How to Cite Wikipedia: Basic Principles With Examples

Higher learning institutions, such as colleges and universities, require students to use credible sources when writing their essays or research papers. Basically, suitable sources contain peer-reviewed details, which have high accuracy and reliability levels. However, Wikipedia represents a form of non-credible academic sources. For instance, Wikipedia users can edit the content at any moment. In this case, Wikipedia cannot monitor thousands of edits made on the content. Also, this limitation implies that the content contained in Wikipedia articles may contain unnecessary errors and wrong statements. Then, prudent students should remember that informational items are changing consistently. Besides, Wikipedia may leave such errors uncorrected for years, which lowers the credibility of the content. Further on, there are situations where scholars must use Wikipedia for citations. In such instances, one must follow the necessary guidelines to avoid possible plagiarism cases. Moreover, this guide contains specific steps that a writer must follow when citing Wikipedia articles in MLA 7, APA 8, Harvard, and Chicago/Turabian styles. These four referencing styles rely on different formatting rules for in-text and bibliographic entries. Hence, students need to learn how to cite Wikipedia in MLA 7, APA 8, Harvard, and Chicago/Turabian format correctly.

General Guidelines on Citing Wikipedia in MLA 8, APA 7, Harvard, and Chicago/Turabian Formats

Learning institutions require learners to prepare essays and academic papers by using credible and reliable evidence. Basically, many institutions have rules that limit the type of sources that students must use when writing their essays. In this case, such regulations and guidelines consider Wikipedia as a non-credible source for educational use. Then, such prohibitions exist because Wikipedia users can edit the content at any moment. Practically, Wikipedia cannot monitor thousands of edits made on the content. In turn, this limitation may lead to errors because the content may contain vandalism and wrong statements. As a result, Wikipedia may leave such errors uncorrected for years, which lowers the credibility of the material.

How to cite Wikipedia in MLA 8, APA7, Harvard, and Chicago/Turabian formats

The Use of Wikipedia

Students may use Wikipedia when preparing their essays and academic papers under exceptional circumstances. For instance, learners should use Wikipedia to obtain general facts of a problem. Basically, the strategy allows students to acquire general ideas about the topic they intend to write. In this case, Wikipedia is a suitable website for learners to gather references and bibliographic pointers. Moreover, writers can use Wikipedia to identify credible sources that support a specific topic. However, they must take caution not to consider this website as an authoritative source for their scholarly papers when citing Wikipedia in MLA 8, APA 7, Harvard, and Chicago/Turabian formats. Hence, Wikipedia is a suitable website for gaining general knowledge about a topic, identifying relevant sources and bibliographic pointers.

Citing Wikipedia Articles

In some instances, learners may decide to cite the information contained in Wikipedia articles. Basically, students should remember that informational items can be changed by anyone. In this case, scholars should cite the exact time, date, and the article’s version. Also, including such details makes essays credible and prevents possible plagiarism cases. In turn, prudent students must follow proper guidelines on how to cite Wikipedia in MLA 8, APA 7, Harvard, and Chicago/Turabian, depending on a specific referencing style used to format an essay or research paper.

How to Cite Wikipedia in MLA 8th Edition

MLA 8th edition requires learners to provide credible citations to avoid possible plagiarism cases. Basically, scholars should use the last update’s date for the article. In this case, the dynamic nature of Wikipedia articles makes it hard to use the publication date since the original source may contain vague information. 

1. In-Text Citation Rules for Wikipedia in MLA 8

MLA 8th edition requires one to use parenthetical or narrative in-text citations. Since Wikipedia articles do not contain a specific author, students should use the title of the material. In this case, the full title should appear inside double quotation marks and rounded brackets for parenthetical citations. Moreover, scholars should use a title case, where all the significant words must begin with upper case letters. As a rule, one should include the paragraph containing the cited information by using the phrase “par.” Hence, the following is a scheme and actual in-text citations for a Wikipedia article in MLA 8:

In-text citation scheme for citing Wikipedia in MLA 8:

  • (“Wikipedia Article’s Title” par. A)

Examples of in-text citations for Wikipedia in MLA 8:

  • (“Sustainable Business” par. 4)
  • Details presented in the article “Sustainable Business” show that business sustainability enhances a customer’s value (par. 4).
  • For example, business sustainability enhances a customer’s value (“Sustainable Business” par. 4).

2. Full Bibliography Entry in Works Cited for Wikipedia in MLA 8

Each source used in an in-text citation must appear in Works Cited pages. Basically, credible bibliographic entries must contain reliable details. As a rule, one must include the article’s title, website’s name, organization, publication date, and URL link. In this case, the website’s name should appear in italics. Moreover, writers should place the title of the article inside double quotation marks. Then, the organization’s and article’s names should follow the title case format. In turn, a period must follow the article’s title and should precede closing quotation marks. However, a comma should separate other details in bibliographic entries Hence, the following represents a citation format that one should use to develop a bibliographic entry for Wikipedia in MLA 8th edition.  

Works Cited citation scheme for Wikipedia entry in MLA 8:

  • “Wikipedia Article’s Title.” Website’s Name, Organization, Day Month. Year, URL Link.

Example of a Works Cited citation for Wikipedia in MLA 8:

  • “Sustainable Business.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 2 Aug. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_business.

Students should include an accurate date when developing bibliographic entries for Wikipedia articles. In practice, one should note the day, month, and year. Also, such details make bibliographic entries credible.

3. MLA Footnote for Wikipedia

MLA 8th edition requires scholars to use references when providing details to reinforce the meaning of details presented in essays or research papers. As a rule, one should use footnotes if the information may distract the flow of ideas when placed in the paper’s body. Moreover, writers should use numerical footnote callouts after punctuation marks within their texts. Besides, actual footnotes should appear at the bottom of the page containing the callout. In turn, footnote callouts should precede hyphens and dashes used in the essay. Hence, the following is an example of the footnote for Wikipedia in MLA 8.

MLA footnote example for Wikipedia:

1 The sixth paragraph in the article “Sustainable Business” provides a detailed explanation of green business and its components.

How to Cite Wikipedia in APA 7

APA 7th edition requires academic writers to provide accurate and appropriate citations to avoid plagiarism. As a rule, a writer should identify the latest edition for the article. Hence, relevant guidelines that one should use to cite Wikipedia articles in APA 7th edition are:

1. In-Text Citation Rules for Wikipedia in APA 7

APA 7th edition requires learners to use both parenthetical and narrative in-text citation. Since Wikipedia articles lack a specific author, writers should use the article’s titles for in-text citations. As a rule, the information must appear in italicized and title case. Moreover, scholars should use the phrase “para.” to note the paragraph containing the cited information. In turn, a period must follow the sentence. Hence, citation formats that writers should use when creating APA in-text citations are:

In-text citation scheme for citing Wikipedia in APA 7:

(“Wikipedia Article’s Title,” Date, para. A)

Examples of in-text citations for Wikipedia in APA 7:

  • (“Sustainable Business,” 2020, para. 4)
  • Details presented in the article “Sustainable Business” (2020) show that business sustainability enhances a customer’s value (para. 4).
  • For example, business sustainability enhances a customer’s value (“Sustainable Business,” 2020, para. 4).

2. Reference Entry for Wikipedia in APA 7

Bibliographical entries in APA 7 should contain adequate details to meet the required credibility. As a rule, a suitable entry should include the Wikipedia article’s title, update date, website’s name, and URL link. In this case, the article’s title should appear in a sentence case. Then, the publication date should appear inside rounded brackets. Also, one should include a period after the title and update date. In turn, a comma separates the year and month. Hence, the scheme and actual example of a reference entry for Wikipedia in APA 7th edition are:

Reference citation scheme for Wikipedia entry in APA 7:

Wikipedia article’s title. (Years, Month Day). In Website’s Title. URL link

Example of a reference citation for Wikipedia in APA 7:

Sustainable business. (2020, August 2). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_business

Students should pay close attention to some unique features observed in the APA bibliographic entry. Basically, the month should be in full as opposed to the shortened form used in MLA 8th edition. In this case, one should separate the month and day with space. Besides, a period should not appear after the URL link. In turn, the Wikipedia article’s title should appear in the sentence case.

3. APA Footnote for Wikipedia

APA 7th edition requires students to use footnotes when including details to reinforce the evidence within the text. As a rule, details contained in APA footnotes should provide more significant insights, meanings, and understandings of the essay. Basically, writers should use footnote callouts to include notes. In this case, numerical callouts must appear as superscripts after punctuation marks at the end of a sentence. Also, it may consist of callouts in brackets when footnotes relate to the enclosed details. Hence, the following is an example of a footnote that one should use in APA 7th edition:

Example of an APA footnote for Wikipedia:

1 The sixth paragraph in the article “Sustainable Business” provides a concise definition of green businesses and its role in the twenty-first century.  

Students must consider using footnotes where necessary. In practice, the APA formatting style does not encourage writers to use notes regularly. Basically, one should only use this method when providing supporting details that would otherwise distract readers if included in the text. In turn, each learner has the responsibility to determine where to use footnotes effectively.

How to Cite Wikipedia in Harvard

Harvard referencing style requires academic writers to provide accurate and appropriate citations for Wikipedia articles. As a rule, a writer should use the latest edition and include adequate details for in-text citations. Hence, relevant guidelines that one should use to cite Wikipedia articles in Harvard referencing style are:

1. In-Text Citation Rules for Wikipedia in Harvard

Harvard referencing style requires writers to use both parenthetical and narrative in-text citations. Basically, one should identify the organization involved in the publication of the journal article. In this case, the organization’s name should appear in the title case format. Also, writers should use the phrase “para.” to note the paragraph containing the cited information. In practice, a period must follow this phrase. Then, one should not use a punctuation mark to separate the organization’s name and year. Hence, citation formats that scholars should use when creating Harvard in-text citations are:

In-text citation scheme for citing Wikipedia in Harvard:

  • (Organization Year, para. A)

Examples of in-text citations for Wikipedia in Harvard:

  • (Wikimedia Foundation 2020, para. 6)
  • According to the Wikimedia Foundation (2020), business sustainability enhances a customer’s value and improves a competitive advantage (para. 6).

2. Reference Entry for Wikipedia in Harvard

Bibliographic entries of Wikipedia articles should identify the organization, title, latest update’s year, and URL. Basically, the organization’s name should be the first item in the entry. In this case, one should separate the name and latest update’s year with space. Moreover, the article’s title should appear in the italicized form. Then, details should appear in a sentence case. Also, the first word in the title should begin with a capital letter. In turn, writers must use the phrase “viewed” before the actual date when it is accessed.

Reference citation scheme for Wikipedia entry in Harvard:

Organization’s Name Year, Article’s title, viewed Date Month Year. <URL Link>.

Example of a reference citation for Wikipedia in Harvard:

Wikipedia Foundation 2020, Sustainable business, viewed 16 August 2020.<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_business>.

3. Harvard Footnote for Wikipedia

Harvard referencing style allows students to use footnotes when providing further explanations to clauses used inside the text. As a rule, one should use footnote callouts when representing additional details at the bottom of the page. In this case, numerical footnote callouts must appear as superscripts in the text and at the bottom of the page. Then, prudent writers use a footnote function in the Microsoft word file to insert necessary footnotes. Hence, the following is the example of a footnote in the Harvard referencing style:

Example of a Harvard footnote for Wikipedia:

1 The sixth paragraph in the article “Sustainable Business” provides a concise definition of green businesses and its role in the twenty-first century. 

How to Cite Wikipedia in Chicago/Turabian

1. In-Text Citation/Footnote Rules for Wikipedia in Chicago/Turabian

Chicago/Turabian referencing style requires students to use either parenthetical or full note in-text citations. Basically, parenthetical citations contain the article’s title and the latest update date. Also, one must enclose the title in double quotation marks and rounded brackets. In practice, full note in-text citations must appear as footnotes Hence, writers must use appropriate numerical footnote callouts. 

Chicago/Turabian full note in-text citations should include adequate details. As a rule, quotes should contain the title, the website’s name, the organization, the latest update’s date, and URL. In this case, the article’s titles should appear in a title case and inside rounded punctuation marks. For instance, writers should include a period after the article’s title, year, and URL. In turn, a comma should separate the organization and update’s date. Hence, examples of two in-text citation types for Wikipedia in Chicago/Turabian are:

Scheme of an-text citation for Wikipedia in Chicago/Turabian:

  • (“Wikipedia Article Title” Year, par. A)

Example of an in-text citation for Wikipedia in Chicago/Turabian:

  • (“Sustainable Business” 2020, par. 6)

Footnote scheme for Wikipedia in Chicago/Turabian:

“Wikipedia Article Title,” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Month Day, Year, The URL Link, par. number.

Example of a footnote for Wikipedia in Chicago/Turabian:

  • 1. “Sustainable Business,” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, August 2, 2020, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_business, par. 6.

2. Bibliography Entry for Wikipedia in Chicago/Turabian

Bibliographic entries in Chicago/Turabian should contain adequate details to identify sources. As a rule, bibliographic entries should include the title, the website’s name, the organization, the latest update date, and the URL. In this case, the article’s titles should appear in a title case and inside rounded punctuation marks. Moreover, writers should include a period after the article’s title, year, and URL. Then, a comma should separate the organization and update’s date. Hence, the following is the scheme and actual example of the bibliographic entry that one should use when using Wikipedia in Chicago/Turabian style.

Citation scheme for Wikipedia in Chicago/Turabian:

“Wikipedia Article’s Title.” Website’s Name. The Organization, Month Day, Year. The URL Link.

Example of a bibliography entry for Wikipedia in Chicago/Turabian:

“Sustainable Business.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, August 2, 2020. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_business.

Summing Up

Higher learning institutions require students to use reliable sources when writing their essays or research papers. However, Wikipedia represents a form of non-credible academic sources. For instance, Wikipedia users can edit the content at any moment. In this case, Wikipedia cannot monitor thousands of edits made on the content. Then, this limitation may lead to errors because the content may contain irrelevant and wrong statements. Moreover, Wikipedia may leave such errors uncorrected for years, which lowers the credibility of materials. However, there are situations where scholars must use Wikipedia for citations. In such instances, one must follow the necessary guidelines on how to cite Wikipedia in MLA 8, APA 7, Harvard, and Chicago/Turabian styles to avoid possible plagiarism cases.

Tips

Guidelines that one should use to cite Wikipedia articles in MLA 8, APA 7, Harvard, and Chicago/Turabian styles:

  • MLA 8, APA 7, and Harvard styles require one to use parenthetical or narrative in-text citations.
  • In-text citations in MLA 8 should contain the Wikipedia article’s title in quotation marks and capital case and the paragraph number that contains the cited information.
  • In-text citations in MLA 8 and Chicago/Turabian uses the phrase “par.,” while APA 7 and Harvard utilizes “para.” to denote the actual paragraph that contains cited details.
  • In-text citations in Harvard should contain the organization and the latest update date.
  • In-text citations in Chicago/Turabian referencing style must appear in parenthetical or full-note forms. In turn, complete notes should follow guidelines used in preparing footnotes.
  • Bibliographic entries for MLA 8 and Chicago/Turabian styles must follow title case formats. However, reference entries in APA and Harvard styles should follow the sentence case style.
  • All bibliographic entries for Wikipedia must contain a URL link to enhance their credibility.
  • Prudent writers use punctuations marks when using in-text citations within academic texts in each of the four formats.
  • Students should avoid using Wikipedia articles due to the content’s dynamic nature.