Reference Tooltips

The Reference Tooltips is a gadget that shows notes when you hover over them.

A reference tooltip; the hand-shaped cursor is hovering over a footnote link '[19]'. The Reference tooltip displays the footnote contents without requiring a click, or even scrolling down to footnote 19.

A hint appears right on the line, without the need to scroll down the page.

This feature is enabled by default on many wikis and users can disable it by accessing the feature's options, which sets a cookie; logged-in users can disable it permanently in the Gadgets tab of Special:Preferences.

About Edit

The script was originally developed by User:Yair rand in 2012 and reworked by User:Jack who built the house in 2019. To install the gadget in your wiki, you need to transfer the following files there:

  • w:MediaWiki:Gadget-ReferenceTooltips.js
    • Replace with the appropriate URL for your own wiki (as of 27 April 2020, this is around line 479); failing to do so may cause an exception in the JavaScript console, and the tooltips will fail to show up
  • w:MediaWiki:Gadget-ReferenceTooltips.css
  • Add the line ReferenceTooltips[ResourceLoader|default|type=general|dependencies=mediawiki.cookie,jquery.client]|ReferenceTooltips.js|ReferenceTooltips.css to MediaWiki:Gadgets-definition
    The options menu
  • Create a description for the gadget to be displayed in the user preferences by editing MediaWiki:Gadget-ReferenceTooltips on your wiki; copy-paste the content from w:MediaWiki:Gadget-ReferenceTooltips, or create your own if you wish

The gadget will then be loaded by default on the wiki.

For the normal functioning of the script, the following dependencies are necessary: mediawiki.cookie, jquery.client. Extension:Gadgets must also be loaded.

Rationale Edit

Currently, Wikimedia sites list all references at the bottom of the article. For large articles, especially those with many references, this is sub-optimal. Checking an article's references requires several traversals over the entire length of the article, during which time the reader will often lose their place.

Hypotheses Edit

This is a general usability feature. It is hypothesized that readers will be more likely to visit references if they are immediately accessible without having to traverse the entire page length.

Current workflow Edit

In articles, a statement is referenced with a super-scripted, internal page link. Clicking on this link will take the user to the bottom of the page to the whole reference list. The specific reference is then highlighted. The user then clicks the link there and the referenced external link is opened.

User experience Edit


When the user hovers their mouse over the super-scripted citation link in an article, a tooltip appears above that includes the reference footnote. The user can then move their mouse into the hover and click on the link(s) there to open the external references.

Clicking on the super-scripted reference link behaves as normal (the user is brought to the reference list).

JavaScript and tablet considerations Edit

This feature requires JavaScript. Browsers with JavaScript disabled will not have this feature.

This feature may not be usable with tablets and other touch screen interfaces without eliminating the current "click takes you to the reference list" behavior.

Settings Edit

To edit this gadget's settings, hover over a citation so that the tooltip appears, then click on the gear icon. You can set the following options:

  • Whether the tooltip appears on hover or on click
  • Delay before the tooltip appears (by default 200 milliseconds)
  • Whether to show a tooltip for abbreviations inside ‎<abbr> tags. (Example: "abbr.")

See also Edit