Wikipedia:VisualEditor/Named references

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This is a Wikipedia project page for those interested in the topic of allowing named references in VisualEditor.

Currently, VE automatically adds numeric ref names with a colon prefix, i.e., ":0", ":1", ":2", and so on. There has long been interest in having VE support named references. The goal of this page is to be a central location which summarizes, or links to, all information of interest on this topic.

The main project page for VisualEditor is Wikipedia:VisualEditor, which has numerous subpages. There are similar pages on MediaWiki, starting with mw:VisualEditor. In general, the set of MediaWiki pages are more up to date, and WMF members tend to look at and possibly respond at the pages there more than at Wikipedia.

If you find a bug or other new problem, please raise a Phabricator ticket to report it, after first searching open Phabricator tickets about VisualEditor to make sure it hasn't been reported already.


Tools available to mitigate the problem include:

  • RefRenamer – this script places a link in your Tools sidebar, and when clicked while on an article page, opens a dialog box containing all VE-style numeric references on the page, along with proposed Lastname-YYYY replacement names. It knows how to disambiguate collisions, and you can override to any named reference of your choice. A powerful tool, able to change hundreds of numeric references on a page. Presents a preview pane with diff, and if all looks good, you can Publish the changes.

See also[edit]

Wikipedia (Help, and Project):



Discussions (in any project)

Phabricator Report VE bugs in Phabricator: here. (Ticket statuses as of 2023-02-10 22:49 (UTC); non-exhaustive list)

VE Project overview page to track all VE issues

  • T52568 (2013-07-02) open, low  – VisualEditor: Be able to name references manually in the reference dialog
  • T92432 (2015-03-11) open, low  – Come up with a better way to auto-label references
  • T243300 (2020-01-21) closed, resolved – Spike: Investigate Named References in VE
  • T245199 (2020-02-13) open, needs triage – Named References in VE: Determine Potential Design Options
  • T312050 (2022-07-04) open, needs triage – VisualEditor changed reference names when reusing/copying references
  • T323419 (2022-11-18) open, needs triage – VE spontaneously adds numeric names to refs in sections not touched by a user edit