How to Reference Sources on wikiHow

Four Methods:Basic In-Line (In-text) CitationsAdvanced: Providing Multiple References to the Same SourceAdvanced: Alternative Label Link MethodAdvanced: Referencing Books or Offline Materials

Citing outside sources is a great way to let readers know that the steps in a wikiHow article reflect the best way to perform a task. The most efficient way to provide these references is to use in-line (in-text) citations. This article will show you how to properly format citations so you'll be able to automatically generate numbered links to your sources in Sources and Citations.

Method 1
Basic In-Line (In-text) Citations

  1. Image titled Reference Sources on wikiHow Step 1
    Find appropriate source materials for your article. Ideally, these should be original articles rather than summaries of information from many sources, such as Wikipedia. The information should be produced by reputable organizations or individual authors.
  2. Image titled Reference Sources on wikiHow Step 2
    Add a citation. To do this, open your article for editing, and place your cursor after the first piece of information that needs a citation or reference. Type in the reference markup and URL as follows:
    • <ref></ref>
  3. Image titled Reference Sources on wikiHow Step 3
    Move to the next fact in the article you plan to reference. Repeat the citation process as needed until you finish adding all the references you plan to add.
  4. Image titled Reference Sources on wikiHow Step 4
    Complete the citation process. How you do this varies depending upon whether you are using the guided editor or the advanced editor.
    • Guided Editor: Preview and/or save your page as normal. The citations will automatically be linked and numbered appropriately under Sources and Citations.
    • Advanced Editor: Type "{{reflist}}" under the "Sources and Citations" section. This template automatically generates the code to produce the numbered citation list.
  5. Image titled Reference Sources on wikiHow Step 5
    Preview your page. Look for the following:
    • Sequentially numbered superscript links in the text of your page corresponding to the places where you put your links. Here is an example.[1]
  6. Image titled Reference Sources on wikiHow Step 6
    Save your page and test your links. If everything is correct, you've now made significant progress in improving the quality and reliability of the information on wikiHow.

Method 2
Advanced: Providing Multiple References to the Same Source

  1. Image titled Reference Sources on wikiHow Step 7
    In some articles, you may find that you use the same source multiple times. Follow these steps to make it clear that the same source has been used repeatedly in an article.
    • Beware that if you use this method and someone later removes the first mention of the reference, the other links will become errors. If you want to avoid this scenario, you can just use the basic in-line (in-text) citation format repeatedly, instead of using the ref name tag.
  2. Image titled Reference Sources on wikiHow Step 8
    Name the reference the first time that you use it in the article. Give it a short, simple name within quotation marks, as follows (the author's name or the site name are both a good choices):
    • <ref name="author"></ref>
  3. Image titled Reference Sources on wikiHow Step 9
    Continue editing the article. Add new references in the same fashion as needed. If citing a previously used and named source, you can just type in the following code instead of writing out the URL again:
    • <ref name="author" />
  4. Image titled Reference Sources on wikiHow Step 10
    Complete the citation process as before.

Method 3
Advanced: Alternative Label Link Method

  1. Image titled Reference Sources on wikiHow Step 11
    Note that the simple URL link method described above in the "Basic" section is preferred. This simple method minimizes the text in the edit page, so it will not confuse future editors and reduces the odds of editing mistakes. That said, in some cases a label link can provide extra information about the source that is helpful to a reader.
  2. Image titled Reference Sources on wikiHow Step 12
    Place the label link reference by entering:
    • <ref>[ The Label For Your Reference]</ref>

Method 4
Advanced: Referencing Books or Offline Materials

  1. Image titled Reference Sources on wikiHow Step 13
    This reference format can also be used for materials not found online. To link to books or other reference materials, just follow these steps.
  2. Image titled Reference Sources on wikiHow Step 14
    Type the information needed to identify the work in between the open and close ref tags. This includes author's last name, first initial, year of publication (in parentheses), the title of the work, chapter titles, page numbers, and other information needed to find the reference material.
    • If the source is a book, you can help readers to search for the book online by including its ISBN (International Standard Book Number) in the reference as shown below. This will automatically generate a link in Sources and Citations that enables readers to search for places where they can acquire the book.


  • For the sake of simplicity, it is often best just to use the URL only as the reference, rather than including a label. The URL will tell the reader exactly where the information came from. In addition, it takes up less space on the editing page and will minimize confusion for editors.
  • The citation format described here is primarily intended to be used when citing factual information to support the content on wikiHow and demonstrate that an article is accurate. Do not use this type of citation for links to additional information or other pages that do not directly support the information preceding the numbered reference.
  • When using either the guided or advanced editor, you can still add links to more general reference materials; however, it is encouraged to use in-line (in-text) citations instead of general references whenever possible.


  • Always double check to make sure that you have closed each reference by ending it with </ref>. Failing to do this will cause serious formatting errors in the page when you save or preview it.

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Importing Content to wikiHow