Using Wikipedia as a source for academic writing or professional papers has been a debatable practice. Its own page resource, Citing Wikipedia, advises users to exercise caution when referencing Wikipedia as a source because its content is user-generated. The content might, consequently, include incorrect, biased, or missing information. Additionally, because the information is updated by various users, typos and grammatical errors might be present that can alter the meaning of the material.
That said, Wikipedia can be a useful place to start your research, as many of its pages cite primary and secondary sources that you can explore in more depth. If you’re allowed to directly source Wikipedia for your paper, citing a Wikipedia page according to the Chicago Manual of Style can be done using either the author-date format or notes and bibliography format.
When you cite Wikipedia, elements such as the source’s name, page title, page creation date, last modified date, and page URL are typically included.
How to cite Wikipedia in Chicago style’s author-date format
Since Wikipedia doesn’t always attribute its content to an author, the author-date citation in Chicago style omits the author element. Instead, the citation begins with the source name—in this case, “Wikipedia.” Here’s what the author-date citation format looks like in Chicago style:
Wikipedia. Year. “Article Title.” Last modified date. URL.
Wikipedia. 2001. “Boston Tea Party.” Last modified May 9. 2022.
Wikipedia. 2001. “Boston Tea Party.” Last modified May 9. 2022.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boston_Tea_Party.
You can easily find the element information needed for this citation by clicking on “Page information” on the Wikipedia page’s navigation menu. Scroll down to view the page’s “Edit history” where you’ll find details including the page creation date and the last date the page was modified.
The author-date parenthetical citation in Chicago style includes the source name “Wikipedia” and the year of publication in parentheses. If you’re quoting or paraphrasing a specific section of the Wikipedia page, reference the paragraph number after the year.
(Wikipedia Year, paragraph number)
Parenthetical citation example: (Wikipedia 2001, par. 3)
How to cite Wikipedia in Chicago style’s notes and bibliography format
If you’re using Chicago’s notes and bibliography citation format, a full footnote should be formatted like this:
1. “Page Title,” Wikipedia, last modified date, URL.
When writing a report or research paper, include the full footnote on the page when the source is first mentioned. Subsequent mentions of the same Wikipedia page can then include a short footnote with less information.
Here’s an example of a Wikipedia citation formatted as a full footnote:
1. “The Federalist Papers,” Wikipedia, last modified May 31, 2022, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Federalist_Papers.
The shortened note for this citation includes the source name and a shortened page name in quotation marks. Below is an example:
1. Wikipedia, “Federalist Papers.”
Citing Wikipedia in your bibliography
A bibliography citation in Chicago style includes the same elements as a full footnote. It’s formatted as:
Wikipedia. “Article Title.” Last modified date. URL.
Here’s an example of a bibliography citation using the same Wikipedia page source:
Wikipedia. “The Federalist Papers.” Last modified May 31, 2022. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Federalist_Papers.