Friday, August 26, 2011

Hacking Zotero for early modern German Studies

Since April, I've been using Zotero, and the more I use it the more I like it. I'm letting Zotero manage all the bibliography, notes, and citations for the ever-expanding Wilhelm Friess project, and it's helped the writing go very quickly. Just today I discovered that text entered as prefixes and suffixes to citations will recognize some basic HTML tags, so you can italicize text if needed for foreign-language citations or book titles.

I had a few complaints about the available citation styles, however. I prefer Chicago style using short footnotes and bibliography, but no "ibid." For citing early modern editions, I think it's important to include an ISTC or VD16/17 number to unambiguously identify the edition, but there was no easy way to do that within Zotero. You can add it by hand, but that defeats the purpose of Zotero.

Solution: Create a new style by hacking the chicago-note-bibliography.csl file to suppress "ibid." and add ISTC/VD16 numbers to citations.

Suppressing "ibid." only required removing some lines of code. I added VD16 numbers to the "Call number" field of the bibliographic records because I don't see any way for Zotero to actually access the "Extra" field. Then in the CSL file, I added the following in the "macro" section:
<macro name="STC index">

<text variable="note">
(Updated to reflect helpful comments from adam.smith.)

The "bibliography" section was easy. I just added this line before the various "locators" (which means "page numbers" for books):
<text macro="STC index" prefix=". ">

The "citation" section was trickier, because Zotero wants to place commas in between everything. I had to remove the line that set the group delimiter to a comma, and then change the rest of the lines to the following:
<text macro="contributors-short" suffix=", ">

<text macro="title-short">
<text macro="STC index" prefix=" (" suffix=")">
<text macro="point-locators-subsequent" prefix=", ">

It's kind of an ugly hack, but now my footnotes look like this:

Pflaum, Ettlich weissagung (VD16 P 2401), f. b2r.


  1. oops, sorry, html swallowed the comment that's
    text variable="note"

  2. Hello! In your blog article did you base on some studies or here are solely your private reflections? Waiting forward to hear your answer.