How to cite Wikipedia

05.08.21 Citation examples Time to read: 6min

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Academic papers and essays require you to cite your sources of information, dates, book, page numbers and other information required depending on the citation style. In scholarly literature, you must mention the original source of your information any time you make reference to, quote, or paraphrase another person’s work or use their ideas. Learn how to cite Wikipedia.

It is a valuable source of context knowledge often used by students in their early research phases. However, it’s preferable to look for a more credible source when you write your paper. If you intend to use it, learn how to cite Wikipedia by ensuring you use the appropriate citation format based on the citation style required by the essay or paper you are writing. Here are some tips on how to cite Wikipedia in your academic papers.

How to Cite Wikipedia - FAQ

All you really need is the title of the article when quoting Wikipedia in text since Wikipedia is a public site and neither author nor dates are available. You will indicate the quote in parentheses, which is the citation, as the article you are referencing in quotations or the page title. Here’s how to cite Wikipedia in-text. The standard procedure is to use n.d., which implies there is no date. You may add your paragraph number at the close of your citation if you want to guide your reader to a particular section of the article in Wikipedia from which you derived the information.

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While Wikipedia may be a valuable source of information on just about any topic, for the most part, it is termed as an unreliable source for academic citations. This is because anyone worldwide can edit Wikipedia at any given time, hence the unreliability as a citable source. Many high schools, colleges, and universities specifically prohibit their students from utilising Wikipedia as a source of information for essays and research papers.

In short, Wikipedia is not a primary or secondary source of information but a tertiary one. Like in the case of the game broken-telephone, there’s a lot of information that either gets left out or misinterpreted in the process before it gets posted on Wikipedia. This is an indication of how distorted the information can be. Be sure you are clear on how to cite Wikipedia before doing so.

On the contrary, Wikipedia features more credible, advanced, and professional articles that are labelled Featured Articles and Good Articles. These particularly labelled articles undergo great scrutiny, edits, and confirmation before attaining the label. The Featured Articles are the ones that undergo a more extensive, rigorous confirmation and editing process. However, even then, the editor of these articles may not be as knowledgeable on certain topics. This means that there may be a possibility of incorrect information being cited.

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How to cite Wikipedia: Definition

Because Wikipedia is a tertiary source of information, key data like the official websites, published books, and scholarly journals where the information has been derived is unavailable. Other key information required for your citation is the date of the source article, which is rarely ever indicated on Wikipedia.

Is It Recommended to Cite Wikipedia?

For the most part, in scholarly work, you should avoid citing Wikipedia. If you must use it, learn how to cite Wikipedia properly.

Here’s how to use Wikipedia wisely. You can identify valuable sources of information from the bottommost part of a Wikipedia article, which often includes references, external links, and further reading. Look for trustworthy sources, including official websites, published books, and scholarly journals. Once in a while, you may want to refer to some general knowledge from Wikipedia rather than a specialist. It is advisable to verify whatever questionable information you generate from Wikipedia before you cite it. Check for alerts that may mean that the information is not accurate at the top of the post. In such cases, using the article even for context details alone is highly discouraged.

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How to Cite Wikipedia: Different Citation Styles

The three most widely used citation styles are Chicago, MLA, and APA.

How to Cite Wikipedia in APA Style

Just the first expression of the title requires capitalization in APA Style (seventh edition); no period exists after the URL. The citation found in the text contains the article’s title and the year. APA suggests that the Wikipedia article be linked to a particular archived version so that the audience can be confident that they have access to the very same version.

Here’s an example of how to cite Wikipedia in MLA style.

“Title Of The Article.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, date last modified, URL.

Works Cited
“Great Migration (African American).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 19 Mar. 2021,

In-text citation

How to Cite Wikipedia in Chicago Style

Wikipedia can be referred to in an informal manner within the text when using the Chicago style.

The Wikipedia article on osmosis states that…

However, Chicago offers recommendations for two different types of references if you want a more structured citation, that is, notes and bibliography or author date.

Author date

A parenthetical citation is shown in the text when using the author date style and the reference list contains complete information.

Here’s an example of how to cite Wikipedia in Chicago style using the author date referencing style.

  • Format

Wikipedia. Year. “Title of the article.” Date last edited. URL.

  • Reference List

Wikipedia. 2021. “Great Migration (African American).” Last edited March 19, 2021.

  • In-text citation

(Wikipedia 2021)

Notes & bibliography

You cite your sources in endnotes or footnotes when using this style. You can either use the full notes that contain all publishing information or use short notes with a bibliography.

Here’s an example of how to cite Wikipedia in Chicago style using the full notes referencing style.

  • Full note format
  1. “Title of the article,” Wikipedia, date last edited, URL.
  • Full note example
  1. “Great Migration (African American),” Wikipedia, last edited March 19, 2021,

Here’s an example of how to cite Wikipedia in Chicago style using the short notes as well as the

bibliography referencing style.

  • Short note format
  1. Wikipedia, “Shortened Title of The Article.”
  • Short note example
  1. Wikipedia, “Great Migration.”
  • Bibliography format

Wikipedia. “Title of The Article.” Last edited date. URL.

  • Bibliography example

Wikipedia, “Great Migration.” Last edited March 19, 2021.

How to Cite Wikipedia: Example

Here’s how to cite Wikipedia.

For instance: (The Great Migration,” n.d.)

The n.d. indicates ‘no date’.

Suppose you’d like to guide your reader to a particular section of the article in Wikipedia that you used as your source. In that case, at the close of your citation, you may include the paragraph number.

For instance: (The Great Migration,” n.d., para. 6)

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In a Nutshell

  • Do not use Wikipedia as a referenced source of information for citations on your scholarly papers.
  • When using Wikipedia, use it wisely. Focus more on the references at the bottom of the article.
  • Learn how to cite Wikipedia in your scholarly literature.
  • Each citation style has a different format that should be followed. That is how to cite wikipedia