Help:Reference section

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Reference Section


The reference section should provide evidence for the information given on the page. Without this evidence, information becomes useless. Please note that it is important that all references follow the guidelines below in order to keep all citations consistent throughout Wikispecies.

Please give multiple references as a bulleted list, by authors in alphabetical order. A useful template we use in the section is the {{a|Author Page Name|Author Short Name}} template. This will print authors' names in a different font from the rest of the text (Linnaeus) and create a link to the Wikispecies page giving information about the author. Names of journals or titles of books should be italicized.

Please make use of the following rules:

  • Follow the year with a dot. Example: 2015.
  • Don't add spaces between the author's initials. Example: Ferreyra, H.D.V.
  • Use small caps for the authors' names and link them to their respective page by employing the {{A}} template. Example: {{a|Hebe del Valle Ferreyra|Ferreyra, H.D.V.}} which will render as Ferreyra, H.D.V. but link to Hebe del Valle Ferreyra. For unlinked author names use the {{Aut}} template instead, e.g. {{aut|Ferreyra, H.D.V.}} which will render as Ferreyra, H.D.V.
  • Don't add space between volume and fascicle numbers. In other words do like this: 4057(1) but never like this: 4057 (1)
  • Use en dash (–) without spaces as separator for ranges such as page numbers and years of publication. This is ISO standard. Examples: 2016–2017, pp.54–59. Do not use hyphen (-) or the longer m-dash (—).
  • All authors should be listed. Don't use et al. The different author names should be separated by comma, not by other punctuation marks such as semicolon. Also note that there should not be a comma separating the (last) author name and the year of publication, since the author and year is already separated by the dot after the author's initials, e.g. "Ferreyra, H.D.V. 2015."
  • Link the journal name to its ISSN page. Example: ''[[ISSN 1175-5326|Zootaxa]]'' which renders as Zootaxa but links to the journal's ISSN 1175-5326 page.
    • ISSNs are used for several reasons: they are stable link targets and avoid a multiplication of redirect for various formats of a title (abbreviations, punctuation, diacritics, capitalization...), they also reduce the amount of required disambiguation where a journal shares a title with a taxon.
  • For ISBN's please use the {{ISBN}} template. Example: {{ISBN|978-0-684-15976-8}} which renders as ISBN 978-0-684-15976-8 and links to the book sources search page.
  • For links to BHL please use the {{BHL}} template. Example: {{BHL|page/34633434}} which renders as BHL with a direct link to the specific page at BHL. (The parameter to use in the template is the part directly after "" in the URL given in the left menu on the BHL page. If for example the link there is then add "page/34633434" as the template parameter.)
  • Likewise for DOI's please use the {{Doi}} template. Example: {{doi|10.11646/zootaxa.4057.1.6}} which renders as DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4057.1.6 and links to the online version of the journal article.

Example of a reference section:

== {{int:References}} ==
* {{a|María Soledad Moleón|Moleón, M.S.}}, {{a|John Mike Kinsella|Kinsella, J.M.}}, {{a|Pablo Gastón Moreno|Moreno, P.G.}}, {{a|Hebe Del Valle Ferreyra|Ferreyra, H.D.V.}}, {{a|Javier Pereira|Pereira, J.}}, {{a|Mónica Pía|Pía, M.}} & {{a|Pablo Martín Beldomenico|Beldomenico, P.M.}} 2015. New hosts and localities for helminths of carnivores in Argentina. ''[[ISSN 1175-5326|Zootaxa]]'' 4057(1): 106–114. {{doi|10.11646/zootaxa.4057.1.6}} [ Preview (PDF).]

Which will display as:


A reference is a good reference when:

  • It is the original description of the taxon or a subsequent taxonomic revision confirming or changing the status of the taxon.
  • It specifies all authors' names, the publications' DOI number and where available, a link to the abstract or to the full article.
  • The reference lists further references from which the author has drawn information.

If above points are lacking in your sources, the reference should be considered (and marked as) doubtful. Most biological/taxonomic journals published more than 90 years ago are now considered Public Domain and can be viewed on websites such as the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL). Some more recent journals are also available for web viewing. When this is the case, it is helpful to include a hyperlink to the appropriate web page, as above for Systema Naturae.

Reference Subsections


It is advisable to divide the various references by subsections according to their importance in the following order:

=== {{int:Primary references}} ===

To include all nomenclatural acts: original description, synonyms, comb. nov., type assignment etc.

=== {{int:Additional references}} ===

To include all the rest of the taxa mentions: type revisions, distribution, material, taxon checklists/reviews etc.

=== {{int:Links}} ===

Links to external sites.

Headings in a complete reference section:
==={{int:Primary references}}===
==={{int:Additional references}}===

Note the plural, i.e. "references" and "Links", never "reference" or "Link", even if the subsection only consists of a single citation.

Reference Templates


When a particular taxonomic work includes descriptions of numerous new taxa, or when it authoritatively revises a significant group of taxa, it is likely that it will be cited as a reference on numerous pages. In such a case, it is very useful to create a Reference Template for the published paper. The Wikispecies standard format, including the use of small caps and italics, of these references is:

  • Author, A. Year. Title of Paper. Name of Journal Volume x (part y): pages n1–n2, plates x1–x2. Internet link.

or for a book...

  • Author, A. Year. Title of Book. Name and location of publisher: n pages and x plates. Internet link.

The Reference Template is created on a page titled Template:Author, Year and can then be called up on a taxon page using the syntax: {{Author, Year}}
Please only use the author's surname when naming the reference template (no given names or initials), and always use comma and a space before the year of publication: not semicolon, space/comma without the other, or something like that. If a particular combination is already in use by an existing author template, say {{Smith, 2015}}, then simply add a trailing serial number in the form of a single lowercase letter, i.e. {{Smith, 2015a}}, then {{Smith, 2015b}}, {{Smith, 2015c}} and so forth.

In total, there are only five allowed Author, Year variations:

Myers, 1942
Myers, 1942a
Myers & Young, 1942
Myers, Young & Hill, 1942
Myers et al., 1942

Please note the use of spaces, and that author's initials, colon or semicolon are never used.

No other variations are allowed. Examples of NOT allowed formats:

G.S. Myers, 1942
Myers, G. & Young, N., 1942
Myers et al. 1942
Myers&Young 1942
Myers, G.S., 1942
Myers 1942
Myers; 1942

Also not allowed is to name reference templates after journals or books. For example, "Zt3690.1.1" (abbreviaton of Zootaxa) is not allowed.

Here is an example reference template, in this particular case named Myers, 1942

* {{a|George Sprague Myers|Myers, G.S.}} 1942. A new frog of the genus ''Micrixalus'' from Travancore. ''[[ISSN 0006-324X|Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington]]'' 55: 71–74. [ BHL] {{subst:reftemp}}

Which will display as:

The Substitution Code {{subst:reftemp}} seen last in the above example is a quick way of adding several useful common components (which will not all be shown when the reference is cited on a taxon page) to the end of any Reference Template. Clicking on the "Reference page" link at the end of the citation will take you to the original Reference Template page so that it can be modified. Any change made on the Reference Template will appear automatically whenever a taxon page that contains the citation is viewed.

Additional Information


It is also permissible to add a further section on the Reference Template page listing the taxonomic acts delivered by the reference or links to other relevant websites, ZooBank for example. So that these are not delivered to taxon pages when the Reference Template is called up, they must be set inside a <noinclude>...</noinclude> bracket set. Here is an (extreme) example.

Reference templates for external databases


There are several templates for external databases which are used/cited often. The complete list is in Category:External link templates. (Please note that the link text "Reference section" in the table below will be exchanged by the actual taxon name when used on a taxon page.)

Standard reference templates
Template code Result More information
{{AlgaeBase|genus|43546}} Template:AlgaeBase
{{ASW5|accessdate=2008-01-16}} Frost, Darrel R. (2007). Amphibian Species of the World: An Online Reference. Version 5.0. Electronic database accessible at [1]. Accessed on 2008-01-16. Template:ASW5
{{CoF|sp|4340||Nematobrycon palmeri}} Template:CoF
{{FishBase|258|''Esox lucius''}}
  • Esox lucius in FishBase,
    Froese, R. & Pauly, D. (eds.) 2024. FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication,, version 02/2024.



{{ITIS|180679|''Dugong dugon'' ({{aut|Müller}}, 1776)}}
{{IUCN|CR|57334|Telmatobius culeus}} IUCN: Telmatobius culeus  (Critically Endangered) Template:IUCN

{{NCBI|9606|''Homo sapiens''}} Template:NCBI
{{NRDB genus|genus=Naja}}

{{NRDB species|genus=Naja|species=naja}}
Naja at the New Reptile Database

Naja naja at the New Reptile Database
Template:NRDB genus

Template:NRDB species
{{WoRMS||154210}} Template:WoRMS
Name section Reference section Vernacular names section