Lengthy Titles

Older works often included descriptive information in their titles, resulting in rather lengthy titles. For example:

Title of Record:

Young, Robert. Analytical concordance to the Bible on an entirely new plan: containing every word in alphabetical order, arranged under its Hebrew or Greek original, with the literal meaning of each, and its pronunciation; exhibiting about three hundred and eleven thousand references, marking 30,000 various readings in the New Testament, with the latest information on Biblical geography and antiquities, designed for the simplest reader of the English Bible. New York: American Book Exchange, 1880.

Following CMS §14.106, SBLHS 2 recommends modifying such titles to improve the usability of the citation. For example, a more efficient citation of the previous title would be:

4. Robert Young, Analytical Concordance to the Bible on an Entirely New Plan: Containing Every Word in Alphabetical Order, Arranged under Its Hebrew or Greek Original… (New York: American Book Exchange, 1880).

Young, Robert. Analytical Concordance to the Bible on an Entirely New Plan: Containing Every Word in Alphabetical Order, Arranged under Its Hebrew or Greek Original…. New York: American Book Exchange, 1880.

When modifying older titles, the following guidelines should be kept in mind:

1. Preserve the original punctuation and spelling.

2. Contra CMS, SBL Press recommends the use of title case in order to maintain consistency with other bibliographic entries.

3. Indicate omissions with an ellipsis (…). In the bibliography, the ellipsis should be followed by a period. In footnotes, the ellipsis should be followed by a comma if accompanied by supplementary publication information (e.g., editor, edition, series). If there is no supplementary publication information, as in the example above, no additional punctuation is needed after the ellipsis.

4. When shortening titles, keep as many of the key words as possible. In the above example, for instance, we have kept the clause “arranged under its Hebrew or Greek original,” as it contains key information without overly lengthening the cited title.

5. When possible, avoid shortening a title in the middle of a clause:

Not Recommended: Analytical Concordance to the Bible on an Entirely New Plan: Containing Every Word in Alphabetical Order, Arranged under …

Recommended: Analytical Concordance to the Bible on an Entirely New Plan: Containing Every Word in Alphabetical Order, Arranged under Its Hebrew or Greek Original…

6. It is also generally preferable to shorten a title at the end of the citation rather than in the middle:

Not recommended: Analytical Concordance to the Bible on an Entirely New Plan … with the Latest Information on Biblical Geography and Antiquities, Designed for the Simplest Reader of the English Bible

Recommended: Analytical Concordance to the Bible on an Entirely New Plan: Containing Every Word in Alphabetical Order, Arranged under Its Hebrew or Greek Original…

Interested readers can find a scan of the example cited here at this website.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s