The SBL Handbook of Style 2nd edition

The Society of Biblical Literature just released the 2nd edition of the The SBL Handbook of Style. Details here:

This new edition has at least two rule changes that affect the Zotero SBL citation style:

1. In bibliographies and notes, the basic facts of publication (city, publisher, and date) are set within parentheses, while all secondary publication information is now placed outside of the parentheses (6.2–6.4).

2. Series and journal titles are now abbreviated in both bibliography and notes (6).

Does Zotero plan to update the existing SBL citation style? Thanks for letting me know.

(I have a print copy of the 2nd edition and can provide more details to a programmer.)

Andy Naselli
  • I'll be happy to update. Ideally, go through the manual and list all differences to the current Zotero implementation, including, importantly, examples.
    I don't think I'll be able to get my hand on a copy any time soon.
  • Thanks, Adam!

    Would you be willing to email me so that I can reply via email with an attachment that has examples? Or would you prefer that I manually type them out in this thread?
  • sent you a private message with my email
  • Thanks. Just replied.
  • Could you please let us know when the updated SBL style is available?

  • Yes please...
  • edited January 10, 2015
    The style is now updated. The updated version will appear on the repository within 30mins (check the timestamp). Update your copy of the style by clicking "Update Now" in the General tab of the Zotero preferences.

    Styles also update automatically within 24hs for Zotero 4.0+
    In an existing document, you may have to switch to a different style and back for the changes to take effect once the style is updated.

    I don't have the full manual, so I only changed the two issues noted by Andy above, if you find anything else, please mention it here, ideally quoting the exact language and the example(s) from the manual
  • Here are some of the most prominent changes in the 2nd edition.

    1. SBL no longer requires an access date for sources viewed online.

    2. SBL now uses the postal state abbreviations (PA, not Pa.; MA, not Mass.) (8.1.1).

    3. Material that used to be placed within parentheses (e.g., the names of editors and translators, abbreviations and volume numbers) is now left outside of the parentheses. In bibliographies and notes, the basic facts of publication (city, publisher, and date) are set within parentheses, while all secondary publication information is now placed outside of the parentheses (6.2–6.4).

    4. Abbreviations for series, books, commentaries, and journals are now to be used in the bibliography and notes (6).

    5. The formerly unique edition abbreviations (e.g., 2d; 3d) are now longer used. The standard abbreviations for editions are now used (e.g., 2nd; 3rd).

    6. SBL now uses all caps without periods for BCE and CE rather than B.C.E. and C.E. (8.1.2).

    7. Small caps are no longer recommended for abbreviations of versions or texts of the Bible: NRSV, MT, etc. (8.2).
  • As per above, 3 and 4 are already addressed.
    2, 6, 7 aren't things that Zotero currently does anyway

    1 and 5 I can look at--did we ever do the weird thing for editions in the first palce?
  • Thank you so much. I just pointed out some of the changes. Glad to know that some of them are already addressed.

    Thanks for all your hard work in keeping the styles updated.
  • Sgendy, is there anything new on how to cite electronic sources? The old handbook referred to Walker / Taylor manual of online style but that hasn’t been updated in 10 years so I don’t assume that’s their authority anymore. Maybe that’s nothing that zotero does but if you have any insight I’d be more than grateful because I’m sitting in a far away country, have a looming deadline and can’t lay my hands on a copy. Cheers!
  • Megabert, I do not have the book myself. But here is a good summary resource that might help you.
  • Brilliant document, thanks!
  • In light of the above, as of today, 17th Feb 2015, please could someone advise if zotero is correctly handing these issues?

    More generally, are there any known issues regarding the SBL implementation that I ought to be aware of?


  • See sgendy's list from February 3 and my reply. That's the status quo.
  • OK, removed access dates and the "online: " prefix for URLs for SBL. We never followed the odd ordinal number rules for editions anyway, so anything reported in this thread and in the scope of CSL/Zotero has now been addressed. Let me know if there's anything else.
  • edited March 30, 2015
    Two things: one easy (I think), and one more difficult.

    1) When I manually [Create Bibliography from Item] from within my (fully up to date) Zotero Standalone or [Zotero Insert Bibliography] in Word 2013, it does not follow the rule that, "the basic facts of publication (city, publisher, and date) are set within parentheses, while all secondary publication information is now placed outside of the parentheses (6.2–6.4)." Am I doing something wrong?

    2) I will be writing a dissertation soon. Here is a quote from a blog recommended to us by the Academic Doctoral Office at my institution:

    "Zotero will not give full bibliographic info at the beginning of the chapter if the work has been cited in a previous chapter. This is not actually an issue with the [dissertation Word template] but with the use of Zotero. The best way to deal with this is to print chapters 2 and on separately."

    I wonder if it is possible to code a work-around for this within Zotero. The main problem is that Word 2013 does not encode chapter breaks; it only encodes section breaks, and there can be any number of section breaks per chapter. So it seems that in order to do this, you wonderful folks at Zotero would need to add a command button to the Word plugin that would allow us to [Zotero Insert Chapter Break]. Then you could add an option to the [Zotero Set Dos Prefs] to restart full bibliographic info for each chapter. The [Zotero Insert Bibliography] command would then be able to create a bibliography drawing from all the chapters, and the dissertation or book could be constructed as a whole document instead of several.

    I fear I know little of the actual writing of code, and so this suggestion might be a horrible one in terms of workload, but perhaps it could spark a more technically informed idea on your end.

    Thanks for all you folks do!
  • 1) that refers to in text (or rather: in footnotes) citations, not to the bibliography in the manual. No parentheses in the bibliography for SBL.
    2) Sorry, I don't think that's going to have a Zotero solution. This is doable with relative ease: Just author in separate chapter and remove Zotero field codes before copying them together (if you need a full bibliography, you have to do this one with and once without the field codes--more work, but still doable).
  • Got it. Thanks!
  • Thank you to all who have helped produce and polish this SBL style.

    I notice that the style introduces some abbreviations for Journal articles - the one I have encountered is Harv. Theol. Rev. for, of course, Harvard Theological Review. In fact the SBL abbreviation for the journal, in the current and the former editions, was and is just HTR. I haven't dug further to see if there is a whole set of these that might have been entered erroneously or if this was a one-off. I'd be interested to get any illumination, and of course correction if possible - not knowing whether or not it's a bigger issue.

    Again, thanks for having this style.
  • You can turn off automatic abbreviations (which are designed for medical journals) in the Document Preferences in the word processor add-on. Then, Zotero defaults to whatever you have in the journal Abbr. field.

    We'd like to eventually support SBL journal abbreviations properly, but that's not going to happen super soon.
  • Thanks Adam.
  • edited August 8, 2015
    Zotero formats journal issue numbers incorrectly (see SBL Handbook of Style, 2nd ed., p. 95, §6.3.9). For example, Zotero outputs: Anthony J. Saldarini, “Babatha's Story,” BAR 24, no. 2 (1998): 28–33, 36–37, 72–74. This should be: Anthony J. Saldarini, “Babatha's Story,” BAR 24.2 (1998): 28–33, 36–37, 72–74. The same convention (i.e., 24.2) applies for bibliography entries.
  • edited September 22, 2015
    Please change the format for journal issue numbers. In SBL Handbook of Style, 2nd ed., journal numbers are formatted as #.# (e.g. 1.2), not as #, no. # (e.g., 1, no. 2).

    For more information and citations from the handbook, see my Aug. 8 post in this thread.

    Joel Dougherty
  • Was a work-around for the series abbreviations ever created (6.2.24)? I've been using the "extra" field to list that, then changing the .csl, but I'd rather not have to do this if possible.

    Zotero output: David E. Aune, Revelation, 3 vols., Word Biblical Commentary 52A-C (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997)

    Expected output: David E. Aune, Revelation, 3 vols., WBC 52A-C (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997)

  • no, sorry, no workaround let alone solution.
  • What does the /extra field normally hold? And does it ever get auto-filled through the "save" feature in browsers?
  • The most important function is for it to hold additional information that's citable. It gets filled with DOIs, Pubmed IDs and some similar things in select, but relatively few import translators.
  • ith the old SBL formatting, I set the "extra" field to hold abbreviations. I can't figure out how to edit the new .csl file so that in footnotes it will grab the "extra" field rather than the "series" field.

    Thanks for the help!
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