Page semi-protected

Wikipedia:Tutorial/Citing sources

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Introduction   How to
  Formatting   Links   Citing
in mind
  Registration   Wrap-up    

This is an encyclopedia, so remember that it's a necessity to include references listing websites, newspapers, articles, books and other sources you have used to write or expand articles. All additions and corrections should be based on reliable, third-party, published sources with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy. These sources should verify the information but you must not copy and paste text you find anywhere, except for short quotations. New articles and statements added to existing articles may be deleted by others if unreferenced or referenced poorly or if they are copyright violations.

For information on using the VisualEditor, see the last section of this page.


A screencast that walks through the essentials needed in citing your sources, part 1
A screencast that walks through the essentials needed in citing your sources, part 2

Generally references are added directly after the facts they support, at the end of the sentence and after any punctuation. Wikipedia permits editors to use any citation system that allows the reader to understand where the information came from, and strongly encourages use of inline citations to do so. Common methods of placing inline citations include footnotes, shortened footnotes, and parenthetical references.

There are three basic methods to add a reference into the article text. You may use any one, or a combination of methods:

Manually typing references

The most usual way to create an inline citation is with a footnote. You can create a footnote with Wiki markup, by adding ref tags around your source, like this:

<ref>Your Source</ref>

If you are adding the first footnote to an article, you also need to make sure that there is text that tells Wikipedia's software to display footnotes. That text will look like this:

{{Reflist}} or <references />.

That text should be immediately below the section heading == References ==. If that section does not exist, you will need to add it (both the heading and either the "Reflist" or "references" text above). Place the new section near the bottom of the article, just above the "External links" section (if that exists).

Once you have saved your edit, the ref tags will convert your citation of a source into a footnote reference (like this one[1]), with the text of the citation appearing in the References section at the bottom of the article.

If the citation you are placing between the ref tags as your source is a link to an external website, place the website address (URL) within single square brackets along with some text, which the reader will see as a link. For example:

<ref>[ Article in ''The New York Times'']</ref>

Though it is not required, it is highly recommended to provide more information than that in a footnote. Here is a more complete footnote:

<ref>Name of author, [ "Title of article"], ''The New York Times'', date</ref>

It is not recommended to use bare URLs for your external link references, because of link rot.

Although material that is from external websites is a common reference source, Wikipedia has no preference for online sources. If your source is a book, journal, magazine, newspaper article, documentary or other source, then you would place identification information about that source between the ref tags.

For a more visual summary, see the guide below (click show on the right hand side).

You can also watch a tutorial video on how to use the built-in reference tools in the editing interface.

For more information, see Help:Introduction to referencing/1 and Wikipedia:References dos and don'ts

Put what you learned into practice

At the moment, there are over 305,405 articles that have statements that need citations. The tool Citation Hunt makes referencing those statements easier by suggesting random articles which you can work on. Practice your new skills by helping us solve a "Citation needed":

I can help! Give me a random citation to find!


VisualEditor is a way to edit pages without needing to learn wikitext markup. It works more like a word processing application and is only available to registered, logged-in editors who have opted in.
For more information, see Help:Introduction to referencing (VE)/1

Continue the tutorial with Talk pages