This help page is a how-to guide.
It details processes or procedures of some aspect(s) of Wikipedia's norms and practices. It is not one of Wikipedia's policies or guidelines, and may reflect varying levels of consensus and vetting.
This page, Help:Reftags, explains the use of the reftag element, "<ref>...</ref>" for defining reference footnotes, as displayed by using a <references /> tag or a "((Reflist))" template to list the footnotes. A reftag can also be defined by using wikitext function "((#tag:ref|...))" to generate the text "<ref>...</ref>" and allow direct use of subst'ing of templates to embed equivalent markup inside a footnote.
The general format is
<ref>text</ref> for a simple reftag footnote. However reftags can have a
name="xx" to define a footnote to be reused on a page by named ref,
<ref name="xx"/>, as when citing the same webpage at several spots in the article text.
There can be more than 3,000 reftag footnotes defined on a page, but usually there are less than a hundred.[fn 1]
When citing different pages in a single source, a named ref can be followed by a ((R)) template. Given a ref like "
<ref name="author1990">book</ref>", the ref "
author1990" can be reused, now using a different page number, say 53. This subsequent ref
((R|author1990|p=53)) will show the same superscript number, with a suffix of a colon and, in this case 53, the page number.: 53 This format allows the reader to click to the reference section, and then click on other references from the same source.
Rather than define hundreds of footnotes in a single list, various reftags could split to some named groupings, such as using "
<ref group="gg">...</ref>"" to collect those footnotes into group name "gg" as displayed by "
<references group="gg"/>".[fn 2] For example, a common tactic is to define footnote group "fn" which shows each link as "[fn 9]" for the 9th footnote in the
group="fn". A group name can be multiple words in ".." or in apostrophes (
group='set xx yy'), but a single-word name can omit the quotation marks or apostrophes (as:
group=fn). Hence, many group names are typically one-word labels, to avoid excessive apostrophes or quotation marks.[fn 3]
Rather than using an element "<ref>text</ref>", an alternate method is to use the wikitext function tag:ref, as "((#tag:ref|...text...))" to define the contents of a footnote.