May 29, 2016

Mendeley Releases Open-Standards Citation Style Editor


Mendeley CSL editorResearch collaboration startup Mendeley this week announced the launch of a new “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” (WYSIWYG) citation style editor that will enable users to format citation styles and then contribute them to an open repository where they can be reused by other academics.

Produced in collaboration with Columbia University Libraries with the support of a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the new editor was developed in response to frequent requests on Mendeley’s user feedback board.

“Most academic journals insist that papers submitted to them conform to the journal’s own, idiosyncratic style of citing research,” the company explains in an announcement. “This has led to a proliferation of thousands of different citation styles, often with only minuscule differences in the placement of commas, or the use of quotation marks and italics. To support their users in this arduous task, modern reference management tools like Mendeley ship with 2789 different citation styles which can be used when formatting a bibliography in Word or Open Office. It turns out that 2,789 was still not enough.”

Citation styles created by the editor are saved in the open-source, Citation Style Language (CSL)-compliant XML, and afterward can be used with any other reference management tool, such as Zotero, Papers, Docear, and Qiqqa. Prior to the release of this style editor, the primary drawback of CSL was that changing an existing citation style required a knowledge of XML code. As the acronym implies, “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” editors offer users a visual interface that allows them to manipulate that underlying code, simply by adjusting a citation until it looks right.

“Mendeley’s new WYSIWYG citation style editor allows anyone to click on any element of a citation they would like to change, and then format the output with a few simple clicks,” the announcement explains.

Mendeley has also open-sourced the code of the new CSL editor under the MIT license on Github.

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Matt Enis About Matt Enis

Matt Enis (; @matthewenis on Twitter) is Associate Editor, Technology for Library Journal.

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