Absence & Citation Needed

First things first, as of July 2nd, I will be off to Taizé again. I won’t be back until the start of September, and I’m not sure about the exact date. Because I will have to spend a lot of time taking care of my stay in London at Imperial College after that time, I suppose one could say I will be gone in July, August and September, for all intents and purposes related to Mozilla. And actually, I’m writing my thesis now, so if you have things that you need me to do you can try to still get to me, but it might be too late already. I’ll try, though. Emails and comments here are free, so give it a shot if you need me.

Second, in connection to this thesis thing:

Dear Lazyweb,

I would like a way to make LaTeX do a [citation needed] in true Wikipedia style. I often find myself thinking “if I want to write something like this, I need a reference to back it up”, but searching for a good one for minutes/hours on end breaks up my writing process, so I’d much rather make a note to self and keep writing, especially for things which I am very sure of there must be a reference for. Example: “the POSIT algorithm was conceived in the 1990s by John Doe[citation needed]”.

Yes, I know that by default, LaTeX will do a [?] if I try to reference something that doesn’t exist, but that’s (a) not obvious enough for my taste, and (b) it might be the result of a misspelled BibTeX id or such, and I’d rather not mix the usecases of “deliberately left blank” and “oops, misspelled the citation identifier and/or forgot to re-run BibTeX after adding citations”. I haven’t found an easy way to do this.


6 thoughts on “Absence & Citation Needed

  1. You could try:


    Then \cite{NEEDED} will produce “[citation needed]”, but \cite{RealBibTeXId} will produce [1] or whatever, and \cite{TpyoBibTeX} will produce [?]. It doesn’t work with multiple citations (\cite{Id1,Id2,NEEDED}), but that seems reasonable enough, given that if you knew one citation, you’d be ok…

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  4. Very nice idea! I’ve copied it and made a few minor modifications:

    1) I put the “needed” citation in superscript and truetype font, since this *really* makes it stick out like a sore thumb (which I think makes it useful when scanning to see where citations need to go).
    2) I added a comment line at the beginning. If you’re going to be copy-pasting this paragraph into the preamble of multiple documents, it’d be nice to see at a glance what it’s for.

    My version is at the end of this comment. Again, thanks to Gijs for the idea and Ben for the implementation.
    % Use “\cite{NEEDED}” to get Wikipedia-style “citation needed” in document

  5. Very nice implementation. Based on what I read here, though, I went with something slightly different. When I write, I find that even taking the time to write the citation can distract me, so I made my own \? command to do the same (based on Chip’s work).

    \newcommand{\?}{\ensuremath{^\texttt{\bf [CITATION~NEEDED]}}}

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