Common problems and known workarounds are given in the section possible issues section below.

There are several other templates that are designed for use with shortened footnotes. They differ slightly in the way they format the author-date citation and how much of their functionality is automated. A full list of these related templates is below.

Note that the use (or even non-use) of these templates is an element of citation "style", and adding or removing them in articles with an established style should be consistent with that style. See WP:CITEVAR.

sfn generates an "author-date" style short-cite from the following parameters:

- <year> – required; four-digit year; may have a lowercase disambiguation letter
- |pp= – comma-separated list of individual pages and / or range(s) of pages referenced in the source

Typical usage is shown in the example below. The text and the footnote are connected by a bi-directional link -- clicking on the superscript takes the reader to the footnote, clicking on the footnote number takes them back to the superscript. The clicking on the short citation takes them to the full citation in the references section.

Template sfn is not placed inside <ref>...</ref> tags and generates the footnote internally. (To place sfn in a footnote, see putting a citation inside a footnote, below.)

The author and the year of publication are the only required parameters. Up to four authors can be given as parameters.

The possible issues section below describes workarounds for various common problems, such as large number of authors, no author name, multiple works in the same year, multiple authors with same last name and others.

The optional parameters |p=, |pp= and |loc= can be used to indicate the location in the source, such as page numbers. For single pages, use |p=; for multiple pages (such as ranges), use |pp=. Use of |p= for multiple pages or |pp= for single pages can cause cite errors. |loc= can be used to specify a location in the source in another way, such as section numbers or chapters. The parameters |page= and |pages= exist as aliases for |p= and |pp=, respectively.

If a specific link to the page or section is available, a URL can be added to the location or page number.

The above solution to add a letter suffix after the year element also works for multiple authors with the same last name. For example, both Richard Bushman and Claudia Lauper Bushman published books in 2006. To differentiate between the two books, the first one can be given the year "2006a" and the second one "2006b".

Some sources do not have a single author with a last name, such as a magazine article or a report from a government institution. There is no consensus (in Wikipedia or among citation styles) about how to format author–date citations for works that do not have a specific author. Several choices are:

Either the |date= or |year= of a citation template can be matched—the template logic can extract the year from a full date. If the date parameter is not a full date, then the extraction will fail. If the link does not seem to work, it also possible to set both |date= and |year= parameters. The template will display the date and use the year for the anchor. These two examples show a year being successfully extracted from full date.

The Citation Style Vancouver family of templates use parameter |harvid= to create an anchor for the Harvard citation templates. This must be set to a concatenation of the parameters passed to the Harvard citation template.

It is also possible to use <cite> to achieve the same effect, but this may not be compatible with HTML 5.

The templates assume that the last unnamed parameter is the year. Where there are multiple authors and no year, the template will form a correct link but will display the last author as if it were a year. To force the displayed text to show all authors as names, the following workaround may be used:

If an article is using this template, and nothing happens when you click on the highlighted wikilink from a Harvard style citation to a full citation at the bottom of the page, there are several possible solutions. If:

Templates that have broken wikilinks using these templates are added to the category .

There are several templates used to create short citations; they differ in the use and placement of parentheses, in the separator before the page or location, and in whether a terminal full stop (period) is present:

Some articles use this idiom [[#CITEREFid | link name ]]. See notes on implementation details below.

These templates use two elements: a wikilink in the body of the article, and an anchor in the reference section of the article. Clicking on the wikilink repositions the page at the anchor.

This covers the most common templates. Information about all of the templates is available at Wikipedia:Citation templates and reference anchors.

Use of the date parameter in place of the year parameter in citation templates is preferred.

A few articles create a custom ID using CITEREF, either in place of the Harvard citation template (e.g. [[#CITEREFSmith2006|(2006)]]) or as a value for |ref= in the citation template. A custom ID must follow these rules:

Note that the CITEREF prefix is necessary for the reference tooltips gadget (MediaWiki:Gadget-ReferenceTooltips.js) to detect that a link goes to a citation.

<ref name="FOOTNOTESmith200626">[[#CITEREFSmith2006|Smith (2006)]], p. 26</ref><ref name="FOOTNOTEJoyce1903[httpsarchiveorgdetailsaconcisehistory00joycgoogpagen226 213]" />

This template creates a short author–date citation in a footnote. It allows you to link inline citation using Harvard citations (a form of short citations using parenthetical references) to their corresponding full bibliographic citations.