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

Fun with multiple editions of Migne’s Patrologia Latina

Engraved portrait of J.-P. Migne
J.-P. Migne [PD-1923]
The past couple days, I’ve come across a pair of references in Cranfield’s and Moo’s Romans commentaries to comments by Ambrosiaster about the origin of the Christian community in Rome, and I’ve been curious to give this reference a look. Both authors cite the reference as found in J.-P. Migne’s Patrologia latina, vol. 17, col. 46 (Cranfield, xiii, 17n2; Moo, 4n7).

My go-to index for online PDFs from Migne’s Greek or Latin patrologies is Documenta Catholica Omnia. The index for PL, vol. 17, indicates that cols. 45-184A are Ambrosiaster’s commentary on Romans. Clicking through to the archived PDF, however, I noticed the first column in the document was col. 47. The Latin quotation as excerpted by Cranfield occurs in col. 48 (not 46, per Cranfield’s and Moo’s citations).

Where to find it?

Not wanting to miss anything (and also somewhat intrigued by the two different sets of column ranges indicated by Documenta Catholica Omnia), I kept hunting and recalled that also has Migne’s patrologies indexed. For PL, vol. 17, has three links listed where the text is available.

The link to Internet Archive refers to a text dated 1879 and apparently scanned previously in coordination with Google. The column arrangement for this file matches the one provided by Documenta Catholica Omnia., however, also provides two links to Google Books (1, 2). These texts are dated 1845 and have a different column arrangement that corresponds to the one implied by the references in Cranfield and Moo. (Interestingly too, the 1845 text refers to 13 Pauline epistles, the 1879 text only to 12.) So, mystery solved: Cranfield and Moo apparently used the 1845 rather than the 1879 printing of PL, vol. 17, to make these references.

How to cite it?

As a side-note (that doesn’t, of course, apply to Cranfield’s or Moo’s texts), the SBL Handbook of Style provides a specific citation format for Migne’s patrologies (§6.4.6). Footnoting Ambrosiaster per the handbook then should result in something like (cf. the handbook’s example and the PDF of the cited volume of Gregory’s works):

  1. Ambrosiaster, In epistolam ad Romanos 3 (PL 17:[46 / 48]a).

PL seems to be treated as a static text, not needing a publication date. But, for situations like the one noted here, perhaps an amendment like

  1. Ambrosiaster, In epistolam ad Romanos 3 (PL 17 [1845]:46a).


  1. Ambrosiaster, In epistolam ad Romanos 3 (PL 17 [1879]:48a).

might be helpful. Or, is there a definite way of handling this situation already implied in the SBL Handbook that I’m just overlooking?

Update: the official word

SBL Press has subsequently given an official recommendation about handling the situation described above.

SBLHS student supplement and “ibid.”

According to SBL Handbook of Style, 2nd ed., §§1, 3, 4.3.6, supports the use of “ibid.” From those descriptions, conventions look to be the same as for the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed., §14.29.

As an easy (and free) reference for students, SBL also provides a Student Supplement to the SBLHS.  One of the courses I’ve been teaching has a comparatively heavier emphasis on getting to know the nuts-and-bolts of SBL style. And a keen-eyed student, pointed out that page 4 of the Student Supplement has consecutively numbered footnotes 78 and 79. Both notes are for the same source, but the second (note 79) does not use the “ibid.” notation.


The SBLHS blog now conveniently has a contact link for sending questions and comments to the SBL staff.So, I took this opportunity to try out this invitation. In response to my inquiry, the SBL staff kindly clarified and confirmed that the Student Supplement‘s reading is indeed an erratum. It should have “80” or “81” to replace the note number that currently reads “79” on page 4. Kudos to the SBL staff for taking the time to do so!

Citations in footnotes in SBL’s footnote-bibliography style

Last week, the SBL Handbook of Style blog carried a helpful post about the placement of citations in the footnote-bibliography, or traditional, style. Of particular interest is the section related to “Bibliographic Information inside Footnotes.”

According to the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed., §14.33, when presenting a long citation to support material provided in a content or commentary footnote, the citation should typically be presented as its own sentence:


This situation is exemplified in the SBLHS blog post paragraph “When a quotation or a discussion inside a footnote is followed by a full reference….” According to the CMS example above, the same format appears to occur when an element from the citation (e.g., the author’s name, “Sidney Smith,” in the example) is not repeated in the citation.

For SBLHS, however, relocating the author’s name to the body of the sentence within the footnote requires that even an otherwise full footnote be included in parentheses. Consequently, any parentheses in that footnote would need to shift to square brackets. Thus, in the post’s example:

Correct: 97. Cyrus H. Gordon argued that brh in Isa 27:1 should be translated “evil,” based on an Arabic cognate (“Near East Seals in Princeton and Philadelphia,” Or 22 [1953]: 243; see also Gordon, Ugaritic Textbook, AnOr 38 [Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1965], 376).

For SBLHS, when a given source supports an intra-footnote comment and has previously been cited, then the citation for the intra-footnote comment is given in parentheses. Thus, in the post’s examples:

Correct: It is interesting to note that Richards also seems to anticipate Lakoff and Johnson’s basic definition of metaphor when he writes that metaphor includes “those processes in which we perceive or think of or feel about one thing in terms of another” (Richards, Philosophy of Rhetoric, 116–17).


Correct: 55. Entailments are “rich inferences” or knowledge (“sometimes quite detailed”) that we can infer from conceptual metaphors (Evans and Green, Cognitive Linguistics, 298–99).

By comparison, according to CMS §14.34:


These comments could perhaps suggest that (a) notes of this type should have only page numbers included in parentheses and (b) other information necessary to the citation would need to be included in the prose of the footnote sentence itself. Thus, the SBLHS discussion is a helpful clarification for SBLHS users of when this more generally stated CMS principle would apply.

Full-height Footnote Numbers in Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word ties footnote anchors in the main text and footnote numbers at the start of footnotes to the same style. Consequently, it’s difficult to get full-height footnote numbers followed by a period (cf. Chicago Manual of Style, SBL Handbook of style).

That being said, the process discussed at Word MVPs does still seem to work with Word 2016. If it’s desirable to have the note number followed by a period and a space rather a tab character, the following modified Visual Basic macro code should do the trick:

ActiveDocument.Footnotes.Add Range:=Selection.Range
With Selection
.Paragraphs(1).Range.Characters(2) = ""
.InsertAfter "." & Space(1)
.Collapse wdCollapseEnd
End With

Unfortunately, it doesn’t immediately seem feasible to intercept Zotero’s insert citation macro, and that macro doesn’t appear to be tied to this particular function in Word. So, an update to what Word runs for the InsertFootnote command won’t be triggered by Zotero’s InsertCitation macro. If anyone has suggestions about how to do so, however, those are certainly welcome.