Title portion of the SBL Handbook of Style cover, 2nd edition

How to Cite Serialized Journal Articles in SBL Style

Journal articles are usually comparatively brief pieces. But every so often, one will be too large for a single publication. So, a journal might choose to serialize that article into two or more parts.

When this happens, SBL style requires that

If a multiple-part article includes “Part 1,” “Part 2,” and the like as a part of the title, omit the “part” specification and cite only the primary title. Including a part number in the first reference complicates short-title citations for later references, since one would then need to include the part number as a part of the short-title reference.1

This requirement then entails some changes to the typical way of citing a journal article and to how such serialized articles are handled in Zotero.

What SBL Style Requires

Instead of citing each “part” article independently as its own piece, SBL style prefers concatenated citations like the examples below.

21. Hans Wildberger, “Das Abbild Gottes: Gen 1:26–30,” TZ 21 (1965): 245–59, 481–501.

Wildberger, Hans. “Das Abbild Gottes: Gen 1:26–30.” TZ 21 (1965): 245–59, 481–501.

24. Julius Wellhausen, “Die Composition des Hexateuchs,” JDT 21 (1876): 392–450; 22 (1877): 407–79.

Wellhausen, Julius. “Die Composition des Hexateuchs.” JDT 21 (1876): 392–450; 22 (1877): 407–79.2

As the Wildberger example shows, this citation pattern nicely compresses the serial article information when all the parts of an article are published in the same volume.

On the other hand, the Wellhausen example illustrates two difficulties that arise when an article spans multiple volumes. For these difficulties, other authorities (e.g., Turabian, Chicago) appear to provide no guidance.

1. Specific Initial Citations

The given example of an initial citation for Wellhausen’s article works well if you want to cite that serialized article as a whole. But how should you format the citation if you wanted to cite, for example, pages 395–400 the first time you referred to the article?

One approach here might be to cite just the pertinent part’s information in the footnote but then the full serialized article’s details in the bibliography. In this way, you would have

24. Julius Wellhausen, “Die Composition des Hexateuchs,” JDT 21 (1876): 395–400.

Wellhausen, Julius. “Die Composition des Hexateuchs.” JDT 21 (1876): 392–450; 22 (1877): 407–79.

2. Ambiguous Short Citations

The second difficulty is that a short citation for an article like Wellhausen’s might normally be

Wellhausen, “Composition,” 407–50.

But this page range occurs both in the 1876 article from volume 21 and in the 1877 article from volume 22. So, a reader would need to consult the text of both articles to be sure of locating the section the author is referencing. But it’s presumably better to avoid an ambiguous reference. So, the form

Wellhausen, “Composition,” 21:407–50.

suggests itself as a reasonable solution on analogy to the citation pattern given for multivolume works.3


Hopefully, how best to address the particular challenges raised by this type of citation will be something that SBL Press will clarify in the future.4 Meanwhile, even this citation type is something Zotero can certainly handle, including the guesses I’ve made above for what to do in the couple unclear situations.

    1. Society of Biblical Literature, The SBL Handbook of Style, 2nd ed. (Atlanta: SBL, 2014), §6.3.2. 

    2. Society of Biblical Literature, SBL Handbook, §6.3.2. 

    3. Society of Biblical Literature, SBL Handbook, §6.2.20. 

    4. I’ve written the Press to inquire whether about this but thus far have yet to hear back. 

    Some of the links above may be “affiliate links.” If you make a purchase or sign up for a service through one of these links, I may receive a small commission from the seller. This process involves no additional cost to you and helps defray the costs of making content like this available. For more information, please see these affiliate disclosures.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.