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Help:When to Cite Sources

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Citing Sources
ATWiki Policy


The text–source relationship

The distance between material and its source is a matter of editorial judgment. The source of the material should always be clear. If you write a multi-sentence paragraph that draws on material from one source, the source need not be cited after every single sentence unless the material is particularly contentious. Editors should exercise caution when rearranging cited material to ensure that the text-source relationship isn't broken.

Citations MUST be included for

  • Quotations
  • Exceptional claims
  • Contentious statements about living people
  • Opinions of other people
  • Data, statistics, and scientific work


Quotations should always be indicated using double quotes ("") or by single quotes (‘’) if the quotation is already inside of double quotes. A citation should always be included when quoting published material. The citation should be placed directly after (or just before) the final quotation mark. If the speaker of the quotation is unclear, it is also recommended that the speaker of the quote be mentioned in the article content.

Example: Ghandi once said, "Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will."[1]

Exceptional Claims

Exceptional claims refer to:

  • Surprising or apparently important claims not covered by mainstream sources;
  • Reports of a statement by someone that seems out of character, embarrassing, controversial, or against an interest they had previously defended;
  • Claims that are contradicted by the prevailing view within the relevant community, or which would significantly alter mainstream assumptions, especially in science, medicine, history, politics, and biographies of living persons, and especially when proponents consider that there is a conspiracy to silence them.

Citations from highly-reliable sources are required for exceptional claims.

Statements about Living People

Main article: ATWiki:Biographies of Living People

Editors must take particular care adding biographical material about a living person to any ATWiki page, not just biographical pages. Such material requires a high degree of sensitivity; do not leave unsourced information that may damage the reputation of living persons or organizations in articles.

Opinions of other people

ATWiki is not a forum for expressing personal opinions, however, opinions of individuals who are qualified to make a statement are permitted. Such opinions must be cited.

Data, statistics, and scientific work

Data and statistics must be quoted from a reliable, if not original source. If information is quoted from a source that is not the originator, then the citation must state that the source is not the original but a re-print.

If an author wishes to publish an original, un-edited scientific work such as a paper, data table, etc., they may request that the page be locked to prevent alteration of the original work.

Uploading an image

Images must include source details and a copyright tag on the image description page. It is important that you list the author of the image if known (especially if different from the source), which is important both for copyright and for informational purposes. Some copyright licenses require that the original author receive credit for their work. If you download an image from the web, you should give the URL:

Source: Downloaded from

If you got the image from an offline source, you should specify:

Source: Scanned from public record #5253 on file with Anytown, Somestate public surveyor

Any image with a non-free copyright license must be accompanied by a non-free use rationale (also called a fair use" rationale) for each article in which the image is used.

Citations MAY be included for

  • General common knowledge
  • Subject-specific common knowledge
  • Plot of the subject of the article

General common knowledge

Citations are optional for information that is considered general common knowledge, i.e. the information is generally regarded as true. General common knowledge might include the capitals of countries, etc.

Example: New Delhi is the capital of India.

Subject-specific common knowledge

Subject-specific common knowledge is information that would be considered to be true by an overwhelming majority of experts and laypersons in a subject or field of study.

Example: Blood contains both red and white blood cells.

Plot of a book, film or artistic work

If the subject of the article is a book or film or other artistic work, it is unnecessary to cite a source in describing events or other details. It should be obvious to potential readers that the subject of the article is the source of the information. Where the subject of the article is a work which has been published or broadcast in a serial manner, citing the episode, issue or book can aid comprehension for readers not familiar with the whole of the serial work. It also aids verification where issues of interpretation occur.

Citation in Leads

Because the lead will usually repeat information also in the body, editors should balance the desire to avoid redundant citations in the lead with the desire to aid readers in locating sources. Leads are usually written at a greater level of generality than the body, and information in the lead section of non-controversial subjects is less likely to be challenged and less likely to require a source. There is not, however, an exception to citation requirements specific to leads. Complex, current, or controversial subjects may require many citations; others, few or none. Contentious material about living persons must be cited every time, regardless of the level of generality.

Challenging another user's edits

Adding sources for others

You can also add sources for material you did not write. Adding citations is an excellent way to contribute to ATWiki.

The right to challenge

Any editor has the right to challenge unsourced material by opening a discussion on the talk page or by tagging it. Material that should be removed without discussion includes contentious material about a living person, clear examples of original research, and anything that is ludicrous or damaging to the project.

Challenges should not be frivolous

Challenges should not be made frivolously or casually, and should never be made to be disruptive or to make a point. Editors making a challenge should have reason to believe the material is contentious, false, or otherwise inappropriate.

Responses must be forthcoming

Editors who wish to respond to the challenge should do so in a timely manner. If no response is forthcoming, the challenger may tag or remove the statement in question. Unless the material falls into the class that should be removed without discussion, the challenger should await a timely response prior to removing material.


  1. "Gandhi's Words." Free Cuba Foundation Website. n.d. Accessed on June 3, 2008.