Help:Referencing for beginners

References (or refs or simply reliable sources), on Wikipedia, are important to verify content and inform the reader of its source. Any editor can remove unsupported statements if they cannot be verified in a reliable source reference they can add to the article, and unsubstantiated articles may be deleted if no reliable sources coverage can be found. When adding content to an article, cite your sources to help readers verify facts or find more details. It is also useful to update or improve existing references.

This page shows you how to provide inline citations using ref tags, which result in superscripted footnote numbers, like this:[1] and numbered references (footnotes) being added to the reference section near the bottom of the article. There are other acceptable systems, including the use of inline parenthetical references and general references. As a general practice, the first major contributor gets to choose the referencing system for that article.

There are automated tools such as reFill and Reflinks that can help to add references.

Good references

A citation must verify the statement in the text. To verify the statement "Mike Brown climbed Mt. Everest", you cannot rely on a general reference about Mt. Everest or a reference on Mike Brown. You need to cite a source that directly supports the statement about his achievement. Wikipedia does not publish original research (e.g. your own unpublished, or self-published, essay or research).

An encyclopedia is, by its nature, a neutrally written summary of existing mainstream knowledge about a topic. However you must not copy and paste text you find anywhere, except for short quotations. Ideally all information should cite reliable sources, such as published books, mainstream press publications, and reliable websites such as and Blogs, social media, fan sites, and extreme minority texts are not usually acceptable, nor is another Wikipedia article or Wikipedia mirrors, user generated websites such as IMDb and Goodreads, sales sites such as Amazon, or internet forums.

When you are not sure whether a source is reliable, ask other editors on the reliable sources noticeboard. Before posting, check the list of perennial sources and search the archives on the noticeboard to see if the source you want to cite has already been discussed.

If the reference source is a lengthy book, paper, or article, you should give specific chapter, section, or page numbers if possible.