The SBL Handbook of Style 2nd edition

  • I've just added a pull request to add disambiguation options
  • Great! Thanks @damnation and @"John Percival"! We will be putting the author-date stylesheet to use in our institution increasingly from now on.
  • edited July 6, 2020
    I have found a small bug in both SBLHS2 full note and author date. A book reference with author, editor and translator lacks a full stop between editor and translator in the bibliography. (The footnote is correct with a comma between them in full note, not relevant for author date). The output now is:

    Asheri, David, Alan Lloyd, and Aldo Corcella. A Commentary on Herodotus Books I–IV. Edited by Oswyn Murray and Alfonso Moreno Translated by Barbara Graziosi, Matteo Rossetti, Carlotta Dus, and Vanessa Cazzato. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

    There should have been a full stop after Moreno, hence:

    Asheri, David, Alan Lloyd, and Aldo Corcella. A Commentary on Herodotus Books I–IV. Edited by Oswyn Murray and Alfonso Moreno. Translated by Barbara Graziosi, Matteo Rossetti, Carlotta Dus, and Vanessa Cazzato. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.
  • I also have a request for adding book review in journals to SBLHS2 full note:
    If these three lines are added after line 271:
    <else-if variable="reviewed-author">
    <text variable="title" font-style="italic" prefix="review of "/>

    and these 9 lines are added after line 285:
    <else-if variable="reviewed-author">
    <group delimiter=", ">
    <text variable="title" font-style="italic" prefix="Review of "/>
    <names variable="reviewed-author">
    <label form="verb-short" text-case="lowercase" suffix=" "/>
    <name and="text" delimiter=", "/>

    that should hopefully take care of it.

    Of course someone with better knowledge of CSL should check that the code is correct and that it produces the desired result.
  • @haraldaa I have created a pull request to deal with the lack of period between editor and translator in the two SBL styles:
  • Thank you!
  • edited July 6, 2020
    Your book review code looks fairly close, but some needs to be added to the title-short macro too (for the reviewed-author surnames). Unfortunately I don't have time to pursue this right now.
  • Thank you!
    The full stop bug is now fixed. Looking forward to getting book reviews too implemented when time allows for it to be done.
  • I notice an anomaly in the SBL2 author-date output: It does not italicise the name of a journal (whether "Publication" or "Journal Abbr"). I'm very surprised as I thought this was in place.
  • @davidwoods -- the style does that right in general, see the preview on

    Is this the case across all journal article items? Are you getting other fields in italics?
  • edited July 19, 2020
    @haraldaa and @John Percival, below is the relevant section from SBLHS2 §6.3.4 for reference. The title of the reviewed book should be italicized, but the prefix (i.e., "review of") should be set in regular text. And this style should only activate when the reviewed author field is filled. (The style only applies to untitled book reviews. Titled book reviews and review articles are treated like normal journal articles.)

    First instance:
    8. Howard M. Teeple, review of Introduction to the New Testament, by André Robert and André Feuillet, JBR 34 (1966): 368–70.
    Subsequent instances:
    21. Teeple, review of Introduction to the New Testament (by Robert and Feuillet), 369.
    Teeple, Howard M. Review of Introduction to the New Testament, by André Robert and André Feuillet. JBR 34 (1966): 368–70.
  • @John%20Percival I noticed an inconsistency in the SBL rules for abbreviating number ranges. They refer to the 16th edition of the Chicago manual rules, but their examples follow the 15th edition rules.

    The difference between these is what to do with 4-digit numbers, where 3 of the 4 digits changed. For example, "1698–1703". Chicago 15th said to print all the digits in this case. In Chicago 16th and 17th, this was changed to just printing the digits that changed ("1698–703").

    Do you know which SBL actually follows in practice?

  • @bwiernik
    I've had a quick look through their journal from the last 5 years, but couldn't find any examples meeting the quite narrow criteria. I did note in the SBL Handbook that they make omitting digits optional: "the last number may be abbreviated by omitting certain repeated digits." This may explain the example given. For an authoritative answer I would suggest emailing them: (the address given on

    (And to be fair to the SBL team, CMS16 adding the preface that the system had been "used by Chicago in essentially this form since the first edition of this manual" at the point where they changed the system is a little misleading!)
  • edited August 18, 2020
    I have found that the style does not currently include DOI as is now requested by the style guide. For an example, see: Could that be added to the style together with adding book review?
  • Underway? The discussion is from 2018 with one single comment in February 2020, nothing has materialized in an improved style. That does not help those of us who use the style in our writing. It would have been nice if some of the suggested improvements had been added to the style, but since most of those who do the actual work on the style are volunteers themselves I do understand that it happens when it happens, unfortunately for the SBL style not that often. However, I do want to add that I appreciate the work that has been done so far.
  • The problem is that there isn't a clean solution, so this isn't about not implementing a "fix". As per the linked page, DOIs are not universally required but optional (and often not included) for regular journal articles. It is only for a special sub-category of electronic-only journal articles that they are required and we don't currently have a great way to make that distinction. That's what the thread is about.
  • Thank you for the explanation. Will the new csl versions 1.02 or 1.1 add functionality that will make this programmatically possible?
    And for the record, DOI is not the only improvement to the style that has been asked for, I have even provided code to be added for book reviews, "but some code needs to be added to the title-short macro too (for the reviewed-author surnames)" and I don't know what that means so I cannot help.
  • @davidwoods and @damnation, thanks so much for your careful interaction on the SBL author-date style. I'd like to probe one point, though, that pertains both to this style and to the full note style.

    That is, in your (@davidwoods) post above from 22 May, you commented,
    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.)
    For sub verbo (and I suspect for chapter too), this is correct. But the sec. option, rather than outputting "sec.", would probably better be expressed in the output with § (U+00A7) for a single section and §§ for more than a single section (i.e., where the locator field contains at least a hyphen, en dash, or comma [?]; e.g., per the SBLHS blog posts on Hebrew and Greek grammars).

    Currently, the best method of handling this situation is to use a "page" locator type and use whatever keyboard manipulations are necessary to add §(§) as the first character(s) in the locator field.

    This works fine in some cases but is also quite difficult in certain configurations since some of the keystrokes necessary to insert the § character will close the drop-down menu where the page (or section) numbers can be specified.

    Is this something that can be adjusted via CSL for these styles?

    Thank you so much for your thoughts on this issue.
  • We can absolutely use § for sec singular and §§ for sec plural in both SBL styles, yes, thanks for letting us know.
  • Hurrah, @adamsmith. Thank you so much!
  • The § for sections is now available for both SBL styles
  • @adamsmith, thanks so much. That looks great. But there does seem to be an additional space that's included after the §(§) symbol(s) in both styles.

    Per the SBLHS blog posts (Hebrew, Greek), the §(§) should be immediately prior to the page number(s) without an intervening space.

    Would it be possible to avoid having that space added when using a "section" locator?
  • edited October 8, 2020
    @bwiernik and @John%20Percival, pertaining to your comments from 2 August 2020, SBL Press's position is that the SBL Handbook of Style defers to whatever is the most recent version of the Chicago Manual of Style where needed to address various points the SBL Handbook itself doesn't cover. So, despite the manual's references to the 16th ed., it now defers to the 17th ed. That still doesn't answer the question of which part of SBLHS 4.2.4 is outdated, but I'll make a note to write in and ask.

    @haraldaa, pertaining to your comment from 18 August 2020, a partial (albeit hackish) solution for the kind of scenario you're addressing with HTS is available here if that's helpful. (HT to @bwiernik.)

    @haraldaa and @John%20Percival, thanks so much for adding the reviewed author option. Per the excerpts posted above by @dougherty on 18 July 2020, however, the SBL Handbook calls for no quotation marks around the description of an untitled book review. So the note output should be, for example,
    A. Andrew Das, review of Paul, Judaism, and the Gentiles: Beyond the New Perspective, by Francis Watson, Int 63.2 (2009): 202.
    But the current output is
    A. Andrew Das, "review of Paul, Judaism, and the Gentiles: Beyond the New Perspective," by Francis Watson, Int 63.2 (2009): 202.
    Presumably, that's because the journal article item type is used. But would it be possible to suppress these quotation marks (e.g., for any journal article record that has at least one reviewed author)?

    Quotation marks should also be dropped in the short form of the review citation. That way, we can include "(by ", reviewed author last name, and "," after the short form of the review title in a form like
    Das, review of Paul, Judaism, and the Gentiles: Beyond the New Perspective (by Watson), 202.
    Since this portion of the citation isn't currently getting automatically added from the reviewed author last name field.

    Thank you so much for your thoughts.
  • @bwiernik and @John%20Percival, SBL Press has confirmed that the example given in 4.2.4 is in error. The truncation of the final number in the range should indeed follow the guidance of the Chicago Manual of Style's 16th (and now 17th) editions.
  • I asked for adding book review to SBLHS2 and provided some code as a start back in the beginning of July. I cannot see that anyone has had the time to implement that yet. Out of curiosity, how long would I reasonably have to wait for someone to take up this kind of request? My initial hope was that it would have been done by now, but I probably have to revise my expectations. It would be good to know.
  • There's really no simple timeline for this. Making these sort of modifications properly takes time -- easily 30mins-1h thinking through different scenarios, testing, etc.
    For example:
    - how should short notes look? Do they need additional code?
    - this doesn't seem to include reviewed authors for notes
    - do we need to account for the titled review scenario that dougherty mentions?
    - does the above code work for books with editors/translators?

    That's just off the top of my head. If I get a high-quality pull request, I can typically get it reviewed & up within a 1-2 weeks, but for me to get to it in a style that I don't know super well can absolutely take many months. Can't speak for John.
  • OK, since I have no idea how to proceed to modify the code more than I already have done, this will probably not materialize into the style. I am at a dead end and will leave it there and consider my options. Thanks for your reply, much appreciated.
  • @adamsmith, if it's helpful at all, I give a short note example in my post above from 8 October. The relevant section in the SBL Handbook is §6.3.4, which @dougherty excerpts above in his post from 18 July.

    Reviewed authors are included in the notes (full name for the first citation, surname only for subsequent citations).

    I'm not sure I understand "the titled review scenario" question. But I've included here the RIS for the review I mention in my 8 October post if that's any help.

    If I can provide anything else that might be useful, please feel free to ask. Thanks so much!

    TY - JOUR
    TI - review of <i>Paul, Judaism, and the Gentiles: Beyond the New Perspective</i>
    AU - Das, A. Andrew
    T2 - Interpretation
    DA - 2009///
    PY - 2009
    DP - EBSCOhost
    VL - 63
    SP - 200,
    EP - 202
    J2 - Int
    LA - na
    SN - 0020-9643
    ST - review of <i>Paul, Judaism, and the Gentiles: Beyond the New Perspective</i> (by Watson)
    Y2 - 2020/10/08/15:59:06
    L1 -;P=AN&amp;K=ATLA0001713940&amp;S=R&amp;D=rfh&amp;EbscoContent=dGJyMNLe80SeprY4zdnyOLCmsEiep69Ss6+4SLKWxWXS&amp;ContentCustomer=dGJyMOTX84Tp67mF39/sU+Pe7Yvy
    L4 -,sso&db=rfh&AN=ATLA0001713940&site=ehost-live&custid=faulku
    ER -
  • This issue with the space appearing after the section sign(s) now has a pending fix.
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