Wednesday, June 18, 2008

JVP - Zotero Style!

In a previous post, I lamented how difficult it is to create custom style files in the program Zotero. As a brief recap, this reference manager does a fantastic job of downloading references from the web and creating citations and bibliographies in Word or OpenOffice.org Writer. But, if you want to venture beyond the default style library (which is steadily expanding with a number of add-ons), you have a little style-file writing to do.

Creating a Zotero style file is not for the faint-of-heart. These are written in an XML scripting language called "CSL" (for "Citation Style Language"). As I was writing my dissertation, I needed to format one of my chapters with the format for Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. Of course, Zotero didn't have a style available for this, and I wasn't in any mood to format everything by hand. So, I decided to invest an afternoon in learning enough CSL to be dangerous.

In actuality, I didn't learn much CSL at all. I took an existing style (American Psychological Association) and retrofit it for JVP. The APA style was close enough to start, and I had to tweak author orders, abbreviations, etc. The result is uploaded here. Caveat emptor!!! As you will find, my work is nowhere near perfect - I got the citation styles down pretty well for journals and edited volumes, and beyond that things might be a little wonky. Anyone who wishes to do their own tweaking is welcome to do so - and I would appreciate it, in fact!

Because I'm not a real code-head, I had to rely on a few "crutches" to limp through modifying the style file. First, a style preview tool, written by Dan Stillman, was invaluable. Follow the directions here in order to use that. Second, I relied on the CSL schema, which was the final authority on what various parameters meant. After that, it was tweak, test, re-tweak, and re-test, until I got something I could live with. It took a few hours of time, but was well worth it.

Good luck! Anyone else have their own style files they've written?

5 comments:

Trevor said...

Well done! Have you thought about posting your style to the dev list so that it can be added to the Zotero styles page?

Andy said...

Thanks, Trevor! I have thought about it, but want to give it a little more tweaking before posting it there. . .

R.Butler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
R.Butler said...

Hey Andy,
Is this still available?
Richard

Jordan said...

I'd like to know if it's still available, myself!