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Help:How to Cite Sources

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Citing Sources
ATWiki Policy

There are several ways to cite sources on the ATWiki. Authors may choose to use MLA, APA, or another standard for citations.


Citation styles

There are a number of citation styles and systems used in different fields, all including the same information, with different punctuation use, and with the order of appearance varying for the author's name, publication date, title, and page numbers.

Keep Citations Consistent in an Article

Any style or system is acceptable on ATWiki so long as articles are internally consistent. You should follow the style already established in an article, if it has one; where there is disagreement, the style or system used by the first editor should be respected.

Cite only sources that you actually used

It is improper to copy a citation from an intermediate source without making clear that you saw only that intermediate source. For example, you might find some information on a Web page which says it comes from a certain book. Unless you look at the book yourself to check that the information is there, your reference is really the Web page, which is what you must cite. The credibility of your article rests on the credibility of the Web page, as well as the book, and your article must make that clear.

Provide full citations

All citation techniques require detailed full citations to be provided for each source used. Full citations must contain enough information for other editors to identify the specific published work you used.

Full citations for books typically include: the name of the author, the title of the book or article, the date of publication, and page numbers. The name of the publisher, city of publication, and ISBN are optional, although publisher is generally required for featured articles. For journal articles, include volume number, issue number (where the publication uses them) and page numbers. Citations for newspaper articles typically include the title of the article in quotes, the author's name, the name of the newspaper in italics, date of publication, page number(s), and the date you retrieved it if it is online.

Provide page numbers

When citing books and articles, provide page numbers where appropriate. Page numbers should be included whenever possible in a citation that accompanies a specific quotation from, or a paraphrase or reference to, a specific passage of a book or article. The edition of the book should be included in the reference section, or included in the footnote, because pagination can change between editions. Page numbers are especially important in case of lengthy unindexed books. Page numbers are not required when a citation accompanies a general description of a book or article, or when a book or article, as a whole, is being used to exemplify a particular point of view.

General references vs. inline citations

Articles can be supported with references in two ways:

  • general references – books or other sources that support a significant amount of the material in the article.
  • inline citations - which are mandated by the featured article criteria and (to a lesser extent) the good article criteria.

General references

General references should be manually typed at the bottom of a page under the "References" section.

Example of Wikitext:
*"[ The fight against food adulteration]." Royal Society of Chemistry. March 2005. Accessed on June 3, 2008.

Inline citations

Inline citations are references within the text that provide source information for specific statements. See also: When to Cite Sources

Inline citations are placed at the end of a sentence within the <ref> and </ref> tags.

Example of Wikitext:
Fredrick Accum was a German chemist who came to London in 1793.<ref>"[ The fight against food adulteration]." Royal Society of Chemistry. March 2005. Accessed on June 3, 2008.</ref>


What footnotes are used for

A footnote is a note placed in the proper end section of a page to comment on a part of the main text, or to provide a reference (a source) for it. The connection between the relevant text and its footnote is indicated by a number or symbol which appears both after the relevant text and before the footnote. Footnotes are often used to add information that might be helpful to later fact-checkers, such as a quotation that supports your edit.

Maintaining a "References" section in addition to "Notes"

When footnotes are used, some editors find it helpful to maintain a separate "References" section, in which the sources that were used are listed in alphabetical order. With articles that have a lot of footnotes, it can be hard to see which sources have been used, particularly when the footnotes contain explanatory text. A References section helps readers to see at a glance which references were used.

When a separate reference section is included, the citations are listed there in alphabetical order, with the footnotes in a separate section entitled "Notes" or "Footnotes." Short footnotes may be used, giving the author(s), year, and the page number, and perhaps the title, but without the full citation (see below).

Shortened notes

When a separate reference section is included and full citations are listed there in alphabetical order, with the footnotes in a separate section entitled "Notes" or "Footnotes", then shortened notes may be used, giving the author(s), publication year, or perhaps the title, and the page numbers, in place of the full detail.