Style Request: US Geological Survey

the reference format used by the US Geological Survey appears to be almost exactly the same as the Geological Society of America format, except for the following:

For in text citations, the US Geological Survey uses "and others" instead of "et al."
  • stupid - people just do these things completely mindlessly. Oh well - it will take a couple of days, but I've taken note of this and will put it up asap.
  • is there a link to a styleguide somewhere?
  • go here
    download using the "Raw" link on the top right.
    Install by dragging the downloaded file to an open Firefox window.

    Please report back if it looks OK. Please also provide a link to the style if possible.
  • The 8 pages of the 280 page USGS style manual that deals with references is here:
    It's a federal agency - I hope you didn't expect something simple and straightforward. I thought my summary would be sufficient as I looked through multiple copies of USGS reports and compared the formats to multiple papers from GSA journals - and found the in text citation to be the only difference. I'd found the style manual and assumed you'd find that rather onerous. I'm sorry that you consider me one of the "stupid - people" that you apparently tire of dealing with. I fully recognize that I am one of those morons who don't know a thing about programming/code/etc. - I have other things to worry about.

    And if it is tiresome the way that people "mindlessly" post style requests on the forum here, perhaps that should be a clue that a different approach is required. Sure, there's a link somewhere on your website that says what should be included in a style request. I've worked with that when I made previous requests, but again, if there's still an annoying problem, maybe there's a better way. Maybe a form for making style requests - blanks and/or pulldown menus that the users would have to fill in with the necessary info in order to have their style request considered. You'd be helping the user help themselves and you. I understand it'd be difficult to make this automatically write the code , but it should prevent/reduce the back and forth on a forum to ferret out the necessary details.

    zotero is a wonderful tool and seems to rapidly be building community support - I just would like to contribute to this community in other ways than than learning how to write .csl's. Every time reference software comes up in a discussion with colleagues, I point them towards Zotero...

    Remember, you're the expert, and the rest of us are just trying to figure this out enough to get by....

    I've installed the .csl and set it up for my report. It looks great, and really, thanks for your time.
  • edited December 5, 2009
    oops sorry - that wasn't meant offensively at all! I think agencies and journals who all feel to have to come up with a different style, slightly different from an existing one are stupid - not the poor scholars who have to deal with it, that's why I'm trying to help the latter while bitching about the former.

    Edit: just reread that - that was really poorly phrased, no wonder you took that to refer to you, my apologies.
    Improving the style requests are difficult - if I remember correctly, the one you posted for GSA was actually quite good, but generally people often don't do a great job in identifying differences. And I don't blame them, because it's not something most scholars are used to doing. I wish I had a good idea on how to solve that, but there are just so many details that a form (I've been thinking of a checklist) would be really hard to do.

    Edit 2: And by helping to prepare and testing styles and promoting Zotero you are contributing.
  • OK, the updated style is now on the new csl 1.0 repository at and will eventually move to
  • AdamSmith:

    Thank you for making the USGS style. I work for the USGS and use the USGS style. Although you think it's stupid that the USGS made up it's own style, it's been in existence at least since 1950. What I understand is that the USGS decided to be strict about using English (and others), instead of Latin (et al.).

    There are a few issues with the style that I hope you can fix.

    1) When an author is entered two different ways (e.g. Smith, S.L.; Smith, Sam L.) the in-text citation ends up (S.L Smith, 2000) instead of just the last name (Smith, 2000). Only for unpublished information do we use the first and middle initial. In order to keep this from happening I have to go through and standardize every occurrence of an author's name.

    2) How do cite a map that also comes with a pamphlet so that the Bibliography shows up correctly? For this occasion the Bibliography should be "10 p., 1 sheet, scale 1:250,000." I've tried using the Map Type reference and entering the scale in the scale field, but the scale doesn't show up in the Bibliography, there is no place to enter pages for the pamphlet, and there is no place to enter the number of sheets. What I've resorted to doing is using the Journal Article Type and entering the above information into the pages area, but this requires that I remove the extra ,, p. for each map. Because I use the Journal Article type, the style adds a second comma before the p. since there is no volume listed. Is there a way to get the Map type to include number of pages and sheets, and format it properly in the Bibliography to include the scale?

    A proper map citation should read:

    Smith, S.L., 2000, Preliminary map of this area: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2000-01, 10 p., 1 sheet, scale 1:250,000.

    Using the Map Type results in:

    Smith, S.L., 2000, Preliminary map of this area: Open-File Report 2000-01.

    Which is missing the Scale and Publisher.

    The Journal Article Type results in:

    Smith, S.L., 2000, Preliminary map of this area: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File 2000-01,, p. 10 p., 1 sheet, scale 1:250:000.

    This result is the closest with entering "10 p., 1 sheet, scale 1:250:000" in the Pages field, but has an extra comma and p.

    A Report Type could be used but it's even worse:

    Smith, S.L., 2000, Preliminary map of this area: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2000-01.

    The page number field doesn't show up and the Series Title field must be used for the entire report name and number.
  • How would you distinguish between an article by Stephen Smith from the year 2000 and one by Andrew Smith from the year 2000 in an in-text citation? Most citation styles would use (S. Smith 2000; A. Smith 2000) - are you sure that's not the case here?
    (generally speaking you should unify your authors anyway - there will be no end of problems otherwise, with respect to sort order, grouping of in-text citations etc.).

    I can probably get rid of the extra comma for journal articles and we should soon be able to include scale - CSL now has the appropriate variable, we just need to map scale to it.

    (and no, no amount of history will get me to understand why the USGS and the GSA need two separate citation styles...)
  • Adam,

    You are correct about the author initials. I finally found in the USGS STA that initials are to be used to prevent confusion.

    The extra comma before the page numbers could probably get removed easily with an if/then statement. If there is no volume# or issue# entered into the fields then don't place a comma. I'll bet the issue# field is already treated this way for Journal Articles.

    I look forward to being able to use the Map type document after the scale, sheets, and pages fields are usable.
  • The style fix is up now. It will show up on the repository at within 30mins.
    Any problems let us know.
  • Adam,

    Thanks for fixing the comma issue for maps entered in the Journal type.

    Can you fix a few other issues?

    1) The USGS standard is if the author does not give a middle initial that the authors full first name is written out. For example this is the correct format:

    Plafker, George, and Berg, H.C. (Eds.), 1994, The Geology of Alaska: The geology of North America, Decade of North American Geology, Geological Society of America, Boulder, Colorado, 1055 p., 13 plates.

    2) Book Types have a # of pages field but it is not added to the bibliography citation. This is how the above book citation comes out:

    Plafker, G., and Berg, H.C. (Eds.), 1994, The Geology of Alaska: Geological Society of America, Boulder, Colorado.

    3) Note the Series title is not listed either:
    The geology of North America, Decade of North American Geology
  • 2 and 3 are fixed now, 1 isn't possible in CSL/Zotero.
  • Adam,

    About your reply on Sept. 25, regarding the author's first name initials. Currently, the USGS style will ALWAYS add the first name initials to every in-text citation, unless there is no other form of an author's first name corresponding to the same last name. For example, if two references in my Zotero library contain the same author's last name, but different first names:

    Smith, A., 2000
    Smith, S., 2000

    anytime I cite one of the authors the in-text citation will always contain the author's initial (A. Smith, 2000), even if I don't cite the second Smith, S. article. The author's first name initial is only necessary when I also cite the second Smith, S. article. It does not make sense that the in-text citation will always include the author's initials even if I don't cite the other author's article. The CSL needs to be changed to recognize if I cite two articles with head authors that have same last names but different first names, not just because my Zotero library contains two different author's first names with the same last name.

    (Note: the USGS style was originally based on the GSA and GSA bulletin styles, so the same changes should be made in those two styles as well.)

    Thanks for your fixes and responses to my requests.
  • that shouldn't be the case. Please try to see if you can replicate that in a fresh document. If Zotero does that it's a bug, the style is correct.
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