WMDE Technical Wishes/ReferencePreviews

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Jumping down to the references section makes you lose the reading position, and it is sometimes hard to get back up and find the position where you came from. An idea to solve this problem is to have previews for references.

This wish was request no 1 from the German-speaking community's wishlist survey in summer 2017. Please note that this project is scoped to desktop only, since there is a mobile solution already.

Related wish: Footnote highlighting


Gadget for previewing references on en.wikipedia.org
Gadget for previewing references on nl.wikipedia.org

Current situation[edit]

Several wikis, like en-wiki, nl-wiki or dewiki have gadgets that create pop-ups when you hover over a reference (sometimes configured as a default feature for all users). For example, Reference Tooltips, developed by Benutzer:Yair rand.

Without a gadget, you have to click on a reference number to find out more. On desktop, you jump to the bottom part of the article, which brings you out of your reading flow. You can get back to the current position by using the browser’s back button, but you still leave the article section to look at the reference.
On mobile, you will see only that reference at the bottom of the screen. This feature is available in the mobile view of all wikis.

Related projects[edit]

  • Page Previews are activated on all wikis. Several wikis have gadgets for page previews.

Conversations at Wikimania and German Wikicon 2017[edit]

We gathered insights and feedback around the project idea at Wikimania and German WikiCon 2017. Main outcome:

  • This wish isn’t considered controversial. It would be good to have pop-ups as a feature for everyone, several wikis already have gadgets for that.
  • The en-wiki and nl-wiki gadgets were named as good examples several times (see screenshots).


Coordination and implementation of this wish is done by the Technical Wishes team at Wikimedia Deutschland. The design for this feature is being developed by the WMF.


  • The preview for references will look like the Page Previews, so that all pop-ups have the same design, no matter if you hover over a link to a page or over a footnote marker.
  • At the top of the pop-up, the type of footnote is displayed, e.g. literature or web source.


  • The preview shows when you click at a footnote marker, and when you hover over it.
  • The pop-up gives a preview of the footnote as it is shown at the bottom of the page. So this implementation also works for pages using short citations (Shortened Footnotes).
  • If the footnote's content is too big, you can scroll within the pop-up.
  • By clicking on the link at the bottom of the pop-up, you jump to the actual footnote at the bottom of the page.
  • Links within a footnote open in a new tab.
  • Footnotes within footnotes are regular links. There are no pop-ups within pop-ups.


  • The preview uses JavaScript. If you don't have JavaScript activated, you'll get the current view: Footnote markers are jump marks and there's no preview.

Deactivating the preview[edit]

  • Both previews for footnotes and pages can be deactivated via the cog wheel inside the pop-up.


The wish is currently in its research phase. Implementation is planned to start by the beginning of 2019.



As always, your feedback is welcome on the talk page!