Mastering the Visual Editor – Citations

Now that you have practised headings, bold and links, we can explore how to backup statements made on Wikipedia using citations from reliable published secondary sources.

Adding citations

Citations are the most important element of any Wikipedia page.

No statement should be on Wikipedia if it cannot be backed up from a high quality published secondary source. Aim to have a citation at the end of every sentence, or at least every paragraph.

Your golden rule for sources used is they should be published and they should have a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy.

Scholarly material is normally fine, broadsheet newspapers, university-level textbooks and books from respected publishing houses.

Tabloid and clickbait journalism tend to be less reliable and should be avoided. Blogsites likewise.

Adding citations using the Automatic Citation generator

Adding citations

  1. Click Edit to enter the Visual Editor.
  2. Create a new heading of My example citation. Hit return.
  3. Type an example sentence so we can practise adding a citation. e.g. I read an interesting article on the BBC news website about….
  4. Open a new window. Go to the BBC News website.
  5. Select a news story. Copy its url address from the address bar.
  6. Go back to your Wikipedia user page. Place your cursor at the end of your example sentence.
  7. Click on the next dropdown menu marked ‘Cite‘ and select the ‘Automatic’ menu option.
  8. Paste the url address from BBC News story into the box.
  9. Click ‘Generate’.
  10. A numbered citation will appear at the end of the sentence. You can click ‘Edit’ on the citation to add more details (such as author) if need be.


Creating a References section

  1. Hit return so that the cursor appears on the next line.
  2. Create a new heading of References.
  3. Click the blue ‘Save page’ box at the top right.
  4. Type an edit summary of “Added a citation” to the save box.
  5. Click the blue ‘Save page’ box once again to confirm the edits.

NB: You may be asked to enter a Captcha code to confirm any saved edits. This is just a precautionary measure for the first day or two of a new account.

Things to note

  1. When a page is saved, a reference is automatically added to the foot of the page.
  2. When a citation is added once you do not need to add it again as it will automatically appear in the Reuse menu option in the Cite menu. Hence use the Reuse option if you are citing from the same source multiple times in your article.
  3. The Automatic citation generator is the easiest way to add citations to the Wikipedia page. It accepts URLs, DOI codes, PMIDs and ISBN numbers.
  4. If you do not have these then use the Cite menu’s other menu option, the Manual menu, to add the details manually. Once added, you don’t need to add them again as the Reuse option will remember the source details.
The Reuse menu option


  1. Adding citations (video)
  2. Adding citations using a DOI or Pubmed ID (video).
  3. Read Wikipedia’s guide on Identifying Reliable Sources.

(By (originally posted to Flickr as "Citation needed") [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons)