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A citation is a reference to a source, embedded in the page denoting an entry in a references section. Citation upholds intellectual honesty, attributing work or ideas to the correct sources, it allows the reader to determine independently whether the referenced material supports the author's argument in the claimed way and provides suggestions for further reading.[1]

General references are citations to a reliable source that supports content, but is not displayed inline. They may be listed alphabetically at the end of an article in the References section, as a supplement to inline citations.

Inline citation usage

To create a footnote, use the <ref>...</ref> syntax at the appropriate place in the article text, for example:

Justice is a human invention.<ref>Rawls, John. ''A Theory of Justice''. Harvard University Press, 1971, p. 1.</ref> It...

which will be displayed as something like:

Justice is a human invention.[1] It...

A citation marker is normally placed close to the material it supports and after adjacent punctuation. It will also be necessary to generate the list of footnotes, where the citation text is actually displayed. This is near the bottom of the article and is titled "References", for example:


See also Template:Reflist.

Typical sources

A typical inline citation or general reference includes enough information to assist readers in identifying the source. With lengthy sources, you should identify which part of a source is being cited. Ideally a citation would include a link or ID number to help readers locate the source. If there is a webpage the title part of the citation can be made a link to it.

Where a book is viewable on Google Books these can be linked to. However links to specific pages will only work when the book is available for preview, and availability can vary by country.

Ty to use the original source, but when that is not available use the one with the least changes or appears the most reliable. Don't cite a source unless you've seen it for yourself. For example where you want to cite John Smith, but you've only read Paul Jones who cites Smith, write it something like: John Smith, Name of Book I Haven't Seen, Cambridge University Press, 2009, p.1, cited in Paul Jones (ed.), Name of Encyclopedia I Have Seen, Oxford University Press, 2010, p.2.


Name of author(s), Title of book in italics, volume when appropriate, publisher, year of publication, chapter or page number(s) where appropriate, ISBN is optional.

For individually authored chapters in books typically include the title of the chapter, name of author, name of the book's editor, name of book and other details as above, chapter numbers and page numbers are optional. When you specify page numbers, it is helpful to specify the date and edition of the source because page numbers can change between editions. To cite an encyclopedia article, after the name of the encyclopedia indicate under what word to look for.

Journal or magazine articles

Name of the author(s), year and month of publication, title of the article within quotation marks, name of the journal/magazine in italics, volume number, issue number, and page or article numbers, ISSN or other identifier is optional.

Newspaper articles

Name of the newspaper in italics, date of publication, byline author's name, title of the article within quotation marks, city of publication if not included in name of newspaper, page number(s) are optional.


Name of the author(s), title of the article within quotation marks, name of the website, date of publication or the date the webpage was accessed, page number(s) (if applicable).

Sound recordings

Name of the composer(s)/songwriter(s)/script writer(s), name of the performer(s), title of the song or individual track in quotation marks, title of the album in italics (if applicable), name of the record label, year of release, medium (for example: LP, audio cassette, CD, MP3 file), if appropriate the time at which event or point of interest occurs.

Film, TV, or video recordings

Name of the director, name of the producer if relevant, names of major performers, the title of the episode in quotation marks, title of the film or series in italics, name of the studio, year of release, medium (for example: film, videocassette, DVD), if appropriate the time at which event or point of interest occurs.

Further reading


  1. ^ As opposed to the Harvard referencing style, also known as parenthetical referencing, where partial citations enclosed within round brackets are embedded in the text, either within or after a sentence, and accompanied by an an alphabetical list of the full citations in an end section.