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Please note: The style of footnotes described on this page no longer functions, and the auto-numbering method described on Wikipedia:Footnote is now recommended, with the manual numbering of Wikipedia:Footnote3 still available for specific purposes only.

Footnotes, endnotes and bibliographies are an essential and largely missing aspect of Wikipedia. They provide authority, and enhance the project's philosophy of Wikipedia as a secondary and tertiary source{{fn|1}}. In addition, they imbue the encyclopedia with a sense of professionalism and repute. Sources within the encyclopedia firmly suggest that contributors cite their sources{{fn|2}}, however it has not been made a status quo, and large amounts of leniency on this policy are provided. In fact, many featured articles have absolutely no citations. With none of their points immediately and easily verifiable, it is difficult for end users to determine the veracity of the text they are reading{{fn|3}}-{{fn|4}}.

Our goal is to encourage Wikipedians to use footnotes/endnotes in the same way they are used in some books and research papers; to make it possible for the reader to validate what the writer is saying at every turn, and to allow the writer to expand upon important points without interrupting the flow of the work. We hope to create articles that are so well backed up by footnotes and sources that Wikipedia articles might be afforded the same degree of trust that readers now give to Journal articles and books.

Technical issues[edit]

In January 2004, a Wikipedian submitted a page{{fn|5}} and a bug report{{fn|6}} asking for votes on a footnote implementation. However, this has largely gone stale in the meantime, a year having now passed. Part of the resistance to using footnotes has been that up until currently, the implementation of footnotes was cumbersome{{fn|7}}, and required the user to type a whole line of html code in order to add a footnote. The implementation we are proposing would simplify this process greatly.

How to use[edit]

The new approach requires the user only to type {{fn|1}} at the footnote location:

follows from the theories of Carl Jung as laid out in his work Psychological Types{{fn|1}}.

The user then places {{fnb|1}} in the list of notes (replace "1" with the number intended):

*{{fnb|1}} Jung, Carl Gustav (August 1, 1971). Psychological Types (Collected Works of C.G. Jung,
Volume 6). Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691097704.

Further, the implementation is already live on the site, and has been shown to work on large, citation-heavy articles{{fn|8}}.

Proposed future enhancements - autogeneration[edit]

In order to prevent Wikipedians from spending valuable time organizing and arranging footnotes and endotes at the end of the article, or alphabetizing bibliographies, we suggest that this process be automated. The simplest solutions seems to be the use of the following template: {{#}}. However, while very easy to implement, this is fraught with the possibility that if the number of footnotes in the article and at the of the article end do not match up, all the footnotes will be misnumbered. So, in order to make footnoting as simple as possible we believe this feature should be expanded so that the footnote is carried inline with the text, using a template command, such as {{#|Ripley's Believe it or Not (2004). ''This footnote goes here''.}}. MediaWiki would then automatically create a notes section at the end of the article after a tag {{Footnotes}}.

Plea for help[edit]

Further discussion is needed to develop the intricacies of what is needed for a feasible footnote system on Wikipedia. We wanted to present a working system that is rather simple, along with a suggestion as to what seems to be the easiest, most user-friendly implementation. If you are a Mediawiki developer interested in helping us implement this feature in a future version of Mediawiki, please poke either Alterego or soren9580 in the discussion page of this article.

Keeping your notes separate from your sources[edit]

One valuable feature of the two implementations we've proposed (the one you see here and the inline footnotes implementation we need help with) is that you can reference a source multiple times. So if i'm talking about the Supreme Court opinion Lawrence v. Texas, and I want to direct your attention to the opinion written in that important case, i can send you to a footnote here{{fn|9}}. However, if i want to direct your attention to the amazing concurrence by Justice Kennedy in that same case, I can send you to a footnote here{{fn|10}}, at the same source. Because we have a separate Bibliography section{{fn|11}} that lists all the sources used for writing the article in alphabetical order, we can keep our notes separate from our sources.


  • Note: Several of these footnotes are provided as an example only. The authors acknowledge that they would usually be linked to within the article using wiki syntax.