When an author uses the traditional documentation style with notes and bibliography, SBL Press prefers a full citation (author, title, and publication information) the first time each work is referenced. However, in some cases it makes better sense to adopt an abbreviated citation style to avoid cluttering the notes with information that can be conveyed far more succinctly without losing any accuracy.
For example, a recent SBL Press book contained a significant number of references to the volumes of the State Archives of Assyria series. We could have included the full author-title reference for each volume cited, as in the following:
Manfred Dietrich, The Babylonian Correspondence of Sargon and Sennacherib, SAA 17 (Helsinki: Helsinki University Press, 2003), 25 (text 22, r.6–8).
However, we decided to economize by citing the SAA volumes by abbreviation, leaving the full citation for an abbreviations list:
In text: SAA 17:25, 22.r.6–8
On abbreviations page: SAA State Archives of Assyria
It is important to note how the in-text citation is constructed:
- The abbreviation is followed by a space (no punctuation) and then volume:page. With this information in hand, a reader can quickly locate the text being cited in the printed SAA volume.
- The first half of the citation is closed with a comma.
- The second half of the citation indicates the text number (22) and lines (r.6–8) of the text. This part of the citation will enable a reader to locate the text within the State Archives of Assyria Online website or another text edition containing the same work.
- If another SAA text were cited immediately after this one, a semicolon would separate the two citations.
This basic format can be modified to accommodate different situations. On the one hand, a text that contains columns and lines would be cited as follows: SAA 2:13, 2.vi.3–4. Here the lowercase roman numeral signifies the column. On the other hand, when citing a complete text, it may be necessary to identify which part is the text, as in: SAA 18:70–71, text 87. The addition of “text” prevents a reader from taking the 87 to be a page number.
Finally, since we mentioned the State Archives of Assyria Online website, it is only right for us to link to that important resource here. At this site, the creators of the SAA series have made available transcriptions and translations of the texts contained in the nineteen volumes of SAA published to date. Researchers, readers, and copy editors alike would do well to familiarize themselves with this rich resource. To learn more about the project that produced the SAA volumes or to purchase print copies of them, see here.