Help:Cite errors

The Wikipedia footnotes system has the ability to detect errors. This page documents the error messages and provides an understanding of the problem and solutions.

The messages will be formatted as , and are visible on the rendered page after hitting the "Publish changes" button.

These messages are dependent on the language setting in Special:Preferences— this list applies only to "en — English".

Some problems may not show a cite error message, while others may not be obvious.

When you cite the same source more than once on a page, use only straight quotation marks " " to enclose the reference name. Do not use curly quotation marks “ ”, which are treated as simply another character, not as quotation marks. An error message will appear if the original and repeat references use a mix of straight and curly quotation marks. The syntax to define a named reference is:

If <ref>...</ref> includes a URL with an =, and if the reference is inside a template, then the template will fail. Depending on the placement of the URL, the cite error message may not display, but the page will be included in the error category. Ensure that = are encoded as &#61;

It can also be caused by multiple footnotes that are defined to use the same name. Links will be generated for both, but only the first will show in the references list: For example:

If a footnote does not have a closing </ref>, it will "eat" the following text, causing it to not show. This normally shows a cite error, unless it is the last footnote on the page. Normally, this would then suppress the <references /> tag, generating an error, but the message for a missing <references /> tag is suppressed on non-article pages. refTools will catch this problem.

Several methods are available for solving this problem. Below they are listed in order of preference. Note that only one of these is required, not all of them.

<div style="display: none"><references /></div>

Cons: Hides the references, not informing the user that it is there; editors won't be able to check the references formatting.

Include the <references /> tag within the template itself using the group parameter. See Help talk:Cite errors/Testcases1 for an example.

Cons: Creates a separate references section that may not be obvious; does not allow reuse of the references within the body of the article.

refTools can be enabled via Preferences → Editing → Usability features. It includes an error checking tool for common problems.

Internal messages are generated by the Cite.php extension and shown as a MediaWiki message. See the parser hooks section of Special:Version for the installed version of Cite.php. These messages are in the MediaWiki namespace and can be modified only by admins.