The SBL Handbook of Style 2nd edition

  • I believe the series in italics in correct in that case, no? @adamsmith
  • edited February 2, 2019
    The series should always be in roman type. See the examples here: (there are examples there of single volume works in a series and multivolume works in a series)

    In the handbook itself, see Series and Multivolume Works
    "Series titles are set roman; titles of multivolume works are set italic."

    But this make me wonder if the style is treating the series name as the title of a multivolume work if the "number of volumes" field is used? While it would be nice if the SBLHS style in Zotero could properly format a volume that is part of a multivolume work (I'm not aware that it does?), that is a separate matter entirely.
  • Anyone else have any ideas for how to solve this problem with series names being italicized for multivolume works? Such a problem creates numerous manual edits that have to be made. I suppose I could edit this in the local CSL somehow, but ideally the Zotero style should match the SBLHS guidelines. It's even more puzzling because I've been using this style for years now, and I don't recall it being a problem until recently. Thanks for any help or suggestions.
  • Any developments on this (series name being incorrectly italicized for multivolume works)? Care to weigh in, @adamsmith ?
  • You can see the relevant commit here:

    It is indeed using series as volume title, but only where a volume number is present, which to me sounds like a good way to get correct output in a maximum number of cases, even if it's not 100% precise.

  • I see- thanks Adam. So this means users have to enter the multivolume work title as a series title, correct? (To be clear, I don't know the ins and outs of CSL, just the style itself and Zotero interface as a longtime users.) Unless users come here on the forums, they would have no idea to do that. Isn't it a best practice to avoid inputting data into the "wrong" fields, since it defeats the feasibility of switching styles? Anyway, thanks very much for all you do to support this style and for pointing out the relevant code. I guess it shouldn't be too difficult to undo this workaround on my own installation.
  • Has anyone encountered the issue where with a multivolume work, such as a commentary, Zotero does not indicate how many volumes there are total despite this being entered in the field for the entry?

    For example, an entry for a commentary by G. Wenham, which is volume 1 of 2, simply says, "Vol. 1 of". It looks like the style sheet detects that it is a multivolume work, but doesn't put the second value of how many volumes in the text string that gets generated:

    Wenham, Gordon J. Genesis 1-15. Vol. 1 of (Word Biblical Commentary v. 1-2). Waco, Tex.: Word Books, 1987.

    Should this not instead be:

    Wenham, Gordon J. Genesis 1-15. Vol. 1 of 2(Word Biblical Commentary v. 1-2). Waco, Tex.: Word Books, 1987.

    I tried poking around in the style sheet code, but there are a few instances where the volume variable is called and I would not know which one if any to change.

  • edited April 8, 2020
    Is an author-date version of SBL2 still required, @canjecricketer @dhawk12 @davidwoods and @Johannez ?
    If so, happy to get working on it, but will need the communal support here.
  • Yes please, @damnation ! I am sorry to have dropped off the conversation, but we still need the author-date version of SBL2, detailed in "The SBL Handbook of Style" 2nd ed (2014), section 6.5.

    I see that Chicago 17 has three style options in Zotero including "full note" and "author-date". What we would be delighted to have is a choice between the current SBL2 "full note" style and our preferred SBL2 "author-date" style.

    To have such a style would likely be a game-changer for our institution. We want author-date format, we don't want footnotes or endnotes, we love the fact that SBL covers practically every possible kind of citation we might use, and our faculty like Zotero. We're looking for a solution to our 3000+ students and our in-house journal, so a style option for SBL2 "author-date" would be a big win for us.
  • @davidwoods
    As I had mentioned before I do not have access to the SBL book that outlines the style.
    Therefore I will need you to either send me a copy/expert of it or outline the style here. Considering that the bibliography will be the same to the note style, but just the in-text part will change it should be probably be relatively easy to do just with examples here.
    - single author
    - two authors
    - more than 3 authors
    - citation of an item with pages/chapters

    Is this blog in line with section 6.5?
  • Thank you, @damnation . I will send the SBL2 style rules for the author-date option. Yes, the blog you linked is in line with section 6.5, but that highlights another need which will make a little more work for you: the reference list style also takes an author-date format. This is show in the blog post's own pair of Works Cited and in style guide I'll send.

    We are super-excited about this development!
  • Great! Thank you. Will do some testing over the next couple of days
  • @damnation :
    I have realised that some of the situations detailed in section 6.5 are probably too intricate to programme, and some would require changes to Zotero code (e.g. 6.5.4 with two publishers in different locations), not just the csl sheets. However, if the following style issues for bibliographic items are addressed then the most common situations will be neatly covered.

    1. The year of publication needs to be dropped from the end of each kind of reference, since it follows the author's name.

    2. Journal articles (6.5.10) require a colon and page range after the volume number. Dictionary articles and encyclopedia articles (6.5.11) also need a :page-range value.

    3. References for conference papers (or professional societies: 6.5.13) should have "Paper presented at the " inserted after the title and before the conference name.

    4. As far as in-text citations go (using the Zotero add-in for Word, using the Classic View), we would like the same output format that the Chicago author-date style does for designators such as chapter (chap.), section (sec.) or sub verbo (s.v.), etc. (We would probably have use for almost all the designators listed by Zotero add-in for Word.)

    Maybe some of the style data can be copied from the other (full note) csl for SBL2?
  • I used the note style as a base as I would've thought it'll just be the in-text part to change. Hence mistakes now like the year-date at the end.

    I'll look at the other issues.
  • edited May 23, 2020

    1. dates at end: should all be gone now
    2a. article-journal: format fixed
    2b. dictionary, not checked; I'm lacking a good example. Can you post a link to something I can import with Zotero?
    3. paper-conference: fixed
    4. is this in line with the guidelines or a personal preference? Who is "we"?
  • Excellent, @damnation ! Most of the issues are resolved. You'll need to refer to the SBL2 Handbook of Style I sent to make sense of the following, especially since I can't italicise text in the post and I'm sometimes using quote marks that would not appear in the reference.

    2b. 6.5.11 An Article in an Encyclopedia or a Dictionary has an example:
    (Stendahl 1962, 1:419)
    Stendahl, Krister. 1962. “Biblical Theology, Contemporary.” IDB 1:418–32.
    In this example, IDB should be italicised.

    4. 'We' are myself plus my colleagues at the South African Theological Seminary, so we are not representing SBL. Maybe other users can weigh in on this?

    The remaining issues that I can see are:

    6.5.5 An Article in a Festschrift
    In the example given, only the first editor's name is given, followed by et al. Is that's a Zotero programming issue rather than a stylesheet issue?
    (I guess we can't set rules regarding initial capitals for titles in other languages; in this German one I see all the words are capitalized.)

    6.5.8 A Chapter within a Titled Volume in a Multivolume Work:
    The page range should appear between the title of the chapter and the title of the book in non-italicised text. In the example provided by SBL, the citation should include "Pages 105–52 in" (without quotes) after "... Sequel to Acts."

    6.5.9 A Work in a Series
    The series info should be "WUNT 51" (without quotes) not "Vol. 51 of WUNT"

    6.5.13 A Paper Presented at a Professional Society [which I take to include academic conferences]
    Before the publisher, the reference needs: "Paper presented at the " (without quotes) + [Conference Name]

    As you can see, I've worked from the SBL Handbook only, so these are the only reference formats I've tested.

    Thanks for the effort and speed!

  • edited June 7, 2020
    2b. see my comment above.

    Let's continue with the numbering of issues, please, especially if it takes several days to come back. (please edit above post please to match below)

    5. (6.5.5) Festschrift:
    As I see this just looks like a book-chapter, nothing special about this citation. I have set the editor-translator macro with et-al settings of 3, 1 now, so it will be shortened now.

    (and no, we can't treat citations differently based on the language it is in. Something that comes up on here occasionally and will probably be included in the next update of CSL.)

    6. (6.5.8) Multi-volume book chapter: Tbh, this just looks like a botched example to me. Why do they name the editors(or one of them) twice?

    7. (6.5.9) Series titles:
    If entered into Series and Series Number this works.
    Example from my Zotero:

    Hofius, Otfried. 1994. Paulusstudien. WUNT 51. Tuebingen: Mohr Siebeck.

    3. (6.5.13) paper-conference: It is already doing that.

    this is the output from the citation I imported:

    "Niditch, Susan. 1994. “Oral Culture and Written Documents.” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the New England Region of the SBL. Vol. 25. Worcester, MA, March 25."
  • Okay, here goes!

    The example I provided is directly from the SBL2 handbook under 6.5.11. Is there something more that you need? (See 6.3.6 for comparison with SBL2’s note format option.)

    In any case, here is another example:
    Merkle, Ben L. 2003. “Deacon.” HIBD 398–99.

    [HIBD = Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary]

    For a similar output from Biblatex, albeit in note format, see . (I just found this document; it doesn’t cover the author-date option of SBL2 but it may be useful in some ways.)

    3. (6.5.13) paper-conference
    I can’t replicate this with the latest stylesheet you posted (25 May). I have the Item Type field set to “Conference Paper” and the Conference Name set to “Annual Meeting of the New England Region of the SBL”.

    5. Festschrift
    Looks perfect. Thank you.

    6. (6.5.8) Multi-volume book chapter
    No, I think it is correct (!BAFCS ). Bruce Winter was an editor of the volume, and he was the editor of the whole series (comprising 5 volumes). Therefore, the request regarding page numbers still stands.

    7. (6.5.9) Series titles
    I discovered that the publisher has two series of WUNT, each with multiple volumes. Thus, the SBL2 example given falls under both 6.5.7 (a title in a multivolume work) and 6.5.9 (a work in a series).

    This citation is volume 51 of Series 1, though the SBL2 manual’s example doesn’t mention the series number so I wouldn’t want to put the volume number in the series number field of my Zotero record. However, the output seems perfect so let’s leave it as-is:

    Hofius, Otfried. 1989. Paulusstudien. Vol. 51 of WUNT 1. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck.

    8. (new request, from 6.5.12) Article in a Lexicon or Theological Dictionary

    This is a challenge because Zotero doesn’t have this item type but it is important because lexicons and theological dictionaries used so frequently in biblical and theological studies. (Often the individual entries are separately authored, and they can be pages long!)

    SBL2 6.3.7 provides some examples, though it shows note format, not author-date

    I must say that the system in 6.3.7 and 6.5.12 is not user-friendly for readers going from an in-text citation to the bibliography. I’m not sure how this is handled in other disciplines and styles.


    Thank you, @damnation !
  • In reviewing the SBL2 handbook I re-discovered on p.1 that it is really an extension of the CMS: "A second principle is that the handbook should supplement The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS), except in cases when the field very consciously and authoritatively adopts a different standard."

    I wonder if that means one should simply modify the CMS stylesheet for the author-date option rather than press on with a new one, @damnation? Or perhaps they may need to be merged, somehow. Or perhaps you already were building on the CMS stylesheet? Sorry for the bother.
  • edited June 10, 2020
    2b. entry-dictionary:
    Test output: Angela Merkel, “Deacon,” Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, 398–99.

    3. (6.5.13) paper-conference

    I have the data entered like this:

    "id": "",
    "type": "paper-conference",
    "container-title": "Annual Meeting of the New England Region of the SBL. Worcester, MA",
    "event-place": "Worcester, MA",
    "publisher-place": "Worcester, MA",
    "title": "Oral Culture and Written Documents",
    "volume": "25",
    "author": [
    "family": "Niditch",
    "given": "Susan"
    "issued": {
    "date-parts": [

    6. (6.5.8) Multi-volume book chapter

    Prints out fine like this for me:
    Bauckham, Richard. 1993. “The Acts of Paul as a Sequel to Acts.” Pages 105–52 in The Book of Acts in Its Ancient Literary Setting. Edited by Andrew D. Clarke and Bruce Winter. Vol. 1 of The Book of Acts in Its First Century Setting. Edited by Bruce W. Winter. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing.

    entered like:

    "id": "",
    "type": "chapter",
    "collection-title": "The Book of Acts in Its First Century Setting.",
    "container-title": "The Book of Acts in its ancient literary setting",
    "event-place": "Grand Rapids",
    "page": "105-152",
    "publisher": "Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing",
    "publisher-place": "Grand Rapids",
    "title": "The acts of paul as a sequel to acts",
    "volume": "1",
    "editor": [
    "family": "Clarke",
    "given": "Andrew D."
    "family": "Winter",
    "given": "Bruce"
    "author": [
    "literal": "Bauckham, Richard"
    "collection-editor": [
    "family": "Winter",
    "given": "Bruce W."
    "issued": {
    "date-parts": [
  • 2b. The output I get is
    Merkle, Ben L. “Deacon.” HIBD.

    But what we need is like the output from Chicago 17 author-date format (except we want double quotes on the article name):
    Merkle, Ben L. 2003. “Deacon.” HIBD 398–99.

    Note: this has both the year and page numbers.

  • 3. (6.5.13) paper-conference

    Sorry—I don't know how to capture it in that format and I can't get the same output even if I modify the conference name to include the place data. And it doesn't include the phrase, "Paper presented at the "

  • 2b. Perfect! Thank you
  • 6. (6.5.8) Multi-volume book chapter

    Perfect--thank you!
  • edited June 18, 2020
    Could you test out above style with the paper-conference example I gave above? The CSL JSON is up there ready to copy.
    This is regarding "3. (6.5.13) paper-conference"
  • Sure. Ping me again in a day or so if I don’t respond
  • I'm not sure at what stage the draft .csl on Github should become listed by default in Zotero's Styles Preferences for all users. I doubt I will do much further testing. What about other users?

    What is the way forward to releasing a "final" (I know—it will change!) of "official" CSL?
  • edited June 29, 2020
    I had the style merged to the repository already, as I have taken the style as far as I wanted.
    Other people can make edits to it and submit PRs if they want.
Sign In or Register to comment.