Citation Style Language

Square Brackets vs Parentheses in Chicago-Author-Date


Chicago-Author-Date dictates that in-text cites should be placed inside parentheses (e.g. (Smith 2014)).

But (it seems?) there’s also a lesser known requirement… If the in-text cite is placed within parentheses, then the in-text cite should be placed inside square brackets – not parentheses as you normally would:

Note that square brackets should be used in parenthetical text references that require additional parentheses, as in the … example. "These processes have… in the United States (see, e.g., Haviland [2003. 767] on …).
- Chicago Manual of Style

Problem / Questions

  • As far as I can tell, the CSL spec / Citeproc doesn’t cover this behavior. Is that correct?
  • Assuming that’s correct, how are people handling this requirement?
  • Or maybe I’m misunderstanding something?

Thanks y’all!

I’ve never noticed that rule, and my manual is in my office.

What version of the manual is that, and page number?

On first glance, it looks like the rule is this, from a CSL perspective: if a citation has a prefix, then the formatted citation layout should have different affixes than the default citation layout.

I don’t think we can cover this currently, but we’re actively working on new releases, and so we should figure this out. I have a simple idea that would probably work.

If you have a github account, can you post an issue please with this and the above info I asked for?

If not, I’ll do it.

While I’m thinking about it, the easy solution would be to add two new attributes: something like inner-prefix and inner-suffix, empty by default.

 <citation et-al-min="4" et-al-use-first="1" disambiguate-add-year-suffix="true" disambiguate-add-names="true" disambiguate-add-givenname="true" givenname-disambiguation-rule="primary-name" collapse="year" after-collapse-delimiter="; ">
    <!--- here's where we could add the brackets -->
    <layout prefix="(" suffix=")" inner-prefix="[" inner-suffix="]" delimiter="; ">

Chicago Manual of Style 17th edition. Pages 902-906.

Chicago Manual of Style 16th edition

Thanks I have reposted this issue on Github:

That is a fairly common rule. You do this in German as well.

The problem here is that you’ll have to check for context – are we in parentheses already or not. (And: the surrounding parentheses will be part of the main text, not of the citation.) In a plain text system that might be posdible, but I don’t know if that could work with ms-word etc.

(@coryschires, your posts ended up in the spam queue, and I’ve just restored them here, but I see that discussion has moved to Github)