alphabetize records without A or The

I'm sorry if this has already been suggested.. I searched but did not see anything.

In future versions it would be helpful if Zotero could alphabetize records by title name NOT counting the words A or The (as library catalogs do). Fairly minor but getting frustrating as my database gets into the 100s. Of course it is very helpful that there is a search window that finds individual words if all else fails..

super program overall, of course! thanks!
  • I think library catalogs actually store sortable title strings.

    This gets a little tricky if you want to be international-friendly. If I have Spanish and French titles in my database (or a Spanish or French user has some English titles), then what?

    Perhaps a localized list of exclusion words, with some obvious defaults, would be good. It's an issue for bibliographic and citation formatting too in some cases.
  • Doesn't seem like anything has been done on this, and I'd like to also request this feature. Is there a way perhaps to have an options screen before the bibliography is actually inserted that would allow you to check a box for "ignore the, a, an", and anything else people may have suggested as biblio options?
  • Further to bdarcus' point above, I note that Japanese uses a non-phonetic script, and databases designed for use in Japan have separate phonetic fields to accompany all fields intended to be sortable. This is a first step in any Japanese localization project. When Zotero gets to the point of providing multilingual layers, it would be nice to see this extension included.
  • Users clearly want Zotero to ignore initial articles (a, an, the) when alphabetizing titles in bibliographies, a long accepted bibliographic practice. Does anyone know if it's actually being worked on? I could find nothing like it in the list of features for the beta version.
  • Hi, rgerig. The issue certainly hasn't been dropped or overlooked (in fact this very issue came up in a development discussion at about the time you were writing). It's one of those things that is tied to a bunch of other things, so it will take some time to "sort out" (ha) but it's being worked on.
  • Thanks fbennett. That's welcome news. Please keep us posted on the progress.
  • Titles that begin with quotation marks are sorted to the top of a list of articles when sorted by title. Any fix for the stop-word problem should also include an option to ignore quotation marks.
  • I would like to add my support to the need for stopwords and appropriate alphabetizing. This should be a very high priority if Zotero intends to be competitive.
  • Thanks for bumping this thread: the issues mentioned here deserve some attention.

    (If you replace "competitive" with "cooperative" there, you'll be closer to the mark. :-)
  • Just out of curiosity, has a formal feature request for this been filed? This is also an issue for anonymous works in Chicago (see ¶ 14.79), which asks a bibliography to be sorted like this:

    Stanze in lode della donna brutta. Florence, 1547.

    A True and Sincere Declaration of the Purpose and Ends of the Plantation Begun in Virginia, of the Degrees Which It Hath Received, and Means by Which It Hath Been Advanced. London, 1610.
    Because Zotero ignores the article, the order is reversed in the generated bibliography.
  • well, there are two actually separate requests here: The OP asks about this in Zotero proper. I'm not sure how interested devs are going to be in this, and while it'd be nice, I don't think it's terribly important.

    Doing this in bibliographies, otoh, is crucial and via Frank's involvement here, this is as formal as it normally gets for citeproc. I think there have been several discussions on this, but I don't remember the status. The first question would be whether this can be hardcoded into the citeproc for all styles or whether this needs to be a toogle in CSL. We must have discussed this before--Rintze, Frank, any recollection?
  • I don't think we have discussed a concrete solution. It would be best to control this through CSL, I think.

    In the CSL-m schema extension, I added an experimental leading-noise-words attribute. (Looking at it now, the list of words in that setup should probably be bound to language, but it's an idea.)

    If CSL comes up with a syntax, we can implement in the processors.
  • Do any citation styles actually want sorting to be done on the leading articles?
  • right, that's the question. If this is universal, we can just update this in the specs (which wouldn't even require a version update) and hardcode it in the processors. We can still look at ways to make the list of skip words easily accessible for processors other than citeproc-js to access.

    Otherwise, we'll need a CSL syntax (likely just an attribute in cs:style) and this will likely take a bit longer.
  • Along with Chicago, MHRA (3rd ed. p. 80) also calls for it.
  • APA (and it seems everyone based on them), Chicago, MHRA, MLA, and CSE all specify to sort title (where titles are the criterion for sorting) using the first significant word. I'm having a hard time finding any example in English where this is not the case.
  • edited March 2, 2015
    I'm pretty convinced this is the case for English titles in English citation styles. What we would need to check is:

    1. Non-English titles in English citation styles (that should be easy and I could look it up, but I figure you already have the sections of the manuals dug up) (i.e. Die Leiden des Jungen Werther under L or D?)
    2. Titles in non-English citation styles in the same language of the style?
    3. Titles in non-English citation styles in other languages than the style (including, of course) English.

    Hoping for some input from zuphilip and Gracile or clio on German and English practice here.
  • Re: 1.

    MLA treats foreign articles like their English equivalents (Die Leiden sorted under L)

    Chicago, in contrast, appears to sort indexes and bibliographies based on the foreign articles, rather than dropping them.

    APA doesn't specify, but usually follows Chicago in edge cases like this one.
  • ugh. That makes sense given the respective core disciplines, but that means if we want to do it properly, we'll need to go the CSL route. I'll still wait for more input on that before starting to work towards a specific proposal.
  • MLA treats foreign articles like their English equivalents (Die Leiden sorted under L)
    I'd suspect that this is an oversight on MLA's part. The treatment should be similar to general sorting behavior that we apply to non-English characters. The English reader of the material should not be expected to understand the ordering of foreign alphabets, so anything that looks like a particular English letter should sort next to that letter. Similarly, the English reader should not be expected to understand what "Die" is in a foreign language, so he/she should not be expected to look for "Die Leiden" under L. I think this logic can be extended to non-English languages as well. One exception may be where countries speak more than one official language.
  • French practice: definite articles are ignored (le, la, les, l’ in French, the in English, il, la, i in Italian, die, das, der in German, etc.)

    (But AFNOR Z 44-080, a cataloguing standard though, seems to exclude all articles, unless the article is part of a proper noun.)
  • There are a lot of language environments out there. I'd be much more comfortable having this coded into the locales.
  • I'd suspect that this is an oversight on MLA's part. The treatment should be similar to general sorting behavior that we apply to non-English characters. The English reader of the material should not be expected to understand the ordering of foreign alphabets
    well, but this is MLA, which is why I say the disciplinary association matters. This would be what your comparative literature, German literature etc. folks use, so I think it makes perfect sense they'd differ. I don't think that's an accident.
    See also Gracile's note on French.

    @fbennett, yes that makes sense, I was thinking about this last night.
  • Yeah, the role in MLA includes several examples of ignoring foreign articles when sorting, so I am certain it's intentional. (In another section, Chicago also gives the option of sorting without the article if readers can bee assumed to be familiar with the language in question).

    While we are discussing sorting peculiarities, MLA, Chicago, and SPA also require numerals to be sorted as though they were spelled out. I don't know if this differs across styles.
  • MLA, Chicago, and SPA also require numerals to be sorted as though they were spelled out
    i.e. as if they had been written (ninety-five for 95 => n?) or as if they were not there at all? That's not the case in French: titles beginning with numerals are at the top of the bibliography.

    +1 for locales; and this would make possible to adapt the list on a style-by-style basis.
  • As if the numerals had been written out (ninety-five for 95 => n).

    Including the dropped sorting words in locales sounds like a good idea. Then, the CSL parameter could be something like 'sorting-foreign-drop-articles'

    (By SPA, I meant APA--autocorrected)
  • Is the number rule rare enough for us to ignore? (as in: the number of situations this will be relevant is tiny?) That'll be a nightmare on implementation and I have my doubts that's worth it.

    Think about localizing that rule: in German, e.g., 82 and 82,000 start with Z while 820 and 8,200 start with A.
  • I think it's probably rare enough in bibliographies that it's safe to ignore. Alphabetizing by title is usually the third step in most styles (after author and year). Then, very few items actually include a Numeral as the first character.
  • In my experience, non-English journals' bibliographies seem to sort titles that begin with numbers at the top. English language journals number-first titles can be found either place depending on the journal and professional specialty. Medicine and engineering at the top, social science and humanities more likely are sorted as though the number were spelled out. This pattern seems independent of the APA, Chicago, or MLA style standards.

    For what it is worth, journal publishers don't seem too concerned about this aspect of author name sorting. The noted British sociologist David Ashworth legally changed his name to Perri 6. His specialty is cultural concepts of risk. In bibliographies sorted by author name he is usually at the top but even in the same journal his name is sometimes article bibliographies have him sorted under "S". I think I remember once finding his name sorted at the end.

    Personally, I would like numbers always sorted at the top. That way, I'll always know where to find the items. It seems to me that this is one of those things that may need to be hand edited after the bibliography is complete.
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