The goal of this project is to develop a working prototype of a Citation Style Language (CSL) editor and to share it with researchers who employ various reference management applications.  Columbia University Libraries and Mendeley will collaborate using an AGILE development strategy to produce a CSL editor with a sophisticated graphical user interface and a flexible back-end to support developing user needs and ever-changing filetypes, citation conventions, and custom bibliographic styles.  The code for the prototype CSL editor will be deposited into an open-source repository at the end of the project for the research community to build upon and to further improve the prototype application resulting from this project.


The Citation Style Language is the brainchild of Bruce D’Arcus, associate professor of Geography at Miami University of Ohio. The language was initially implemented for integration into OpenOffice.org, but only became popular in 2006 when Zotero – the first reference manager to use CSL – was released. Major contributions to CSL were made by Zotero developer Simon Kornblith, and Frank Bennett wrote the open source CSL formatting engine citeproc-js.  Subsequently, the Zotero project successfully fostered an active user community where users contribute styles to a growing CSL repositories.

In 2008, Mendeley became the second reference manager to use CSL for its citation formatting.  Thereafter, the release of CSL 1.0 in 2010 was accompanied by a move to a new website at citationstyles.org which included improved documentation in the form of a full language specification. Notably, styles written using the 0.8 CSL specification no longer worked with applications using processors built for the 1.0 spec, so the entire repository had to be upgraded. In addition, Frank Bennett was an pioneer in the community who wrote the open source CSL formatting engine, citeproc-js, used by both Mendeley and Zotero.

Project Goals

The goal of the project is to create a functioning CSL editor that can be disseminated for free to the academic community via a web interface.  The editor will be comprised of a graphical user interface (GUI) in order to simplify the modification of the CSL markup.  The code for the editor will be deposited into a freely accessibly database (e.g. github) for others in the CSL community to then improve upon.  Users will have the option of depositing styles developed using the CSL editor into a common repository.

2 responses to “About

  1. Mention should also be made of Andrea Rossato, author of the Haskell implementation (citeproc-hs), which arrived after the first Zotero implementation of CSL, but predates citeproc-js. Andrea’s processor has been a significant source of innovation in CSL-space, and provides citation support to complement John MacFarlane’s pandoc document processing system.

  2. Pingback: [TOOLS] Nicolas Chachereau on Zotero « DH101

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