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Each installation of Zotero comes with a small selection of popular bibliographic styles. In addition, thousands of styles can be found at the online Zotero Style Repository. Still, you might find that your style of interest is not yet available. Alternatively, your style may be present, but you may find it erroneous or incomplete. This page will explain what you can do to help the development of new and existing bibliographic styles.
Zotero makes use of the newly developed XML-based Citation Style Language (CSL) to configure citation formatting. It has been designed to be an open, robust and international-ready standard, independent of any particular application, document format, or programming language. Although CSL has matured significantly, the availability of automated tools to develop and modify bibliographic styles is still limited.
If you have some technical savvy, and are not afraid to edit XML by hand, take a look at the info on creating styles, or the step-by-step style editing guide. If on the other hand you are wary of writing your own CSL style, you can still do a lot of the upfront work in getting the style developed. There is a good chance that one of the more technically inclined members of the Zotero community will help out if you are willing to put in a bit of work to kick things off.
The Steps To Request New Bibliographic Styles
Note: If you do not follow the steps outlined below, your request will most likely result in your being sent back to this page.
1) Catch up on the conversation
Search the style repository and the Zotero forums to see if there is already a style or an existing conversation about the style you need. If there is already a conversation about your style, you may be able to contribute crucial information that allows one of the community members to finish it. In some cases there may be technical reasons why the style cannot currently be supported.
If you cannot find your style in the repository or an existing conversation about your style, start a new thread in the Citation Styles section of the Zotero forums. Name the thread “Style Request: [name of style]”. Be sure to include the following information.
2) Get your style's details
- Similar style: Which existing style is close to the style you need? Take a look at the list of styles in the style repository after checking the “Show only unique styles” check box to remove duplicates. You can hover your mouse over the style links to preview citations in each of those styles. You can also paste chrome://zotero/content/tools/cslpreview.xul into your Firefox location bar to launch a preview of selected items from your Zotero library in all the styles you currently have installed. Find a style that is close to the one you are requesting. Your best bet is often styles from the same discipline. So for example styles in medical journals usually resemble Vancouver/AMA style, many engineering journals are similar to IEEE, footnoted styles as used in many humanities are often close the the Chicago style etc. Often journals may even indicate this in their instruction for authors by stating “for any further questions refer to”.
- Differences from similar style: The next step is to itemize the precise differences that need to be implemented to make that existing style into the style you need. Doing this will give the creation of the style a big jump-start. The most time-consuming part of style creation is not the technical part, but understanding how a style works and how it differs from existing styles. At a minimum you should carefully compare the output from the similar style to the style you are requesting for books, book sections, journal articles, and websites. Pay close attention to issues such as punctuation, the use of abbreviations (such as pp., eds., journal abbreviations), formatting (italics, bold), the use of et al in the text and the bibliography (after how many authors, how many authors are displayed), the exact way a URL is cited (Is accessed date given? What is the exact phrasing, such as retrieved from, accessed) etc. Doing a thorough job means that you will get your style more quickly and you take up less valuable volunteer time.
- Link to style guide: Find a reputable web page that describes your style and post a link to it in your request. If there is no good link, contact the organization that supplies the style guide and request better documentation. If possible, also post a link to a freely available copy of a work that follows the specific style, as this can often clarify issues not answered in the style guide. You can usually find a freely available pdf (e.g. on an authors homepage) by searching for a recent article title of the journal in question with google scholar.
3) Follow your thread
Subscribe to notification for the thread you started. If one of the community members has the time to help you with your request, you may be asked for additional information.
Dependent vs Independent Styles
It is quite common to have multiple publications sharing a certain style (e.g. Nature Biotechnology uses the same bibliographic style as Nature). To avoid having numerous duplicates in the Zotero Style Repository, all of which would have to be maintained individually, Zotero supports dependent styles. A dependent style (e.g. named “Nature Biotechnology”) simply points to the more generic independent style with the same style formatting (in this case “Nature”). As creating dependent styles is generally much faster than creating independent styles, please mention in your style request whether the requested style is already present in the Style Repository under another name.