Wikipedia:Citing sources/Example style

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There is a consensus on Wikipedia to permit the use of any generally-recognized citation style or system. If you cannot decide on which style to use, or if you do not know what information to include, an example partially based on the APA style is given below. In APA style, a widely accepted format for writing research papers, the references are listed at the end of the article in alphabetical order by author, and by year for identical authors. Also see MLA style and Harvard referencing.

Some editors use citation templates to format article references, though the use of such templates is not required. The reference style given below complies with these templates, and differs from APA style in several respects, for instance, in that it permits and encourages extra information such as the author's full first name, and in that titles are formatted according to Wikipedia:Manual of Style (titles).


  • Lincoln, Abraham; Grant, U. S.; & Davis, Jefferson (1861). Resolving Family Differences Peacefully (3rd ed.). Gettysburg: Printing Press. ISBN 0-12-345678-9.

For an edited book, put "(Ed.)" or "(Eds.)" in parentheses after the last author, before the date.

The ISBN (which is wikified automatically) is optional. If a book does not have an ISBN number, an LCCN ({{LCCN}}) or OCLC ({{OCLC}}) number may be used instead. The OCLC number can be found at WorldCat. Note, however, that use of ASIN numbers in Wikipedia is considered controversial.

For a specific article or chapter in an edited book, use:

  • Pooh, Winnie T. & Robin, Christopher (1926). "Modern techniques in heffalump capture". In A. A. Milne (Ed.), The Karma of Kanga, pp. 23–47. Hundred Acre Wood: Wol Press.

A good guideline is to list author names as they are written in the original article/book, without further abbreviation. The APA guidelines recommend abbreviating first names to initial letters instead, but since Wikipedia has no shortage of space, you need not abbreviate names. Indeed, there are good reasons to include the full names of authors; such information makes it much easier to find the cited work, and it also makes it possible to find other related information by the same author.

If Wikipedia has a page for the book, make the book title a link to it, but retain the full reference (for example, for printing). If the authors are notable (as above) and have not already been linked to from the article, then make their names link to their pages. It is also occasionally relevant to link a publisher, place of publication, etc.

(See also: {{cite book}}.)

Electronic equivalents[edit]

As service providers begin making books available online it will become increasingly useful to cite them in the encyclopedia. Eventually we can begin linking all book citations to their electronic equivalents. Here is an example citation for Google Book Search:

Amazon's search inside the book feature provides less data to non-registered users but is still quite useful. Consider:

Journal articles[edit]

Journal articles are formatted much as a chapter in a book would be—for example:

  • Brandybuck, Meriadoc (1955). "Herb lore of the Shire". Journal of the Royal Institute of Chemistry 10(2), 234–351.

The numbers after the journal title indicate: volume (issue number should be mentioned if the journal is paginated starting from 1 in each issue), page numbers. Do not capitalize every word of the article title—only the first word, proper names, and the first word after a colon/period/dash. For an article that is available online, make the article title a link to the online version.

Whether journal titles should be abbreviated is questionable. On the one hand, many abbreviations are standardized ("J." for "Journal of") and library catalogs are often designed to help in locating abbreviated titles. On the other hand, abbreviations can be obscure to a person unused to scientific citations.

(See also: {{cite journal}})

Medical journal abstracts & free full-text[edit]

A huge number of medical abstracts are readable online at PubMed ( If your article relies on any medical paper, it's good to provide your readers with a link to the PMID abstract. But often the URL that your browser shows you when you are at PubMed is a one-time-only URL, useless to anyone else. Even if the URL is not a one-time URL, here is the best way to cite PubMed: type (for example) PMID 15153440 as your citation — Wikipedia will link it and format it as PMID 15153440. If you're relying on text that is not in the abstract, you might still want to link by typing (for example) abstract at PMID 15153440, which Wikipedia will display as: abstract at PMID 12345. In addition PubMed Central holds free full-text copies of many papers, which may be cited using {{PMC}} template (e.g. {{PMC|123456}} giving: PMC 123456). PMID & PMC values may be used in the {{cite journal}} template if giving fuller citation details (also see Diberri's Wikipedia template filling tool).

Newspaper/magazine articles (or online periodicals)[edit]

  • Blair, Eric Arthur (August 29, 1949). "Looking forward to a bright tomorrow". New English Weekly, p. 57.

Or, for articles without a named author, put the title first:

  • "On the importance of modesty". (May 5, 1821). Pravda, pp. B1, C12.

Again, for online articles, make the article title a link to the URL; it may not be possible to supply a page number in this case, for example:

(See also: {{cite news}}.)

Websites and webpages[edit]

This section pertains to referencing materials as they have been presented in webpages and websites; documents that are primarily available in print form, such as books and articles in newspapers, periodicals, and journals, should conform to the guidelines for those materials. Note also that, in addition to their formal inclusion in the "References" section of an article, references to websites and webpages are often collected by Wikipedia editors in the "External links" section of an article.

There is an important difficulty in referencing webpages, which is that the document located at a particular location (URL) may change or may be deleted after you have referenced it. The average lifespan of a web page is 44–75 days.[1] This difficulty has been named linkrot. Several methods for avoiding linkrot are indicated below.


To cite an entire website without specifying a specific webpage or document on the site, simply give the site's URL in the article text (this is an APA recommendation). In Wikipedia, a simple URL beginning with "http://" is automatically rendered clickable as well, which is what you want. Here is an example of such text: "Several web archives have been created such as the Internet Archive at"

Webpages (plain, permalinked, and archived)[edit]

See also: {{Cite web}}

Specific web pages (or sets of pages) are cited using a format similar to books. Here is a simple example of a reference to the definition of "open source" that was created on the date 2007-01-26:

For webpages, the author is often unknown; you can either omit the author altogether, or substitute something vague like "Open Source Initiative Contributor". The date in parenthesis is the date of publication for the webpage, and should be omitted if it is not known. The title of the webpage is listed in quotation marks, and is hyperlinked to a URL from which the page can be retrieved. For this reference, the URL ( is the one at which the editor found this webpage on 2007-01-26. The webpage's publisher is the Open Source Initiative.

The webpage that is currently accessible at the URL is no longer identical to the one accessed on 2007-01-26. There are two methods for linking to a copy of a webpage that is permanently archived: using permalinks, or using web archives.

Some webpage have permalinks, which are URLs that access a copy of the page that is archived on the website itself. If a permalink is available, you should normally use that instead of the URL at which you first found the article. Wikipedia articles, for example, change constantly, but permalink references are available to each version of an article. Here, for example, is the reference to a version of Wikipedia's article for the 16th U. S. Poet Laureate that existed on 2008-07-28:

If there is no permalink for a webpage, consider creating an archive copy of it yourself by using an on-demand archiving service. WebCite ( is one of the on-demand services. Here is the same "Open Source" reference based on a copy of the webpage that was archived by an editor on 2008-05-27:

Repairing broken webpage references[edit]

If you discover a link that no longer works in the references to an article, you may be able to find a copy of the webpage in a web archive such as the Internet Archive. For the case of the "Open Source Definition" webpage noted above, the Internet Archive has a snapshot available from 2006-11-17, so the original citation on 2007-01-26 can be restored as follows:

In addition to WebCite and Internet Archive, there are several other archiving projects that can be searched to restore broken links; the web archiving article has a list of additional projects.

Note that archived copies of webpages can also be useful in constructing a new reference.

Other-language Wikipedias[edit]

Wikipedia is not a reliable source. When you use an article from a different-language Wikipedia as a reference, it belongs in the reference section. Use an external link rather than an interwiki link to avoid an unnecessary self-reference:

  • Citau les fonts from the Catalan-language Wikipedia. Retrieved on December 27, 2004.

If you are getting some or all of your references second-hand, because you translated all or part of an article from a different-language Wikipedia, you may want to start your reference section (or part of it) with something like this (from Paragraph 175):

followed by a list of that different-language article's references.

Press releases[edit]

This is how to reference a press release:

If the press release is available online, make the title a link to the URL.

(See also: {{cite press release}})

Liner notes[edit]

This is how to reference the liner notes or sleeve notes of an album:

  • Author of notes (Copyright year). "Title of section in liner notes". In Title of album (pp. x-y) [Liner notes format]. City of recording company: Name of recording company.

An example:

  • Russell, Paul (2003). "Tangerine Dream Live in the 70s". In The Bootleg Box Set Vol. 1 [CD booklet]. London: Sanctuary Records Group.

A template for referencing liner notes is Template:Cite album-notes.

Combined with numbered footnotes[edit]

See for example Gymnopédie, an article using numbered footnotes (using the Wikipedia:footnote3 system, an older system which is still in use, although Cite.php footnotes are now recommended) combined with book and journal references, as mentioned higher on this page. Other source citation techniques used on that same page: in-line external links, and, of course, wiki-links. Examples can be found at {{Ref/examples}}.


Example APA styles for many other document types can be found at the "Citation Style Guides" page. Ultimately, though, use your common sense — what information does the reader need in order to find the reference in question?

Page ranges should use an "en dash" (–, –), not a hyphen (-).

It is also useful to link author names to their Wikipedia page [if any], assuming that they have not already been linked to in the article text, to give background information on sources and other works they may have written.


See the summary of citation templates; for users familiar with the citation process, seeking a reference, a quick reference exists.