Saving effort (not having to write something, or copy and paste)
Fixing mistakes and vandalism
Testing Footnotes are an excellent way to cite sources, but they are not the only way; some articles use inline links instead. Also, Cite.php footnotes are not the only way to make footnotes. Many articles use templates to create footnotes.
A footnote is a note placed at the bottom of a page of a document that comments on, and may cite a reference for, a part of the main text. The connection between the relevant text and its footnote is often indicated with a number or symbol which is used both after the text fragment and before the footnote.
Footnotes are sometimes useful for relevant text that would distract from the main point if embedded in the main text, yet are helpful in explaining a point in greater detail. Footnotes are also often used to cite references which are relevant to a text. Citation of sources is important in supporting verifiability.
How to use
The basic concept of the <ref> tag is that it inserts the text enclosed by the ref tags as a footnote in a designated section, which you indicate with the placeholder tag <references/>. The new format cannot be used interchangeably with the old format - you must pick one or the other.
If you forget to include <references/> at the end of the article, none of the footnotes will appear.
This page itself uses footnotes, such as the one at the end of this sentence. If you view the Wikicode of this page by clicking "Edit this page", you can see a working example of footnotes.
According to scientists, the Sun is pretty big.<ref>Miller, E: "The Sun.", page 23. Academic Press, 2005</ref> The Moon, however, is not so big.<ref>Smith, R: "Size of the Moon", ''Scientific American'', 46(78):46</ref> ==Notes== <references/>
Example with multiple uses of the same footnote
To give a footnote a unique identifier, use <ref name="name">. You can then refer to the same footnote again by using a ref tag with the same name. The text inside the second tag doesn't matter, because the text already exists in the first reference. You can either copy the whole footnote, or you can use a terminated empty ref tag that looks like this: <ref name="name"/>.
In the following example, the same source is cited three times.
This is an example of multiple references to the same footnote.<ref name="multiple">Remember that when you refer to the same footnote multiple times, the text from the first reference is used.</ref> Such references are particularly useful when citing sources, if different statements come from the same source.<ref name="multiple">This text is superfluous, and won't show up anywhere. We may as well just use an empty tag.</ref> A concise way to make multiple references is to use empty ref tags, which have a slash at the end.<ref name="multiple" /> ==Notes== <references/>
The text above gives the following result in the article (see also Notes section below):
- This is an example of multiple references to the same footnote.
- Such references are particularly useful when citing sources, when different statements come from the same source.
- A concise way to make multiple references is to use empty ref tags, which have a slash at the end.
- Internal links should still be used as normal, like this: [[HMCwiki]].
- Consider using a separate bibliography section if the same book reference is used in multiple footnotes. In this case, just the page number and book name can be given in each note.
Helping editors unfamiliar with this system of footnotes
Instead of simply adding
in the references section, it is possible to add the following:
<!--See [[Help:Footnotes]] for an explanation of how to generate footnotes using the <ref(erences/)> tags--> <references/>
The same effect can be obtained (that is, including both the commentary text and the <references/> tag) by putting the following in the references section:
Disadvantages and future improvements
- Because of the way links are numbered, some editors argue that inline external links cannot be used in combination with auto-numbered footnotes, but must be converted into footnotes too. Other editors argue that both citation styles can be used in the same article.
- Superscripts cause an increase in line spacing for the line they are on. Because lines without superscripts are still displayed at the original line spacing, this makes the text unevenly spaced, and this looks bad. This is a general problem with superscripts. It may require CSS changes or even improvements in web browsers or OS font rendering systems. (This should be filed as a bug in Bugzilla if it hasn't already.)
- Some people like the idea of having sidenotes instead of or in addition to footnotes, especially if this is an option one can turn on and off in Mediawiki preferences. (You can turn a table into a sidenote with style="float: right;".)
- Some people like the idea of "hover" or "tooltip" notes, that appear only when "hovering" over the superscript with the mouse point.
<ref>tag; name "multiple" defined multiple times with different content