Besides what it shares with general Chicago style, many details of SBL style pertain specifically to biblical studies. So learning SBL style can be challenging. But it doesn’t have to be.

Use this checklist to ensure you end up following the right advice about SBL style for your context.

The 7 Steps

  1. If you have to follow a “house style” in addition to the SBL Handbook of Style (e.g., from a professor, school, or publisher), follow any relevant advice your house style has. If not, skip to the next step.
  2. If you’re a student, follow the guidance of the Student Supplement to the SBL Handbook of Style, as far as it goes. If not, skip to the next step.
  3. Check the SBL Handbook of Style blog for any updates, corrections, or additional relevant advice.
  4. Consult the SBL Handbook of Style itself.
  5. If the SBL Handbook of Style asks for an abbreviation of a series or journal title:
    1. Look for the appropriate abbreviation in the SBL Handbook of Style.
    2. If you don’t find it there, look it up in Internationales Abkürzungsverzeichnis für Theologie und Grenzgebiete.
    3. If you find an abbreviation in Internationales Abkürzungsverzeichnis für Theologie und Grenzgebiete, double check it isn’t already assigned to a different source in the SBL Handbook of Style.
    4. If you don’t find an abbreviation in Internationales Abkürzungsverzeichnis für Theologie und Grenzgebiete, you can make one if you have a place to define your own abbreviations (e.g., an abbreviations list in the front matter to a dissertation or monograph). If you don’t have a place to define your own abbreviations, leave the title unabbreviated.
  6. Spell words properly.
    1. For names, use the SBL Handbook of Style’s specified authorities (§§3.4.1–3.4.4, 4.3.3.4).
    2. For words other than proper nouns, use follow Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.
  7. If you still aren’t sure how to do something, consult current Chicago style.
    1. If you’re a student, look first at Turabian’s Manual for Writers. If you don’t find what you need there, follow the advice in the full Chicago Manual of Style.
    2. If you’re not a student, follow the advice in the full Chicago Manual of Style.

Conclusion

Understanding what SBL style requires in a given situation takes some practice. But with these 7 steps, you’ll know exactly where to look so you won’t miss anything and can begin mastering SBL style.

What is your biggest struggle with learning and using SBL style?

To help you remember these steps and avoid spending time re-editing your work, get my free SBL style checklist.

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