease of use is the main reason for {{fact}} then why not make and use something like {{cn}} instead? --Tifego 20:12, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
A few minutes ago, there were 5152 links to {{fact}}. Ardric47 00:19, 22 April 2006 (UTC)

This template has at least ten redirects:

Michael Z. 2006-04-02 22:37 Z

I like {{fact}}, it's handy. Mangojuice 19:38, 20 April 2006 (UTC)

Any further thinking on whether this redirect should go or not? There's not much point in replacing all the current usages unless it actually is going to be "officially" deprecated and eventually deleted, otherwise people will simply keep using it, making more work for the renaming effort, and hence more server load, and so on ad infinitum. (Nothing crippling in and of itself, but 5-6000 edits is not to be sneezed at either.) Alai 11:37, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

Well, it's not a redirect anymore. It is actually the template name now. as you can see. As for if {{fact}} should be used for the citiation needed template... I'm neutral with it. Its name is a tad bit weird for the template's type, but I keep adding {{fact}} when I want to add this template. Simply put, {{fact}} won't be going away as a usage of this template anytime soon. --WCQuidditch 14:57, 13 May 2006 (UTC)

Very recently, use of "fact" led to a misunderstanding between editors in a feature article. Clearly, there is and always was a good reason why {{fact}} is deprecated. From what I have observed, {{fact}} reads to the average editor as "not a fact", and it has been just as inflammatory as accusing the submitter of the corresponding statement of vandalism. Henceforth, I feel that we should not endorse {{fact}} by leaving the official title of this template as it is. (Unfortunately somebody went and moved the page from Citation needed to fact before we could truly reach consensus. :p) Therefore I propose the following steps:

  1. move this page to {{cn}} (for example, or something else that actually tells editors why this template was used)
  2. add move protection to {{cn}} and the redirect at {{fact}}
  3. update all double-redirects (if not done automatically)
  4. speedy delete {{fact}}
  5. gradually replace all occurrences that are not the final name of this template with the proper name using AWB, a bot, or similar (somebody?)
  6. remove protection after a week so that editors can get used to it

(My reasoning behind step 2 is so that the process isn't interrupted part-way.) Whatever the case, we need more discussion on this, albeit not so far as requesting a move just yet. --DavidHOzAu 14:15, 29 May 2006 (UTC)

Some kind of official declaration on the matter would be greatly appreciated, as the competing templates are sowing confusion (not to mention the actual confusion caused by {{fact}}). And if not here, then where. TewfikTalk 18:28, 9 August 2006 (UTC)

Another formatting proposal

In the last 41 days the number of inclusions of this template has doubled, to about 4,900. Its occurrence grew by about 120 per day, and appears to be accelerating. Perhaps it will level off, but this template will continue to be seen more and more by Wikipedia readers. Please let's not continue to accept poor typography just because the template's placement is intended to be temporary (the details have been discussed above, so let's not get into that here).

Here's an idea to improve the template's appearance, without compromising the typography of an article or the template's function: instead of using a superscript, set the text in an italic serif font, like this example [citation needed], or in small capitals [citation needed].

Such a font switch is used in many publications to indicate a change of context, for example, to indicate different parts of a definition in a dictionary. The different font stands out significantly in running text. The square brackets still imply an editorial remark, standing outside of the text article itself. But it uses conventional typographic techniques and doesn't present as much of a jarring visual element on the page as a long superscript.

Would anyone object to such a change in the template? Michael Z. 2006-04-02 22:27 Z

I'm fine with that, although I can't imagine how you see a italic or small-cap insertion in square brackets as more appealing than a superscript insertion in square brackets. The superscript has the advantage of being small, so it's not as obtrusive, for those who object to this template being too obtrusive.--Srleffler 01:37, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
The dense, tiny text and the long break in the baseline underneath the superscript draw the eye from across the page and interrupt the flow of reading, much more than a simple change of font. Michael Z. 2006-04-03 05:46 Z

There is also a change of color too, you have to take that into account. color change. What we really need is a small image like we have for external links, and I have taken the liberty of making a small imageCitation needed.png and it should suffice for verbatim use in Wikipedia. --DavidHOzAu 00:07, 5 April 2006 (UTC)

Note: Although the version I posted ealier only used one <span> tag, it really shouldn't take so much work to get the citation link pointing through the image. Like this   Wikipedia:Cite_sources. There has to be a better way to do this. --DavidHOzAu 05:20, 5 April 2006 (UTC)
I read the discussion here and I must say that I like the present version: with upper index and square brackets. Perhaps I simply got used to it, but I like it more than any of the alternatives proposed above. Also, as someone noted, the template in fact should distract one's eye. If it does not, a chance is nobody will ever notice it. //Halibutt 02:18, 12 April 2006 (UTC)
I also like the present version, although DavidHOzAu's is not bad. It would be best not to use any sort of image, though, for accessibility reasons. Ardric47 02:29, 13 April 2006 (UTC)
I have made some code at User:DavidHOzAu/citefix that allows you to replace the current template with whatever you want. At the moment I am using[CITE], (the commented-out line will replace it with my image if you are interested,) and to me it looks nicer than the whitespace-ridden[citation needed], provided the verticalAlign style gets changed to 'top' so text actually stays within the line. I have noticed that[CITE] looks visually pleasing and non-intrusive when I'm browsing, yet is still eye-catching when I'm in "edit mode". Try it out and see what you think. --DavidHOzAu 02:59, 8 May 2006 (UTC)

Since there has been no objection, I'll implement this. Michael Z. 2006-05-12 17:58 Z

I object; the superscript is smaller, less obtrusive, and more professional looking. When it's in the main body it looks like its part of the actual text itself. I also note that several others objected, above, and made counter-suggestions. Jayjg (talk) 19:14, 12 May 2006 (UTC)
Ditto. The superscript is neat looking. SlimVirgin (talk) 19:34, 12 May 2006 (UTC)
Typesetters never set whole words in superscript; it is particularly unprofessional looking, and more obtrusive, distracting the reader's eye from across the page and disrupting the flow of reading. It lowers the visual quality of an article. Michael Z. 2006-05-12 20:50 Z
Next time mZajac makes such a sweeping generalization, he might specify what publisher he has experienced that never ocurred, and the number of years that he worked professionally in the field.
Speaking as an author of 25+ years experience, and considerable interaction with professional typesetting, I have personally set entire words in superscript, or in subscript, or in underscript-overscript pairs. Short words. Short references. That is, fact is perfectly acceptable, while citation needed is horrible overkill.
Moreover, the {{fact}} is temporary, and not a serious consideration for actual paper publication. In summary, his entire argument was a fallacious strawman.
--William Allen Simpson 04:55, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
It's meant to be obtrusive to some extent, because the point of it is to encourage editors to find sources. SlimVirgin (talk) 05:21, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
Mr. Simpson, I'm happy for your successful career, but you won't win any arguments just by stating your length. Can you cite any examples of good typesetters' work where entire words are set in superscript which we can refer to? I do agree that four-letter word like "fact" would be much less disruptive to readers than the phrase "[citation needed]", coloured blue, in brackets and italic font.
The template is definitely not temporary. It is being added to Wikipedia at a rate of close to 100 instances per day, and will continue to be seen by more readers, more often. That it is intended to be temporary doesn't matter anyway: it adversely affects readability of text and looks unprofessional when someone reads or prints an article today, regardless of whether it will remain there tomorrow.
It could serve its purpose just as well while looking more professional. I'm opposed to the working principle of this design element, which more often than not is to shame an editor into providing a reference or allowing disputed text to be removed. The practical result is that thousands of articles look worse, and not the massive addition of useful references. Michael Z. 2006-05-18 18:05 Z
Adding these citation requests is in fact remarkably successful at getting people to dig up references. SlimVirgin (talk) 18:24, 18 May 2006 (UTC)
That may be so, but it is impossible to quantify. But we do know that it is 92 occurrences per day more successful at getting people to do nothing. Perhaps if it looked better, it would be even more successful at getting people to dig up references.
Too bad we can't measure how successful this template is at getting newcomers to believe that Wikipedia suffers from bush-league typography. Michael Z. 2006-05-18 19:10 Z


I think it'd be good if the vertical-align style of the template was changed to top, because at the moment it is seriously borks up the line heights. In my opinion, the .reference class used for the <ref> tag should use this vertical alignment too, because at the moment it also borks line heights, an effect very evident on heavily-cited articles. I'll demonstrate here:

First, the present style of superscripting in both <ref> and {{citeneeded}}:
Lorem ipsum
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Aenean commodo ligula eget dolor. Aenean massa. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Donec quam felis, ultricies nec, pellentesque eu, pretium quis, sem. Nulla consequat massa quis enim.[1] Donec pede justo, fringilla vel, aliquet nec, vulputate eget, arcu. In enim justo, rhoncus ut, imperdiet a, venenatis vitae, justo. Nullam dictum felis eu pede mollis pretium. Integer tincidunt. Cras dapibus. Vivamus elementum semper nisi. Aenean vulputate eleifend tellus. Aenean leo ligula, porttitor eu, consequat vitae, eleifend ac, enim.[citation needed] Aliquam lorem ante, dapibus in, viverra quis, feugiat a, tellus. Phasellus viverra nulla ut metus varius laoreet. Quisque rutrum. Aenean imperdiet. Etiam ultricies nisi vel augue. Curabitur ullamcorper ultricies nisi. Nam eget dui.
And again, using my suggested style:
Lorem ipsum
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Aenean commodo ligula eget dolor. Aenean massa. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Donec quam felis, ultricies nec, pellentesque eu, pretium quis, sem. Nulla consequat massa quis enim.[1] Donec pede justo, fringilla vel, aliquet nec, vulputate eget, arcu. In enim justo, rhoncus ut, imperdiet a, venenatis vitae, justo. Nullam dictum felis eu pede mollis pretium. Integer tincidunt. Cras dapibus. Vivamus elementum semper nisi. Aenean vulputate eleifend tellus. Aenean leo ligula, porttitor eu, consequat vitae, eleifend ac, enim.[citation needed] Aliquam lorem ante, dapibus in, viverra quis, feugiat a, tellus. Phasellus viverra nulla ut metus varius laoreet. Quisque rutrum. Aenean imperdiet. Etiam ultricies nisi vel augue. Curabitur ullamcorper ultricies nisi. Nam eget dui.
Or even better:
Lorem ipsum
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Aenean commodo ligula eget dolor. Aenean massa. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Donec quam felis, ultricies nec, pellentesque eu, pretium quis, sem. Nulla consequat massa quis enim.[1] Donec pede justo, fringilla vel, aliquet nec, vulputate eget, arcu. In enim justo, rhoncus ut, imperdiet a, venenatis vitae, justo. Nullam dictum felis eu pede mollis pretium. Integer tincidunt. Cras dapibus. Vivamus elementum semper nisi. Aenean vulputate eleifend tellus. Aenean leo ligula, porttitor eu, consequat vitae, eleifend ac, enim.[citation needed] Aliquam lorem ante, dapibus in, viverra quis, feugiat a, tellus. Phasellus viverra nulla ut metus varius laoreet. Quisque rutrum. Aenean imperdiet. Etiam ultricies nisi vel augue. Curabitur ullamcorper ultricies nisi. Nam eget dui.
Clearly this template isn't what is at fault here. It appears to me that this layout problem stems from the styles associated with the <sup> tag itself. --DavidHOzAu 13:03, 18 May 2006 (UTC)

Note that this separation of lines only happens in some browsers. Kaldosh 08:07, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

It happens on IE and Mozilla, and that's 95% of the browser market. --DavidHOzAu 14:16, 29 May 2006 (UTC)

Changing the category associated with this template

I changed the category from Category:Articles lacking sources to Category:Articles with unsourced statements, as the old categorization was really not appropriately titled. This template is for articles that do list sources, but have some statements that need citations.

I also changed the formatting of the text from italics to normal. The text is already superscripted and in brackets... the italics didn't make it stand out any more. I won't yell if anyone reverts the formatting, but I really do think that the new category is a better name. —Seqsea (talk) 05:22, 9 April 2006 (UTC)

I understand that the discussion about the italics has gone on for some time, but for my two cents, the italics always made sense to me because "citation needed" is a self-reference. Pretty much all self-references in the article text (as opposed to boxes) are supposed to be italicized, such as Template:Selfref, Template:Dablink, and the "otheruses" family. In my opinion, the purpose of the italics isn't to emphasize the "citation needed" but to visually lessen its effect of breaking up an article's normal text. –Sommers (Talk) 06:14, 9 April 2006 (UTC)
I agree. Was about to post this: Putting in a separate category was a good idea, you're right it didn't seem appropriate before. I liked the italics though. I don't know about making it "stand out", but they distinguished it more from the regular text of the article. I added them back for now, I won't insist on it but it seems like they should be there. –Tifego(t) 06:17, 9 April 2006 (UTC)


Does anyone know why the fact template is being changed to this one? SlimVirgin (talk) 17:37, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

Viral growth now down to 100/day

This template currently has 8,674 inclusions and links. Its rate of inclusion is beginning to drop, having been added to Wikipedia only an average of 94 times per day over the last forty days (compared to 120 times per day over the previous 41 days).

If someone still thinks the ridiculous design of this template is encouraging its removal, then maybe we should set it in 64-point pink script letters. When they see that, they'll hit the stacks and enter all those references by next week. Michael Z. 2006-05-12 17:53 Z

Aligning with existing source citation styles

I'd like to suggest that this template should render its output based on the style used to render sources in the article. As noted in WP:CITE, as of 19:39, 12 May 2006 (UTC) there are three "acceptable" styles:

  1. Embedded HTML links
  2. Harvard referencing, and
  3. Footnotes.

If this proposal were accepted, here are examples of how this template's appearance would vary based on an article's style, ignoring any User styles:

There may be a gotcha I'm not thinking of at first glance for making this template sensitive to styles in this way, but before any implementations are attempted it would be useful to know if the idea has merit. Thanks. 19:39, 12 May 2006 (UTC).

I've got a better idea. Convert all articles to <ref></ref> syntax and stop troubling ourselves with this matter. — May. 13, '06 [05:29] <freakofnurxture|talk>
This is a good point, that in articles with the first two types of references, this template is out of place, in that it doesn't even imitate the reference style. Michael Z. 2006-05-14 14:45 Z
No, this is insane. This multiplicitiy of ever-more-specific templates has to stop. People can't be expected to remember them all. SlimVirgin (talk) 18:22, 18 May 2006 (UTC)
No one says people have to remember when to use every last template. People can put in a more generic template, and others can refine it if they so prefer. "Anyone can edit" can apply to template usage, too. --DragonHawk 23:00, 1 July 2006 (UTC)

Moving and transcluding

Why are these templates being shuffled around? Needlessly transcluding templates, such as was done in Template:Citation needed is bad practice, and may affect Wikipedia's performace. Michael Z. 2006-05-14 14:46 Z

Useless title attribute

<sup title="Needs citation"> should be changed to just <sup>. The title tool-tip only appears when mousing over the brackets, because the link's tool-tip overrides it. And anyway, what's the point of adding the label "needs citation" to the text "citation needed"? This helps no one. Michael Z. 2006-05-14 14:50 Z

May 19, 2006

[citation needed]

I've made a few changes to the template:

  1. I didn't think we really needed three inline links to Category:Articles with unsourced statements, so I got rid of one of them.
  2. I moved the brackets outside of the link, for what I feel is a cleaner appearance, but I won't argue it.
  3. I substed Template:Tl so the server won't have to re-cache a good chunk of article space if and when {{tl}} is ever modified or touched.
  4. Most importantly, I added a conditional code evaluating the {{NAMESPACE}} variable. This template will now only populate the category when used in article space. "Category:Articles with unsourced statements" implies that it should only contain articles, not project pages. Notice that this talk page is no longer part of the category.

May. 19, '06 [07:25] <freak|talk>

No print

One day a MediaWiki developer will fix the main.css file so that superscripts/references do not muck up line heights in bulleted lists or indented text; this would have the unfortunate side-effect of making this template unobtrusive, which we don't want. I propose adding something like <sup class="uncited"> so that this template can be customized on a skin-by-skin basis (see m:User styles and m:Gallery of user styles) and always kept ugly even though other superscripts are typographically correct. Javascript code and/or css needs a title or class to distinguish between this template and normal superscripts, regardless of a skin customization. --DavidHOzAu 03:19, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

In line with this I have added class="uncited" to the template. Note that this allows the Paper Wikipedia project (besides others) to quickly censor this template by setting sup.uncited { display:none; } in a css file. --DavidHOzAu 03:34, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
It's a bad idea to inject classes which are not used in the style sheets. Wikipedia already has classes for this purpose (see Wikipedia:Catalogue of CSS classes), and it's also a bad idea to duplicate their function. Michael Z. 2006-05-23 12:47 Z
For the record, there is no class definition for sup.reference, which the <ref> tag uses, in either monobook.css, common.css, or main.css. I don't see the problem here. --DavidHOzAu 01:00, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
PS: purposefully screwing up the line height of text on the page to support the function of this template is a really bad idea. Michael Z. 2006-05-23 13:38 Z
In know it's a bad idea, but it's the idea for this template: make it look ugly, so other people will want to replace it with a citation. --DavidHOzAu 01:00, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

Yet another typography proposal

How about we use correct typography (remove the sup tag altogether) and :gasp: use the evil <blink> tag to draw attention? --DavidHOzAu 14:23, 29 May 2006 (UTC)

It really does work

I don't know why, but this template is HIGHLY effective. Users often cite things within a single day! Amazing! My thanks to the creators/maintainers :). RN 19:16, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

Suggestion for an optional second parameter

Make it possible to use the template like this {{citeneeded|what-to-reference}}, so that when the mouse hovers over the link, "Citation needed: what to reference" appears as the tooltip. This would help point other editors in the right direction and avoid misunderstandings between editors over what is needed to fix up that section.

For example, the text "Object was not designed for verbatim use by people with allergies.{{citeneeded|that use is not verbatim}}" shows that we are requesting a citation about said Object not being for verbatim use, instead of about its use by people with allergies.

My rationale is that even if we decide not to use a second parameter in the template, recommending that people add a reason as the second parameter might be useful in helping other editors clean up articles. (Note that this would have the added benefit of reducing viral growth since the template would be replaced quicker.) --DavidHOzAu 09:57, 2 June 2006 (UTC)

Deficient sources

Is there a template that can be used when there is a citation but when one thinks it to be somehow "deficient" or "not adequate" ? Like for stating that there is well a citation but an additional one (or more) would be pertinent? Regards. Cretanforever

  • I'm looking for one of these, too. -- Steven Fisher 06:34, 17 June 2006 (UTC)
    • There is Template:Citecheck. Not exactly what you describe, but could be adjusted to include 'more needed'. --CBD 14:48, 17 June 2006 (UTC)
      • What I'm looking for is a "This citation is interesting enough that I'm not going to delete it, but it probably isn't trustworthy." The particular case I'm looking at is an article which cites a rumor site (specifically, SoundJam MP which references the ThinkSecret) website. -- Steven Fisher 15:13, 17 June 2006 (UTC)
    • ^ Sample Reference