Is there an instruction manual to teach how to use Wikitree correctly? Adding sources is totally confusing to me.

+5 votes
in WikiTree Help by Peter Gibson G2G Crew (500 points)

Peter ... there's a series of videos as well as tutorials linked to on the Help page. See "Intro to WikiTree" ... the tutorials are kind of like a guided tour of the help pages, and they work from the basics on up to more advanced topics. The link is here.

That combined with Allison's excellent answer below should be a good way for you to get comfortable.

If you'd like to have some one-on-one help, you can also click on "Contact a Mentor" on the Help page.

3 Answers

+5 votes
Best answer

WikiTree uses the MediaWiki software platform, the same one behind Wikipedia. MediaWiki uses markup language to display text with different formatting, like bold, italics, headers, hyperlinks and more.

Their are many, many markup languages, but they all have similarities. If you've ever used a modern word processor, like Microsoft Word, what you are seeing uses a markup language. The language for the internet, HTML, is a markup language.

The references are part of MediaWiki. Here is a description from Wikipedia:

Basically, on every page, you enter a source citation between two tags. These are markup tags, just like in HTML. The beginning tag is "<ref>" and the ending tag is "</ref>." Your citation goes between these.

So, if your citation was this:

"Locate a Loved One," database, ''Catholic Cemeteries Brooklyn'' ( : accessed 23 August 2020), interment, Michael Pierce, 1 October, Holy Cross Cemetery, St. John the Baptist, row M, plot 4.

Then the citation wrapped with markup for a reference, would be this:

<ref>"Locate a Loved One," database, ''Catholic Cemeteries Brooklyn'' ( : accessed 23 August 2020), interment, Michael Pierce, 1 October, Holy Cross Cemetery, St. John the Baptist, row M, plot 4.</ref>

Now, the magic. At the bottom of every profile is the sources section that looks like this:

== Sources ==

That references tag is basically telling the software to output all the citations that are wrapped in reference tags in a nicely formatted bibliography, cited works or whatever you want to call it.

There are also ways to give a reference a name and reuse it when multiple pieces of information came from the same source. See that page I linked to Wikipedia.

I highly recommend starting here: and working your way through the help guides, but you can check this page out for another explanation on the references:

You can also Google markup languages and read through guides at Wikipedia. A great learning guide for HTML is here: You will see wiki markup, HTML and CSS on WikiTree pages, so you'll benefit from a basic understand of the concepts.

by Allison Mackler G2G6 Mach 5 (56.9k points)
selected by Susan Smith
This deserves a best answer star!
Thanks George! Just an FYI, if you want to select an answer as best, you can just click on the star on any answer on any post.
+5 votes

Hi Peter, I see you have family interest in England.

This might interest you. I did the Orphan Trail and learned so much.

by Marion Poole G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
+4 votes

Some of us created a Space Page that has links to many of the Help pages on wikitree.  It also has a section on sourcing with How to and links to videos about it.  Biography Creation Helper  Hopefully that will help. Let us know if you need more help. 

by Linda Peterson G2G6 Pilot (623k points)

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