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Help:Footnotes

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This help page explains how to create and format references and the contents of the See also and External links sections. In relation to in-text citations and the corresponding references list, this article explains the <ref> ... </ref> and {{reflist}} format. This page also covers the <ref name=example> shortcut for adding multiple citations of the same URL.

Footnotes are defined as the See also, External links and References sections that add sources and notes to the content of an article. These sections should all be coded as heading level 2, and should always appear in the same order:

  1. See also
  2. External links
  3. References

The See also section should be used to link to internal resources on either Ballotpedia or Judgepedia. The External links section should be used to link to external resources, often those that do not appear in the References section. The References section will contain the references list, and items listed there may be external links, notes, or unlinked citations.

Both the See also and External links sections should be formatted in a bulleted list. That list may appear in one or multiple columns, depending on the number of items and the desired look of the article.

Creating a reference

In order to create a reference, you must use the <ref> and </ref> tags. Any information placed inside these tags will appear at the end of the article in the References section, as long as the {{reflist}} code has been produced. For information on producing the references list, see the relevant section of this page.

Placement of references

When placing references in the content of the article, citations should:

  • always be placed at the termination of a sentence or line of text, and never in the middle of a sentence
  • be placed after the punctuation which ends the line of a text (this is usually a period, but can be a colon, question mark, exclamation point, quotation mark, etc.)
  • follow the preceding text or punctuation mark without spaces; for instance: . <ref> is incorrect; .<ref> is correct.
  • be typed at the point in the main text where you want the superscript link to be inserted

The Ref name function

If you need to cite the same source multiple times in the same article, you can name the reference, thereby shortening the code needed to re-cite the source and creating a streamlined references list at the end of the article. To name a reference, do the following:

<ref name=NAME>REFERENCE</ref>

The name you choose should be easy to remember and reproduce. Reference names should not include spaces.

Following the first named reference, at all the other places in the article where you wish to cite that particular source again enter:

<ref name=NAME/>

Examples:

  • First time reference used: <ref name=Sacramento>[http://www.sacbee.com/111/story/806578.html ''Sacramento Bee'', "Low turnout expected in California's June primary," March 24, 2008]</ref>
  • All following references to the same source: <ref name=Sacramento/>

How does this look in practice?[1] Refer to the references section of the article to see the streamlined list of references to the Sacramento Bee.[1]

Formatting

Newspapers and blogs

Articles from online newspapers, blogs, or other dated websites in the External links or References sections should appear in the following format:

Name of Newspaper or Blog, "Title of article or blog post," Date published in the MONTH DAY, YEAR format

In linked reference format:

<ref>[URL Name of Newspaper or Blog, "Title of article or blog post," MONTH DAY, YEAR]</ref>

If there is no date listed on the article, write accessed and then the date on which you accessed the content.

Examples:

Websites

Listing references or links to websites can be more difficult than citing blogs, newspapers, or books, because it is harder to standardize the format due to the variety of places from which content may be pulled. Even with these challenges, we can strive to conform to the following format when linking to websites in the External links or References sections:

Name of Website, "Page or Resource name," Date accessed in the MONTH DAY, YEAR format

If you choose to link to the main page of a website, you may omit the page or resource name.

In linked reference format:

<ref>[URL Name of Website, "Page or Resource name," accessed MONTH DAY, YEAR]</ref>
<ref>[URL Name of Website, accessed DATE]</ref>

Examples:

Books

Books in the External links, See also or References sections should be listed in the following format:

Last, First Initial. (YEAR). Title. Location: Printing Press.

For multiple authors, place a comma between each author and use the ampersand (&) before the final author. The authors should be listed in alphabetical order.

In reference format:

<ref>Last, First Initial. (YEAR). ''Title''. Location: Printing Press.</ref>

Examples:

If the book is not freely available online, you may choose to link to the relevant record on WorldCat. Doing so will allow the reader to see easily if the book is available at a nearby library.

Interviews

You may sometimes have the opportunity to interview an elected official, and want to post that information to that individual's profile. This same formatting also applies if you have email or phone conversations with outside experts or local officials, secretaries, clerks, etc. In that case, you will want to reference the following information in your citation:

Ballotpedia staff OR Name, "Method of Interview with Interview Subject," Date in the Month DAY, YEAR format

In reference format:

<ref>''Ballotpedia staff OR [[Name]]'', "Method of Interview with Interview Subject," DATE.</ref>

Examples:

  • Edit view: <ref>''[[Ballotpedia:Amanda Qualls|Amanda Qualls]]'', "Email communication with Iowa Supreme Court Judge Terrence Smith," January 12, 2013</ref>
  • Read view: Amanda Qualls, "Email communication with Iowa Supreme Court Judge Terrence Smith," January 12, 2013

Unlinked footnotes

Referencing print sources

See also: the Help:Footnotes section on Books

Though most sources you will cite in an article will be from the internet and can be linked, there may be some information that you receive from a print source, such as a book or printed newspaper, that cannot be linked. For those citations, the following reference format can be used:

<ref>Casper, G. & Kurland, P. B. (1975). ''Landmark briefs and arguments of the Supreme Court of the United States, Constitutional law''. Arlington, VA: University Publications.</ref>

Go to the references section to see how that appears.[2]

Using references for notes

The text included between the <ref> and </ref> tags does not need to refer the reader to an outside source. For example, you can use the references to elaborate on a point in the text. To do so, you would do this:

<ref>You can use your footnote to elaborate on a point in the text. You could do this if the point you are making would be cumbersome in the text itself, but you still want to include the information in your article.</ref>

You can see this in practice in the references list at the end of the article.[3]

Producing the reference list

Following the content of the article, where you wish the list of references to appear, insert the {{reflist}} template under the References section.

If you do not insert this tag, none of the references you have included in your article will be visible to the article's readers. The References section should be the last section on a page, often preceding one or more horizontal navigational templates (HNTs). On a robust content article, the references section will come after the following two sections:

==See also==
==External links==

Two-column References

If you want to produce a two-column reference list, in the event that your reference list is very long, use the {{reflist|2}} template instead of the more common {{reflist}} template.

In order to produce a two-column see also or external links section, you can use the {{colbegin|2}} before the first bulleted item, and {{colend}} after the last list item.

Citation missing

If the information on a page needs further references, you can indicate that with the use of a template. The symbol (citation?) or [citation needed] on a page indicates that an editor believes that a statement on the page requires a citation. To produce this notation, use one of the following templates:

Templates that link here:

See also

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Sacramento Bee, "Low turnout expected in California's June primary," March 24, 2008
  2. Casper, G. & Kurland, P. B. (1975). Landmark briefs and arguments of the Supreme Court of the United States, Constitutional law. Arlington, VA: University Publications.
  3. You can use your footnote to elaborate on a point in the text. You could do this if the point you are making would be cumbersome in the text itself, but you still want to include the information in your article.