Allow Citations by Custom Abbreviation Only?

According to the SBL Handbook of Style, there are numerous sources that are to be cited only by an assigned abbreviation in the footnotes but then to be given in a normal format in the bibliography.

So, for instance, the following footnote would be incorrect:
1. Friedrich Blass, Albert Debrunner, and Robert Walter Funk, A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961), §144.
Instead, the footnote should be:
1. BDF §144.
A subsequent citation should likewise be, e.g.:
3. BDF §56.
But, the bibliography entry should still be:
Blass, Friedrich, Albert Debrunner, and Robert W. Funk. A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961.
Currently, the best way to get this output seems to be to add the footnotes manually (e.g., in a footnote without Zotero, as a prefix or suffix to a Zotero citation). Zotero then doesn't know this source had been used, so if a bibliography needs to be generated, this source and any others cited like it need to be added to the bibliography (e.g., via the Edit Bibliography tool).

Obviously, there's no way for Zotero to account for all the myriad abbreviations SBL style specifies. But, would it be possible to create an additional field or option to allow citation by an abbreviation that the user could then input and that would (if used) override the style's other processes for building "normal" footnotes?

This would remove the need to manually manipulate the bibliography at the end of a project, as well as obviate the risk of missing out a source that had been cited via something like the manual process described above.

Thanks so much for considering this request!
  • There is the idea for a "classic work" citation that could probably made to look that way -- they're typically cited in a short form in footnotes, too.

    Beyond that, if you need something more quickly, it would generally already be possible to do this in a citation style, it's just that you'd have to find a field that's used just of this purpose _and_ available in citation styles (and then this would be a custom citation styles; we wouldn't add this to the standard SBL style).
  • Adding "Annote: BDF" to the top of Extra will store the abbreviation in the CSL 'annote' variable, which is never used in official CSL styles and not used as part of any built-in Zotero fields.
  • Thank you both. The "classic work" idea is an interesting one that sounds like it might work and also be beneficial to users of other styles (e.g., Chicago, Turabian). From what you're describing, @adamsmith, it sounds like there'd be a way to specify for this item type the abbreviated footnote content while still allowing a full "normal" bibliography entry?

    @adamsmith, am I understanding correctly that the suggestion in your second paragraph is what @bwiernik has also recommended—with the exception that I'd need to find a CSL variable that is used the the SBL style?

    I'm happy to learn and use a process that's a bit less obvious, but I'm sorry for my ignorance about how to make this work. Any further guidance you might be able to offer along these lines would be most welcome.

    Thank you both so much.

  • No, what adamsmith was suggesting was to find a variable that was _not_ used by SBL to use as this sort of abbreviation. I suggested that the variable 'annote' is not used by SBL or any other standard CSL style, so it is a good candidate.

    What you would need to do is open the SBL .csl file in a text editor like Notepad or TextEdit, then find the line: <citation et-al-min="4" et-al-use-first="1" disambiguate-add-names="true">

    Next, look below that and find the line:
    <if type="entry-dictionary entry-encyclopedia" match="any">

    And change it to:

    <if variable="annote">
    <group delimiter=" ">
    <text variable="annote"/>
    <text macro="point-locators-subsequent"/>
    </group>
    </if>
    <else-if type="entry-dictionary entry-encyclopedia" match="any">


    Then, a few lines down, find the next </if> line and change it to </else-if>.

    Finally, change the style title and style id at the top of the style, save, and install into Zotero.
  • Thank you all so much! It looks like @bwiernik's suggestion is working like a charm so far in the side copy I made of the main SBL style. :-)

    Since this is a citation pattern that SBLHS asks for, is this something that would make sense to add back into the main SBL style? Or, is there a better way to handle this situation long-term (e.g., @adamsmith's "classic work" item type or something similar)?

    Thank you, again!
  • It would require changes to the CSL style language Zotero uses for citations. That’s possible, but won’t happen for some time.

    The Juris-M program, a third-party version of Zotero with expanded legal and multilingual features, includes a “classic” type that you could work with (and write a Juris-M version of the SBL style).
  • I have just realized that, apparently, it is possible to use whatever variabel you like for what you would like to achieve. And the interesting thing is that the variable does not even need to be in the CSL specification.

    For example, I have added two variables to the extra field:


    shorthand: MB
    notbib: true


    In a minimal style the citation and bibliography sections look like this:


    <citation>
    <layout>
    <choose>
    <if match="any" variable="shorthand">
    <text variable="shorthand"/>
    </if>
    <else>
    <names variable="author"/>
    <text variable="title" prefix=", "/>
    </else>
    </choose>
    </layout>
    </citation>
    <bibliography>
    <layout>
    <choose>
    <if match="any" variable="notbib"/>
    <else>
    <names variable="author"/>
    <text variable="title" prefix=", "/>
    </else>
    </choose>
    </layout>
    </bibliography>


    With this I can use abbreviations instead of "author, title", and I can also delete a title from the bibliography with the "notbib: true". Actually, the content of the notbib variable does not matter, it can be "true", "1", "yes", or even "false", "0", "no". We only check if the variable is present.

    Of course, this is not valid CSL, but it seems to work nevertheless.
  • (note that while we guarantee that CSL variables entered this way work, the fact that this works for non-CSL variables is a fluke, possible a bug, so that might go away)
  • Thank you all so much. That's all most helpful!
  • @adamsmith There are rumors swerling around some California academic circles about a high level of conflict blocking improvements to CSL. Is there any hint of a schedule for work on completing the next version?
  • Well, in a thread on discourse this fall (= fall 2018) is mentioned as a deadline for CSL 1.1 (https://discourse.citationstyles.org/t/csl-1-2-planning/1476). I do not know if there has been much progress since, but fall is here. (I am not saying that no work has been done, only that it is hard to see if you are not part of the CSL core team).
  • I have no idea what the source of those rumours would be. I wish we had the time for high-level conflicts in CSL. There definitely aren't any. The reason for slow progress is much more mundane: Rintze and I both don't just have full time jobs but families with young kids and it's simply gotten harder to muster the sustained attention that a new release requires.

    Fall 2018 wasn't as much a deadline as a hope (though "fall" in US academic parlance is everything before Christmas, i.e. the academic fall semester). It wouldn't be a big release and I still think it's possible this year, but we're not going to make any promises.

    There is very little work on CSL that doesn't happen in the open, so if you don't see it on discourse or github, it almost certainly hasn't happened (and in this case it definitely hasn't).
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