The Chicago and SBL Manuals

The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) has been updated to its 17th edition (2017). According to the second edition of the SBL Handbook of Style (SBLHS),

Currently in its 16th edition, The Chicago Manual of Style remains the most comprehensive general authority on editorial style and publishing practices. Answers to questions not addressed in this handbook may be found there. (§3.3)

The reference to CMS’s “current” edition raises the possibility that a new CMS edition may occasion a change in the CMS edition best followed by users of SBLHS2. In addition, on noting the release of CMS17, SBL Press commented that

based on the Chicago Manual of Style, this new edition will no doubt prompt changes to our own style. We will announce relevant changes on this blog in the coming months.

This comment made it sound like changes might be affected in SBL style before the release of SBLHS3 simply based on the release of CMS17. On reaching out to the ever-helpful folks at SBL Press, they’ve confirmed that

Our deference to CMS in matters not explicitly covered in SBLHS2 or on the SBLHS2 blog automatically upgrades to the most current version of CMS. Thus, as of September 1, 2017, we now defer to CMS 17th ed.

For the balance of the SBL Press’s note about CMS17, see the SBL Press blog. For more information about CMS17 or to order a copy, see the University of Chicago Press, Amazon, or other booksellers.


TopTracker provides a straight-forward, free time tracking utility that works on both Windows and OS X. The utility allows commenting on each session tracked (e.g., words written during that session). It also allows export via CSV, from where numbers can be crunched further in Excel to see how well progress is going.

By default, TopTracker will upload screenshots periodically while it’s running, but this feature can be disabled and other elements customized in the program’s settings.

For other similar utilities, see the Zapier blog. For additional discussion of the value of tracking writing progress or other “deep work,” see Paul Silvia’s book How to Write a Lot or Cal Newport’s Deep Work.

Reading for writing

Cal Newport outlines the basics of how he reads when working on a project. According to Newport,

The key to my system is the pencil mark in the page corner. This allows me later to quickly leaf through a book and immediately identify the small but crucial subset of pages that contain passages that relate to whatever project I happen to be working on.

For the balance of Newport’s process, see his original post. For broader suggestions about effective and efficient reading, see for example Rick Ostrov’s Power Reading and James Sire’s How to Read Slowly.

Prefix keys for Microsoft Word

In Dan Gookin’s Word 2016 for Dummies (Wiley, 2016), he provides a good deal of helpful guidance for beginning Word users. One particularly helpful resource that may be of interest more broadly is his nicely condensed presentation of prefix keys for producing diacritical marks (pg. 256, reproduced below).

Table of prefix keys for Word 2016

As the name suggests, the prefix key combination gets typed first, then the letter to which the diacritic should attach, and voila—the appropriate combined character is produced.

Zotero 5.0

The next major release of the Zotero bibliographic management system is now available. Zotero should update automatically for most users, but anyone wanting to go ahead and get the latest version can download it from Zotero’s site to install over a prior version. For discussion of what’s new in this version, see:

For other discussion of Zotero, see these posts.

SBL BibLit on iOS

One of the less-than-ideal features of using an iOS device for editing or producing documents in Biblical Studies has been the difficulty of getting standard biblical language fonts (e.g., SBL BibLit) to work on the device. There are now, however, at least a couple solutions:

  1. Chris Heard has discussed how AnyFont can resolve the issue successfully and allow users to install SBL BibLit (or other fonts) onto iOS devices and use them within standard productivity tools (e.g., Pages, Word, Keynote, PowerPoint). In the App Store, AnyFont goes for $1.99.
  2. On the freemium side of things, Fonteer will also do the same thing. Fonteer’s free version allows users to install up to 3 fonts. So, if you anticipate only using this number or fewer, the free version will do the job. Fonteer premium (also $1.99 via in-app purchase) allows unlimited fonts to be installed. Below is an example of Fonteer working with a draft excerpt from my essay in Explorations in Interdisciplinary Reading.

Example of Fonteer working with SBL BibLit

Linking Zotero to Logos

The Logos Talk blog has addressed integration with Zotero a couple times (1, 2). Another helpful way to connect the two platforms is by using Zotero’s “attach link to URI” feature.

The option can be found via the attachment menu or by right-clicking a particular item in Zotero. The option allows users to specify a name (if desired) and link (i.e., URL) to a given location.

This feature in Zotero can become even more useful when paired with Logos’s ability to export a URL that will open a given resource, even in the desktop version of the software. So, for instance, will open Blass-Debrunner-Funk. Or, will open the Dictionary of Classical Hebrew.

Adding these links in Zotero also has the helpful benefit of indicating which resources in Zotero you have in Logos. I’ve occasionally gone hunting in the library or submitted an inter-library loan request, only to find that—buried amid everything else in a previous Logos base package upgrade or library expansion—I already had the resource there.