Writing:External links and references (state legislative profiles)

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This page is a content-and-style guide about how to write about the "external links" and "references" sections of an article about an incumbent state legislator or a candidate for state legislature.

It is sometimes hard to decide whether you should include a link to an outside source as an external link or as a reference footnote. Our recommendations for what is suitable for an external link versus a reference citation are below, although these are just guidelines. In particular, if you are including information that is based on information you found in one of the authoritative sources we suggest using as an external link, and it is information that a reader might find surprising or unusual, you might consider linking to that information source as a footnote at the end of that sentence rather than just using an external link to that information source.

External links

For articles about state legislators, we recommend that these sources be cited as external links, in the order they appear below. (When you are first starting an article about a state legislator/candidate, you will probably only have 2-3 of these links.)

  • The legislator/candidate's campaign website, if there is one.
  • The legislator/candidate's personal website, if there is one.
  • If the person is in office, his or her official government website subpage, if there is one.
  • The Template:LegisLinks template, using the parameters as appropriate.
    • A link to the Project Vote Smart summary page. Note that on PVS, there will often be multiple pages for a legislator. One of the pages will be the Summary page, others are biography and legislative efforts.
    • A link to the Follow the Money career profile page. Links to the legislator/candidate's current (if available) and previous history of campaign contributions may also be present in FEC and Open Secrets if the person has run for federal office. Some states have their own websites, such as Minnesota.
    • The legislator/candidate's social network pages if present (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube)
    • Collected appearances (C-SPAN, Charlie Rose, IMDb)
    • Collected news articles (New York Times, Washington Post and so forth). There may also be collected coverage in major local news media.
  • If there are one of more political almanac style websites in the state in question that provide biographical information on a subpage about this person, that link(s) would go here.
  • If the state political party with which this legislator/candidate is affiliated has a page with a biography, this should be included here.
  • The legislator/candidate's blog, if there is one.
  • An opposition or "watch" website, if there is one.

Note that the information on some of these websites may be redundant.

The "external links" section should also include a {{submit a leg link}} notification.

How to describe links

How to add an external link

The more information you provide in the description of your external link, the more helpful you are being to your reader, who is often trying to decide whether it is worth their time to click on the link you have provided. The more information you can give them about what is "behind the door" of their click, the more helpful you are being to the reader.

We recommend these descriptions of the links above:

{{submit a link}}
* [http://www.candidatecampaignwebsite.com Official campaign website] ''([[timed out]])''
* [http://www.candidatepersonalwebsite.com Sen. Doe's website] ''([[timed out]])''
* [http://www.candidateofficialwebsite.com John Doe on the Idaho State Senate website] ''([[timed out]])''
* Campaign contributions: [http://www.johndoecampaigncontributions2008.com 2008] ''([[timed out]])'', [http://www.johndoecampaigncontributions2006.com 2006] ''([[timed out]])''
* [http://www.politicalpartybiography.com Biography of John Doe provided by Political Party] ''([[timed out]])''
* [http://www.politicalalmanacsite.com Biography from ''Name of Website''] ''([[timed out]])''
* [http://www.johndoe.blogspot.com John Doe's blog]
* [http://www.watchingjohndoe.com Watch John Doe] ''([[timed out]])'', an opposition website.

That will look like this:

Suggest a link

The LegisLinks template will generate its own descriptions from the parameters provided.



Newspaper articles or similar sources that you're relying on for some of your information should be included as reference footnotes, following these citation conventions, which you can see in practice here.

Note that as soon as you add the first citation footnote to an article, you must add a "References" section that includes the {{reflist}} or {{reflist}} tag, or your citation won't show up for your reader as a clickable link.

In other words, be sure to type a "References" section heading, after your "External links" section:



...or this: