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Wikipedia:Nesting footnotes

Wikipedia:Nesting footnotes

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This page explains how to "nest" footnotes (references or notes) in Wikipedia articles, i.e. how to create a footnote within a footnote. It reflects the way the MediaWiki software operates as at July 2015.

Overview


Footnotes: reminder

Footnotes are used most commonly to provide:

  • References to reliable sources, published in print or online
  • Notes containing supplementary content.

The Footnotes system shows two elements on the page:

  • A Footnote marker is displayed in the article's content as a bracketed, superscripted number, letter, or word. Examples shown respectively are: [1] [a] [Note 1]. This footnote label is linked to the full footnote.
  • A Footnote displays the full note or reference. The footnotes are displayed in an ordered list wherever the reference list markup (e.g. {{reflist}}, {{reflist|group=...}} or {{notelist}}) is placed. Each entry begins with the footnote label in plain text.

Nesting footnotes

Sometimes, an editor wishes to insert (nest) a footnote within a footnote. We will call the inserted footnote a "subnote". Cases may include:

Type of nesting Example
Reference within a note Lorem ipsum dolor[1] sit amet.[a] Sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.[3]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ This has been disputed by later scholars.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Book 1, 1923.
  2. ^ Nested reference, 2003.
  3. ^ Book 2, 1968.
Note within a note Lorem ipsum dolor[1] sit amet.[a] Sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.[3]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ This has been disputed by later scholars[i] on the grounds of unsound evidence.

Subnotes

  1. ^ For example, writing in 2003, Nested argued strongly for rejecting the source as a forgery.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Book 1, 1923.
  2. ^ Nested reference, 2003.
  3. ^ Book 2, 1968.
Note on a reference Lorem ipsum dolor[1] sit amet. Sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Book 1, 1923.[subnote 1]
  2. ^ Book 2, 1968.

Notes on references

  1. ^ The 1952 paperback edition of Book 1 does not contain the relevant passage.

Things to consider

  1. Is your subnote really necessary? Especially if the subnote is a short one, would it be more straightforward for the reader - as well as for you - to keep it as part of the main note, perhaps in brackets?
  2. If the subnote is a reference, should it appear within the main numbered list of references, or in a separate list?
  3. If the subnote appears in a separate list, where should that list be placed among the different lists of footnotes?
  4. Should the subnote marker be - numeric [1], a roman numeral [i], alphabetic [a], or user-defined [subnote 1]? Could it be confusing to use the same system in different footnote lists? Bear in mind also that roman numeral [i] is identical with alphabetic [i].

What does not work

You cannot nest a footnote within a footnote that uses <ref>...</ref> tags, even if the footnotes belong to different groups.

1. Using <ref>...</ref> tags within <ref>...</ref> tags

Neither the subnote nor the preceding part of the main footnote is displayed. An error message is displayed in red font. The following part of the main footnote (if any) appears in the article text, with an unwanted </ref> tag.

Case 1: Error message and missing text, using nested <ref>...</ref> tags
Lorem ipsum dolor[1] sit amet.Cite error: A <ref> tag is missing the closing </ref> (see the help page).

This is the latter part of the main footnote.</ref> Sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.[2]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Book 1, 1923.
  2. ^ Book 2, 1968.

2. Using a {{refn}} template within <ref>...</ref> tags

The subnote is not displayed. An error message is displayed in red font.

Case 2: Error message and missing text, using {{refn}} within <ref>...</ref> tags
Lorem ipsum dolor[1] sit amet.[A] Sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.[2]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ This has been disputed by later scholars. Subnote inserted here This is the latter part of the main footnote.

Cite error: A list-defined reference has no name (see the help page).

References[edit]

  1. ^ Book 1, 1923.
  2. ^ Book 2, 1968.

3. Using a {{efn}} template within <ref>...</ref> tags

The subnote is not displayed. An error message is displayed in red font.

Case 3: Error message and missing text, using {{efn}} within <ref>...</ref> tags
Lorem ipsum dolor[1] sit amet.[A] Sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.[2]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ This has been disputed by later scholars. Subnote inserted here This is the latter part of the main footnote.

Cite error: A list-defined reference has a conflicting group attribute "lower-alpha" (see the help page).

Subnotes[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Book 1, 1923.
  2. ^ Book 2, 1968.

4. List-defined references

Due to a long-standing bug (see phab:T22707), list-defined references do not work correctly when references are nested.

Case 4: Error message and missing reference using list-defined references
Lorem ipsum dolor[1] sit amet.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b This is Reference 1, with Reference 3 inside it.[3]
  2. ^ This is Reference 2, with Reference 4 inside it.[4]
  3. ^ Reference 3

Cite error: A list-defined reference has no name (see the help page).

Use of templates for nesting footnotes

To nest a footnote within another, one or both footnotes should be enclosed within the {{refn}} template or the {{efn}} template. You may also meet #tag:ref - this is just a less user-friendly equivalent of {{refn}}.

{{efn}} is equivalent to {{refn|group=lower-alpha}}, and the corresponding {{notelist}} is equivalent to {{reflist|group=lower-alpha}}. Likewise, {{efn-lr}} is equivalent to {{refn|group=lower-roman}}, and the corresponding {{notelist-lr}} is equivalent to {{reflist|group=lower-roman}}; similarly for the other variants.

The following are some examples of correct use of these templates for nesting footnotes. Other permutations are possible and will yield similar results.

Reference within note

The reference appears within the main list of numbered references, and the reference marker is a simple numeral.

Using {{refn}}[edit]

Markup Renders as
Mary<ref>Bloggs, 1981.</ref> had a little lamb.{{refn|group=lower-alpha|Mary's possessions are on record.<ref>Book, 1949.</ref>}}  Its fleece was white as snow.<ref>Scroggs, 1983.</ref>

====Notes====
{{reflist|group=lower-alpha}}

====References====
{{reflist}}

Mary[1] had a little lamb.[a] Its fleece was white as snow.[3]

Notes

  1. ^ Mary's possessions are on record.[2]

References

  1. ^ Bloggs, 1981.
  2. ^ Book, 1949.
  3. ^ Scroggs, 1983.

Using {{efn}}[edit]

Markup Renders as
Mary<ref>Bloggs, 1981.</ref> had a little lamb.{{efn|Mary's possessions are on record.<ref>Book, 1949.</ref> }} Its fleece was white as snow.<ref>Scroggs, 1983.</ref>

====Notes====
{{notelist}}

====References====
{{reflist}}

Mary[1] had a little lamb.[a] Its fleece was white as snow.[3]

Notes

  1. ^ Mary's possessions are on record.[2]

References

  1. ^ Bloggs, 1981.
  2. ^ Book, 1949.
  3. ^ Scroggs, 1983.

Subnote within note

(1) In same list[edit]

A subnote may appear in the same list as the footnote in which it is nested, although the subnote will appear above the main note referring to it.

Markup Renders as
Mary<ref>Bloggs, 1981.</ref> had a little lamb.{{refn|group=lower-alpha|Mary's possessions are on record.{{refn|group=lower-alpha|They have been itemised by Book<ref>Book, 1949.</ref> and others.}} }} Its fleece was white as snow.<ref>Scroggs, 1983.</ref>

====Notes====
{{reflist|group=lower-alpha}}

====References====
{{reflist}}

Mary[1] had a little lamb.[b] Its fleece was white as snow.[3]

Notes

  1. ^ They have been itemised by Book[2] and others.
  2. ^ Mary's possessions are on record.[a]

References

  1. ^ Bloggs, 1981.
  2. ^ Book, 1949.
  3. ^ Scroggs, 1983.

(2) In separate list: non-numeric marker[edit]

The subnote appears in a separate list, above or below the list in which the main note appears. The subnote is given a non-numeric marker - e.g. [b] or [iv].

If the main note is also indexed in the same way, to keep the lists separate the two sets of markers must be different, e.g. one set alphabetic with the other set roman numerals. The full range of possible markers can be seen here.

Using {{refn}}[edit]

Note the use of {{refn}} rather than <ref>...</ref> for both main note and subnote, so that the reference doubly nested within the subnote will display correctly.

Markup Renders as
Mary<ref>Bloggs, 1981.</ref> had a little lamb.{{refn|group=lower-alpha|Mary's possessions are on record.{{refn|group=lower-roman|They have been itemised by Book<ref>Book, 1949.</ref> and others.}} }} Its fleece was white as snow.<ref>Scroggs, 1983.</ref>

====Notes====
{{reflist|group=lower-alpha}}

''Subnotes''
{{reflist|group=lower-roman}}

====References====
{{reflist}}

Mary[1] had a little lamb.[a] Its fleece was white as snow.[3]

Notes

  1. ^ Mary's possessions are on record.[i]

Subnotes

  1. ^ They have been itemised by Book[2] and others.

References

  1. ^ Bloggs, 1981.
  2. ^ Book, 1949.
  3. ^ Scroggs, 1983.
Using {{efn}}[edit]

Note the use of {{efn}} rather than <ref>...</ref> for both main note and subnote, so that the reference doubly nested within the subnote will display correctly.

Markup Renders as
Mary<ref>Bloggs, 1981.</ref> had a little lamb.{{efn|Mary's possessions are on record.{{efn-lr|They have been itemised by Book<ref>Book, 1949.</ref> and others.}} }} Its fleece was white as snow.<ref>Scroggs, 1983.</ref>

====Notes====
{{notelist}}

''Subnotes''
{{notelist-lr}}

====References====
{{reflist}}

Mary[1] had a little lamb.[a] Its fleece was white as snow.[3]

Notes

  1. ^ Mary's possessions are on record.[i]

Subnotes

  1. ^ They have been itemised by Book[2] and others.

References

  1. ^ Bloggs, 1981.
  2. ^ Book, 1949.
  3. ^ Scroggs, 1983.

(3) In separate list: numeric marker with character string[edit]

The subnote appears in a separate list, above or below the list in which the main note appears. The subnote is given a numeral preceded by a character string, e.g. [Subnote 3], [n 3] or [nb 3].

If the main note is also indexed in the same way, to keep the lists separate the two character strings must be different. The main note and subnote both use {{refn}}.

Markup Renders as
Mary<ref>Bloggs, 1981.</ref> had a little lamb.{{refn|group=main note|Mary's possessions are on record.{{refn|group=subnote|They have been itemised by Book<ref>Book, 1949.</ref> and others.}} }} Its fleece was white as snow.<ref>Scroggs, 1983.</ref>

====Main notes====
{{reflist|group=main note}}

''Subnotes''
{{reflist|group=subnote}}

====References====
{{reflist}}

Mary[1] had a little lamb.[main note 1] Its fleece was white as snow.[3]

Main notes

  1. ^ Mary's possessions are on record.[subnote 1]

Subnotes

  1. ^ They have been itemised by Book[2] and others.

References

  1. ^ Bloggs, 1981.
  2. ^ Book, 1949.
  3. ^ Scroggs, 1983.

Subnote within reference

The subnote appears in a separate list, below the main References list. The subnote uses {{refn}} with a predefined or user-defined group. Be aware that because nesting fails within <ref></ref> tags, the reference bearing the subnote also has to use {{refn}} (without a group), not the more usual <ref></ref>.

(1) Non-numeric marker[edit]

Markup Renders as
Mary<ref>Bloggs, 1981.</ref> had a little lamb.{{refn|Book, 1949.{{refn|group=lower-alpha|The relevant chapter does not appear in the paperback edition of 1955.}} }} Its fleece was white as snow.<ref>Scroggs, 1983.</ref>

====References====
{{reflist}}

''Notes on the references''
{{reflist|group=lower-alpha}}

Mary[1] had a little lamb.[2] Its fleece was white as snow.[3]

References

  1. ^ Bloggs, 1981.
  2. ^ Book, 1949.[a]
  3. ^ Scroggs, 1983.

Notes on the references

  1. ^ The relevant chapter does not appear in the paperback edition of 1955.

(2) Numeric marker with character string[edit]

Markup Renders as
Mary<ref>Bloggs, 1981.</ref> had a little lamb.{{refn|Book, 1949.{{refn|group=Note|The relevant chapter does not appear in the paperback edition of 1955.}} }} Its fleece was white as snow.<ref>Scroggs, 1983.</ref>

====References====
{{reflist}}

''Notes on the references''
{{reflist|group=Note}}

Mary[1] had a little lamb.[2] Its fleece was white as snow.[3]

References

  1. ^ Bloggs, 1981.
  2. ^ Book, 1949.[Note 1]
  3. ^ Scroggs, 1983.

Notes on the references

  1. ^ The relevant chapter does not appear in the paperback edition of 1955.

See also



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