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Here at RationalWiki, we like sources.[1] Sources are invaluable for backing up your claims and showing that they are not bogus (as opposed to some others who can't). The more sources, the better. Showing your sources is relatively simple.


[edit] Making a reference

Let's use an example phrase: All polar bears are left-handed.

To source this, you would use the tag <ref>...</ref> with your source taking up the "...".

So to get this: All polar bears are left-handed,[2] your coding would look like this:

All polar bears are left handed,<ref>Because I said so</ref>

[edit] What to reference?

References are used to guide a reader to your source for a particularly juicy fact or opinion. They are very important if you want to be taken seriously. While some references will be to books or journals, most commonly they will be links to websites so people can easily click onto them rather than having to locate the resource.[3] When making references, the manual of style has some pointers but generally so long as they are consistent throughout the article and easy to understand, it's all good.

Sometimes "references" are actually random afterthoughts.[4] These are good for adding slight asides or clarifications that don't work in the main text above. However, these should really be minimised; a good indicator is that if your reference or clarification is longer than the sentence, or even the entire paragraph that you're referencing or clarifying, integrate it into the article text instead. Another good indicator is that if the article contains more than about 5 references but clearly most of them aren't normal external links or citations, it may be time for a bit of a rewrite.

[edit] Where to place them

The last step to references is showing them. First, create a new section[5] at the end of the page called "Footnotes", using the coding: "==Footnotes==". The = signs create a section header. Then insert the code <references /> on the next line to automatically create a list of everything coded with the "ref" tags. RationalWiki uses the term "footnotes" because not all of the "references" are actually references. The decision was made that "footnotes" is the best, most general and useful term for that section.

This can be done with one simple click using the "wiki markup" thing below the edit box; clicking the blue ==Footnotes== <references /> link will automatically insert the right code.

One final thing. If you click one of those little blue numbers, you'll automatically be taken to the correct footnote at the bottom. If you click then arrow to the left of the footnote, you'll automatically be taken back to where in the article it is referenced.

[edit] What to do with unsourced statements

If you think someone put in an untrue fact that is unsourced, or a fact that is true and unsourced but could be sourced, add the template[6] {{fact}}. This will automatically create the following notation: [citation needed]. It also puts it into the category of articles with unsourced statements. The original author should then "put up or shut up". Otherwise other diligent editors will then ignore the article as being a bunch of made-up lies hopefully look for ways to justify whatever the article claims.

[edit] Repeating references

Another final thing. If you used the same reference repeatedly in an article, you don't have to put the whole source in multiple times.[7][7][7][7] This is accomplished by giving the reference a name. The first citation has the format: <ref name="repeat"> ... </ref>. After that point to refer to the same reference again, use the following: <ref name="repeat"/>, with no other tags.

As explained at meta:

Multiple insertion of the same reference

References may be cited more than once using <ref name="id"/>. On the Edit page, this is placed at the first insertion point of citation: <ref name="Perry">Perry's Handbook, Sixth Edition, McGraw-Hill Co., 1984.</ref> This is placed at the second insertion point of citation: <ref name="Perry"/> This is placed at the third insertion point of citation:

<ref name="Perry"/> ..... and so forth for further insertion points

[edit] Grouped references

According to scientists, the Sun is pretty big. <ref>E. Miller, The Sun, (New York: Academic Press, 2005), 23-5.</ref>
In fact, it is very big. <ref group="elephant">Take their word for it. Don't look directly at the sun!</ref>

<references group="elephant"/>

The anonymous (ungrouped) group works as before, while the named group reference will show up as: [elephant 1] and [elephant 2] and the references will look like this:

  1. Test of the group argument
  2. Second test

[edit] Nested references

Nesting one reference within another may in some cases be desirable, especially if, for example, one has a group of explanatory notes, some of which require actual references. Unfortunately, the following code does not work:

<ref group="note" name="goats">Explanatory note<ref name="jerboas">Supporting citation</ref></ref>

Seriously, it just spews ugly red error text onto the bottom of the page. Don't do it. For whatever reason, the Cite extension does not properly recognize ref tags within ref tags, but there is a workaround which uses the #tag magic word. The following text shows its proper usage:

{{#tag:ref|Explanatory note<ref name="jerboas>Supporting citation</ref>|name=goats|group=note}}

The content of the note must come before the name/group parameters, and the name must precede the group if both are used.

[edit] Finally...

Finally, please put references after periods/full stops and commas. This is easy to remember by thinking about how weird it looks to have many references and then a full stop after it[4][2][7]. See?

[edit] See also

[edit] Footnotes

  1. "Sources" are authoritative statements by (usually) third parties which corroborate the point made. We also like sauces, but that's just mindless wordplay.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Because I said so
  3. see Help:Links
  4. 4.0 4.1 like this
  5. About sections
  6. A template is a page transcluded into the present article.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 You could, but it'd look bad.

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