Citation Style help needed - Anthropology (AAA)

Hello all!
I'm currently trying to figure out how to create a working CSL for the American Anthropological Association style - - but frankly, I have no idea where to start. I've set up my test cases, but I've never worked with XML before, even though I do have a tiny bit of programming experience.

I would appreciate any help or pointers that any of you might have!
  • edited November 10, 2008
    A good start is to find yourself a few styles that are very similar to the target style and check out how they are coded. (Use clsedit.xul to inspect the CSL of currently loaded styles.)
  • There is some documentation available on using CSL:

    Especially the schema itself ( and the syntax summary page ( can be quite helpful.
  • edited November 10, 2008
    I'd second mark's suggestion.

    1. find the current style that is closest to what you need

    2. itemize (in english, or whatever) the specific changes you need

    3. load the style in csledit.xul and (along with the documentation rintze notes) see if you can figure out how to tweak things to get what you need

    4. if you run into a problem, post questions

  • edited November 12, 2008
    Final steps would be:

    1. copy/paste your tweaked style from csledit.xul into a plain text editor (say, Notepad) and save it as a .csl file. If it's perfect, consider submitting it to the style repository (Rintze knows how).

    2. For local use, drag and drop that CSL file from your file manager onto Firefox - that will make it available in Zotero.

  • Thank you jkaluza for trying to create this style!! Please, please, please let us know if you have any success with this effort. I tried without success to create a AAA citation style for Zotero - I have zero developer skills so I just created a mess when I tried. You will make many cultural anthropologists immensely happy if you are able to create this style!
  • Thanks everyone for the tips and encouragement.
    The style I'm working on is actually not the exact AAA style, but very closely based on it, with slight modifications - We intend to offer Zotero to our students at this university, and supply the style they are supposed to use in their student papers. When/if I manage to implement it correctly, I'll gladly publish it for others to try and work out what needs to be changed for the exact AAA style.

    I'm currently working through an assortment of test cases, trying to modify the ASA style using the trial-and-error method... Will keep you updated.
  • Jkaluza, have you seen this thread? Is the style you're working on it similar to AAA in that respect?
  • I'm working to develop a french style and, as many others I didn't really know how to start and understand the codes after I put a similar one in csledit.xul. I never try to write codes before.

    What I did is put a #### sign in some delimiters code to know what it change.
    Exemple: for prefix=", " , I put prefix="####, "

    It's possible with some others codes too.

    That way, I can see exactly and right now (in bottom window) where these prefix is, in wich type it is used.
    Off course, I did it one delimeter by one, and erase all ### after each change.

    Maybe, it's an usual way to do it, but for a beginner, it works. I can understand what I was trying to do, and it works quite weel to create a french style, wich still has some small bugs...
  • edited January 13, 2009
    I have created a pseudo- AAA style with limited functionality. It works for the following types of document:

    Edited books
    Chapters in edited books
    Journal articles.

    My guess is that this is a large majority of what people are likely to use it for, but for other types of document it could produce some very strange results as it is based on a German legal citation style.

    It is not completely accurate as there is still no solution that I know of to the problems discussed here:

    If people feel that despite these limitations, they would like to try it, here's a link:
  • I'd certainly like to try it, so if you could email it to me, that would be appreciated!
  • I also had a try a few weeks ago, until I bumped into the problem in the thread James is linking to. The result so far can be downloaded here: aaa-imperfect.csl.
  • I just tried this. It looks very good. Any way to put a tab before and after the date? It would be very good to have this style (and others in progress) available on a central Zotero page--maybe a page of styles in progress. It shouldn't be too hard to modify this for American Antiquity too. Thanks a million to those of you who are working on this.
  • edited January 17, 2009
    Specifically, this thread describes the unsolved problems that will not allow AAA styles and derivatives to be perfect. To have (1) the author mentioned only once and (2) a tab before and after the data, requires changes on the CSL and Zotero side.
  • Actually, at least for the references supported, the aaa-imperfect.csl style seems to have solved (1), though other reports suggest it may not work in some contexts. An ugly but functional workaround for (2) would be to embed some kind of code (e.b., <tab>) before and after the date. Then in a word processor, users could do a search and replace the code with a real tab.
  • So I gave this a try.

    You can take a look at the results at I modified the American Anthropologist style to add "@@" at the 2 places that need tabs. Just do a find/replace, adjust the hanging indent and tab settings in the word processor to look good (I did a tab at 0.5" and hanging indent at 1.0").

    I also modified the American Anthropologist style into an American Antiquity style. I don't know if I caught all the differences, but I think I got most of them. They are not much different.

    I posted PDF examples of output from each. I simply selected the formats and dragged them into OpenOffice Write. I did not try to create in-text citations and make a bibliography.
  • edited January 18, 2009
    Looks good, except for the whitespace between refs, which is probably generated by the current workaround to solve the one author, multiple refs problem (the subsequent-author is substituted by a space, but still takes up its own line due to being set tot display:block).

    So yeah, it works sort of, but changes are still needed on the Zotero/CSL side to help us make this perfect.
  • The EndNote style needs tweaking too. Having a style that is functional, even if not quite right is much better than not having one at all. Also, if we have one that is functional with some work, it might encourage more people to use Zotero and more people to work on the style and the needed enhancements to CSL.
  • edited July 16, 2009
    I receive an error (Runtime Error '91': Object variable or With block variable not set) when I attempt to create a bibliography from this style. This error has been mentioned elsewhere ( -- I don't receive it using the Chicago Manual of Style CSL or other styles. Is there a way to address this error specifically for the AAA / American Anthropologist style?

    Perhaps more importantly, is it possible to revitalize efforts to create a fully functional CSL for the AAA / American Anthropologist style? As mentioned earlier and elsewhere, it is a critical style, used by many major anthropological journals (and often used by anthropologists working on collected volumes, books, etc). Is there work being done now to produce the style and the necessary fixes to Zotero that seem to be necessary to get the style operational without using find/replace?

    Thanks for the great work so far.
  • It still hinges on a few necessary changes to the CSL processor in Zotero. Bruce d'Arcus mentions three open tickets: 1324, 1325, and 933. All of them have priority 'minor', though, so perhaps we need to lobby more.
  • Work in progress on the new citation processor will cover the needs of this bibliography style. Of the three open tickets, 1324 and 1325 are on the todo list for the new processor, and are trivial to implement. Number 933 (the ability to suppress subsequent authors with an empty string fed to "subsequent-author-substitute", I guess) has been cleared in the new processor.

    Once this infrastructure is in place, it will be up to a style author to fashion suitably formatted output using the new functionality in CSL.

    So it's not yet here, but it's coming.
  • Wonderful news, thanks.
  • I second that this is wonderful news. I worked on a 20 page bibliography this weekend and found that it almost took as much time to reformat a Zotero generated bibliography from a "similar" citation style as it would take to create the bibliography myself in a Word document. I really wish that the American Anthropological Association would champion this effort and assist in creating a CSL style that will work with their many journals (the EndNote style doesn't work properly either).

    Thanks to everyone working on this!

  • I really wish that the American Anthropological Association would champion this effort and assist in creating a CSL style that will work with their many journals (the EndNote style doesn't work properly either).
    I strongly suggest people ask the AAA to do just that. It might help them to realize how unreasonable their style guide is, and to consider changing it.
  • I disagree. From a reader's point of view (and that is what print bibliographies are made for) it's a nice style, easily parsable and even typographically pleasing. Grouping references by authors is a design choice that makes perfect sense (even from a semantic point of view) but that happens to be somewhat rare in the universe of citation styles. There is nothing wrong with the style in itself.
  • edited July 20, 2009
    But it's really hard to implement. If no existing software properly implements it, and it's a PITA for authors to handle themselves (manually), what good is it?
  • I'm with mark on this one. This is an elegant style, the automated support just needs to do a little catching up, that's all.
  • edited July 20, 2009
    But my more important point is really this: that if journals and publishers were responsible for actually maintaining their own CSL (or Endnote, or BST) styles, they would be more easily able to understand, and hence balance, the trade-offs here. There are a lot of styles that not only have rules that are hard to implement in software, but they serve no useful purpose for readers either.

    So I hope you two will agree with my sentiment that people should encourage their journals to develop and host their own styles ;-)
  • Bruce, sure, I agree that it would be great (and eminently sensible) if journals would supply and maintain their own styles. I'm an AAA member, I'll send them an email to ask for CSL support as soon as Zotero+CSL is up for it.
  • I just installed the new 2.0b7 and new wordprocessor plugins today and was hopeful that the tools are now in place to create a better AAA, American Antiquity bibliography style. If they are, I cannot find it documented anywhere. There is no note to indicate that issues 1324, 1325, and 933 have been touched. Perhaps this is just a documentation issue (hopefully??). The biggest issue at the moment is the apparent lack of ability to add a forced hard return instead of just a new line. That would help a lot.

  • edited September 15, 2009
    cmbarton: The new CSL processor won't be in 2.0 (but it will be in the next major point release after 2.0).
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