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Add {{When}} after a time period to indicate that the time period is vague or ambiguous and would be clearer by being reworded more precisely. Do not use for disputes: If the date in question is disputed (controversial, unlikely, impossible or otherwise more problematic than simply needing clarification), use {{Citation needed}}, {{Dubious}}, {{Disputed-inline}} or some other dispute template.

After placing the template in the article, it is a good idea to create a new When heading on that page's talk page, so as to provide a forum to discuss the unclear time reference.


The following are some examples of unclear time references.

References tied to the present

See also Wikipedia:Manual of Style (words to watch)#Relative time references Wikipedia:Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)#Precise language

Wikipedia pages will exist for decades, and any reference to the present "now" will be incorrect or misleading in a year or two. In fact, since Wikipedia readers cannot easily determine when a particular statement was written, any use of the present is immediately unclear as to when exactly is meant.

Sentences tied to the present that are likely to grow out-of-date may revealed by:

  • Words such as "presently", "currently", "now" or "today";
  • References to "this year", "this decade" or "this century";
  • Phrases such as "is in talks", "is planning", or "to this day".
  • Statements that use the word "still" in a context such as, "The statue is still standing in its original location."

Forward- and backward-looking statements may also be unintentionally anchored in the present:

  • Sentences about future intentions ("will acquire Saab")
  • The wikipedia:present perfect progressive ("has been recording a new single")
  • The immediate past ("for the past 10 years")
  • Relative time references ("last year", "10 years ago", "in 10 years", "within a decade", etc)

One way to correct such usage is with an introductory phrase such as "In April 2007" or "As of 2007" (best used with the {{As of}} template). Another way is to omit the present reference altogether (e.g. replace "He has worked there for the past 10 years and still works there today" with "He first began work there in 1995".)

Imprecise time specifiers

Other time references may also be vague or ambiguous. Words like "recent", "lately" or similar may need clarification. Is "recent" used to mean last week, last month, last year, last century? Such wording may not be obvious to the reader unless it is clarified or reworded.

There are many words or phrases that may imply a certain amount of time had passed without exactly indicating how long or when. Some further examples include:

  • "for some time"
  • "for a while"
  • "often"
  • "frequently"
  • "previously"
  • "formerly"
  • "at one point"
  • "at a certain point"
  • "during one period" (or "stage" or "phase")

Another example is the phrase "used to" when applied in a context such as, "He used to go there every day."

Date ambiguity

A date written in the format nn/nn/2009 may mean different things in different places - or even in the same place. To some, 1/4/2009 means "1 April 2009", to others, "4 January 2009".

Seasons used as times

Seasons are local phenomena and their usage as dates is hence even more vague than might be apparent at first sight.

This usage often manifests itself in phrasing like the following:

  • (some event happened) in the (season) of (year).
  • (something was completed) by [the] (season) [of (year)].

Where the meaning is mainly temporal use the most precise language reasonable - 15 September — 5 November 1995 , March — October 1994, fourth quarter of 1989, early part of 1962 - is preferred. See Wikipedia:WP:MOSNUM for more details.


In direct quotations, do not change any of the above. Instead give an explanation in appropriate brackets, where this can be found:

The statue is inscribed "1/4/2009" (1 April 2009)