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Template:Attribution needed

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[attribution needed]

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This is an inline template which should be placed immediately after the material in question, as with a footnote, for example:

This sentence needs attribution.{{Attribution needed|date=June 2018}} → This sentence needs attribution.[attribution needed]

The wikilink on "attribution needed" is set to Wikipedia:Attribution needed, the functionality of this template is the same as {{clarify}} but differs in when it is applied.

When to use

Use this to request in-text attribution or an inline citation for perspectives and opinions that the Wikipedia article asserts is held by someone, but you don't know who holds the view.

If the material is supported by a citation to a reliable source, then look at the source to find out who holds the view, rather than adding this tag to the sentence.

Do not demand in-text attribution for simple, non-controversial facts. Simple facts, like "The Earth is round", should not be attributed to one person, because that attribution implies that very few people agree with the statement. In-text attribution is normally reserved for minority views, controversial claims, and other widely disputed material.

  • Controversial, poorly sourced perspectives and opinions in biographies of living persons should be deleted immediately, without moving it to the article's talk page.
  • If you have reason to think that these perspectives and opinions are not attributable to anyone by a reliable source, you may remove them altogether. Optionally, paste them into the article's talk page and explain your reasoning of why they should be removed.
  • If you know whom the perspectives and opinions can be attributed to: Please be bold, delete the template, and indicate whom they are attributed to, either in the text or with a citation.

Avoid "drive-by tagging" and "tag bombing", it is much more constructive to edit an article to resolve a problem than it is to just leave a tag. Only tag if a resolution to the problem is not apparent.

Primary application

Use this template in the body of an article as a request for other editors to explicitly attribute a preceding passage, sentence or phrase to a person, this will be an author of a cited work or a person referred to in a source in which they have been directly or indirectly quoted. The passage tagged may indicate research, be opinion, a point of view or contain words to watch which may be appropriate to retain in the article if they are properly attributed. The tag can be resolved by attributing the identified passage, sentence or phrase as either a direct or an indirect quote. Alternatively, the material may be rewritten in language which is not contentious.


Example one

Opinion text
Resolved as:
Author, Name, stated: "Opinion text". (a direct quote)
Author, Name, stated: Opinion text. (an indirect quote)

In making an in-text attribution to a person, it is usual (in the first instance) to establish their "credentials" and why their opinion is of consequence. Identifying them as an author, historian, critic, company president, manager or such, establishes their credentials and, the relevance and credibility of their opinion or other statement.

Example two

It was clearly a matter of ... (in this case, clearly is editorialising)
Resolved as:
According to the author, Name, it was clearly a matter of ... (attributing the editorial to a source)
It was a matter of ... (removing the word that is editorial)
Usage of the tag is similar to {{Specify}} but differs, in how the issue might be resolved in these instances.

Secondary application

A secondary use of the template is for direct quotations (such as indicated by quote marks or a block quote) which is not immediately followed by an inline citation to explicitly indicate the source of the quote.


Example three

It was "clearly a case of XYZ." Next sentence[s].[1]

In writing this, it was the editor's intent to quote from the source cited; however, the citation for a quote should be explicit.

Resolved as:

It was "clearly a case of XYZ."[1] Next sentence[s].[1]

Example four

It was "clearly a case of XYZ." Next sentence[s].[1][2][3][4]

In this case, the source of the quote is even less clear.

Resolved as:
It was "clearly a case of XYZ."[1] Next sentence[s].[1][2][3][4]

This example has similarities to the use of {{Specify}}, where two opposing views are expressed but which sources apply is not clear, the distinction in usage is that this template is applied at the point of the quote and is to resolve which source applies to the quote.

Example five

It was "the most something" of a case of XYZ. Next sentence[s].[1]

This is an example of where the article editor appears to be quoting a phrase from a source, as opposed from using quote marks for use–mention distinction or a scare quote, the citation should be bought closer to the quote.

Resolved as:
It was "the most something" of a case of XYZ.[1] Next sentence[s].[1]

This is appropriate where the quoted phrase is not reasonably mistaken as use–mention distinction or a scare quote.

It was "the most something"[1] of a case of XYZ. Next sentence[s].[1]

Where the quoted phrase might be mistaken as use–mention distinction or a scare quote.

An alternative is to explicitly attribute the phase quoted.
It has been described by the author, Name, as "the most something" of a case of XYZ.[1] Next sentence[s].[1]
It has been described by the author, Name, as "the most something"[1] of a case of XYZ. Next sentence[s].[1]

Scare quotes should, in general, be be attributed, since they usually represent a "point of view", unless they are the subject of discussion.

It was "scare quote" ...
as opposed to
The "scare quote" was the subject of ...


If a quoted phrase is the subject of discussion, once its "provenance" has been established by an initial citation, it is not necessary to require further citations at each subsequent mention.

Where a citation at the end of a sentence refers to a quoted phrase, the proximity of a quoted phrase to the citation is of significance, the more words between the quoted phase and the citation, the less clear it is that the quote is drawn from the citation.

Example six

It was "quote phrase".[1] (clear)
It was "quote phrase" that did this.[1] (reasonably clear)
It was "quote phrase" that did this, that and the other thing and something else.[1] (unclear)
Resolved as:
It was "quote phrase"[1] that did this, that and the other thing and something else - not to mention a few other things.[1]

In the resolved case, it is clear that the quoted phrase is supported by a citation and not an editorial use of quote marks.

Relation to other tag templates

When the problem is not one resolved by making the attribution clear one may use {{specify}} instead, for dealing with dubious information, please use one of the following: {{citation needed}}, {{verify source}}, {{dubious}} or {{disputed-inline}}. This if the problem is a reference to vague "authorities" such as "serious scholars", "historians say", "some researchers", "many scientists", and the like, use {{who}}. If the problem is with test that is difficult to understand, use {{clarify}}.

This template is a self-reference and so is part of the Wikipedia project rather than the encyclopedic content.


Abbreviated parameter sets:

  • {{Attribution needed|date=June 2018|reason=}}
  • {{Attribution needed|date=June 2018|reason=|text=}}

Full parameter set:

  • {{Attribution needed|date=June 2018|reason=|text=|pre-text=|post-text=}}

Parameter descriptions

  • |date= : This template allows an optional date parameter that records when the tag was added. If this template is added without the date parameter, the date parameter will be added soon after by a bot. Alternatively, you may add the date automatically (without requiring bot intervention) by substituting the template, that is: {{subst:Attribution needed}} is equivalent to {{Attribution needed|date=June 2018}}. This technique also works if other parameters – |reason= |pre-text= |post-text= – are given.
  • |reason= : Because it may not be immediately apparent to other editors what about the tagged passage is in need of attribution, it is generally helpful to add a brief reason for the tag: {{Attribution needed|reason=What the problem is}} (this is preferable to using an HTML <!-- comment --> after the tag, as it is tidier to keep all of the {{Attribution needed}}-related code inside the template). If the explanation would be lengthy, use the article's talk page
    As well as being visible in the source code for editors' benefit, |reason=, if provided, displayed when the mouse is hovered over the "attribution needed" link in the article. For technical reasons, this mouse-over feature does not work if the reason text contains double quotes. Use single quotes instead, or use the code &quot; if it is essential to include a double quote.
  • |text=: The particular text needing attribution may be highlighted by wrapping this template around it:
    As an example:
    Text preceding the template,{{Attribution needed|text=unattributed text,|date=June 2018}}, text following the template.
    Text preceding the template,unattributed text,[attribution needed], text following the template.
  • |pre-text=
  • |post-text=: One can specify additional text to appear before and/or after the "attribute" tag using the two parameters listed above.


  1. {{Attribution needed|pre-text=remove or}}
    will cause the text "remove or" to appear before "attribute" like this:[remove or attribution needed]
  2. {{Attribution needed|post-text=(unattributed opinion)}}
    will cause "(unattributed opinion)" to appear after "attribute" like this:[attribution needed (unattributed opinion)].
  3. {{Attribution needed|post-text=(see talk)}}
    can be used to link to a discussion on the article's talk page; this example produces:[attribution needed (see talk)]


This is the TemplateData documentation for this template used by VisualEditor and other tools; see the monthly error report for this template.

TemplateData for Attribution needed

Use this inline template as a request for other editors to attribute text that may research, opinion, a point of view, contain ''words to watch'' or is a quote that has not been clearly attributed. Place immediately after the material in question.

Template parameters

Parameter Description Type Status
reason reason

A brief reason for the tag; do not include any double quotes.

Auto value
String suggested
text text

Text fragment containing concerns the tag is supposed to address.

Auto value
String optional
date date

The date the tag was added (this will be added automatically soon by a bot if not added manually).

Auto value
String required
pre-text pre-text

Any string to be added before the "Attribute" tag, such as "?"

Auto value
String optional
post-text post-text

Any string to be added after the "Attribute" tag, such as "unattributed opinion".

Auto value
String optional


Adding this template to an article will automatically place the article into Category:Wikipedia articles needing words, phrases or quotes attributed, or a dated subcategory thereof.


See also