According to the current descriptions,

Queries related to citing or referencing published or unpublished sources

On the syntax and formatting of citations and reference lists according to a particular style guide (e.g., Chicago, MLA, IEEE, APA).

They seem almost similar and it seems like users cannot differentiate their standard use. Many use both in the same time; in such a case the tag should very well define the question's purpose.

Should they be treated as synonyms, or should I just go through the trouble of re-tagging the questions according to their true descriptions (I don't see any badge for this; [badge:Copy Editor] excludes tag edits)?

  • Every time there is a question about tags, I wonder if it's worth any effort caring for them: do really people use tags when searching? Sep 2, 2016 at 21:52
  • 2
    @MassimoOrtolano Well... I do.
    – Ébe Isaac
    Sep 3, 2016 at 0:52
  • 3
    @MassimoOrtolano I do too. Also, questions with your favorite tags are highlighted in the home page: when I browse quickly through the main page, I rely on the fact that the most interesting questions stand out visually. And I believe that they are used in the algorithm to create the list of related questions on the right part of the UI. Sep 6, 2016 at 10:16
  • @FedericoPoloni I'm kind of a basic user. Whenever I try to find a specific post through tags, I cannot find it :-( At present I use tags only to hide those about graduate admissions... but it works only for the web interface, not for the app which I use a lot. Sep 6, 2016 at 18:40
  • @MassimoOrtolano The tags are also used to select related questions which are shown in the sidebar on the right. I guess there are a few reasons why well-maintained tags might be useful. BTW speaking of tags, shouldn't this question be tagged (tags)?
    – Martin
    Sep 13, 2016 at 5:43
  • @Martin You're right, let's make the edit.
    – Ébe Isaac
    Sep 13, 2016 at 6:17

1 Answer 1


My understanding of the two tags is the following:

  • is related to questions about the appropriateness of a citation, e.g.: "Should I cite X if [...]?".

  • , instead, is related only to questions about formatting references and citations.

Thus, I wouldn't consider the two as synonyms. Maybe we can improve the description of .

Random examples:

  1. How do I cite a SDS in AMA format? This question is tagged with both tags but I think it should be tagged only.
  2. Is it unethical to cite a paper or book that you have never looked at? This question is correctly tagged .
  3. How to cite files on a CD-ROM? This one is tagged but according to my interpretation should be tagged instead.
  4. How do a cite an article which has been accepted pending revisions, but the revisions aren't accepted yet? This one again has both tags, but I think that the correct one is .
  5. What does "ad indicem" mean in a citation? This one is tagged but I think it should be tagged instead.
  6. Citing Math Lesson Plans This one has both tags and actually contain two different questions, one for each tag.
  • Before starting to retag any of the examples and others, I'll wait the outcome of this discussion Sep 3, 2016 at 8:05
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    I believe that the tag (citations) is also used on questions about finding citations. (Some examples can be found in this search.) The tag-info does not mention this usage of the tag. (Although to me this usage seems reasonable.)
    – Martin
    Sep 13, 2016 at 7:06

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