User:Mike Peel/References guide

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This is a guide to the various referencing systems available on Wikipedia, put together by User:Mike Peel. If anything is missing from it, please feel free to add to this page, or please let the author know.

The aim of this guide is to give a good introduction to (and provide a reference for) the technical aspects of referencing on Wikipedia. It does not tell you what references you should use, or where you should use them. See Wikipedia:Citing sources for that.

Referencing systems[edit]

There are three main referencing systems in use on Wikipedia: Footnotes, Wikipedia:Harvard referencing and embedded citations.

Note that all three consist of two parts - a reference in-line with the text, with full details of the reference at the bottom of the page. It is a common mistake to only put one half of the reference onto the page - just the URL, in the case of embedded citations, or just the full reference, in the case of Harvard references.

Footnotes[edit]

This is my prefered referencing system

A reference can be inserted into the text by placing <ref name="insert_name_here">insert_reference_here</ref> inline with the text at the appropriate place (substituting insert_name_here for a brief descriptive name - note that this cannot be purely numbers - and insert_reference_here with the reference - either text, or a citation template [see below]). This results in something like this.[1] References should come after the punctuation, and there should be no space between the punctuation (or last word) and the reference code. After the first instance of a named reference, it can be linked to from elsewhere in the article by using <ref name="insert_name_here" /> - note the final /, which is required. This then looks like this.[1] A simple <ref>insert_references_here</ref> will also work, but cannot be refered to later in the article. A shortcut to put <ref></ref> into the article, at the location of the curser, is available in the 'Wiki Markup' section at the bottom of the edit page.

The second part of this referencing system is a <div class="references-small"><references/></div>, placed in the References section of the article. This is where the text of all of the references in the body of the article are placed, along with links to the instances of the references within the article. The div is optional, but is generally prefered. It looks like this:

  1. ^ a b insert_reference_here

This can be inserted using the links in the "Wiki markup" section at the bottom of the edit page.

Harvard referencing[edit]

A Harvard reference can be inserted into an article by placing the author and year of the reference in-line with the text, for example (Peel 2006), followed by the complete details of the reference in the References section of the page. Note that both parts of this referencing system should be used - a common mistake I see on many articles is a big list of references at the bottom of the page, and no inline references to say what part of the article can be verified using which reference.

Embedded citations[edit]

Note that I do not recommend using this system - it is very easy to misuse if you don't know it well, and as such it is frequently mis-used throughout Wikipedia.

This is mostly used for referencing websites in-line in an article. It is probably one of the most common of the referencing systems used on Wikipedia, although it is frequently used incorrectly. The references consist of two parts: an external link located in-line with the text, such as [1] <-- that. This is done by placing [http://www.example.org] at the appropriate place is the text. Note that no title is given, just the URL. Then, a complete reference should be given in a References section at the bottom of the article, preferably using one of the citation templates (see "How do I cite..."). This last part is frequently missing from pages where this is used, however it provides the actual citation, so should ideally always be present.

How do I cite...[edit]

Note: use of these templates is not required, but is prefered by me (and, hopefully, others...)

A book[edit]

Copyable version:

{{cite book | last= | first= | authorlink= | coauthors= | title= | year= | publisher= | location= | id= ISBN | pages= }}

Available options:

{{cite book
| last= 
| first= 
| authorlink= 
| coauthors= 
| editor= 
| others= 
| title=  REQUIRED
| origdate= 
| origyear= 
| origmonth= 
| url= 
| format= 
| accessdate= 
| accessyear= 
| accessmonth= 
| edition= 
| date= 
| year= 
| month= 
| publisher= 
| location= 
| language= 
| id= ISBN ...
| doi = 
| pages= 
| chapter= 
| chapterurl= 
| quote =
}}

An example would be:

  • {{cite book | last=Misner | first = Charles | coauthors = Thorne, Kip S. and Wheeler, John Archibald | title=Gravitation | location=San Francisco | publisher= W. H. Freeman | year=1973 | id=ISBN 0-7167-0344-0}}

which gives:

  • Misner, Charles (1973). Gravitation. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman. ISBN 0-7167-0344-0.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)

A journal[edit]

Copyable version:

{{cite journal | last= | first= | authorlink= | coauthors= | year= | month= | title= | journal= | volume= | issue= | pages= | issn= | arxiv= | doi= | id= | url= }}

Available options:

{{cite journal
 | last =       Surname of the author
 | first =      Forename or initials of the author
 | author =     Name of the author (use either this, or first & last)
 | authorlink = Name of the Wikipedia page on the author
 | coauthors =  The coauthors of the article
 | year =       The year the article was published
 | month =      The month the article was published
 | title =      REQUIRED. The title of the article
 | journal =    The journal the article was published in
 | volume =     The volume of the journal containing the article
 | issue =      The issue of the journal containing the article
 | pages =      The pages of the journal that are occupied by the article
 | issn =       The ISSN of the journal
 | arxiv =      The arXiv of the article
 | doi =        The DOI of the article
 | id =         Other IDs of the article
 | url =        The URL of the article online
 | format =     The format of the article (PDF, etc.) - HTML implied if missing
 | accessdate =  The accessdate of the article. In 2006-08-31 format.
 | quotes =     "quotes=no" removes the quotation marks around the title. Leave blank otherwise
 }}

The |arxiv= field can be used to provide a link to the arXiv version of the article. This should only be used when the article has been published in a journal - for unpublished arXiv works, {{Cite arXiv}} should be used (see below). It is useful to provide a link to the arXiv citation if possible, as the arXiv is freely available to everyone, whereas journals typically require expensive subscriptions to access them.

An example of a paper that has not been published in arXiv would be:

  • {{cite journal | last=Kerr | first = R. P. | title=Gravitational field of a spinning mass as an example of algebraically special metrics | journal=Phys. Rev. Lett. | year=1963 | volume=11 | pages=237}}

which gives:

  • Kerr, R. P. (1963). "Gravitational field of a spinning mass as an example of algebraically special metrics". Phys. Rev. Lett. 11: 237. 

An example of a paper that has previously been published in arXiv would be:

  • {{cite journal | last=Bicak | first=Jiri | title=Selected exact solutions of Einstein's field equations: their role in general relativity and astrophysics | journal=Lect. Notes Phys. | year=2000 | volume=540 | pages=1—126 | arxiv=gr-qc/0004016 }}

which gives:

  • Bicak, Jiri (2000). "Selected exact solutions of Einstein's field equations: their role in general relativity and astrophysics". Lect. Notes Phys. 540: 1—126. arXiv:gr-qc/0004016Freely accessible. 

arXiv[edit]

A conference report or paper[edit]

A news article[edit]

A website[edit]

An encyclopaedia[edit]

A newsgroup posting[edit]

A paper, thesis or dissertation[edit]

A press release[edit]

A video[edit]

A comic book[edit]

A comic strip[edit]

An editorial cartoon[edit]

A MacTutor biography[edit]

Common problems[edit]

A link appears malformed

This can occur when you put a new line into the description field for the URL. For example (see source):

{{cite web | url = http://www.example.org | title = Example website}}

which gives:

"brown fox".  line feed character in |title= at position 7 (help)

This is caused by an inability in the MediaWiki software to handle new lines in the middle of external links (see [2]).

See also[edit]

Other template guides[edit]