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FAIR: Defending The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 1997 The pairs of templates discussed in this guideline are:

Link in text area Link in footnote area
{{ref|<name>}} #{{note| - followed by comment or citation

Not all references are made using the footnote templates described on this page.

Also, not all footnotes are citations of information sources. They are also used for clarification or other notes about material. Common uses include explaining the meaning of a table header, or an exception regarding a specific entry in a table.


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 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.

Footnote usage

This method uses numbered links in text to connect to footnotes, and footnotes contain backlinks to the referring text.

  • To avoid an editor having to renumber footnotes due to insertion or deletion, this method uses automatically-generated numbers as much as possible ("ref" and "note" templates).
  • The connection between text and footnote uses text labels, so it is possible to identify the intended footnote even if numbering becomes incorrect.
    • The footnote connection is intended to be robust so content can be converted for use with future versions of supporting software.
  • To reduce disruption in the flow of text, the style of footnote references is a small number.

The automatically numbered "ref" templates introduce some changes to the writing of pages where it is used (note that the two "external links" examples in this paragraph are completely fictitious, the links don't lead anywhere):

  • External links should not be made through numbered links (e.g. [http://example.com] creates a "numbered" link that looks like this: [1]), instead a text fragment relevant to the link should be included ([http://example.com Example], which creates an external link that looks like this: Example).

This method has the following disadvantages:

  • When using the "ref" template there can only be one sequence of notes from the text - using the "ref num" template can circumvent that (although usually there's not much of a reason to do that).
  • Every footnote number in the text refers to a separate note at the bottom: if you want to reuse a number so that it refers to the same footnote at the bottom, the "ref label"/"note label" variant is used.
  • It is not possible to test new footnotes whilst previewing (though you can test the back link, which should really confirm both).

How to use

The basic use of the "ref" and "note" templates is just choosing a one word descriptive name for your reference and:

  • put {{ref|<name>}} where you want the footnote number to be
  • put a numbered list at the bottom of your document # {{note|<name>}}.

Use a separate note for each reference.

There are two examples below: one for this basic use of the "ref" and "note" templates, a second example explains how to build identical references, referring to the same footnote, using the "ref label" and "note label" templates for additional references to a "ref"/"note" footnote.


This is an example of a whole document in wiki format.{{ref|myref-25}}


 # {{note|myref-25}} and this is a note about the text from page 25
 of a book.  If known, give full reference including title, author, and ISBN.

the {{ref num|<name>|<fixed number>}} template (where the numbers of the text references are fixed and not automatically assigned) can be used instead of the {{ref|<name>}} template, but this is discouraged, while this might more easily provoke the numbers getting mixed up later in the process.

Please follow the FAIRWiki style guide format for endnotes.

Example with multiple references to the same footnote

If the same source has to be used several times, the additional references have to identify the footnote number and a label with which to identify the backlink (usually a letter "a" through "z").

This is an example of a whole document in wiki format.{{ref|myref-25}}
Another reference to the same source can be made.{{ref_label|myref-25|1|a}}
In this case, "1" is the number in the References section and "a" is the backlink label.


 # {{note|myref-25}}{{note_label|myref-25|1|a}} and this is a note about the text from page 25
 of a book.  If known, give full reference including title, author, and ISBN.

Style recommendations

  • Internal links should still be used as normal ([[like this]]).
  • External links should be avoided in normal text since they break easily
  • External links in external links sections are fine, but should not be needed for the article text to be complete and verifiable.
  • External links should always be titled ([http://example.com like this]) (unless they come after all endnotes, in which case they won't mess up the auto numbering).
  • where possible choose a name for each link which matches the author/page system used by academics use a single word and a hyphen to connect the page number (hunter-47)
  • with multiple books by the same author, make a difference b.g. hunterA-22, hunterA-46 & hunterB-35 for page 22 and 46 of hunter's first book and page 35 of her second book.

Helping editors unfamiliar with footnote templates

As the recommended footnote structure does not appear to be entirely intuitive to all editors, and as notes being placed in the wrong order can affect the order of all following notes, making notes appear as if they do not match up, this short HowTo description can be inserted at the top of the Notes section, marked off to hide it from the actual article:

<!-- How to add a footnote: 
   NOTE: Footnotes in this article use names, not numbers. Please see [[Wikipedia:Footnotes]] for details.
     1) Assign your footnote a unique name, for example TheSun_Dec9. 
     2) Add the macro {{ref|TheSun_Dec9}} to the body of the article, where you want the new footnote.
     3) Take note of the name of the footnote that immediately precedes yours in the article body. 
     4) Add #{{Note|TheSun_Dec9}} to the list, immediately below the footnote you noted in step 3.  No need to re-number anything!
     5) Multiple footnotes to the same reference: see [[Wikipedia:Footnotes]] for a how-to.
   NOTE: It is important to add footnotes in the right order in the list!

Instead of copy-pasting this text, it is possible to insert the following: {{subst:Footnote boilerplate}} (don't forget the "subst:", only then does the template tag gets replaced by the commentary!).

How does it work?

This section describes the technical implementation based upon characteristics of the current software.

The {{ref|<name>}} template uses tricks listed in m:Help:Variable to create an external wiki link back to a section in the same page (like [http://www.fairwiki.org/wiki/This_Page.html#footnote]). This external link is then automatically numbered by the normal numbering system for external links without link text. The link is surrounded in a sup tag which makes it look like a footnote and gives a reference that the footnote can link back to.



<span class="reference"><sup id="ref_Nibley" class="plainlinksneverexpand">

The {{note|<name>}} template is a bit simpler, and is basically a copy of the older {{fnb|<name>}} template. This just creates a section link back to the location of the footnote.

# {{note|Nibley}}


# <cite id="endnote_Nibley" style="font-style: normal;">[[#ref_only|'''^''']]</cite> 

Normal link and list numbering then produces automatic numbering of the footnotes.


  • Editors must make sure to keep the numbered list at the bottom of the page in the same order as the references in the article text, or else the numbers may not match up. (Though this is better than relying on manual numbering at both ends.)
  • Because of the way links are numbered, inline external links cannot be used in combination with auto-numbered footnotes. They must be converted into footnotes, too. (Or, they can come after the endnotes, in the "Further reading" section, since this won't mix up the automatic numbering).
  • 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.