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CZ:Citation style

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A citation allows the reader to verify a statement made in the text, see the source of data, gain more detail about a claim, or to explore the original context of a quoted passage.

Generating the citation list

To insert a note or reference, the text is marked with a superscript hyperlink that is linked to a note, like this,[1]. This may direct the reader to a reliable source that validates the statement, such as a book, a scholarly journal, or a government agency website, or to a note that makes an explanatory comment or adds a tangential piece of information. The citation mark is usually placed after the section to which the citation is most relevant, or at the end of the paragraph, where more than one source of validation may be indicated.[2] It should be placed after any punctuation mark and there should be no space before it.

This minimizes the number of superscripted numbers appearing in the text. The markup code used to produce the note [1] is:

<ref name=Example1>A definitive direction to the source of the information is supplied here.</ref>

If a citation is used several times in the one article it is useful to give the citation a name. This is done the first time a source is used by using the markup <ref name=Dickens1859>.[3]

The named reference markup for the note [3] is easy to repeat here using its name.[3]

Listing the 'references' or 'notes'

The <references/> markup symbol produces the following result when placed just here:

  1. A definitive direction to the source of the information is supplied here.
  2. Source 1.
    • Source 2.
    • Source 3. (This is what we are doing in many Citizendium biology pages to reduce clutter).
  3. 3.0 3.1 Charles Dickens (1859) A Tale of Two Cities.

The <references/> markup produces a list of all notes used in the text. See how note [3] has two symbols which are superscripted links referring back to where [3] was used in the text. Note how the references are organized in numerical order automatically. Generally, the citation list is placed directly after the main article.[1]

Besides the <references/> template, Citizendium provides the {{Reflist}} and its variants described at CZ: List-defined references.

Preferred reference style

For scientific articles, the preferred style is very similar to the internet publication Public Library of Science Biology (PLoS Biology):

Journal articles

Benner SA et al. (1989) Modern metabolism as a palimpsest of the RNA world Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 86:7054-8 PMID 2476811

Note that et al. stands for the Latin et alia, meaning 'and others', and is used when there are more than two authors.

Electronic Journal Articles

Loker WM (1996) "Campesinos" and the crisis of modernization in Latin America Jour Pol Ecol 3. Available: Accessed 11 August 2006.


Richard Dawkins (2004) The Ancestor's Tale ISBN 0618005838; Audio (2005) ISBN 0752873210 Reviews here

Book Chapters

Hansen B (1991) New York City epidemics and history for the public. In: Harden VA, Risse GB, editors. AIDS and the historian Bethesda: National Institutes of Health pp. 21–8

Journal abbreviations

There are several different conventions for abbreviating Journal titles. The most common convention in scientific journals is that used by Index Medicus (and followed by PubMed). Abbreviations follow complex rules; for instance "-ogy" is always lost, so Biology becomes Biol); one exception to this is that where the title of a journal is a single word this is never abbreviated. Thus The Journal of Endocrinology is abbreviated as J Endocrinol, but Endocrinology is left unabbreviated.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) provides a service for looking up journal names and abbreviations, and a list of journal names.

Electronic publications and hyper-linked citation resources

The use of hyper-links to readily available publications available through the www is encouraged. Some resources, such as JSTOR, Project Muse, New York Times, and other electronic archives are readily available to researchers through their institutional affiliations. For the general public however, access is limited. JSTOR recommends that independent researchers (1) join a participating publisher or scholarly society, (2) visit a subscribing library, or (3) purchase the article from the publisher.[1]

When you hyper-link a citation resource, include a short notation such as online source.

When providing a doi (digital object identifier) for an article, format it as

[ Article title.]

This produces a direct link to the article's abstract, and links to full-text and downloadable PDF. For example:

Modern metabolism as a palimpsest of the RNA world.

Avoid "ibid."

If you have two or more footnotes in a row that cite the same source, avoid using "ibid." (the abbreviation for Latin ibidem, "in the same place") for the ones following the first one. If another author inserts text in the middle of the article and cites another source, then the subsequent "ibid."s will suddenly refer to the wrong source.

To prevent this confusing result, you can cite the previously-cited source using the author's surname plus either "op. cit." (abbreviation for "work cited") or a shortened title of the work. For example, if the first citation is

1. Robert Peters, Where the Bee Sucks: Workers, Drones and Queens of Contemporary American Poetry, p. 140.

then the second could be either

2. Peters, op. cit., p. 191.


2. Peters, Where the Bee Sucks, p. 191.

Practice at Citizendium

The principles behind the choice of any style of citations is to provide the reader with enough information to find the source for himself or herself, with efficient use of limited space and an aesthetically pleasing appearance on the page. Electronic links mean that, strictly, fewer details need be given to enable sources to be located efficiently - for a citation on PubMed everything is redundant except the PMID number. However citations do more than merely point to a source, they are also open acknowledgments of the origin of ideas and information. Listing sources clearly is an explicit and courteous recognition of the debt that authors have to other authors.


  1. Chicago Manual of Style, 14th ed., Part 1, see section 1.82, "Back Matter." This edition of the Chicago Manual of Style discusses the construction of a "book."

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