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Tantek Çelik (Editor)

h-cite is a simple, open format for publishing citations and references to online and other publications. h-cite is one of several open microformat draft standards suitable for embedding data in HTML/HTML5.



Here is a simple minimal abstract web citation example:

<span class="h-cite">
  <time class="dt-published">YYYY-MM-DD</time> 
  <span class="p-author h-card">AUTHOR</span>: 
  <cite><a class="u-url p-name" href="URL">TITLE</a></cite>

Get started

The class h-cite is a root class name that indicates the presence of an h-cite.

The classes dt-published, p-author, p-name, and u-url define properties of the h-cite.

The class h-card on the same <span> as p-author indicates the presence of a nested h-card microformat as the author of the h-cite.


h-cite properties (inside class h-cite)


h-cite is a microformats.org draft specification. Public discussion on h-cite takes place on h-cite-feedback and the #microformats irc channel on irc.freenode.net.

Property Details

(stub, to be expanded)

All web citation properties are derived from those implied in existing citation styling guides for citing permalinks to articles and short text notes online.

Date-time properties (dt-published, dt-accessed) may optionally include time information in addition to the date if relevant to the citation (e.g. when citing short text notes (tweets) of which there may be several in a single day).

To be added:

Offline Citations

The web citation proposal can be used for simple web-to-off-web citation use cases. As suggested by Ed Summers, dropping the hyperlink to the cited web article provides a simple off-web citation, e.g. a citation of a physical book:

<span class="h-cite">
  <time class="dt-published">YYYY-MM-DD</time> 
  <span class="p-author h-card">AUTHOR</span>: 
  <cite class="p-name">TITLE</cite>

Note: physical books typically only provide the YYYY (year) published, not the precise date.

Next steps:

Examples in the wild

Real world in the wild examples:

  <cite class="h-cite">
    <a class="u-url p-name" href="http://tantek.com/2013/104/t2/urls-readable-speakable-listenable-retypable"> 
      URLs should be readable, speakable, listenable, and unambiguously 
retypable, e.g. from print: tantek.com/w/ShortURLPrintExample #UX 
   (<abbr class="p-author h-card" title="Tantek Çelik">Çelik</abbr> 
    <time class="dt-published">2013-04-14</time>)

See also examples documented here:

Real but not quite wild (used by the specification author)


This work is based on how existing citation format styles (APA, MLA, TCMOS) represent references to articles on the web, and is designed to match the implied schema of those styles. The web citations proposal defines how to markup such reference representation styles in order to satisfy the use-cases above.


A primary goal of the web citation effort is to both start small, and always "make small possible", that is, no matter how it is extended, continue permitting very small meaningful citations with perhaps only 2-3 properties (e.g. date published, author, name of work).

Previous Proposals

The biggest problem with all previous proposals is that they tried to do too much. They didn't design a citation microformat that could be used as a building block, but rather, erred on the side of attempting to describe the myriad types of references to dead-tree resources. They were so over-designed that their authors didn't even dogfood them on their own sites. -- Tantek 00:56, 7 August 2012 (UTC)



Why markup web citations? What problem does it solve?

A: In the simplest form, marking up a web citation URL, name, date published, author etc. allow for processing of web citations into whatever "style" or "format" (MLA vs APA etc.) a user wishes to publish them themselves.

Why not just a href

Doesn't <a href> solve the problem of marking up citations in an article on the web that refers to other articles on the web?

A: No, <a href> is necessary but insufficient for marking up citations to articles on the web.

Design Principles

Principles driving this proposal:


The web citations proposal uses a smaller, simpler set of only eight properties to solve the specific problem of how to markup citations in an article on the web that refers to other articles on the web. Offline to offline, and online to offline references were specifically not explicitly addressed in initial design.

First Proposal

This design was first publicly proposed as the result of an interactive web citation design discussion during IndieWebCamp2012:


h-cite was last modified: Wednesday, December 31st, 1969