Learn How to Cite Wikipedia in Five Minutes

If you ask the opinion of most people in the academic world, they will most likely tell you that Wikipedia cannot be fully trusted. It is hardly a reliable source since multiple users can add changes without verifying the information. Still, using Wikipedia in your research can be a source of fresh ideas for further topic discovery that can get you started with your paper, which is why using it is a good idea.

In this article, you will learn how to cite Wikipedia in APA, MLA, and Chicago styles and which elements you need to add to cite correctly.

How to Cite Wikipedia In the Easiest Way? 

Wikipedia offers a feature called ‘Cite This Page’ you can use to cite your page within a few clicks. 

An option to cite the page should appear on the left corner of the toolbar. If you do not see it right away after you access the page, click on the quotes mark in the left upper corner. You will see ‘Cite this page’ in the tools section. 

If you click on it, the page will show a bibliography along with citations in various styles. For instance, here are options you get when citing the ‘Cell biology’ page: 

how to cite Wikipedia

Even though it is the easiest way available for citing Wikipedia, we suggest to align with the guidelines of your style either way.  

How to Cite Wikipedia in APA

As Wikipedia does not have a defined author and its content can change, you should cite articles from there as a web resource without an author when you are asked to use APA style. You should take the following steps when citing the Wikipedia page:

  1. Indicate the publication name with the date next to it. As there is no publication date, you should use the date of the last revision so that the reader accesses the same version of the page. 
  2. Add the retrieved date and the source from where the citation was taken. 
  3. At the end, put the URL with the accurate link to the publication and make sure there is no period after the URL.

Here’s the template you can use when citing pages in the APA style: 

Page name. (Retrieved Year, Month, Date). In Wikipedia. URL 

Here is an example of how it should look in your bibliography: 

Cell biology. 2021. Retrieved August 9, 2021. In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:About

For the in-text Wikipedia APA citation, use the name of the article with the date of the publication (in our case, it is always going to be the last revision year or the revision version you are referring to): 

("Cell biology," 2023)

How to Cite Wikipedia in MLA Style

Even though you should cite publications in the same manner as APA —  a web source with no author — MLA style has some differences. Make sure you pay attention to the punctuation marks when going after an MLA Wikipedia citation - don't forget to add a period after URL. 

Here is how to cite Wikipedia in MLA: 

  1. Start with the page name in quotation marks.
  2. Include the source's full name (Wikipedia) in italics.
  3. Add the accurate date of the publication. In the case of Wikipedia, it will be the last revision date you can find by clicking on the ‘View history’ in the upper right corner.
  4. Add page URL.

Use the following template for the reference list: 

“Page Name.” Website name, Day Month Year last updated, URL.

Here’s an example of how it should look in your paper: 

"Academic Integrity." Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 10 Feb. 2023, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academic_integrity.

If you want to know how to cite a Wikipedia page for an in-text citation, refer to the title of the article: 

("Academic Integrity.")

How to Cite Wikipedia in Chicago Style?

With Chicago, you have several formatting options to choose from. The last two steps will be the same, while the first two may vary — but both are correct, no matter which option you choose. To cite the page using the first options, you should take the following steps:

  1. Add the website's name first, italicizing its name. 
  2. List the title of the publication in quotations.
  3. Indicate the date your source was last modified.
  4. Add an accurate URL link to the Wikipedia page. 

Here’s a template you can use for any Wikipedia publications: 

Website name, “Page name,” last modified Month Date, Year, URL link. 

That’s the example of how your publication should look in the paper: 

Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, “Cell biology,” last modified August 18, 2021, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cell_biology. 

For using the second option, all you need is to change the name of the website and the title places. Here’s how to quote Wikipedia page in this case: 

“Cell biology” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, last modified August 18, 2021,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cell_biology. 

For in-text citations in Chicago style use author-date method: (Wikipedia 2022).

Is Wikipedia a credible source? 

Most of the academic world is not a big fan of Wikipedia and considers it an unreliable source. As an online encyclopedia, it provides only secondary sources and does not include original data from research. Besides, the authors of articles can change, and anyone (even without the needed knowledge) can change them. Ensure your institution does not have any rules against Wikipedia before citing it. If you checked with your citation rules and decided to take information from Wikipedia, here’s how to get the most out of it and make it effective:  

  • Make Wikipedia a starting point.

Use it for discovering other reliable sources under sections ‘References’ and ‘External links’ — it can be a starting point in your research that can help you gather valuable resources for your paper. 

  • Lateral reading.

Lateral reading means comparing two or more sources to evaluate their credibility. You can use Wikipedia as one of the comparative sources for generalized terms — it may help you contextualize information. 

FAQ

How to find the publication date of a Wikipedia article? 

You can find the publication date by clicking ‘View history’ in the upper right corner of the publication. You can scroll down to the bottom of the page to see when the first publication was made or just use the last modification date. 

Can I cite Wikipedia in my paper?

Whether you can cite Wikipedia in your paper depends on your institution. Wikipedia is not recognized as a reliable source, so you may have restrictions regarding citing it in your paper.

How do I cite a source with no page numbers?

If there is no page number on your source, use section headings, number of paragraphs, or both. Example: (Renford, 2021, ch. 2).

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