Generation Designations (Jr., III, etc.) in Zotero for the SBL Handbook of Style

Per the SBL Handbook of Style (§4.1.1.3), generation designations in names should be handled as follows:

First note: Tremper Longman III, “Form Criticism, Recent Developments in Genre Theory, and the Evangelical,” WTJ 47.1 (1985): 46–67.

Subsequent note: Longman, “Form Criticism,” 58.

Bibliography: Longman, Tremper, III. “Form Criticism, Recent Developments in Genre Theory, and the Evangelical.” WTJ 47.1 (1985): 46–67.

But, how do you get this output when using Zotero to insert and update your references in Microsoft Word or one of the open office suites?

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For the longest time, the best thing I could come up with was to include the generation (e.g., “III”) in the surname field after a space following the surname. But, then this will repeat in subsequent notes after the surname. So, even in short-format notes, this would get you “Longman III” rather than just “Longman”.

Similarly, in the bibliography, this method will list the generation immediately after the surname rather than, as it should be, after the given name. Thus, you’d get “Longman III, Tremper” rather than “Longman, Tremper, III”.

This is all workable, of course. And it’s a far cry easier from the way things worked in the days of typing out footnotes and bibliographies with a typewriter.

But, there’s still a good bit of manual editing required to bring things fully into line at the end of the process. And, where there’s one-off manual editing, there’s the potential for missing something.

Is there a better way? Indeed, there is.

Instead of inserting the generation after the surname, the generation needs to be included in the format “, [generation]” after the given name in its field.1 Thus, for Zotero, the proper entry isn’t “Longman III” and “Tremper” but “Longman” and “Tremper, III”.

This small adjustment allows Zotero to identify the generation suffix (e.g., “, III”) and manipulate it appropriately according to what SBL style requires for a given kind of footnote or for the bibliography.

What reference manager do you use? How does it handle generation information?


  1. For this insight, I’m grateful to Adam Smith and Brenton Wiernik in the Zotero forums

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