It’s worth asking now, are these requirements? Do formats ever say “you
shall shorten titles in such and such way”, and then specify different
titles be truncated in different ways?
I’ve certainly come across “use shortened title”, in which case that’s
up to either the user to provide in their data, or the software to
handle truncation (by default I’d assume stripping the subtitle).
If I look in Chicago – which is pretty much THE definitive citation
manual – I see stuff like this:
Oops, ahem, I’ll keep the above, but:
“The most common short form consists of the last name of the author and
the main title of the work cited, usually shortened if more than four
But it’s worth noting that the examples they give would be hard for
software to handle, and I’d prefer to leave it to users:
long: Poverty and Inequality in Latin America
short: Poverty and Inequality
Software would be rather dumb and result in "Poverty and Inequality in"
It’s relatively simple to write a smarter shortening algorithm, but I agree
that this need not be part of the CSL specification.
So we’re left with these questions:
- does CSL need to define shortening rules?
- if yes, can they be global? Can they, in other words, be defined
independent of templating and substitution rules?
Hmm. #1 is a particularly difficult question to answer. There’s no question
that different styles have different formatting rules, but the differences
between MLA, APA, and Chicago are so obscure that it may not be worth trying
to handle all of them.
For example, Chicago says that, given an unsigned newspaper article, “the
name of the newspaper stands in place of the author.” This is a more
unlikely circumstance that we don’t necessarily have to support (and Chicago
suggests that, for most purposes, newspaper articles don’t need
bibliographic citations anyway), but on the other hand, I would conjecture
that MLA and APA would have you use the article title (although I can’t
verify this, since I don’t have the specific style guides, and the online
summaries are incomplete in this respect).
There’s also the situation of two authors with the same last name. MLA, APA,
and Chicago have you put an initial before (K. Johnson 2001), or specify the
whole name after, while CBE/CSE has you put all initials after (Johnson KQ
So, I guess this goes back to the question of whether these citations should
be absolutely perfect in all cases or just “good enough.” Honestly, after
looking at all of the rules, I’m beginning to think that no matter how well
we resolve the problem of modeling these shortening in the schema, it’s
still going to be difficult to find and implement all of the shortening
rules for each style.