Categories: WikiTree Help | Sources

A source is the identification of where you obtained information. Sources are critically important for genealogy. Some even say that genealogy without sources is mythology.[1]

You must include your sources when you put information on WikiTree. It's in our Honor Code.

For more background on why sources are important and how to record them, see "Source, Source, Source" in Getting Started With Genealogy or Cite Your Genealogy Sources on


How to Add Sources to Profiles

List them at the bottom

Near the bottom of the text of every profile (when looked at in Edit mode) there should be a section like this:

== Sources ==
<references />

See also:

* "US Census, 1900", database online. Home Township, Small Town, Washington, USA; pg. 100, family 10, dwelling 15, lines 150-157; June 1, 1900; National Archives Microfilm M-10, Roll 100.

Add your source here. The asterisk (*) creates a bibliography-style bulleted list item.

Embed them as references (footnotes)

As you become more experienced and start to collaborate with other WikiTreers you will need to learn how to create references, i.e. footnotes or endnotes.

After stating a fact for which you have a source, surround the reference with these two tags:

<ref>  ...  </ref>

For example:

Some even say that "genealogy without sources is mythology".<ref>Lorine McGinnis Schulze, "[ Genealogy without Sources is Mythology]," article on Olivetree.</ref>

You can see the footnote this produces at the bottom of this page.

See the Sources_Style_Guide if you need more info on the technical elements or styling of the Sources section.


The ideal citation format for our community is Elizabeth Shown Mills' Evidence Explained[2], based on the Chicago Manual of Style (CMoS). But don't get hung up on this. The important thing is citing the source, not how it's done.

Fundamentally, a good source citation enables others to:

  1. judge the accuracy of the information found on the profile, and
  2. independently verify the information by finding the source themselves.


Anderson, Robert Charles, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633(Boston, MA: NEHGS, 1995), volume I, pp 126-130.

If it's a rare book you might also include where it can be found, such as in the collection of a certain person or library.


Schmoe, Joe, "Schmoe Origins in Eastern Europe," Eastern European Genealogy, Vol. 1 (April 1911):pg 15. Warsaw, Poland: A-1 Publishers. This issue is rare but [[Whitten-1|Chris Whitten]] has a copy of it and will scan the page on request.

For newspaper and magazine articles be sure to include the title of the article as well as the title of the publication. Publishers are only necessary if the issue might not be easy to locate.


"US Census, 1900", database online. Home Township, Small Town, Washington, USA; pg. 100, family 10, dwelling 15, lines 150-157; June 1, 1900; National Archives Microfilm M-10, Roll 100.

Web page

Schmoe, Joe. ([ Schmoes Galore Family History site]: accessed 01/01/2001). Jane Schmoe Doe's birthdate controversy.

When citing a web page it's very important to include the full URL. In most web browsers this will appear in the address bar at the very top of your screen.

Surrounding the URL with [brackets] makes it a link. For more about links on WikiTree, see Adding Links.

Some web sites include source citations that you can copy-and-paste, e.g.:

  • has a "Show citation" in the lower left corner that will generate a fine citation.
  • If you're an subscriber, looking at the image of a source, you can type "s", though these typically need editing as they contain too much information.
  • Wikipedia has a "cite this page" link in the left column. Choose "Chicago style".

Family bible

[[Lorman-1|Whitten, Mary (Lorman)]] [[Space:Whitten_Family_Bible|Whitten Family Bible]], date unknown. Currently in possession of [[Whitten-1|Chris Whitten]]. Includes names, birth, and death dates of family members from 1878 to 1946.

If the source is a unique family heirloom or clipping, consider uploading a photo of it or create a free-space profile (more info).

Cemetery headstone

Evergreen Cemetery (New York, New York, USA), Joe and Jane Schmoe's headstone. Personally photographed by [[Whitten-1|Chris Whitten]], June 2, 2010.

Be sure to include the location of the cemetery, who visited it, and when.

If you have a photo of a headstone upload it to the individual's profile page. Do not upload a photo you found on another website without express permission from the photographer.

Second-hand information

Schmoe, Joe. Personal recollection, June 3, 2011, as told to [[Whitten-1|Chris Whitten]] via the phone. Notes in the possession of Chris Whitten.

Often genealogical information is provided by other family members.

It's a good idea to include who said certain information, and if you remember, when and where they said it. You may also want to include a link to the person's WikiTree profile page.

First-hand information (yourself)

[[Whitten-1|Whitten, Chris]], personal recollection, July 5, 2000.

Advanced Sourcing

The following refers to a policy against Alternative Sourcing Methods that has not been finalized. Please see G2G for discussion. -- Whitten-1 05:34, 29 January 2016 (EST)

Repeated use of the same source in the same profile

Here's how to use the same source citation multiple times. The first time you use it, include a "name" inside the ref tag, like this:

<ref name="birth certificate">Birth Certificate of George Russell Beebe, Registration 398-5554-428 (1920), Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services - Bureau of Vital Records, Personal copy in the files of [[Beebe-655|Barbara Beebe]]</ref>

In all following references you can just use this:

<ref name="birth certificate" />

Done this way, all subsequent footnotes for this same source will point to the same footnote at the bottom of the page.

(Note that other methods for using the same source multiple times have been variously proposed and used. All methods other than the above are not recommended. See Alternative Sourcing Methods for more on this.)

Repeated use of the same source in different profiles

If you are using the same source on multiple profiles, especially if you have more information about the source than can comfortably fit in a traditional citation — such as multiple websites or repositories where it might be found — or you may want to collaborate with others who are using that source, you may want to create a free-space profile of it. See Profiles of Sources.

(Note that Source Templates have been used by advanced members. This is not recommended. See Category:Source Templates and Alternative Sourcing Methods for more information.)

  1. Lorine McGinnis Schulze, "Genealogy without Sources is Mythology," article on Olivetree.
  2. Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co.; 3rd edition (May 22, 2015). See also the author's blog by the same name: Evidence Explained.

This page was last modified 07:39, 30 January 2016. This page has been accessed 81,356 times.