Cite your sources

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Cite your sources. When external sources are consulted in the writing or verification of an article, provide a list of references (books and articles as well as web pages). If an article is about a person or organization, list its homepage. Not only is this intellectually honest, but it will help readers to find more information as well as to check the veracity of the Wikipedia content. Do it especially if the topic is controversial (like Genocide), or if the Wikipedia article is a condensed summary (this is usually the case, especially for technical or historical topics).

Use proper references. References and external links relevant to an article should be collected at the end of the article, with complete information and clearly separated from the rest of the material; see below for a proposed style. The most important thing is to enter the complete reference information, however; details like formatting can be dealt with later if necessary.

Wikipedia or Memory Alpha Content

When using any content from Wikipedia or Memory Alpha, be sure to cite the sources by using one of our pre-made templates. Just insert the following at the bottom of the page:

  • {{WikipediaContent}} - For content from Wikipedia.
  • {{MAContent}} - For content from Memory Alpha.

Proposed Citation Style

There is currently no consistent Wikipedia citation style, and citations are very poor at the moment. For a list of common citation styles, see e.g.: Citation Style Guides

Proposal: Wikipedia should use a style based on the APA guidelines (see above link)

In the text of an article, cite references parenthetically as "(Author-Last-Name, Year)". If necessary, add chapters ("chap. 3") or pages ("p. 15" or "pp. 12–23") after the year (+ comma), e.g. if the information is hard to find in a large book. When a reference is used as a noun, put the year in parentheses, e.g. "Milton (1653) says..." For two authors, use (Author1 & Author2, year); for more authors, use (Author1 et al., Year).

At the end of an article, after a ---- horizontal rule and under a ==References== heading, list the references as a bulleted (*) list in alphabetical order by author (and by year for identical authors), in one of the following example styles:


  • Lincoln, Abraham; Grant, U. S.; & Davis, Jefferson (1861). Resolving family differences peacefully (3rd ed.). Gettysburg: Printing Press. ISBN 0-12-345678-9.

For an edited book, put "(Ed.)" or "(Eds.)" in parentheses after the last author, before the date. The ISBN (which is wikified automatically) is optional. For a specific article or chapter in an edited book, use:

  • Pooh, W. T. & Robin, C. (1926). How to catch a heffalump. In A. A. Milne (Ed.), The Karma of Kanga, pp. 23–47. Hundred Acre Wood: Wol Press.

Wikipedia has no shortage of space, so you need not abbreviate names; a good guideline is to list them as they are written in the original article/book.

If Wikipedia has a page for the book, make the book title a link to it, but retain the full reference (e.g. for printing).

Journal articles

  • Brandybuck, M. (1955). Herb-lore of the Shire. J. Royal Institute of Chemistry 10 (2), 234–351.

Note that the numbers after the journal title indicate: volume (issue number, optional), page numbers. Do not capitalize every word of the article title, only the first word, proper names, and the first word after a colon/period/dash. For an article that is available online, make the article title a link to the online version.

Newspaper/magazine articles

  • Blair, Eric Arthur (Aug. 29, 1949). Looking forward to a bright tomorrow. New English Weekly, p. 57.

Or, for articles without a named author, put the title first:

  • On the importance of modesty (May 5, 1821). Pravda, pp. B1, C12.

Again, for online articles, make the article title a link to the URL; it may not be possible to supply a page number in this case.

Web sites (not from periodicals)

In this case, we list the URL separately so that the reference is still useful if the article is printed. The parenthesized date should be the date/year the document was created, or last edited; this should be omitted if it cannot be determined.


Example APA styles for many other document types can be found at the "Citation Style Guides" page above.

Page ranges should use an "n" dash (–, –), not a hyphen (-).

It is also useful to link author names to their Wikipedia page (if any), assuming that they haven't already been linked to in the article text, to give background information on sources and other works they may have written.

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