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Citation microformat efforts

This wiki page outlines the overall effort to develop a citation microformat. We are documenting current examples of cites/citations on the web today, their implicit/explicit schemas, and current cite/citation formats, with the intent of deriving a cite microformat from that research.

Tantek Çelik
Brian Suda
Ed Summers


This specification is (C) 2004-2022 by the authors. However, the authors intend to submit (or already have submitted, see details in the spec) this specification to a standards body with a liberal copyright/licensing policy such as the GMPG, IETF, and/or W3C. Anyone wishing to contribute should read their copyright principles, policies and licenses (e.g. the GMPG Principles) and agree to them, including licensing of all contributions under all required licenses (e.g. CC-by 1.0 and later), before contributing.

  • Tantek: I release all my contributions to this specification into the public domain and I encourage the other authors to do so as well.
    • When all authors/editors have done so, we can remove the MicroFormatCopyrightStatement template reference and replace it with the MicroFormatPublicDomainContributionStatement.
  • Brian Suda: I release all my contributions to this specification into the public domain and I encourage the other authors to do so as well.

Semantic XHTML Design Principles

Note: the Semantic XHTML Design Principles were written primarily within the context of developing hCard and hCalendar, thus it may be easier to understand these principles in the context of the hCard design methodology (i.e. read that first). Tantek

XHTML is built on XML, and thus XHTML based formats can be used not only for convenient display presentation, but also for general purpose data exchange. In many ways, XHTML based formats exemplify the best of both HTML and XML worlds. However, when building XHTML based formats, it helps to have a guiding set of principles.

  1. Reuse the schema (names, objects, properties, values, types, hierarchies, constraints) as much as possible from pre-existing, established, well-supported standards by reference. Avoid restating constraints expressed in the source standard. Informative mentions are ok.
    1. For types with multiple components, use nested elements with class names equivalent to the names of the components.
    2. Plural components are made singular, and thus multiple nested elements are used to represent multiple text values that are comma-delimited.
  2. Use the most accurately precise semantic XHTML building block for each object etc.
  3. Otherwise use a generic structural element (e.g. <span> or <div>), or the appropriate contextual element (e.g. an <li> inside a <ul> or <ol>).
  4. Use class names based on names from the original schema, unless the semantic XHTML building block precisely represents that part of the original schema. If names in the source schema are case-insensitive, then use an all lowercase equivalent. Components names implicit in prose (rather than explicit in the defined schema) should also use lowercase equivalents for ease of use. Spaces in component names become dash '-' characters.
  5. Finally, if the format of the data according to the original schema is too long and/or not human-friendly, use <abbr> instead of a generic structural element, and place the literal data into the 'title' attribute (where abbr expansions go), and the more brief and human readable equivalent into the element itself. Further informative explanation of this use of <abbr>: Human vs. ISO8601 dates problem solved

Example Citations

Citation Examples are citations found in the wild that could benefit from semantic mark-up. This is a growing list of examples from all sorts of places including W3C specifications, RFCs and others. These are the examples which will determine the schema for the citation microformat.

Known Citation Formats

The Citation Formats Page will be a running tab of known formats for publishing citations.

Eventually, I would like to see a chart of how each value from the implicit schema determined by the Citation Examples is represented in each format, and what formats have additional properties that do not map between them. (For example, Format1 calls 'author' 'author', in format2 'author' is called 'writer'. etc)

A Prescriptive Propose

Here is a propose which was derived from what one actually has to give as information in a cite as usual in our universities. (I don't know where to put that, so I put it right here.)

First, we need a frame, let's say "hcitation". Multiple citations can be put in a "hcitation" frame. Inside there, we can tell the type of citation, I suggest: "monograph"; "anthology", "periodical" , "reference", "thesis" , "standard", "internet", "specialist".

If a "label" was used to refer to the ressource in the text (often in square brackets) it can be named so.

Here comes the list of field names we need: "article", "atime", "author", "ctime", "department", "edition", "editor", "eligibility", "employer", "number", "overalltitle", "pagerange", "part", "place", "publisher", "subseries", "title", "type", "url", "volume", "volumetitle", "year".

A field "page" is to mark up which page you actually quote from. Marking up whatever as "prefix" should give you a hint that this is to be put at first place, but not to refer to when sorting. E.G. "The" should be marked as "prefix" either in "The Crocodile" and also in "Crocodile, the".

Field Description monograph anthology periodical thesis standard internet specialist
article Name of the Article in question   3 3        
atime Last access time for online ressources. Use abbr convention for datetime encoding.     11     5  
author Creator. Use fn or n markup for every single entity. 1 1 1 1   1 1
ctime Date / Last modification. Use abbr convention for datetime encoding.     8     4 5
department special field / faculty       6     3
edition Edition information 6 8     2    
editor Editors of an anthology. Use fn or n markup for every single entity. Add "transl" for translators and "comp" for compilers   4          
eligibility Qualification of a specialist             2
employer Name of university eg.       4     4
number Number 10 12 9   1    
overalltitle Overall Title / Title of series 9 11         8
pagerange Page range of an article in an anthology / periodical   13 10        
part Part of article (if having several parts)     4        
place Place of publication 7 9   5      
publisher House of Publish 8 10          
subseries name of subseries, If any     6        
title The main title. Anthology: name of antology. Periodical: name of periodical 3 5 5 3 3 3 6
type Type (type of thesis or type of utterance (radio interview, e-mail, ...) of a speciaist)       7     7
url URL     12     6  
volume Volume information (eg. Vol. 22) 4 6 7        
volumetitle Volume title 5 7          
year Year of appearance. 4 digit year. Use abbr convention for datetime encoding. 2 2 2 2   2  

This table shows what has to go together. Other Information than given here (eg. ISBN, ...) actually has not to be put into citations, students would recive negative evaluations if they do so. (I hope this will help somehow. sorry for bad english.)


The citation-issues page is intended to capture ongoing issues.

To Do


My hope for this microformat is that it can be a sort of module that can be used in other microformats. Once this is developed and flushed out, citation references could easily be used for publications on a Resume/CV, therefore the citation microformat would be a module (subset) of all the possible Resume Values.

Other Microformats that could use the Citation Module

Other Microformats that the Citation Module will use

  • hCard encodings for things like Author, Publisher (people and companies)
  • hAtom encodings as a possible container, and author/date-time properties
  • rel="tag" encoding for keywords
  • rel="license" encoding for copyright


Informative References

See Also