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Accessories-text-editor.svg This is a Wiktionary policy, guideline or common practices page. This is a draft proposal. It is unofficial, and it is unknown whether it is widely accepted by Wiktionary editors.


Citations in Wiktionary serve two purposes: providing evidence that a word (or sense of a word) exists, and providing examples of how it is used as part of the written language. The Citations: namespace holds quotations and references. Based on the idea of usage as a criterion for inclusion, the Citations pages are intended to display durably archived usage over time. From the usage documented on these citations pages the definitions on the main entries can be verified, clarified and updated, or perhaps additional definitions can be derived.

For example, the citations for mauve are located on the page Citations:mauve.

If the citations page exists, it should hold all quotations and references for the term, including any inflected forms. Any quotations used within the entries would be a duplication of these.


If a variety of citation sentences are available, try to select relatively short, clearly written citation sentences that showcase the word (where that word is the "star" of the sentence). This serves the reader better than providing lengthy passages with the word incidentally buried in it.


Unlike the main space, inflected forms and alternate spellings should be redirected to the primary entry. Variations in case should be on the same page, with the other(s) redirecting, even if the definitions are distinct.


Main entries should contain links to Citations pages using {{seeCites}} or {{seeMoreCites}} under a ====Quotations==== header, or using {{seemorecites}} as the last element in a list of quotations following a definition.

Citations pages should link back to all main entries using {{citation}}.


Each Citations page should be headed with the {{citation}} template, which will link clearly back to the main entry.

When citations are grouped by definition, each definition should have a section formatted with a gloss header (level three), followed by a usage {{timeline}}, followed by the citations in chronological order (earliest usage to latest). See for instance Citations:trade or Citations:parrot.

There is no need to include full definitions on Citations pages. Quotations may be broken down by definition by part of speech, with enough of a gloss to inform readers which sense a citation is for.

For further formatting information see, How to format quotations.


Citation sentences should not be added to Wiktionary in a way that violates the copyright of the work from which they were taken. Generally, citation sentences taken from works under copyright protection will represent a very small portion of the work from which they are taken. It is likely that any individual citation sentence will either be a de minimis portion of the work (so small that copyright does not even apply to it), or will constitute a clear fair use of that portion of the work. It is still possible for citation sentences to infringe the copyright in a work if the citation sentence is very long and the work is very short (for example, an essay of a few pages), or if multiple citation sentences are taken from the same work.

Works that are already in the public domain are not subject to copyright protection, and can be used as sources for an unlimited number of citation sentences. Such works include:

  1. All works published in the United States before 1923.
  2. All documents produced by the U.S. government, including reports produced by federal agencies and opinions rendered by federal courts.
  3. Any work that any private author has deliberately released into the public domain.

If there is any question as to whether the use of a citation sentence from a work under copyright will constitute a fair use of that work, then it is advisable to look for a citation sentence from a public domain source as an alternative.

See also[edit]