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How to Cite Sources in SBL and Format Papers: Home

by Steve Jung, rev. 5/2024 by Sharon Ralston

About the Style Guides in this Libguide

SBL, the Society of Biblical Literature, is an association of professionals, professors, pastors, authors and editors that work in the field of Biblical Studies. The SBL Manual of Style is meant to be used by authors, editors and academics for correctly formatting works to be published. This work is only used in the area of Biblical Studies and some areas of Semitics research (languages related to Hebrew). This manual is really based on the Chicago Manual of Style which is a guide that is the standard for book publishing professionals (and also used in some academic disciplines), the added work in the SBL guide being languages and citations for ancient works. Turabian's A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations is aimed at student researchers. It is based on the work by Kate Turabian and closely follows the guidelines of CMOS -- and is much shorter. Both Turabian and SBL are modified forms of "Chicago style." The SBL Manual of Style is intended to be supplementary to CMOS and, while the second edition has been expanded and now has some greater duplication to CMOS, it refers users to consult the Chicago Manual of Style for style guidance/examples for issues not covered in it and the SBL Student Supplement advises to consult either CMOS or Turabian.

Turabian's A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations has two different types of style guides: Notes and Bibliography Style, and Author-Date Style. Notes and Bibliography Style is typically used within the humanities including literature, history, and the arts. The Author-Dates Style is primarily used within the physical, natural, and social sciences. 

Citation Style

SBL, following Turabian and Chicago Manuals of Style, uses footnotes. Footnotes should be handled by your word processor and not something you just try to put in the footer. The footnote should be in the same font, Times New Roman, but in 10 point font, as opposed to the 12 point font of the paper body. The content of the footnote depends on source and if it is the first time the resource is cited. The second, and following citation, the note is shortened greatly.

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