Is there anything the the "citation needed span" template for references on Wikipedia?

Here, the text being verified by the reference is ambiguous:

All trees are tall, and some are very tall.<ref>source1</ref>

It would be better if the text being verified could be placed inside a template, so that it is clear what the reference refers to:

All trees are tall, and {{reference span|some are very tall.|<ref>source1</ref>}}

Is there any existing template on Wikipedia that can do this (to clarify what a given reference specifically refers to?) The "clarify span" template works similarly, so it probably wouldn't be difficult to create a template that does what I want it to do.

  • 1
    A question is whether doing this would clutter up the code too much for little benefit.
    – svick
    Commented Nov 29, 2012 at 22:02
  • @svick The references can get very confusing when you have multiple references in quick succession: it becomes unclear what each reference is supposed to verify. If an article has a single reference, it isn't always clear whether the reference is supposed to verify all preceding text, or just the last few sentences before the reference. Commented Nov 29, 2012 at 22:15
  • @svick Here's a similar template (but it doesn't allow citations to be included): en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Template:Citation_needed_span Commented Nov 29, 2012 at 22:31

2 Answers 2


No, this kind of template doesn't exist on Wikipedia, but you can be very precise with the <ref> tags. I give you an (extreme) example:

Let's say we have the sentence:

Bob is a black pelican, with red wings and yellow eyes, that travels during summer from California to St. Louis, Missouri.

And two references/sources:

  • a book from Bill Klinton, I Lost My Keys.
  • a article from George Buch, My Keys Were In My Left Pockets.

You can do something like that:

Bob is a black pelican,<ref name="klinton">Bill Klinton, ''I Lost My Keys''</ref> with red wings<ref name="buch">George Buch, My Keys Were In My Left pocket''.</ref> and yellow eyes,<ref name="klinton" /><ref name="buch" /> that travels during summer<ref name="buch" /> from California<ref name="klingon" /> to St. Louis<ref name="klinton" />, Missouri.

Understanding which part of the sentence is referenced by becomes obvious: "red wings" is referenced by Buch, "yellow eyes" by Klinton and Buch, "travels during summer" by Buch, etc, etc.

Just to illustrate by a real example, just take a look at the article about Wikipedia on the English Wikipedia. Take a look at the sentence starting with "Sanger coined its name", second sentence of the second paragraph.

Do you see how some parts of the sentence ("Sanger", "its name" and "from the Hawaiian word for "quick"") are referenced?

Hope it can help.


Template:Citation needed span takes the form of a template because its function is to

  1. visually indicate the relevant range
  2. put the article in Category:Articles with unsourced statements etc.

Also, notice that this template is never meant to be permanent, and is expected to be removed some time in the future.

On the other hand, what you ask for is meant to be permanent, should not be indicated visually to the reader, and there is no point in classifying the article into a category. It is only for the convenience of other editors. In that case, there is no point in making it a template.

Therefore, a simple <!-- comment --> should be enough. Anything more complicated would be detrimental to the readability of the source and would not be friendly for other editors. So if you must, it could be like, e.g.,

All trees are tall, and some are very tall.<ref>source1</ref>
<!-- source1 mentions some trees only -->

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