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The problem of the use of the term "title" for the name of a citation item (or media item) is twofold:
The problem of the use of the term "title" for the name of a citation item (or media item) is twofold:
1) It's already used to mean "job title" in the context of microformats ([[hCard]]).
# It's already used to mean "job title" in the context of microformats ([[hCard]]).
2) The concept that it is being proposed to represent is the *name* of a citation item.  "fn" already means the name of an item.  we should not introduce a new term to mean the same thing as an existing term.
# The concept that it is being proposed to represent is the *name* of a citation item.  "fn" already means the name of an item.  we should not introduce a new term to mean the same thing as an existing term.
We should use "fn" for the name of a citation item.
We should use "fn" for the name of a citation item.

Revision as of 09:04, 4 February 2008

Citation Brainstorming



Use Cases

To focus the discussion, please add use cases below that will help show what problems the citation microformat will be solving.

I've included two, focusing on consuming information - I've assumed that use cases for generating microformatted content would just involve the desire to enable your content to be consumed better, but I'm interested to see if there's something I'm missing here -Mike

Acquiring reference information from the web

A user either finds an author's papers page, or is viewing the results of a search and would like to import the information about the displayed papers into their local reference database, for the purposes of cataloging things they've read, adding notes, and using the information to generate later citations, potentially in other forms, such as BibTeX or Docbook, for inclusion in a publication of their own.

Notes: In this case, it isn't important to the user what format the citation takes as displayed on the page where they find it. What *is* important is that it contains enough information to allow generation of the format they will ultimately re-publish it in. This implies that it may be worthwhile to err a little on the side of verbosity.

Also, links to downloadable full representations of the cited work are very important - e.g. a link to the PDF of a journal article, or to a music file.

Subscribing to reading lists, periodicals, etc

I would like to be able to leverage my news aggregator with hAtom to subscribe to a remote source for citation information, for example:

Aggregating reading lists and reviews

A citation microformat-specific aggregator could provide a decentralized version of CiteULike. Libraries, authors, research groups, and publishers could mark up their collections, while other people on weblogs or review sites could add tags and reviews.

At least, having a well-adopted microformat would make writing tools like CiteULike much better, since it relies in some cases on screen-scraping publisher web-sites.

Cut & Paste from web pages

Capturing/copying HTML from web pages for use in other applications (especially when those apps present HTML as output), such as pasting into Word, or a specialized application like Google Notebook, Onfolio or Kaboodle. When such captures are made, it makes sense to keep track of the full citation data, including the date it was accessed, which may or may not be the date it was published.

Blogs quoting other resources, including blogs

Any blog that cites online content, whether a blog or news article, could use an hCitation to properly link to the cited reference. Such citations could include the access date when the blogger made the citation, because resources on the other side of those links can change without notice.

Instead, today we have simple formating with a link to the permaURL. The citation data is completely lacking. See Doc Searl's blog for a style of referencing that could benefit from proper a citation uF.

Fascinating... after I added the last two use cases, I realized they focus on potentially marginal cases. The first because it is missing the "output" part of the cut & paste, where the uF would actually be used as part of the paste. The latter because bloggers have a working citation mechanism that is just a link to the URL (hopefully a permaURL). One could argue they wouldn't want a full hCitation. And in fact, until a tool exists that makes it easy, they probably won't. However, a tool that cuts & pastes from anywhere on the web into a blog with a full citation seems like a nice tool. But again, I'm not really paving the cowpaths with these ideas. -Joe Andrieu

Finding in Library

Find a copy of the cited work in a nearby library (as with OpenCOinS). AndyMabbett 04:55, 4 Nov 2006 (PST)

Buy a copy

Find the cited work on, for example, Amazon or ABE; or subscribe to a journal via its own website. AndyMabbett 04:55, 4 Nov 2006 (PST)

Find reviews

Find third-party reviews of the cited work. AndyMabbett 04:55, 4 Nov 2006 (PST)

Give citation data for the page being visited

Adding a class of, say, "self" to an attribute of the proposed strawman would allow users (or user agents) to extract the data required to cite the page being visited, when referring to it elsewhere. There would be the added advantage of allowing the citation to be ignored by any parser which might be building a "tree" of citations, and preventing the setting up of an infinite loop.

For evidence of published "self citation" data (albeit on a secondary page) see the "cite this article" link on any Wikipedia entry, e.g. [1] from [2].

See also Proposal to include on-page citation data in Wikipedia

Andy Mabbett 13:47, 20 Mar 2007 (PDT)


if you want to cite a [biomedical journal] journal article on Wikipedia [...] you can export a correctly-formatted citation for Wikipedia from HubMed using unAPI...
Andy Mabbett 09:13, 21 Mar 2007 (PDT)

Original hBib Discussion

During the WWW2005 Developer's Day microformats track, Rohit Khare gave a presentation where he discussed the microformats process, and then did a quick demonstration wherein a bunch of us got on a shared Subethaedit document, and brainstormed some thoughts on what an "hBib" bibliography citation microformat would look like. Rohit placed the document on his Commercenet site.

An attempt to summarize and inline the linked document follows. -Mike

Two major goals were outlined by the group:

The fundamental problem was discussed in terms of display - the ability to transform XHTML+hBib into the many journal-specific formats. For example, how to display "" when all authors are present in the source, and how to re-order the elements if a style defines a set order of elements that conflicts with the ordering in the source. Using hCard for authors was agreed on, and the beginnings of an example were shown.

XHTML Structure

With my exprience working X2V and hCa* has taught me what elememts are easy to find and which are not. Since the Citation microformat is very new it is possible to not make a lot of the same errors twice and to make things easier for extracting application to find and imply certain properties.

Note: This section was the original content of the document. Since then, class='hcite' has been agreed on as the root class name. See explanation.

Citation vs. media-info

What distinguishes a cite from say media-info (e.g. media-info-examples) is that a cite is a reference to something explicitly external to the current piece of content or document, whereas media-info describes information about content embedded or inline in the current document.

Semantic Meaning

One of the guiding priniciple of Microformats is to use the most semantically rich element to describe each node (Point 2 of Semantic XHTML Design Principles: Use the most accurately precise semantic XHTML building block for each object etc). Since we are dealing with HTML and citations, several elements are candidates to be used to enrich the semantic meaning. CITE, BLOCKQUOTE, Q, A, (are there more?)

The Citation Brainstorming Page has a few development and ideas about how to give another person credit for a link. Some of the semantic ideas behind their choices of tags can be applied to a full bibliographic type reference. Does this sentence make sense only historically? -Mike

OCLC's WorldCat for titles

Question: what about using something like OCLC's WorldCat for linking titles? - Tim White

This and That

After reading through alot of different citation encoding formats, i noticed that each format was being used in onw of two ways. It was either to describe the Current page (THIS.PAGE) or being used to encode references that point to external resources (THAT.PAGE)

The informatation being encoded was identical for both resources (author, date, name, etc) they just reference different things. For this microformat, i'm not sure if we want to try to solve both problems, or just one? The meta tags in the head element would be the ideal place for information about the THIS.PAGE, but that is not in following with the ideals of microformats where information is human-readable. The THAT.PAGE idea where a list of references is at the end of a document in the form of a bibliography is more inline with the ideals of a microformat where the data is human-readable. That doesn't mean that data about the current document shouldn't be human-readable, so some of the same properties used to reference extermal resources can be used for the current document (THIS.PAGE). To do this a different root item could be used and transforming applications could either extract the citation data about the current page, or information about this page's references.

This is open for discussion, but either way, i believe that the properties used to describe a page will be the same for both THIS and THAT. brian suda

More on This and That

Citation microformats are being explored as a possibility for citing genealogical information at Dan Lawyer's blog.

This is a case where frequently the citation would refer to (THIS.PAGE), but would have nested within it a reference to (THAT.PAGE), possibly a few levels deep. For instance, a web page might contain data extracted from a microfilm of a census. The citation would need to include information about the web page, information about the microfilm, and information about the census. Genealogical citations are expected to include the repository (where can this book or microfilm be found. Is this the same as venue?). So, at each level the information should contain the repository of the referenced item. A nesting (recursive) mechanism for citation microformats would be useful in this case. Is this the function of the "container" element in the Straw Format?

Date Formatting

Since microformats are all about re-use and the accepted way to encode Date-Time has been pretty much settled, then this is a good place to start when dealing with all the different date citation types.

These are all the different fields from various citation formats that are of temporal nature:

* Date (available | created | dateAccepted | dateCopyrighted | dateSubmitted | issued | modified | valid)
* originInfo/dateIssued
* originInfo/dateCreated
* originInfo/dateCaptured
* originInfo/dateOther
* month
* year
* Copyright Year
* Date - Generic
* Date of Confernce
* Date of Publication
* Date of update/revisou/issuance of database record
* Former Date
* Entry Date for Database Record
* Database Update
* Year of Publication

There are several common properties across several citation domains and will certainly be in the citation microformat, the unique instances will need further consideration, otherwise there could be no end to posiblities.

There are also several properties (year, month, Year of publication) that can be extracted from another source. Therefore, if you only encode a more specific property such as; Date of Publication, you can extract the 'year of publication' from that. Since the date-time format we are modeling after is the ISO date-time format, just the Year portion is an acceptable date. So if you ONLY know the year of publication, the you can form a valid 'Date of Publication' as a microformat (which inturn is a valid 'year of publication') - you milage may vary when it comes to importing into citation applications.


It seems to me that these can be collapsed to maybe one or two different date properties. As far as the specific human readable formatting of the date, that can be chosen per whatever the presentation style guide says, and the datetime-design-pattern used to simplify the markup. - Tantek

Important Sometimes we need a date range and not simply a date (e.g. 4-6 May 2006). See Conference Citation examples later on this page. - Discoleo

Seasons Some journals have seasonal issues (e.g. "Summer 2006 edition") instead of, or as well as, editions labelled by month or other calendar-date. AndyMabbett 05:05, 4 Nov 2006 (PST)


Some of the citation formats has a place for 'keywords' or 'generic tags', etc. This might be a good place to re-use the RelTag microformat. The downside would be that they are then forced to be links, which might be the correct way to mark-up these terms.

MARC / MODS / Dublin Core

The MODS (example) and Dublin Core (example) transformations of MARC21 may contain some useful ideas.

Here's a first attempt at rewriting the linked examples in XHTML (written in response to a mailing list query about encoding book information with microformats):

<div class="book" lang="en">
  <h3 class="fn">Arithmetic /</h3>
  <p>By <span class="creator"><span class="fn">Sandburg, Carl</span>,
     <span class="date">1878-1967</span></span>,
     and <span class="illustrator">Rand, Ted</span></p>
  <p>Publisher: <span class="publisher"><span class="fn">Harcourt Brace Jovanovich</span>,
     <span class="locality">San Diego</span></span></p>
  <p>Published: <span class="issued">1993</span></p>
  <p class="description">A poem about numbers and their characteristics. Features
     anamorphic, or distorted, drawings which can be restored to normal by viewing
     from a particular angle or by viewing the image's reflection in the provided
     Mylar cone.</p>
  <p class="note">One Mylar sheet included in pocket.</p>
    <li class="subject">Arithmetic</li>
    <li class="subject">Children's poetry, American.</li>
    <li class="subject">Arithmetic</li>
    <li class="subject">American poetry</li>
    <li class="subject">Visual perception</li>

Basic Citation Stuctures

There are basic structures to any citation, this is an overview of some of the types

Concerns not addressed by existing formats

There are some aspects NOT adequately covered by existing formats. I have addressed this issue on the wiki page, too. [see for an extending discussion, the paragraph on Reference Types]

These issues pertain mainly to Errata, Comments and Authors Reply and Article Retractions.

Outstanding Issues

Moved to citation-issues by BenWest 17:29, 8 Apr 2007 (PDT).

Brian's straw format

implied schema (examples)

+ publisher
+ language
+ description
+ title
+ creator
+ journal
+ volume
+ issue
+ page 
+ edition
+ identifier
+ tags
+ format
+ date published
+ copyright
- audience

implied schema (formats)

+ publisher
+ language
+ description
+ title
+ creator
+ volume
+ pages
+ edition
+ issue
+ identifier
+ tags
+ format
+ date published
+ date copyrighted
- subtitle
- image 
- excerpt
- index terms
- series title
- publication
- journal
- part (1 of X)

UNION of the two schemas

+ (PLUS) means common properties
- (MINUS) means unique to the schema

Working straw schema

This list records discussion about the common schema from above. The format is descriptive-name (optional-recommended-element 'class-name') (link to explanation).

If there is no explanation link, that field should be considered either obvious or up for debate. If you're not sure which, it's up for debate.

Notes about missing / changed fields in the schema

This section lists fields that are intentionally not included in the straw schema, or are not represented directly, and links to discussion about each.


Markup examples using the above format:


This is Brian's original example

<ul class="bibliography">
	<li class="hcite" xml:lang="en-gb">
		<!-- publisher data as hCard--;
		<div class="publisher vcard">
			<span class="fn org">ABC Publishing Co.</span>
			<span class="country-name">United Kingdom</span>
		<!-- author(s) data as hCard -->
		<div class="creator vcard">
			<span class="fn n"><span class="given-name">John <span class="family-name">Doe</span></span>

		<!-- location data -->
		<span class="fn">Foobar!</span>
		<span class="description">World Class Book about foobar</span>
		<span class="volume">1</span>
		<span class="issue">1</span>
		<span class="edition">1</span>
		<span class="pages">1-10</span>
		<span class="format">article</span>
		<!-- differed to the UID debate -->
		<span class="identifier">12345678</span>
		<!-- keywords -->
		<a class="keyword" rel="tag" href="/tags/foo">foo</a>
		<span class="keyword">bar</span>
		<!-- date properties -->
		Published <abbr class="date-published" title="20060101">January 1st 1006</abbr>
		Copyright <abbr class="copyright" title="20060101">2006</abbr>

<p class="hcite">Have you read <span class="title"><abbr title="book" class="format">Foo Bar</abbr></span>? 
It was written by <span class="author vcard"><span class="fn">John Doe</span></span>. 
It only came out a <abbr class="dtpublished" title="20060101">few months ago</abbr></p>

Note: the "format" property above is incorrect. Format would refer more the physical characteristics of an item, rather than its type or genre (e.g. "article", "book", etc.). I'd rather have the main class for the li be "article" in this context, than the fairly meaningless "citation." Of course, one could have both, which would be fine too. -- bruce

Note: Could we use ROLE from hCard to identify editors, translators, authors, etc? This was discussed on the mailing list and the idea was dropped [3]

Comments : singpolyma 08:03, 16 Jun 2006 (PDT) : keywords should be rel-tag, and probably also XOXO (the same way the citation list is)

RCanine 11:55, 18 Dec 2006 (EST) :

Citing Private Communication

Needs an example.

Citing Legal Cases

Needs an example. see Wikipedia example for inspiration.

Citing a Book

needs an example

Citing a journal article

From an old entry in PubMed - J Aersp Med. link

<span class="hcite">
  <span class="creator vcard"><span class="fn">R R Burton</span></span>,
  <span class="creator vcard"><span class="fn">S D Leverett</span></span>, and
  <span class="creator vcard"><span class="fn">E D Michaelson</span></span>

  <span class="title">Man at high sustained +Gz acceleration: a review.</span>
  In  <span class="container hcite">
    <abbr class="type" title="Journal">J.</abbr><abbr class="title" title="Aerospace medicine">Aersp. Med.</abbr>
    <span class="uri uid">urn:issn:0001-9402</span>
    <span class="volume">45</span>
    <span class="issue">10</span>
    <abbr class="date-published" title="101974">Oct, 1974</abbr>
  </span>, pages <span class="page">1115-36</span>.


Note, I'm not entirely sure about the issn urn here.

Citing a magazine article

needs an example

Citing a Patent

Drawn from this example from Wikipedia:

<li class="hcite"><a href=",405,829" class="url" 
<span class="format">U.S. Patent</span> <span class="identifier">4,405,829</span></a>:
    <span class="description">The <a href="/wiki/RSA" title="RSA">RSA</a> patent, a famous software patent on the ground-breaking 
    and highly unobvious algorithm for public key encryption, widely used for secure communications 
    in many industries nowdays</span>

Citing a conference publication

Based on the conference publication reference example.

Changed Oct 06 to conform with Brian's format. --Mike 18:09, 12 Oct 2006 (PDT) (everything but the url class should be in line with that proposal)

L. Hochstein, J. Carver, F. Shull, S. Asgari, V. Basili, J. K. Hollingsworth, and M. Zelkowitz, “Hpc programmer productivity: A case study of novice hpc programmers,” in Proceedings of ACM/IEEE Supercomputing Conference, 2005.

<span class="hcite">
  <span class="creator vcard"><span class="fn">Lorin Hochstein</span>
  <span class="org"> University of Maryland, College Park </span></span>,
  <span class="creator vcard"><span class="fn"> Jeff Carver </span> 
  <span class="org"> Mississippi State University </span> </span>,
  <span class="creator vcard"><span class="fn"> Forrest Shull </span> 
  <span class="org"> Fraunhofer Center Maryland </span> </span>,
  <span class="creator vcard"><span class="fn"> Sima Asgari</span> 
  <span class="org"> University of Maryland, College Park </span> </span>,
  <span class="creator vcard"><span class="fn"> Victor Basili</span> 
  <span class="org"> Fraunhofer Center Maryland </span> </span>,
  <span class="creator vcard"><span class="fn"> Jeffrey K. Hollingsworth</span> 
  <span class="org"> University of Maryland, College Park </span> </span>, and 
  <span class="creator vcard"><span class="fn"> Marv Zelkowitz</span> 
  <span class="org"> University of Maryland, College Park </span> </span>,
  <a class="title url" href="">HPC Programmer Productivity: A Case Study of Novice HPC Programmers</a>. 
  (<span class="format">conference publication</span>)
  <span class="container hcite">
    <a class="title url" href="...">Proceedings of ACM/IEEE Supercomputing Conference</a>
    <abbr class="date-published" title="20051126T0000-0800">2005</abbr>
  page <span class="pages">35</span>
  <span class="publisher vcard">
    <span class="fn">IEEE Computer Society
    <span class="adr">
      <span class="locality">Washington</span>,
      <span class="region">DC</span>
  <a class="url eprint" href="">PDF of full text from ACM</a>
  DOI: <a class="url uid" href="">10.1109/SC.2005.53</a>
  <a class="keyword" rel="tag" href="results.cfm?query=genterm%3A%22Design%22 ...">Design</a>,
  <a class="keyword" rel="tag" href="results.cfm?query=genterm%3A%22Experimentation%22 ....">Experimentation</a>,
  <a class="keyword" rel="tag" href="results.cfm?query=genterm%3A%22Measurement%22...">Measurement</a>,
  <a class="keyword" rel="tag" href="results.cfm?query=genterm%3A%22Performance%22 ...">Performance</a>

  <span class="description">In developing High-Performance Computing (HPC) software, ....</span>

Note (From Discoleo, Sept. 06)

Citing an external website

This is based on a formal citation of a website in the references section of a research paper, but could also be used for in-line links that had added information. Here's the original:

[25] David Stern, "eprint Moderator Model", (version dated Jan 25, 1999)

<cite class="hcite">
<a class="fn url" href="">eprint Moderator Model</a>
<span class="author vcard">
<a href="" class="url fn">David Stern</a>
<abbr class="dtpublished" title="19990125T0000-0500">
    Jan 25, 1999

Discussion of Straw Format elements

This section is to provide explanations for posterity about the elements of the straw format, linking to discussions on the list and elsewhere if possible.

'hcite' as Root Element name

This discussion took place in January of 2007, with voting occurring on the mailing list.

It was decided to use 'hcite' as the root element's class-name for uniqueness and to reflect a trend in using 'h' to start microformat names.

The URI Element

It was decided to use URI for both http links to available copies or URNs. This encompasses URLs that link directly to online copies as well as through resolvers using URIs such as urn:isbn: 0521890012

See the discussion from November and December.

Date Fields

Brian's original straw format had three date fields, "accessed", "copyrighted", and "published". After examining the examples of usage on the web, it was clear that 'copyrighted' was not used in the examples we have. It was used once, but without a corresponding 'published' field (OCLC WorldCat), and it seems in that case to be used as an equivalent to 'published'.

I updated the straw citation to include only 'accessed' and 'published' on January 31. --Mike 00:26, 31 Jan 2007 (PST)

I've mentioned more than once that "date-published" is misleadingly specific; too much for real world citations. Consider that many books are published in the year preceding their copyright date, which is in fact the date used for citation. I'd prefer just "date" and "date-accessed" as a first cut. --Bruce 3 Feb 2007

See the discussion from the 'dates' thread on the list.


Discussion about how to represent containing relationships is on the thread 'nesting container elements'


The problem of the use of the term "title" for the name of a citation item (or media item) is twofold:

  1. It's already used to mean "job title" in the context of microformats (hCard).
  2. The concept that it is being proposed to represent is the *name* of a citation item. "fn" already means the name of an item. we should not introduce a new term to mean the same thing as an existing term.

We should use "fn" for the name of a citation item.

(Unsigned comment by Tantek])

Examples in the wild

Pages which start to use the discussion above to create working examples in using hcite: (This section could be used as a base for a page like "hcite-examples-in-wild" later).

Please add new examples to the top of this section.


See also

citation-brainstorming was last modified: Wednesday, December 31st, 1969