User:Citation bot/use

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Citations button.svg

The Citation bot is a piece of software designed to expand and fix citations on Wikipedia.

Using the Citation bot[edit]

First, you must add this gadget to your preferences by enabling it in your preferences gadget tab: click on the word "preferences" in the previous sentence to open your personal Wikipedia preferences page, then click on the "Gadgets" tab, scroll down to the "Editing" section, and place a check mark in the box next to the word, "Citation expander". Scroll down to the bottom of the page and press "Save". The bot is now enabled. Once you have done this, you can see if it is working for you by visiting any Wikipedia article page with an incomplete or damaged reference that uses {{cite book}} with a valid Google URL, or {{cite journal}} with a valid DOI, PMC, PMID, or similar tag, clicking on the "Edit" tab, and scrolling down to the "Save changes", "Show preview", "Show changes" buttons below the editing window: for most gadget users, directly to the right of the "Show changes" button there will now appear a small black unframed word saying "Citations" (between the "Show changes" button and the word "Cancel" in bigger red letters). This is actually an action button, and clicking on this word/ button will initiate the bot which will then examine the article's text looking for citations that need fixing or expanding. The bot then completes the incomplete/ damaged references and returns you to the article edit box. Above this box you will see a "diff" of the page as it looked before (on the left) and after (on the right) the bot examined it (if no changes were made then you will see the words "No difference" in parentheses above the edit box). In order to save the changes made by the bot you must now click on the "Save changes" button.

The simplest example[edit]

If you are adding, say, a reference to a DOI, you need only type, for example, <ref>{{cite journal|doi=10.2222/B22.2}}</ref> (copy and paste your own DOI code from wherever you are getting your reference), then click on the "Citations" word— the bot will find your citation as well as any others it thinks may be problematic, attempt to fix them, and show you how the reference will now look in a "diff"— the bot will automatically find and add the name of the journal, the names of the authors, the title of the article, its volume number, issue, page numbers, etc. You give it the DOI and the bot does the rest! Now click "Save changes" and your complete reference will be added to the Wikipedia article!

To add a reference to a book you have found on Google Books, go to the article edit window and just type <ref>{{cite book|url=}}</ref> at the end of the sentence to which you are adding the citation, then click the "Citations" button: the bot will grab the information from Google, just it can do for a DOI reference, and will usually be right (though it is best to verify this yourself, as you are responsible for any changes made by this bot). Add an edit summary ("Added reference to claim") and click on "Save changes".


Do you get frustrated copying and pasting author names, source titles, and dates? Now you can type or paste in only the DOI, PMID, or, heck, the Google Books URL, and let the bot do the rest.

The only requirement is to use templates for citations: {{cite book}}, {{cite journal}} and others. These templates are generally placed within <ref> tags.

Just type {{cite journal |doi=10.####/whatever}} or {{cite journal |pmid=12615090}} , save the page, and set the bot on it – then the bot will fill in all the details you missed! For example the title, journal, page numbers, digital object identifiers, etc.

Or you can paste an Endnote entry directly into a {{cite journal}} container; the bot will convert the format for the most part.

Or, are the citations in your page a mess? Misspelled parameters, badly formatted values? The bot will set things right en masse. It corrects a range of common errors. It also nicely formats DOIs and ISBNs.

Using via a webpage[edit]

The original way to ask the Citation bot to look at pages "on demand", is through The page contains a form and a few options. You can edit all the pages in a given category at

If blocked[edit]

Occasionally the bot is blocked due to bugs that the maintainer has not had time to fix. When this happens, the bot itself cannot commit edits, but you can still install its changes by hand. However, you should take special care when this occurs, as the bot-induced bugs are not always obvious. Sometimes, for example, the bot might break wikilinks to a citation, and this will not be easily observable simply by reading the resulting citation.

If the bot is blocked, you can still use the "Citation bot" button, if you have the widget installed. Just be doubly sure to check that you are not introducing errors.

Results can be confusing when no changes are made by the bot[edit]

New users; please note that the results when no changes are made can be confusing. One sees this at the top of the page:

Latest revision _______ Your text.

Followed immediately by the edit window. That means that no changes have been made. When one saves the page hoping for some improved citations one sees no changes, and nothing shows up in the revision history.

When the bot makes changes the bot reports the changes and shows them to you before they are saved. It is very clear. This allows you to choose whether to make further changes before saving.

Bugs and feedback[edit]

If you spot a bug with Citation bot, or have an idea of how it can be even more helpful, please report it here.

Other tools[edit]

  • User:Zhaofeng Li/reFill maintains the reFill tool that handles many bare URLs that this does not.
  • OA bot automatically suggests the most suitable links for existing DOI citations