Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (footnotes)/Archive 6

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Archive 5 Archive 6 Archive 7


Mixing footnotes and references

Please see also /archive5#Footnotes and References and bugzilla:6271 and possibly give your vote. --pabouk 14:00, 3 December 2006 (UTC)

I notice that it doesn't seem possible to keep separate lists of (additional information) footnotes and of references using the <references /> mechanism alone. One way round this is to use the separate {{note|blah}} and {{ref|blah}} mechanism for footnotes (or vice versa); but it seems kind of tacky and pointless.

I don't think that footnotes (for the type of minor detail that would bloat the article if included in the main text) and actual citations belong together, but I can't see any other way of doing it?

Is there a more elegant (and commonly accepted) way to do this?

Fourohfour 11:24, 22 November 2006 (UTC)

Meh. I see nothing wrong with having notes that combine citations and discursive material; it's a style that's fully endorsed by at least the Chicago Manual of Style (and, indeed, pretty much the only style that makes sense if what's being annotated are the citatins themselves), and it helps avoid what would otherwise be an unreadable forest of little numbers in an article that's both heavily cited and heavily annotated (e.g. this). Kirill Lokshin 11:26, 22 November 2006 (UTC)
I don't see that it doesn't make sense. Most of the time the citations themselves aren't the things being annotated(!). Personally, I don't like the {{ref|blah}} mechanism, and the duplicate numbers are confusing (as well as the links not working properly). But that's a problem with the existing mechanisms on Wikipedia, not the concept of separate lists. Let me put it this way; is there any reason these two different things *should* be together? One's a list of info too detailed/non-essential to warrant bloating the article with, the other's a list of sources. Fourohfour 12:26, 23 November 2006 (UTC)
In both cases, they're annotations to the actual text; whether each annotation contains (a) the source of a statement, (b) further details on a statement, (c) both a source and further details, (d) a source and further details about the source, or something else is pretty much random; presenting the annotations as a single, continuous list seems more sensible than trying to separate them out by "type".
(If you really do want to separate them, there are ways of getting a different numbering system for one type versus the other; see, for example, Che Guevara or Alcibiades. I don't really see the benefit of doing it like that, though.) Kirill Lokshin 18:41, 23 November 2006 (UTC)

Two intertwined sets of in-text pointers is needlessly complicated, and without utility. [Goodness, Alcibiades has references to citations within the notes!] One set of numbers lets me get from the text to the note just fine. There's a reason it is not done in professional typesetting.

On the other hand, I find that separating notes and references (as in T-26) is often the best way to use the <references/> system. The notes tend to be short, not obscuring the wikitext with clutter, and lengthier annotations stand out so they are easy to spot when reading the article. The references are listed alphabetically by author, and aren't repeated. Michael Z. 2006-11-23 19:52 Z

Personally, I consider inline reference citations to be a type of footnote, thus I think they should be combined with note-type footnotes. As for references that are not inline, I'm not sure what is really the best approach. Kaldari 19:54, 23 November 2006 (UTC)
Both of these issues have problems of redundancy.
How do you cite a reference when it appears in a second note? And if someone adds an inline reference to it earlier in the article, they have to go through all of the wikitext, find the full reference, and adjust both notes (so that the full reference remains in the first note). Bad for maintenance: in a long article it's likely to get out of synch, and become bad for readers.
Keeping the full references in a separate list also avoids the problem of non-inline references. Otherwise, you get stuck with two lists of references: one numbered and ordered by appearance in the text, the other bulleted, and ordered alphabetically. Bad for readers. Michael Z. 2006-11-23 20:11 Z
I also prefer to have a separate list of bibliographical references, without anything else included, ideally sorted in alphabetical order, like it is done in well typeset books. The notes should be on its own separate list or lists. --pabouk 13:52, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
I broadly agree with these last points, but with one reservation: the list of books might become too long and contain books not entirely essential to the subject's bibliography. So, I would note books briefly in the footnotes and put the book details in the book list if they are solid references for the subject as a whole; but if they are incidental references from books largely about other subjects, I'd give the book details in the notes. The book list for a well-referenced article can otherwise start to get out of hand, I've noticed. qp10qp 23:59, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

The format of footnotes in Alcibiades seems unnecessarily complex. The format in T-26 feels rather clumsy to me. I rather like the “content notes” style in Che Guevara, although it is technically complex to edit. But I favor simply intermingling references & notes as in the article on Johann Wolfgang Goethe; Wikipedia provides a hypertext format—one can link back & forth easily—no need to let style get in the way of utility.Einstein[›]

Skål - Williamborg (Bill) 03:12, 6 December 2006

Content note

^ Einstein: As Einstein has been quoted, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, and no simplier."

Alcibiades has a different style now. Wandalstouring 19:23, 30 January 2007 (UTC)

For a good example of mixed footnotes and references, see Mary Wollstonecraft. Some of the footnotes there are purely notes, some are purely references, and some are notes about references. Separating these into two lists would be difficult and rather pointless, IMO. Kaldari 23:40, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

I find the mixing of reference notes and information notes horrible. Since I don't use Wikipedia for academic purposes, and rarely read controversial articles, I don't care where the information is coming from. But I do want to read the whole of what the author has written, including checking out any footnotes as I come across them. Making footnotes and references look the same, and hiding interesting notes in a list of dull publication information, totally defeats this. I would always want a separate list of references (necessary "implementation detail" for ensuring the quality of the article) and notes (intrinsic parts of the article). PeteVerdon 20:11, 14 January 2007 (UTC)

hiding interesting notes in a list of dull publication information, totally defeats this - In the Mary Wollstonecraft, I found one "interesting note" amidst the references/footnotes. I converted that to text (that is, put the information into the article). My understanding is that footnotes (and references) are only for sourcing; footnotes should not be used for asides and minor but interesting tidbits. John Broughton | 03:33, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
Why not? This is a pretty standard use of footnotes in general writing. Christopher Parham (talk) 03:40, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
Agreed, this is how footnotes have been used for centuries. There's nothing wrong with using footnotes for asides. And I don't think souce references are necessarily "dull information". For many subjects, I find information about the sources quite interesting. Kaldari 07:48, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
In books, the point of a dual system is that the general references can appear as footnotes at the bottom of a page, and the bibliographic references in a separate section. This is almost indispensable in the sort of academic book where the bibliographic references alone take up as much space as the text, and such books are still being written. The application in hypertext is not quite as straightforward. DGG 22:53, 10 March 2007 (UTC)

Successive ref tags and spacing

The article currently says that successive ref tags should not have any space between them. What about a non-breaking space (nbsp;)? Would that be acceptable? Lyrl Talk Contribs 01:59, 26 November 2006 (UTC)

I would prefer not to see any punctuation between ref tags, whether spaces (of any type) or commas as some editors have used. It would be nice if wikipedia highlighted whilst editing the whole of a footnote's ref structure in a different colour, to aid readbility of the article's prose whilst editing. But this is wandering off topic and would need meta-wiki upgrade :-) David Ruben Talk 02:20, 26 November 2006 (UTC)

Proposal for new section on main page: Maintaining a bibliography separate from the main article text.

This section was recently added: WP:FN#Citing_a_footnote_more_than_once.2C_with_all_footnote_bodies_in_a_separate_list

Originally this section described making a list of hidden named references at the top of an article, then using them throughout the article. I don't think this should be encouraged because 1) it's a sort of a hack, and 2) hidden text can cause issues with some software for vision-impaired accessibility. Now the section has been rephrased so the list of references is visible, and I'm not sure what the use is now. References have to go at the end per Manual of Style.

I propose this section be deleted. Gimmetrow 17:25, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

I agree. There was no discussion, and it's certainly not widespread enough to be part of a style guideline like this. It's a theoretical solution with little practical appeal. And the fact that the referred solution can now be anywhere makes the whole solution outdated in my opinion. Circeus 18:40, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
Hmm. Yes, I see this was changed. The part of the page discussing this needs to be clearer that backslash-terminated uses of a name ref can now preceed the definition of the named ref. As more editors become aware of this, new habits may form, and once they are established this page can discuss them. Gimmetrow 19:06, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
Hi, I'm the one who made that change. I removed the span tags, so it's no longer advocating hidden output. It just describes how to avoid having huge citation bodies in inline references. This has practical appeal---it is very difficult to parse paragraphs with huge citations in the middle. There is even a discussion about this further down on the main page; see the comment about "best of both worlds". You can see how I have it working here: speculative multithreading. As a final note, I would like to mention what I consider an even better mechanism for maintaining bibliographies: put each reference in a separate template. That way, it can be included from multiple pages, it is extremely easy to cite, it will contribute to a project-wide bibliography, there are no extraneous back-links in the real reference list and there are no mystery citations either. If you like, I can write about that instead or as well. Citing becomes as simple as {{bib-lastname-year-firstword}}. However, I consider what I wrote a second-best solution that doesn't require as much effort. If you can show me a better way to do things without inline references, I'm all ears. --Chris Pickett 20:16, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
Hmmm, it seems that my template idea won't work yet: User:Pengo/pageusingref --Chris Pickett 21:28, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
Sorry to be so pendatic, but since I just made the same change to the article I feel obliged to say it - it isn't a backslash, it's a forward slash, or preferably just a slash. CiaranG 21:54, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
My mistake on the slash. No, cite.php tags don't work in transcluded templates, apparently due to the order things are parsed by the mediawiki software.
I think that would make great strides towards having maintainable cross-article bibliographies, so I guess I will just wait for it.
The approach at speculative multithreading makes it easier for editors to maintain the article, but it's rather confusing for readers. The last backlink in each note goes to the clump of numbers at the top of the notes section. That will confuse even experienced editors, as will the clump of numbers itself. It's fine to experiment with the cite.php system but I don't think this should be presented for general use.
OK, that's fair enough. I'd like to voice my opinion that having editors being able to maintain an article is perhaps more important than article readability. That is the whole point of wiki, after all: it's easy to edit. I think that since citation is so difficult it contributes to the wealth of poorly cited articles (by poorly cited I mean unacceptable by journal standards).
A number of editors use only "short" notes in the ref texts, such as Author:Date, like a Harvard ref. The full bibliographic information, with cite templates, is then listed together in a separate "References" section. This is becoming the norm in featured articles in history, eg: Finnish Civil War, where typically each reference is cited multiple times with different page numbers. This approach seems comparable to BibTex and the citation styles common in scientific journals.
This appears to work for books. In my experience with citing papers, you typically cite the entire paper, you don't cite individual pages. A literature review article can have upwards of 100 references. So you'd have a Footnotes section with 100 footnotes with multiple back-links to the text per footmark, and then you'd have a separate references section with the "real" version of those 100 references, unnumbered, and sorted by author last name (note: it either has to be sorted by author last name or automatically by citation order in order to be at all useful to readers as well as maintainable). Even with the extraneous back-links and the clump of references in speculative multithreading, I don't see how adding a separate Footnotes section with 15 Author:Dates would be more readable, but perhaps that's a matter of opinion. For the book citations it seems to work, because each citation references a different page range, and so clearly this information is not redundant. Perhaps more importantly though, I can't see how to make that work with Cite.php (that's exactly what I was trying to do)---are you saying I should just use Harvard refs instead? If you want to show me an example on my talk page or somewhere else appropriate (here maybe?), that would be great.
Also, according to this style guide ref marks go after punctuation. The text you wrote (currently commented out) has the ref marks before punctuation. Gimmetrow 22:09, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
I read a lot of back-and-forth discussions on this and it wasn't clear. But it's easy enough to convert, and with the current wikipedia formatting it does look better to have the superscripted reference after the punctuation.
Thanks for your time! --Chris Pickett 23:08, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
P.S. See MichaelZ's comment two sections up. Chris Pickett

Example paragraph from speculative multithreading

This is the "short note" style that many editors use. References get sorted by author. This approach keeps the citation templates out of the ref texts. (The Finnish Civil War article however uses Harvard templates to make the notes also link to the full bibliographic reference.) This keeps the references together in a maintainable group, and won't appear redundant if a good portion of the references are used more than once. In this approach few if any of the refs are named, even if they repeat. Gimmetrow 23:39, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

That works, with the following disadvantage: unless you specify a name for the ref, multiple citations are duplicated in the Notes list, as with the Bruening:2000 ref below. I've fixed it to eliminate that problem. Additionally, the year is often not enough to disambiguate, so for clarity I put the first word as well; if the goal is to have robust citations, this will prevent future disambiguation nightmares. CiteSeer follows this style and it works pretty well. Finally, note that the ref body needs to be repeated in each reference, to make the editor's life easier when they go back to delete later; there is some redundancy here.
What do you think about making an example Footnote style page that demonstrates this style, and espousing it from the main article? No need for "sample code"; editors can just click edit to see how it works, just like I did here with your example. --Chris Pickett 00:26, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
Because of the ordering issues that used to exist with named refs, many editors tend to avoid named refs. If so some note texts repeat, but on the other hand every footnote has a distinct number. You can use named refs if you want, just saying that it's also OK not to. That's why this style guide shouldn't promote any specific approach unless there is a strong censensus for it. The talk page can explain things. Gimmetrow 01:02, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
Okay, so repeated footnotes can have a benefit; it's more like what a footnote actually is, will encourage actual page citations to disambiguate between footnotes, maintains a global order of citations in the footnotes list, etc. etc. Plus the brevity in the ref itself is very nice. Can we please at least recommend this (your) style on the main page as a potential solution to the "list of references in a separate section" problem? Many authors will want to know how they can solve this problem, and I've already wasted enough time on it not to want it to disappear into the archives of this page. I won't make the edits, I'll let you or someone else who comes along do it. I will change the name of this section though. --Chris Pickett 01:14, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
In the style recommendations, it already says "Consider maintaining a separate bibliography/references section, then just the page number and book name can be given in each note..." That refers to this style. What do you suggest saying further? The WP:FN page already has a lot of distracting detail. I see someone above mentioned the article T-26, which is a pretty good example of this style. Gimmetrow 00:08, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
I'm suggesting making that recommendation more prominent (e.g. section or subsection status) and creating separate pages that exist merely to illustrate the style; one with Harvard references in footnotes, per your original example, and one with Cite.php references. Helping editors learn how to maintain a separate bibliography is an important issue; that's irrespective of the current WP:FN mess. I think many editors familiar with separate bibliographies coming to Wikipedia, such as myself and practically anybody who has worked with BibTeX or EndNote or some other bibliography system, already know that this style recommendation is what they want, they just don't necessarily know how best to achieve it. Just look at the back-and-forth between me and you before I finally got it sorted out. Yes, pointing people to T-26 and Finnish Civil War is helpful, but they still need to go and look at the huge sources for those pages and figure out what's going on, and there's also no room for discussion of the style. Having some example pages is also helpful as they can be easily modified to reflect improvements in the citing technology as time goes on. --Chris Pickett 00:48, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
I guess my biggest problem with WP:FN and WP:CITE is that they give plenty of recommendations of how the output should look, but they don't go into enough detail about how to achieve that look painlessly. The section "Maintaining a separate "References" section in addition to "Notes"" on WP:CITE is an example of what I mean. --Chris Pickett 00:55, 4 December 2006 (UTC)

Using Ibid

I have noticed that when academically-trained writers contribute to Wikipedia, they commonly use Ibid in the references. This isn't a problem if only one person writes the entire article, but when other people start contributing to it, they tend to add in new references without fixing the Ibids. Depending on how long this goes undetected, it can be very tricky to fix, if it gets fixed at all. Another problem with this is that lots of readers have no idea what "Ibid" means and are confused by it. Can we officially state that Ibid should not be used in Wikipedia footnotes? If a reference is repeated (with a diffferent page number for example), they should use the format "Smith, 182" rather than "Ibid, 182", so as to avoid these problems. Does that sound reasonable? Kaldari 18:18, 3 December 2006 (UTC)

I see your point about "ibid", and this guide could mention the disadvantages of using "ibid". But to "officially" ban it would take a consensus, and I doubt that would happen given the number of articles that use it. Gimmetrow 00:08, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
We can't be prescriptive, since there's no way it will ever reach consensus, but we should explain on the page the problems like this that are caused by traditional reference styles, and hopefully it will encourage editors not to use them. Preventing others from contributing by obfuscating the reference system is a bad thing. — Omegatron 22:27, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
I have added a note in the Style section stating that it is preferable to avoid using Ibid and explaining the reasons why. Kaldari 23:43, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

Is this the correct place to ask for feature requests? It would be nice to have a feature to deal with ibids - perhaps you could have <ref name="smith">Smith, John; My Book pp.1-2</ref> followed by <ref ibid="smith">Ibid. pp.3-4</ref>, which would make sure the ibid footnote came next to the smith reference, and display an error message if a user deleted the smith reference? Percy Snoodle 11:33, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

Alternatively, we could do this now with a template. See Template:ibid. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Percy Snoodle (talkcontribs) 15:03, 28 February 2007 (UTC).

Sentences with multiple notes

I see nothing in the guideline regarding such sentences. Here's an example from Bianca Ryan:

Bianca Ryan began performing as a tap-dancer; it was a big surprise to her parents when the nine-year-old told them she wanted to audition for Star Search in 2003.[1] Her participation ended when she earned 12 stars from the judges to 13 stars for Spensha Baker[2] (after young Tiffany Evans won the competition, Shawn Ryan decided to send his daughter to Evans' coach, Sal Dupree, for vocal lessons).[3]

Putting both refs for the second sentence at the end looks awkward. Thoughts? RadioKirk (u|t|c) 18:27, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

In my experience it's common practice to put a ref right after the clause that needs the ref, and the sentence only if the ref applies to the whole sentence. They should be as precise as possible. --Chris Pickett 19:46, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
Agreed, thanks; perhaps a note on the project page, presuming consensus? RadioKirk (u|t|c) 19:49, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
Sounds good, I guess you could go ahead and do it or wait for other people to say something. --Chris Pickett 20:02, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
I don't mind being WP:BOLD, but perhaps a few more eyes first—not that ours have problems, or anything... ;) RadioKirk (u|t|c) 20:22, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
I'm not entirely sure what's actually being proposed here; the guideline already says that editors should "place a ref tag at the end of the term, phrase, sentence, or paragraph to which the note refers". Kirill Lokshin 20:28, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
Why not just change that to: "place a ref tag at the end of the term, phrase, sentence, or paragraph to which the note refers; it is perfectly acceptable to have more than one ref tag in a sentence, or two ref tags side by side if appropriate" ? --Chris Pickett 20:33, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
More or less what I was thinking, except perhaps the more concise "A sentence may contain more than one ref tag, as needed." :) RadioKirk (u|t|c) 20:39, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
I don't really agree with the last part; having two ref tags side by side is only an artifact of the way the named ref tag system works—as most formal style guides recommend combining the neighboring footnotes into a single note—so I don't think we should be encouraging it. Kirill Lokshin 20:37, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
I've never seen a combined note on Wiki. Have an example, per chance? :) RadioKirk (u|t|c) 20:39, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
Certainly (I use them all the time); here, for example. Kirill Lokshin 20:42, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
Okay, I've seen those, fully written out; I've not seen it used in a template, such as {{cite web}}, yet. I suppose it could be hashed out as well, I'll have to give it a shot. :) RadioKirk (u|t|c) 20:46, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
You could probably get away with just having multiple cite templates in a single footnote, actually. It wouldn't quite be the correct format (as I don't believe the templates support note-form punctuation, just bibliography-form), but I doubt anyone using them would be overly concerned by that. Kirill Lokshin 20:55, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

(reduce indent) Exactly what I just did. Looks identical if done right. :) RadioKirk (u|t|c) 21:01, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

Just out of curiousity, Kirill, can you point to some heavily-cited articles, preferably in a scientific discipline, where there lots and lots of journal- or conference-paper references? I notice that the examples I keep seeing here, such as Finnish Civil War, T-26, and Battle of Ceresole are all citing just a handful of books. In the papers I'm used to reading, there is a list of references at the end, and the body of the text refers to these references individually; footnotes/endnotes are used only sparingly. There is never a level of indirection between the article text and the actual list of references, and you would never combine multiple side-by-side references into one footnote. It seems to be a question of difference between history (arts in general) style and computer science (science in general) citation style. Here are acceptable examples of how the formatted article text I'm used to looks: 1) blah [1]; 2a) blah [1][2]; 2b) blah [1,2]; 3a) blah [1][2][3]; 3b) blah [1,2,3]; 3c) blah [1-3]; 4a) blah [1,3,4,5]; 4b) blah [1][3][4][5]; 4c) blah [1,3-5]. --Chris Pickett 21:18, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
Not off the top of my head; admittedly, the more elaborate ways of using footnotes are more of a humanities thing. (But it should be pointed out that there's a practical reason for this as well; scientific articles tend to cite papers more than books, which often reduces the need to have different notes for every page from the book. In other words, an article citing books may have the first citation as "Smith, p. 507; Jones, p. 121" and the second as "Smith, p. 508; Jones, p. 122"; while an article citing papers might have both as "Smith (1991); Jones (2002)", in which case it would make more sense to associate the numbers with the references themselves, rather than with the footnotes.) Kirill Lokshin 21:27, 5 December 2006 (UTC):
Yes, I would like to avoid footnotes altogether, but I can't find a good way to do it. Having actual {{cite...}} text inline is not good enough for me, the bibliography (i.e. source code for references) must be separate. (I had some discussion above with Gimmetrow. There I appear to have settled on having footnotes as well as references above but the style is still awkward for me). I know I'm rambling here... my question to you above was prompted because you seemed to be saying above that having two ref tags side-by-side is not acceptable, but in fact I consider that perfectly normal, as per my example. (Except I wish the numbers weren't superscripted, which is unusual.) Perhaps it's just not possible to have a scientific article style. I think I'll open a bug. --Chris Pickett 21:42, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
I largely go along with Kirill about the benefit of combining more than one note in a reference (but sometimes "helpful" editors come along and separate them out for me!). I suppose it is a matter of aesthetics, but I don't like to see more than one ref tag in a sentence and certainly not two next to each other. On the other hand, aesthetically again, I don't like to combine two refs if they are about two semantically unconnected things; this occurs sometimes with the insertion of a by-the-way, two-or-three-word appositive quotation (an elegant technique, I think) aside from the main point of a sentence—in that case, I do resort to placing a tag after a phrase, to give editors a chance of easily breaking the sentence up in future, if they wish.
In answer to Chris Pickett's point, I don't think it's possible to do without inline citations altogether, but one way of reducing them on scientific articles might be to tag only at the bottom of a section, which would at least leave the text largely clear. Another way of reducing tags might be to reference chapters or page ranges, rather than pages, and try to keep the content of article sections consistent with that in the book chapters or particular papers referenced. qp10qp 22:10, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
In reply to Chris's question: does Hurricane Katrina work? Titoxd(?!?) 23:29, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

Unfortunately, everyone has their own ideas about the "best" citation format and style. I think multiple citations per sentence is preferable for semantic and practical reasons. Wiki is not paperOmegatron 22:24, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

In response to both you and qp10qp, I filed a bug here bug 8167 that I hope demonstrates exactly what it is I'd like to be able to do. I really don't think this is a particularly odd request, although it might come across as demanding (sorry if so); thousands and thousands of papers are published like this every year. --Chris Pickett 23:17, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

Question about footnotes

On article Yeti we are trying to simplifying footnotes. We've used the <ref name=blah /> as much as is possible at this point, but we still have many redundant citations. Is there any quick and easy way to have two references point to the same footnote but somehow indicate different page numbers? ---J.S (T/C) 21:15, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

One thing that would free up some space in the text is to add a separate "References" section with the full bibliographic information of your book references. Then cite the books just as, e.g. "Heuvelmans, 129" to avoid having to repeat the whole citation every time. Christopher Parham (talk) 17:38, 17 December 2006 (UTC)

"Notes" versus "References" section title

(Note: I copied this out of the most recent archive because I don't think it was actually directly responded to, and I also think this clarification should be made. John Broughton | Talk 20:50, 20 December 2006 (UTC))

Regarding the How to use section:

Place the <references/> tag in a "Notes" or "References" section near the end of the article—the list of notes will be generated here.

The Wikipedia:Guide_to_layout#Notes differentiates between "Notes" and "References" sections—something with which I am in agreement. I would like to, if possible, change the above line changed to read

Place the <references/> tag in a "Notes" section near the end of the article—the list of notes will be generated here.

to conform to this, in order to reduce confusion, and to provide a more definite guide. Comments? DocWatson42 05:38, 13 September 2006 (UTC)

I support this. This would mean that (a) Footnotes always go into a "Notes" section; (b) Harvard-style references go into a "References" section, and (c) embedded citations go into a "References" section. That's the way things are described, and the way examples are given, in MOST of Wikipedia guidance pages. It would be great to be totally consistent. John Broughton | Talk 20:50, 20 December 2006 (UTC)
Non-paper references are useless for a note/references separation, becasuse you have no reasn to call from multiple parts of a specific webpage. I tried to do that with Verbascum thapsus and will soon revert it. It's utterly silly. If ALL refernces are given in the footnotes, then tere is no reason to call it "footnotes". It makes it sund as if there are no references. As far as I'm concerned, this page (i.e. WP:FOOT should not even give a suggestion fo the section title. Some pages acctually ahve both notes and references as footnotes in different sections anyway! they do that by using templates for the notes proper. In no case should we enforce headers in a hard and fast way. There will ALWAYS be articles that use a complete;y diofferent system. At best we can recommend that "notes" be reserved for a section that contains no references at all (or harvard footnotes), and "references" for the section listing sources. I notice the page also makes no suggestion to when both fotnotes references and general ones are used (I usually use the semicolon). Circeus 21:06, 20 December 2006 (UTC)
I am against mixing notes and references in one section. If you do so I think that the mixed section should be called "Notes and references" so it does not make any confusion about what it contains. I think that the current <ref> code is not very practicably usable. Please see also #Mixing footnotes and references. --pabouk 07:48, 21 December 2006 (UTC)
I agree with the tenner of the above debate but would add one other request - that the text reads
Place the <references/> tag in a "Footnotes" section near the end of the article—the list of notes will be generated here.
The word "notes" to my way of thinking is just too "lightweight" for an encyclopedia, and given that we are trying to clarify these as separate from "references" then it is the better term. :: Kevinalewis : (Talk Page)/(Desk) 16:21, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

Full stop at the end of footnotes?

Hi guys,

is there any recommendation as to whether a full stop should be used after the footnote text? The manual page itself is inconsistent in this respect. —Gennaro Prota•Talk 09:44, 21 December 2006 (UTC)

I think this is similar to captions. Notes of two or more sentences need full stops. Notes of one sentence possibly should too, but phrases or "short citations" may or may not end in full stops as the editors prefer. If consistency within an article is important, then if one note has a full stop, they all should. Gimmetrow 13:43, 21 December 2006 (UTC)
My two cents worth: put a full stop wherever the normal rules of grammar would call for one. Thus if the footnote takes the form of a sentence, end it with a full stop; if, on the other hand, it's only a phrase, then no. Jimp 09:06, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

What have I done wrong?

I have added some notes and references to Haakon the Red, but it is messed up, and I have no clue as to how to fix it. I would be grateful for any help and explanation as to what has gone wrong.--Berig 10:14, 21 December 2006 (UTC)

See edit summary of --Francis Schonken 10:39, 21 December 2006 (UTC)
As for the Reference style (as in WP:CITE), there is something else that's wrong with it:

[...] If quoting from a different language source, an English translation should be given with the original-language quote beside it. (see: Wikipedia:Citing sources#When you add content)

--Francis Schonken 10:50, 21 December 2006 (UTC)
Thanks. I agree, but I have criticized before for providing the original text.--Berig 11:27, 21 December 2006 (UTC)
Anyway, although I was right in saying that Wikipedia's Cite.php implementation doesn't parse "å" in a tag name, I was wrong in saying this was due to XML in general: see XML#International use. It rather seems to be a parser limitation, which probably should better be mentioned in Wikipedia:Footnotes#Disadvantages and future improvements. --Francis Schonken 11:36, 21 December 2006 (UTC)

Footnotes previews during sections edit

While editing sections of large pages (and in Wikipedia all pages must be large ;-) this is not easy to preview resulting references/footnotes. Is this possible to add separate section to preview page to be able see results of cite web/cite news/ref and others citations ? --TAG 22:42, 30 December 2006 (UTC)

Known problem - see Wikipedia:Footnotes#Disadvantages and future improvements. (I know that's not much of a response; comments by others are certainly welcome.) John Broughton | Talk 22:53, 30 December 2006 (UTC)
When editing a section, you can add a <references/> tag at the end of the section, do a preview to see how the notes look, and then delete the <references/> tag. It's a bit inconvenient but it's better than nothing.
Now that we have a preview for the edit summary, we could also have a spot on the preview page that provides the output of a <references/> tag. I might imagine another box next to "Show preview" that said "Show preview with references". Gimmetrow 23:07, 30 December 2006 (UTC)
I might imagine option in Special:Preferences->Editing that will enable this functionality. --TAG 02:08, 31 December 2006 (UTC)
Yes, I thought of that too, but if I'm editing the entire page, I may not want the entire list of footnotes to show up twice. If I have the "footnotes preview" preference on, it may be inconvenient to turn it off for one article. Anyway, such a preview is just wishful thinking at the moment. Gimmetrow 03:01, 31 December 2006 (UTC)
The "Disadvantages" section includes Bug 2745: Have References text edit window on Edit pages. (SEWilco 03:58, 13 January 2007 (UTC))

Shilpa Shetty

I would also like to request your assistance if its not too much trouble? Please take a look at Shilpa_Shetty#Obscene_Pictures; why are the references for that section pointing to earlier references listed for other sections of the article? Quoting the same reference several times seems to work fine in the Romanov Vodka section, so why not elsewhere? I've tried verifying the syntax and it is correct, maybe it is an issue with the template itself? Thanks in advance. Ekantik talk 03:30, 4 January 2007 (UTC)

The refs were showing as [13], so I looked at reference #13 earlier in the article. It was a named ref, but was missing the "=". Should be fixed now. Gimmetrow 03:47, 4 January 2007 (UTC)
Thank you very much, much appreciated. Ekantik talk 04:48, 4 January 2007 (UTC)

Please! I want to footnote Categories

I think it would be useful if there was a way to use the <ref>''Example Source'' by Mr. Truth, 2007</ref> tag with categories. Something like [[Category:Example:<ref>''Solid Source'' by Ms. Honest, 2007</ref>]] This could reduce endless removal and adding of categories to articles by allowing people to cite the reason the article is included. On the category page the footnotes could appear next to each listing.

I hope I've put this idea in the right place. If it has been suggested before please let me know where I could have looked to find that out-- and if it's in the wrong place kindly direct me to the right place! --futurebird 01:34, 9 January 2007 (UTC)

I don't know if the matter has been considered before, but one alterative is to use hidden text (comments): <!--- Provide a source of information here ---> . Only those doing an edit (for example, someone planning to remove the category) would see it.
Whatever approach is taken should be consistent with automated approaches to removing categories following a CfD decision. We don't want hanging refs (or hidden text) that aren't clear to subsequent editors. So maybe the hidden text should say "This page belongs in category X per Source Y (details)". John Broughton | Talk 03:43, 9 January 2007 (UTC)
The inclusion of categories should be supported by material in the text of the article. The best thing to do is add the references to that material. If people repeatedly remove a valid category without discussion, providing a note in comment tags, as suggested above, might be a good idea. Christopher Parham (talk) 05:40, 9 January 2007 (UTC)

Simplified Version

There really does need to be a much simplier version of this info for newcomers like myself who simply want to see the most straightforward answer to "How do I insert references and footnotes into articles?" There's this note on the article about looking at the page's code to see an example, but with so many other facets of footnotes covered it's like finding a white cat in a snowstorm.

I would also recommend that the basic tool bar on edit pages have a button for it. RoyBatty42 20:24, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

Good point. There should definitely be one of the little buttons that inserts <ref></ref>. Christopher Parham (talk) 20:32, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

Error in footnote numbering

Can anyone explain what seems to be an error in the auto footnote numbering using <ref> blah </ref>. When I highlight the superscript 1 it says "Go to #_note-0 on this page" instead of note-1. Any reason? --mervyn 19:48, 16 January 2007 (UTC)

The text you are seeing exists to provide a html link between the ref mark and the footnote text. Since an editor should never need to use the html tag names directly, the links between ref marks and notes could have been rendered with almost any html text. In many programming languages, array indices begin numbering at zero, so this was probably just a convenient but arbitrary decision. Gimmetrow 20:49, 16 January 2007 (UTC)

Footnote turned blue

A footnote I have just added has inexplicably turned blue (in Firefox). Could this be because it contains Chinese characters? Please see footnote 13 in Gwoyeu Romatzyh‎. Ndsg | Talk 11:57, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

Actually, that's happening now any time you click on a footnote indicator in article text; in addition to being taken to the note in the "References" section, the relevant note is highlighted. The highlighting goes away if you click on the little indicator on the side to return to your former location in the text. I assumed it was just a new feature. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 12:10, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for clearing that up so promptly! Ndsg | Talk 12:24, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

After an initial moment of distaste, I now really like this feature. What I'd really like to see is a feature that colours the appropriate letter on a multiple reference string (I mean, like: abcdefghijklm Smith, Ch 7). I find that if I click the tag, I jump to the note but don't know which letter to click to take me back to where I was (so I tend to click the next note up, to hit the rough area). If the appropriate letter was coloured blue, why how useful that would be! qp10qp 04:14, 19 January 2007 (UTC)

footnotes that are not citations

What to do when a footnote is not a citation, but rather a point of clarification? It doesn't seem appropriate to put it in the "references" section. For an example, see the explanatory note regarding New Hampshire at Democratic Party (United States) presidential primaries, 2008. -Pete 19:04, 18 January 2007 (UTC)

The section may be re-titled "Notes" or "Notes and references" rather than "References" to accommodate explanatory notes. Alternately, explanatory notes may be placed in their own section by using a different technology such as {{ref}}/{{note}}. Gimmetrow 19:12, 18 January 2007 (UTC)
Use of ref/note is particularly attractive because it doesn't require the content of lengthy explanatory or digressionary notes to be stuck inline with the rest of the text. Christopher Parham (talk) 22:46, 18 January 2007 (UTC)

I think citations should go in a footnote section because they appear in the text in any order. Much better by far to have a reference section sorted by author as well as a footnote section of citations and notes. Granted if there are only half a dozen footnotes then it does not matter so much, but when there lots of citations then it does not make sense to place them under references. Also the same book may be cited many times with different page numbers, so it is better to place it in a reference section with ISBN details and then it can be sited as "Smith References page 99" (or whatever) rather than having to place all of the book's details in every citation. --Philip Baird Shearer 09:25, 19 January 2007 (UTC)

Footnotes with css

The footnotes page states, "Superscripts cause an increase in line spacing for the line they are on in most browsers. Because lines without superscripts are still displayed at the original line spacing, this makes the text unevenly spaced, and this looks bad. This is a general problem with superscripts. It may require CSS changes or even improvements in web browsers or OS font rendering systems (this should be filed as a bug in Bugzilla if it has not already). A fix has been published that eliminates the problem without reducing the size of the superscript. It requires the user to add CSS to their style sheet (monobook.css), and thus works only while logged in."
There is an easy way to prevent the uneven line spacing: <span style="vertical-align:middle;"><ref>...</ref></span>. It simply shows what appears to be subscripts but actually slightly less promoted than without the style correction. It appears to me that the wikiprocess that converts <ref>...</ref> to html could easily create the span tag and end-tag as well. That way readers no longer need to modify their personal settings and I assume it to look better for most people. I created an article that has these span-tags hardcoded: Nekkerspoel, have a look (and leave the tags in until automated ref convertion does the job, please).
In fact, if it were automated, one might not even need the separate span tags but instead put the style inside the subscript tag, thus instead of currently without correction:
<sup id="_ref-0" class="reference"><a href="#_note-0" title="">[1]</a></sup>
it would be with correction
<sup style="vertical-align:middle;" id="_ref-0" class="reference"><a href="#_note-0" title="">[1]</a></sup>
and even more simple, as the class "reference" is already provided, the style could be incorporated in the css stylesheet that holds the definition for sup.reference
sup.reference {...whatever is there now...;vertical-align:middle;}
I assume that is the way user preferences already control the rendering, be it now still by a too drastical correction. It appears just fine in IE6 but it is to be inspected in other browsers before applying it, of course.
SomeHuman 28 Jan2007 19:29 (UTC)

Citing another author's citing

There are often times when I must take a reputable author's word that another author(ity) said such and such. While I do try to track down the original source, it can be in some obscure academic journal, or out-of-print or expensive book. For example, Richard Diehl, a well-known and reputable professor, states in his book The Olmecs that Marcus Winter makes a statement that I would like to include in an article on Olmec culture outside the Olmec heartland. Diehl's footnote says that Winter's essay can be found in "CLARK, John E. (Editor) LOS OLMECAS EN MESOAMERICA", which is unavailable to me (I located it on sale for $250). Should I just cite the Winter work directly, or should I cite Diehl, or should I cite Diehl citing Winter? Help! Madman 05:43, 7 February 2007 (UTC)

Replied at Wikipedia talk:Citing sources#Citing another author's citing. Kirill Lokshin 06:21, 7 February 2007 (UTC)

Forcing the footnote order

Is it possible to force a particular order on the footnotes when using this system or do I need to use the older Footnote3 system? I'm writing an article on a series of comedy short subjects, each of which has an entry in the IMdB, and I want the reference list entries to appear in the order in which the individual shorts was released. That's not what I'm getting. I'd like to know if need to use the Footnote3 system or is there someway of getting the footnotes to appear in id order while using this system? Caerwine Caer’s whines 00:48, 9 February 2007 (UTC)

There is no way to do what you suggest using cite.php. Personally, I would say your system would be very confusing. In every setting, footnotes appear in an order that corresponds with their order in the text; changing a standard that has existed in publishing for hundreds of years is going to be unclear. Chronological order would be a good way to structure a list, either in the article or in a list of sources, but does not make sense using footnotes. Christopher Parham (talk) 01:12, 9 February 2007 (UTC)
What about Harvard referencing? That's been used quite a while and having a system that allowed another method such as sorting by id instead of first appearance would enable it to be done more simply than the Footnote3 scheme. Caerwine Caer’s whines 02:04, 9 February 2007 (UTC)
I'm not sure what you mean...the Harvard system doesn't use footnotes at all. It might make sense for what you want, since you could format the full citations at the end of the article in chronological rather than alphabetical order. To your last point, people are unlikely to code a system that puts footnotes in any other order than that of first appearance since that would be highly non-standard. Christopher Parham (talk) 02:30, 9 February 2007 (UTC)
Well, I beg to differ with you, Christopher Parham. In fact, this is just what I'm looking for. I've got this table in which there are numerous references to classes of Germanic strong verbs classes are numbered one to seven. Would it not be clearest to have footnote one corespond to class one, two to two, three to three, etc.? Of course it would. I would think that this overrides any question of what appears first in the table, especially considering that each one appears several times (I haven't counted but at a rough estimate it looks like a couple of dozen times each class). However, with no way of forcing the order this will not be possible. I s'pose I'll be using Footnote3. Jimp 04:58, 1 May 2007 (UTC) ... Had a look at that & I think I'll be doing something more inventive ... Jimp 09:08, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

Short footnotes with alphabetical bibliography

A model that is quite useful, and has long been used in book publications, is to combine footnotes using authors, short titles, and pages with an alphabetical bibliography or reference list giving complete publication details. Full details are generally provided in the notes for sources that are not cited frequently and do not appear in the bibliography. Johannes Kepler is an article using one version of that format. --SteveMcCluskey 06:44, 12 February 2007 (UTC)

That's the format recommended by the CMS; it's quite popular among WP:MILHIST's more recent FAs, actually. Kirill Lokshin 06:47, 12 February 2007 (UTC)

As long as
  1. the complete bibliographic info for all the sources is available and
  2. the link between a fact and its exact (e.g. as precise as possible, such as including page numbers) source is clear,
all citation styles are valid for wikipedia. Only mixed styles (e.g. both footnotes and embedded links) are really frowned upon. Circeus 00:14, 23 February 2007 (UTC)

Citing in the presence of parentheticals

The CMS says of footnotes, "The numbers should also be placed outside closing parentheses." What if one is citing a relatively complex setence? Should it be:

This is a cited claim (some parenthetical with an independent citation[4]),[5] but this is some other cited claim.[6]


This is a cited claim[5] (some parenthetical with an independent citation),[4] but this is some other cited claim.[6]

or something else? --Flex (talk|contribs) 19:37, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

The second version is correct; citation coverage shouldn't be interleaved. I would suggest, however, that any situation where this actually comes up should probably be looked at to see if a better sentence structure is possible. (Alternately, it's generally reasonable—when not dealing with extremely controversial topics—to pool all the citations for an entire sentence into a single footnote.) Kirill Lokshin 19:47, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Citing multiple sources

Should multiple sources be listed as separate footnotes like this,[7][8] or as one footnote like this.[9] What if one is reciting a source in conjunction with a new source?[7][10] --Flex (talk|contribs) 22:29, 22 February 2007 (UTC)

  1. ^ Takiff, Jonathan. "Ryan's hope – Mayfair preteen and talent show winner launches career with new albums". Retrieved 14 November 2006. 
  2. ^ "Star Search Junior Singer - Spensha Baker & Bianca Ryan". Retrieved 21 August 2006. 
  3. ^ "Editorial | A Star Is Trained". Retrieved 12 September 2006. 
  4. ^ a b y
  5. ^ a b x
  6. ^ a b z
  7. ^ a b a
  8. ^ b
  9. ^ a and b
  10. ^ c
All options are acceptable, it is up to your own preference. My personal recommendation would be to combine any references for a particular statement under one footnote, which is how printed matter seems typically to be formatted. Christopher Parham (talk) 22:41, 22 February 2007 (UTC)
I separate 2 full references, because it,s not possible to make them legible. However, I keep "Harvard"-style footnotes like "Andrew (2003), p23; Francis (1997), p96." combined. Circeus 00:07, 23 February 2007 (UTC)

Creating multiple references sections

The Comparison of revision control software page uses multiple <references /> tags, with the intention being that all of the references up to that point would be inserted, and consumed. As it is the earlier ref tags get repeated multiple times. Is there a way to get the behavior they are after, or should the page be edited to only have a single References/Notes section at the end? Speed8ump 17:39, 26 February 2007 (UTC)

There is no way to get the desired behavior with the <ref> system. A single references section at the end would be fine, however you could also employ other systems, such as {{ref label}} (see Template talk:Ref for documentation), that make it possible to create different blocks of notes, e.g. underneath a table. Christopher Parham (talk) 19:23, 26 February 2007 (UTC)

Spaces before refs

Michaelas10 referred me here, saying there's a consensus that ref tags should be placed after the point they're supporting, or after the sentence, without a space. I've looked through the archive, and I can't find any consensus for this. I found a brief discussion between three or so editors, one of whom said the Chicago Manual of Style supported no space, but it doesn't that I can find. All the books I have on my shelf that I've checked so far have a space before the footnote.

I would like to make it clear in the guideline that this is a style issue to be decided by the editors on the page. Does anyone have any objections to this? SlimVirgin (talk) 13:00, 4 March 2007 (UTC)

The Manual of Style states that all articles should have a constant presentation and formatting. In case were going to decide whether there needs to be a space or not, the output needs to apply to all articles without a decision of the editors. Michaelas10 (Talk) 13:17, 4 March 2007 (UTC)
The MoS is just a guideline and not a widely followed one, and it anyway says nothing about spaces before refs tags. It's simply not the case that all articles should have a "constant presentation and formatting." On the contrary, wide latitude is allowed, particularly when it comes to how to present citations. WP:CITE is the main style guide for citations, not the MoS. SlimVirgin (talk) 16:36, 4 March 2007 (UTC)
This page, however, is among many article falling under the scoop of guidance on style which needs to provide defined standards for all articles. If you doubt the original purpose of the MoS, there's really no point in continuing this argument. Michaelas10 (Talk) 16:59, 4 March 2007 (UTC)
Detached ref mark

Would you agree that a consistent style within a single article is worthwhile? The issue with the spaces is twofold. Articles appear at WP:PR and WP:FAC with inconsistent style (usually because the writers were concerned with content more than MoS), and it needs to be made consistent to *some* style for general appearance. The no-space guideline has a few benefits: it avoids confusing detached ref marks, and it's a lot simpler than asking for non-breaking spaces. The approach at Rudolf Vrba is consistent for almost 100 footnotes, which is fine with me. (But note: that article did not have those spaces when it was promoted to FA.) I don't want to see a guideline say "this is a guideline but you're welcome to ignore it." Guidelines are not policy, they don't need further disclaimers. Common sense should prevail, however; if the editors are Rudolf Vrba can maintain the consistency of that style, it's absurd to edit war over it. Gimmetrow 17:02, 4 March 2007 (UTC)

I agree that there needs to be consistency within articles, but not across the encyclopedia. Also, publishers leave a space between the previous letter or punctuation mark and the footnote number, so why don't we? It look very odd to add a number so close to a letter[1] as in this example. I don't want to stop anyone from doing that if they want to, but I'd like to make sure the guideline makes clear that it's not mandatory. As for Rudolf Vrba when it was given FA status, it was definitely written with the gap. Someone then changed some of the refs but not all, so the change was reverted to maintain consistency. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:12, 4 March 2007 (UTC)
Gimmetrow, your screenshot of the detached ref is an unusual example. I use spaces before refs all the time and I don't think I ever have that happen. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:14, 4 March 2007 (UTC)
This situation is a very common occurance. Would you like a screenshot from Rudolf Vrba? Also, when I look at this link (a diff so you can see it is the Vrba article at the moment the featured template was added), it looks to me like all the ref marks follow without space. Perhaps a couple aren't, but certainly the vast majority do not have the gap. Gimmetrow 21:14, 4 March 2007 (UTC)
The screenshot is not a common occurrence, but certainly a very real possibility. This is the reason why WP:MOSNUM recommends non-breaking spaces between numbers and unit (something that is not practically an obligation for FAC).Circeus 20:22, 4 March 2007 (UTC)

This is old. I think it was settled a few months after the system went live (I.e. Over a year ago, IIRC). I'm not even sure it was discussed here or elsewhere. It was probably burried behind the whole template vs. cite.php war. I believe it was an irregular debate before Cites.php went on, but the sudden spreading of footnotes made it necessary to determine an ideal style. The consensus has been in favor of this style for over a year now, and I don't think it's going to change anytime soon. If the editors at the article think they can maintain, good for them, but I suspectatsome point someone will make a switch and nobody will bother to fight over it.Circeus 20:07, 4 March 2007 (UTC)

It was settled that editors could choose either way, but at some point someone decided they shouldn't, which is why I'd like to revisit it. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:12, 4 March 2007 (UTC)
It's not the guideline that needs revisiting, it's someone's lack of common sense in applying it. As for your statement above that "publishers leave a space", I dispute that. During the last major discussion of this, circa August 2006, I checked a variety of academic publications, in French, Italian, and English, published in France, Italy, U.K., Ireland, Canada, and U.S. (that I recall), and basically with one exception, none had gaps before ref marks. Gimmetrow 21:14, 4 March 2007 (UTC)
Not one book on my shelves shows no gap between the last letter or punctuation mark and the number. Also, your thing about it causing it to wrap to the next line is an irrelevance. It sometimes does, but only rarely, so that's not the issue. SlimVirgin (talk) 11:03, 11 March 2007 (UTC)
I agree that the artifact of wrapping to the next line is not a major issue, but it's not rare. Essentially any article with 100 footnotes (as is typical with FACs), with spaces before refs, will have this artifact. (Even Rudolf Vrba has it, and that only has about 30 footnotes with spaces; the rest do not have spaces - I'm surprised you've left this inconsistency for a week.) I surveyed books on my shelf from a variety of subject matter. Only one publication had a note with a space, and it also had notes without spaces, so it could have easily been a proofreading oversight. Gimmetrow 14:22, 11 March 2007 (UTC)

The point really isn't about the merits of a space or not. The main issue here is consistency within an article. Months ago I even argued for this guideline to say that the refs should either have a space or not, as long as it was consistent within the article, and the response was that spaces shouldn't be allowed. Most writers here have expressed a desire for no spaces as the simplest rule to apply within an article for consistency. This has been in the guideline for months, and expresses the general current practice. Gimmetrow 14:22, 11 March 2007 (UTC)

Comment detached ref marks are really a very common occurence. Look at any article with spaces before ref marks, such as Rudolf Vrba cited above; then start slowly resizing your browser by dragging at the right edge of the window. At certain points, each reference mark will get detached and end up on the next line. Of course, this can be avoided by the simple expedient of having &nbsp; before the reference rather than a simple space, but we can't demand this of everyone; this will make things too complicated and further confuse people. 17:55, 11 March 2007 (UTC)
Gimmetrow, please stop reverting. Your change is designed to force everyone to do what you want. My suggestion is that we give people a choice so long as they're consistent within articles. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:41, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
That's not true, and you know it. Look through the archives. I proposed what you appear to want, and it was rejected by multiple editors. Gimmetrow 02:28, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
I've looked, but I can't see objections. Please stop trying to force people to do things only one way. What matters is consistency within articles, but not across the entire encyclopedia. SlimVirgin (talk) 02:31, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
Are you implying I disagree with that? The past consensus of editors was to say no spaces, and I accepted that. This is however a guideline, and if you really want to do something else in an article, and can maintain consistency in that article, that seems fine. Gimmetrow 02:37, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
It was this editor who added it [1] apparently without discussion. There was no consensus, Gimmetrow. SlimVirgin (talk) 02:40, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
There was discussion prior to that change. Please do not change this again without discussion now. Gimmetrow 02:42, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
Where is the discussion? SlimVirgin (talk) 02:45, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
In the archives. You found the diff with the edit, the discussion was before that, so check the archive for August 2006. Gimmetrow 02:53, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Does it matter how it got in the page? This kind of thing is a trivial, but nowadays routine objection at FAC, and it has been adopted as "good style" by most editors there. I don't see in which case not following this style suggestion is actually helpful. Titoxd(?!? - cool stuff) 02:47, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
In relation to FAC, the FAC reviewers (for the most part) fix headers and such MoS issues themselves, so it's not a burden on those submitting articles to FAC. Gimmetrow 02:51, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
It's been adapted because people think this page mandates it, but it was added without consensus. What benefit do you derive from continuing to revert an addition that is disputed, Gimmetrow, as a matter of interest? SlimVirgin (talk) 02:53, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
That's an odd question. What do you benefit from removing it? If I dispute something in a guideline, would I be justified in simply removing it months after it has been there, without at least some discussion? Gimmetrow 02:56, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
If it was added without agreement, yes, and I keep asking and asking you to link to the agreement, but you won't or can't; instead you just keep reverting. SlimVirgin (talk) 02:59, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
I told you exactly where to look for the discussion. Gimmetrow 03:04, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

Archived discussion: #citation location, #No space between period and ref, Citations and punctuation.

All those are very nearly a year old. This whole thing reminds me of Badlydrawnjeff's one-man fight against WP:OC because he just happened to hear abou it later than most.Circeus 02:55, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

And where, in the discussions that you linked to, is there agreement to recommend no space? I can't see any. SlimVirgin (talk) 02:58, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

Unnecessarily cramped

Are you honestly saying that you think this looks good? — X said: "This is incredibly silly."[2] And this? — The media reported that the gang had been shouting[3] and laughing[4] before the boy died. SlimVirgin (talk) 03:07, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

Yes. This how it is done Wikipedia-wide about 99% of the time, and when it isn't done this way people usually change it so that it is. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 22:28, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
Then do spaces, as long as you can be consistent in the article! Again, I proposed language to the effect use a space or not, as long as it's consistent in the article. The response at the time was no space. Why don't you propose language that says "be consistent" and see how it goes? Gimmetrow 03:15, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
You keep saying you proposed it and it was rejected, but you won't say where! Please link to where that happened. SlimVirgin (talk) 03:24, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
Look here, August 2006 archive. Gimmetrow 03:28, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
I've added what you suggested. SlimVirgin (talk) 03:30, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
I suggested it months ago, and it was rejected. That doesn't give you much of a mandate to add it now. Gimmetrow 03:44, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
No kidding. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 22:28, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

I don't support the addition of the wording about spaces for several reasons.

  1. No spaces has been established as consensus, on talk page and in practice for about a year, with no objections until this one.
  2. Aesthetically, yes, the spaces trouble me and in fact interfere with my reading (perhaps my brain is unusual). With spaces, I process the text as read stop space footnote read more stop space footnote read more—choppy and disruptive. Without spaces, I process the text as a whole lot of text with an attachment I don't have to process, followed by more text attached to a footnote I don't have to process, etc. The spaces interfere with my flow of reading, and I do think they are unsightly as well. Aesthetics is individual, but the spaces to me are disruptive and unsightly. (The spaces make sense when reading inline citations, which to me are also disruptive, as my brain stops to process the additional text.) Yes, I do think the spaces are ugly.
  3. On a more practical note, aesthetics aside, the hanging footnotes are the bigger problem. If we go back to spaces, then we need to say that a non-breaking hard space should be added between the text and the ref tags to avoid dangling footnotes, which would create a time-consuming editing mess. People don't add nbsp where MOS calls for them as it is; adding another requirement for nbsp isn't likely to be followed, makes for messy text in edit mode, and will be time consuming.

I suggest we leave this at the consensus that has been in place for almost a year—no spaces—for both aesthetic and practical reasons. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 13:50, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

I have only one question: where else are spaces placed between punctuation and footnotes? Journals? Books? I've never seen it (maybe I don't read enough :) I "nuke" these spaces every time I see them, not out of habit, ease or regard for consensus, but because they genuinely annoy me. Why would we alter this now? Fvasconcellos 15:09, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
SV has said a few times that every book on SV's shelf has this the way SV writes. Could SV list the bibliographic information for three books that use a space before ref numbers, or any style guide that mandates it? Gimmetrow 15:25, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
Harvard-style inlines in medical journals have spaces, but they aren't super-scripted footnotes. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 15:29, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
Bingo. I don't think a list of books is necessary—that's kind of a stretch, isn't it? The point is, WP is (or aims to be) an encyclopedia. As such, we should have our own house style; I believe no-spaces-before-footnotes is sufficiently established to remain "in force". I am, of course, open to arguments to the contrary. Fvasconcellos 15:37, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
I don't think it's a stretch in this case. The editor in question has been demanding citations from others, in boldface no less, so what's good for the goose... But I don't see what good it would do, since the odds of any other editor having the same books around is low. It's a moot issue anyway. The consensus practice is already very well established, so there really isn't any question about it any longer. That said, I'm with other editors here in that I read a lot, and I honestly can't recall ever seeing Blah blah blah note, as opposed to Blah blah blahnote. The formatting difference obviates the need for the space. The only rationale I can think of for putting a space there is, per Wikipedia:Accessibility], reliable evidence that currently-used screen readers are confused by this notation, which I very strongly doubt, and that there are unlikely to be plans to fix them to grok it. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 22:28, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
The issue at hand is between Blah blah blah, note as opposed to Blah blah blah.note Ironically, this all is remarkably parallel to the discussion about refs before punctuation, except SV was demanding books. I will attempt to track down any books SV can list; I'm wondering if this is topic or region specific? Gimmetrow 23:59, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

American/British style

This section says that British style is to have the footnote before the punctuation. I have never seen that. Does anyone have a source? SlimVirgin (talk) 02:52, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

When placed at the end of a clause or sentence (or, in general, at any punctuation) Wikipedia uses American convention for the placing of reference tags. (British convention is to place reference tags before closing punctuation</ref> i.e. the ref tag should be directly after the punctuation mark. The exception is a dash[5] — which should follow the ref tag. This is the format recommended by the Chicago Manual of Style. "Note reference numbers. The superior numerals used for note reference numbers in the text should follow any punctuation marks except the dash, which they precede. The numbers should also be placed outside closing parentheses." The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th ed. 1993, Clause 15.8, p. 494.)

I've removed this in the meantime, until someone produces a source. SlimVirgin (talk) 03:33, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

The prescription on where to place references tags was added by SlimVirgin on 05:38, 17 May 2006 without any agreed consensus to do so. See these sections for previous discussions on this subject.

--Philip Baird Shearer 14:38, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

I noticed SV also reverted an edit with regard to spacing of references (as [1][2][3], not [1] [2] [3]), despite the fact that this represents overwhelming majority practice on WP. As per WP:GUIDELINE, guidelines and policies exist to codify actual practice, not to push a prescritive view of what practice "should" be. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 17:46, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
See also: Wikipedia talk:Footnotes/archive5#Space after punctuation before reference mark, #Successive ref tags and spacing and #Spaces before refs --Philip Baird Shearer 18:12, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
And Wikipedia talk:Harvard referencing#Disagreement about placing references w.r.t. punctuation. It's really a moot point though; "Text.[1][2]" vastly outweighs, by orders of magnitude, all other styles such as "Text. [1] [2]", etc., etc. (period after, no space after text but spaces between refs, etc., etc.) This guideline must be updated to reflect that. That's simply how guidelines work. NB: I have no objection to it saying that "Text.[1] [2]" is permissible but by no means should it be said to be the norm. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 22:17, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

Please see these two article [2] and [3] published in the International Review of the Red Cross and note how the footnote references are placed. I suggest that the wording in this guideline is altered to reflect how references to footnotes are frequently placed in Wikipedia article that are similar to how the two articles are footnoted and not just the prohibition that SV insisted on despite the fact there has never been a consensus on this issue. --Philip Baird Shearer 15:23, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

In both articles, most numbered citations follow punctuation, but the articles are inconsistent in that regard. Also, the numbered citations there are not superscripted, so what are you suggesting? Gimmetrow 17:05, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

They are not inconsistent. The ones after the final punctuation refer to the whole paragraph. The ones which are specific to a phrase are within the punctuation. This is the same style as is used in many article on Wikipedia. As to what I am suggesting, please read the links to previous discussions on this issue for the details, but I do not think that this guideline should be prescriptive on this issue but instead use wording like I proposed as a compromise ten months ago see Revision as of 12:04, 14 June 2006. --Philip Baird Shearer 18:50, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

I have read the links. If you could provide a style guide which suggests this with superscripts (the example articles do not use superscripts), then some clarifying note about why Wikipedia does not do that would be appropriate. However the text got there, I think it would be pretty well agreed that the location of a superscript relative to punctuation should not encode information - how would editors be able to distinguish such a convention in articles from random/thoughtless footnote placement? Gimmetrow 19:34, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

How do you know if a reference after the full stop at the end of a paragraph refers to the last sentence or to the whole paragraph? I and others have given sources but they are criticized as being too old, not specific enough etc. But that is beside the point guidelines do not have to follow a style guide, they only have to report what Wikipedia editors do and many do not follow the prescriptions that SV has placed on this guideline. --Philip Baird Shearer 20:14, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

I suppose I don't know if a ref at the end of a paragraph refers to the last sentence or the whole paragraph, but I also don't *expect* to know this. If the guideline were to endorse the convention you're describing, I *still* wouldn't know - because I wouldn't be able to tell if it was placed there intentionally or unintentionally - and the latter is quite common.
Are you claiming that a large number of editors on WP are intentionally and consciously placing reference marks according to the convention you describe? Gimmetrow 23:01, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

Note the link above to (Revision as of 12:04, 14 June 2006). I am not suggesting endorsing it, I am merely suggesting that this guideline should not be prescriptive on this issue, (but perhaps descriptive). Yes I am, as is shown from reading the previous sections where this has been raised. Also in the section Wikipedia_talk:Footnotes/archive4#Period/Full Stop and reference location, there is mention that 12,000 articles have citations before punctuation, so if only 20% of those were intentional then that is still a lot of editors who prefer it this way [1]. --Philip Baird Shearer 23:28, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

If I were running into many editors preferring this, I would agree it should be mentioned in the guideline. But I'm just not seeing that. At FAC and elsewhere I have not encountered a single editor who complained when the ref marks were edited to be consistenly after the punctuation. So I would have to assume that at best a tiny percentage of editors might use your convention intentionally. Also, I need to emphasize that it's one thing to have [1], and quite another beast to have [1]. Gimmetrow 00:19, 8 April 2007 (UTC)

How so? --Philip Baird Shearer 08:14, 8 April 2007 (UTC)

One is superscripted, one isn't. The guideline here is about superscripted ref marks. Gimmetrow 15:34, 8 April 2007 (UTC)

I have no idea what you mean by "At FAC and elsewhere" what is the FAC? As I have said above there is clear dissent in all the sections I have listed above so how can you write "I have not encountered a single editor who complained..."? Further how do you explain the huge number of pages which place the footnote reference before the punctuation, Do you really think that all of them are a mistake? Also I think the distinction you are making is similar to the argument over how many angles there are on a pinhead when you write "Also, I need to emphasize that it's one thing to have [1], and quite another beast to have [1]." How does the difference in the two explain putting the reference to the footnote before or after the punctuation, "shirly" the meaning is the same? --Philip Baird Shearer 16:19, 8 April 2007 (UTC)

FAC is WP:FAC, featured article candidates. The various FAC reviewers have put ref marks after punctuation in hundreds if not thousands of articles on a wide variety of topics, without a single complaint from any editor about undoing some convention related to ref marks before punctuation. Ever. And the difference is this - if it's not superscripted it's an embedded citation or a form of Harvard reference, rather than a footnote. This is the guideline on footnotes. Harvard references go before punctuation, and there is no specific guidance on embedded citations. Gimmetrow 16:28, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
Actually, embedded citation are not used as a final referencing system (look at FAs), only as a temporary/rough one, hence why they aren,t really "covered by a guideline". Sort of like how there wasn't any generally applied agreement about how to work with footnotes before footnotes.php: there was no need for it because people avoided footnotes entirely whenever possible. Circeus 20:31, 8 April 2007 (UTC)

If we come to an agreement here, then there will be two options for those who find FACs interesting. If ever anyone gets around to suggesting a FAC on anything I have been involved in and the citations are before the punctuation, then you will hear of a complaint. I think editors should be free to choose whether footnote references go before or after the punctuation and that there should not be a prescription in this guideline on placing them before the punctuation mark. Not that I have anything against them coming afterwards, its just like national verities of spelling, either style should be tolerated. --Philip Baird Shearer 08:38, 9 April 2007 (UTC)

Let's say you can show that your convention is a known, established national style - which has still not been done - there would still be multiple ways for the guideline to handle it. For instance, it could encourage all footnotes after punctuation as now, but also note that footnotes at the end of a paragraph are ambiguous and to be used with caution. Gimmetrow 22:24, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
The problem is that the American style may be more common, but it destroys information the British style preserves. The guideline in the present form needs to be abolished IMHO; WP should never have a SOP that calls for obfuscation or destruction of information! If no consensus can be found, leave it to editors' discretion, but I'm all for supporting British style (or "European" style, as it is used this way in Germany, IIRC France, ... too) as SOP, because it provides more information. Certainly, the present guideline violates {{globalize}}. This user will use the American system only over his cold, dead account, as it will in a pinch give misleading or plain wrong referencing. Dysmorodrepanis 11:33, 28 May 2007 (UTC)
The ambiguity can be resolved by the following convention:
  • A citation extends to the previous citation or to beginning of the paragraph.
This convention defines the scope of each citation.
This convention implies that each paragraph has at least one citation. --Jtir 16:34, 28 May 2007 (UTC)

Rm. "Helping editors..." section.

This form of citation is now over a year old, and the practice of adding HTML comment blather explaining it should be deprecated. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 17:43, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

New "add-on" template for citing page numbers

In the case of a single source being cited many, many times in one article Cite.php only allows for two results: Either a whole boatload of redundant lines under <references />, or one huge citation line that has so many page numbers listed it is useless, and might even include almost every page in any entire book. Template:Rp solves this (until Cite.php itself is made smarter, anyway), by enabling easy addition of Harvard-style page-number citations, such that the results look like: Alleged fact.[4]:18-9 The template discourages use where this is not necessary, of course. If a reference is only cited 4 times in an article, {{Rp}} is not called for. NB: The point of this is also that {{Ref harv}} is incredibly tedious and error-prone under these specific circumstances (though otherwise useful in other circumstances). Try using {{Ref harv}} 50 times in the same article to cite different pages in the same source and you'll see what I mean. Even remembering what ID to use is pretty much impossible after a while, and soon becomes an out-of-order mess, because the ID numbers do not auto-reorganize if material is moved around, as it often is. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 21:31, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

PS: See Talk:Glossary of cue sports terms/Archive 3#The page number problem for the "origin story". — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 21:43, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

Cleanup "Disadvantages and future improvements" section

I would advocate simply copying that topic here in it entirety and making it a (perpetual and non-archived) talk page topic, then in its place on the project page putting a concise summary. The way it is now it is turning into a random-chatter gripes and requests and comments list, and not at all read like part of a guideline. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 21:43, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

Yes, I agree. Some of the points (those relating to refs in templates, and piped links, and maybe nested refs) in the list should be noted, since people run into them routinely. Perhaps make a "known issues" section listing these specific bugs, and archive the rest as suggested? Gimmetrow 23:46, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

Also need to include mention of updated referencing mechanism that adds the "small" and "column" options—{{reflist}}, {{reflist|2}}, etc. in place of plain old references/ SandyGeorgia (Talk) 23:49, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

Moving forward

I've put together a streamlined version of this page, eliminating the obsolete sections as discussed above. The draft is at Wikipedia:Footnotes/Temp. Note that this draft includes the text that had been there for seven months, since 13 August 2006. I don't personally have a problem with the style using gaps, if it used non-breaking spaces and editors could maintain it consistently, but neither is happening in articles. Given the stability of this page providing guidance not to use spaces, do any editors endorse the notion that the community has expressed consensus on this issue? Gimmetrow 17:11, 18 March 2007 (UTC)

I do. Spaces will introduce a large problem, and consensus has been established, here, and in practice at FAC and PR. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:16, 18 March 2007 (UTC)
Definitely. I certainly don't want to step on anyone's toes, but I think this is "beyond" consensus. Fvasconcellos 18:15, 18 March 2007 (UTC)

OK, the "helping" and "disadvantages" sections have been cut, and useful information merged with "style". Moving content from two sections here. Gimmetrow 20:58, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

Helping editors unfamiliar with this system of footnotes

Rather than simply adding


in the "References" or "Notes" section, consider adding the following:

<!--See for an explanation of how to generate footnotes using the <ref> and </ref> tags and the tag below -->

The same effect can be obtained (that is, including both the commentary text and the <references/> tag) by putting the following in the references section:


The footnote text may also be RESIZED by changing the listed percentage. Any option other than 100% currently resizes the text to a standard 92%. Resizing is not encouraged as a standard technique in all articles.


{{FootnotesSmall}} should not be used with a "subst:", instead the use of {{subst:Footnotes|100%}} (or for long lists of footnotes:{{subst:Footnotes|92%}}) is encouraged while it includes the help comment mentioned above.

(Maintenance aid: list of Wikipedia articles that used the Footnotes template "non-subst:")

Disadvantages and future improvements

  • In the old Footnote3 system, links and auto-numbered footnotes pulled from the same counter, which made it difficult to keep the endnotes consistent. With the new Cite.php module, a different issue presents itself: a casual reader might not notice or understand the difference between an external link and an auto-numbered footnote and may be confused, thinking that the numbers are not in order. For this reason, some editors argue that auto-numbered external links are better not used on the same page with auto-numbered footnotes, which can be avoided, e.g., by making text links for the external references, like this: Kate's Tool, instead of: Kate's Tool[4]. Other editors argue that both citation styles can be used in the same article, and that the disadvantage of using text links like Kate's Tool is that it does not clearly signal to the reader that they are being directed off Wikipedia.
  • Superscripts cause an increase in line spacing for the line they are on in most browsers. Because lines without superscripts are still displayed at the original line spacing, this makes the text unevenly spaced, and this looks bad. This is a general problem with superscripts. It may require CSS changes or even improvements in web browsers or OS font rendering systems (this should be filed as a bug in Bugzilla if it has not already). A fix has been published that eliminates the problem without reducing the size of the superscript. It requires the user to add CSS to their style sheet (monobook.css), and thus works only while logged in.
    • The new style copies the bracketed numbers from the old style, though they are now in superscript. Typical (print) references use plain superscripted numbers with no brackets. If the purpose of the brackets is to increase the clickable area, they could be removed and the same thing done with CSS; increase the horizontal padding around the numbers and vertical arrows instead. Discussion here: w:Wikipedia_talk:Manual_of_Style#Changes_to_Cite. and w:Wikipedia_talk:Footnote3#Superscripts_2.
  • Some people like the idea of having sidenotes instead of or in addition to footnotes, especially if this is an option one can turn on and off in Mediawiki preferences. (You can turn a table into a sidenote with style="float: right;".)
  • Some people like the idea of "hover" or "tooltip" notes, that appear only when "hovering" over the superscript with the mouse point. (See e.g. Template:Hnote.)
  • The reference content is in the article source code, but displayed in the References section. Some have proposed moving the reference content into the References section to fix these problems:
    • Content from one place rendering in a different place is confusing and unusual.
    • Some references require a lot of markup (citation templates, for instance), which interrupts the article source code, making navigation of the article content more difficult.
    • Editing the format of references requires finding them in the article instead of editing all of them at once in the References section. This is inconvenient and confusing.
    • Section editing is useless if you want to edit references. You cannot just edit the References section because that is not where the references actually are. You can not just edit the section that contains the reference since that is not where the rendered references are (so they will not show up in the preview). You have to edit and preview the entire article to see the changes.
    • Since they are not centralized, it is hard to know if a reference exists already, leading to duplicates which then have to be merged manually.
    • Perhaps a way of referring to undefined references by name is needed, allowing you to actually define the reference at the bottom next to the references section. This would be the simplest meeting of both worlds.
  • Only the first <ref> note with the same name attribute (e.g. <ref name="foo">) is used to determine the content of a footnote. Edits to an article can inadvertently put differing content in multiple named references (hence hiding all non-first note contents).
  • If there is more than one <references/> section, each repeats all the <ref> tags used in the article. For example, in this situation:
    • First group of ref tags
    • References section (renders the above set of tags)
    • Second group of ref tags
    • Second references section (renders all ref tags from both sections)
    This is problematic in these situations:
    • transcluding pages that have references
    • documenting the references system (note that this page can not actually demonstrate references in action, for this reason)
    • very large pages that have several different topics on them
    • One possible solution would be a <clearrefs/> tag, that clears the current collection of stored references. See bugzilla bug bugzilla:5810, and User:Stevage/bug5810 and User:Stevage/bug5810a for examples. Stevage 13:06, 9 May 2006 (UTC)
  • "Pipe trick" incompatibility, see Help:pipe trick#Cite.php footnotes and the pipe trick.
  • Ref tags do not work as expected within transcluded templates, see m:Cite.php#Current_issues.
  • Footnotes cost the reader time and effort: switching back and forth between footnotes and text can confuse or distract a reader. They may also find a combination of footnotes and Harvard referencing intimidating or unattractive.
  • The system does not allow rendering of two separated lists of bibliographical references and footnotes. See Wikipedia talk:Footnotes#Mixing footnotes and references and bugzilla:6271.
  • References cannot be nested: <ref name="Ran1912">J. Random, 1912. Cited in <ref name="Foo2005"/></ref> does not render correctly.

Wikiproject Inline templates proposed

Wikipedia:WikiProject Council/Proposals#Inline templates. I've been meaning to do this for a while. Of some marginal relevance here, as the results of Cite.php would need to remain consistent with the handling of the inline templates in the scope of the project. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 16:31, 19 March 2007 (UTC)

Multiple references from one source

See Battle of Blenheim as an example of this. In this article 5 books are cited ~70 times, most often with different page numbers. Would it not be possible to have an optional two-tiered grouping system for references, so that one book could be [1] and each page reference is a subset of that: [1b][1f]. I imagine this could be an optional system where <ref name=test>...</ref> is as normal but <ref name=test sub>...</ref> would indicate a citation from the same source.

This has probably been suggested before, and if done to death then sorry, but I do think this would be a worthwhile improvement. |→ Spaully°τ 16:28, 4 April 2007 (GMT)

Before or after External links?

Should the references section be placed before or after the External links section? What is the official, most recommended advice? There are several articles with References being the last section, and several articles where it is placed before the External links. ---Majestic- 10:06, 21 April 2007 (UTC)

Either is acceptable to the WP:MOS. In articles submitted to WP:FAC, it seems slightly more common to find External links last . Gimmetrow 10:15, 21 April 2007 (UTC)
I usually place it before, following the order on WP:GTL, even though GTL states it is OK to change their sequence. Somehow this feels more logical :) Fvasconcellos (t·c) 13:25, 21 April 2007 (UTC)
Strange. I've always assumed that references and notes may be in any order, but Links should always be last. See also is almost systematically placed before, as far as I remember. Circeus 14:12, 21 April 2007 (UTC)
With preference for Wikified content first, I put See also first, External links last, as in the recommendation. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 13:18, 11 May 2007 (UTC)

Cannot or should not?

"The new format cannot be mixed on a page with the old Footnotes3 format—you must pick one or the other." says the text. Of course they can, e.g. ASCII. Jimp 09:17, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

For the references themselves, at least. For various reasons. That needs to be cleared out.Circeus 14:38, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

Browser problems

There is a discontinuity between different broswers when using the <div class="references-small" style="-moz-column-count:2; column-count:2;"><references/></div> syntax. For example, when using Firefox, it is seen as this but when using MSN (the one I mainly use to browse Wiki), it comes out as this. Is there anyway to fix this?-- 05:53, 11 May 2007 (UTC)

Don't use MSN ;-) THe problem is that style="-moz-column-count:2; column-count:2;" is a "bonus" that only benefits those with browsers (i.e. the Mozilla suite) that can see it. Other browsers see the vanilla version. It's a feature, not a bug Circeus 16:27, 11 May 2007 (UTC)
But that's still not fair. :P I like how Wiki is rendered on MSN much better than on Firefox. Is there a way to add the feature to the MSN browser is what I'm asking then.-- 22:20, 11 May 2007 (UTC)

Combining adjacent footnotes - style rec?

During the FAC process for Islam (recently promoted), we struggled with the issue of how to combine adjacent footnotes, because the consensus among experienced editors seems to be that one should do so. However, we could not find an existing satisfactory example of how this can be done in an aesthetically pleasing matter, so we invented one by using bulleted lists. (See here: Islam#Notes). My question is do people think that we should make it an official "Style recommendation" to combine adjacent footnotes, and furthermore should we present this method as an example? - Merzbow 04:56, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

If anything is to be recommended I would want it to be separation by semicolon, which is pretty standard -- e.g. a brief search turns up this (scroll down to 4.3.1). I have not seen the format you used at Islam in any printed matter that I can recall, so I would not recommend it. Christopher Parham (talk) 05:03, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
Semicolons work well with simple cites like "Joe Smith (2003), p.14; Jack Smith (2001), p.2". However, when you start combining complex cite templates like cite web, cite news, etc. with simple cites or with each other, the cites become almost impossible to distinguish visually. Separating with dashes and bullets wasn't much better; only forcing them onto separate lines made things legible. - Merzbow 05:21, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

Bullet lists are used elsewhere, for instance note171 in Hezbollah. When a statement has multiple citations and the cite templates are used, bullet lists look presentable and can even make the edit text a bit more readable. If editors are not aware of this technique, then perhaps a mention is in order, but this technique has limited applicability and I am hesitant to *recommend* this. Bullet lists of short notes look very peculiar to me, and this covers most of the notes in Islam. For example, note30 could easily be listed with semicolons. Gimmetrow 14:33, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

Interesting; I'll have to experiment further. Anyways, what I want to propose for the style rec section is this:
  • To decrease clutter, it is recommended that immediately adjacent footnotes be merged into single footnotes. The standard method is to separate individual notes or citations inside a footnote with semicolons. For more complex footnotes, bulleted lists can used to break out information onto separate lines.
- Merzbow 18:04, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

where to place ref tags when using a blockquote

The guideline doesn't say where to place ref tags when using a blockquote. The natural place would seem to be at the end of the sentence introducing the blockquote, so that is what I did here. The previous version has the ref tags after the blockquote, which produces an isolated note link. --Jtir 16:41, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

They should definitely not be placed after the blockquote, as that causes a floating ref mark. At the end of the sentence introducing the blockquote works fine. I've also seen them placed at the end of the quoted content inside the blockquote. This is parallel to citing a regular quote (without blockquote), but the ref mark is formatted in blockquote-style. Gimmetrow 16:47, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

Footnotes are obsolete in the information age

Footnotes were designed for paper. For a wiki what works better is a popup with relevent information and clicking takes you directly to the source if it is online. Instead what we have, is you have to click once to get information about the reference, and then another click to jump to the source. I find it better when a reference is cited just using the external link syntax [], that way I can see what is being cited by hovering with the mouse and detail info is just a click away, rather then two clicks. Just my opinion. What's yours? Daniel.Cardenas 20:13, 3 June 2007 (UTC)

But they're not obsolete on Wikipedia. We're using the technology which we have. It is being worked on in several ways; I think that the m:WikiCite which is linked to in the project page is undergoing testing. Also, the links are there for verification not for your convenience. (SEWilco 21:08, 3 June 2007 (UTC))
How do I find the project page? Thanks, Daniel.Cardenas 22:37, 3 June 2007 (UTC)
Scroll up to the top of this page and find the tab which says "project page". (SEWilco 23:04, 3 June 2007 (UTC))
There are many reasons to use footnotes: (1) Abundance of paper references being used on Wikipedia; (2) Inability of our basic embedded external link technology to record important information about online sources, such as author, date accessed, title, etc.; (3) wider support for footnotes than popups in browers that our users have access to; etc. Christopher Parham (talk) 22:31, 3 June 2007 (UTC)
    • ^ abc
    • ^ abc
    • ^ def
    • ^ ghi
    • ^ Cite error: The named reference location was invoked but never defined (see the help page).