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Citation Formats

This page will display several different types of citation format types. The idea is to compare what properties are common amonst all of the formats and which ones should be blended into this microformat.

Comparison chart

The following chart maps the terms from one implementation to another. This is important because if all the properties are introduced to this microformat, then it's possible to map them to a number of different formats. The table currently only uses Dublin Core, MODS, and bibTeX. Each column has all the properties and their equivalent in each format. If there is no corresponding property, the cell is grey. At the bottom of the list are the unique terms to each format. Dublin Core has basic terms and terms that extend the basic ones. If the property is an extension of a basic term it is in ()'s. MODS uses XML, so any sub-properties are listed in their tree form, property/sub-property.

THIS IS NOT DEFINITIVE, any errors should be corrected. More formats will be added to the list as they are mapped.

Dublin Core MODS bibTeX Z39.80
Title (alternative) titleInfo/title
Analytic Title

Collective or Series Title
Monographic Title
Work Fraction Title
Location of Conference
Main Entry
Name of Conference
Number of Meeting
Other Title
Parallel Title
Title Abbriviation
Title of Conference Proceedings
Translated Title
Uniform Title
Abbriviated Translated Title
Symposium or Session Title
Collective or Series Edition
Video/Film Edition

creator name/namePart author
Author, Primary

Corporate Author, Primary
Abstract Author
Authorship Statement
Acknowledged Supporters
Assignee for Patents
Chairperson of Conference
Director of AV Program
Other Author
Reviewed Book Author
Sponsor of Conference
Symposium Chairperson
Author Address or Affiliation
Author Country
Electronic Address of Author

subject subject/topic keywords needs mapping
Description (abstract | tableOfContents) abstract
needs mapping
Contributor name editor? Book/Report/Volume Editor


Date (available | created | dateAccepted | dateCopyrighted | dateSubmitted | issued | modified | valid) originInfo/dateIssued
Copyright Year
Date of conference
Date of Publication
Date of Update/Revisou/Issuance of Database Record
Former Date
Entry date for Database Record
Database Update
Year of Publication
Type typeOfResource
needs mapping
Format (extent | medium) physicalDescription/internetMediaType
howpublished needs mapping
identifier (bibliographicCitation) identifier ISBN
Report Identfier
Source relatedItem needs mapping
language language language
Relation (...) relatedItem/... crossRef needs mapping
Coverage (spacial | temporal) subject/temporal
needs mapping
classifications needs mapping
Rights (accessRights | license) accessConditions copyright needs mapping
publisher publisher Publisher Name

Place of Publication
Country of Publication
Generic Address

audience (educationLevel | mediator) targetAudience needs mapping
(the following need to be mapped to the above rows or left here as other)

Database Source
Databse Record Identifier
Database Producer Name
Rights Management
Other Source Identifier
Vendor Record Identifier
Database Vendor Name
Column Number
Frequency of Publication
Internet Location for Document
Supplement/Part/Sp*cial number identifer
Issue Identifier
Location in Work
Number of the Chapter
Number in Series
Volume Identifier
Section Indentifier


Here is a list of previous/existing citation formats.

This section probably needs sorting (alphabetical?) to make it easier to browse since it is quite large.Tantek 19:26, 2 April 2009 (UTC)

Dublin Core Metadata

Dublin Core metadata uses a small vocabulary to describe the data.

From those there are specialised types which are just refinements of the previous, for example:

Guidelines for Encoding Bibliographic Citation Information in Dublin Core Metadata

MODS (Metadata Object Description Schema)

This is a format developed for the Library of Congress for a bibliographic element set that may be used for a variety of purposes, and particularly for library applications.

(the schema is very big, once i devote the proper time to review it, i will post more about the structure -brian)

NCBI-NLM Journal Publishing DTD

The NLM Journal Publishing DTD defines the schema used for publishing journal articles as XML. The
element can be placed with paragraphs or within a
element at the end of the article.

"Although the DTD does not enforce it, a citation to a journal article should be tagged with as many as possible of the following, so that PubMed Central, CrossRef, or other matching service can make the citation into a live link:

sourceThe title of a journal, book, conference proceedings, etc. that is the source of the cited material. (Note: In PubMed Central processing, this is typically the MEDLINE abbreviation of the journal name.)
article-titleTitle of the article
volumeVolume of the journal
issueIssue of the journal
fpagePage number on which the article starts
nameName of an author or editor
yearYear of publication
monthMonth of publication (if present)
dayDate of publication (if present)
The other elements (described here) may be tagged if desired. Use the
element for titles of books, conference proceedings, etc."


<!ELEMENT pubs (pub+)>
<!ENTITY % pubElements "(artTitle|bookTitle|author|date|pubDate|publisher|pageNums|url)">
<!ELEMENT pub (para | %pubElements;)*>
<!ELEMENT artTitle (#PCDATA | link)*>
<!ELEMENT bookTitle (#PCDATA | link)*>
<!ELEMENT author (#PCDATA)>
<!ELEMENT pubDate (month?, year)> <!-- Deprecated in 1.4.0. -->
<!ELEMENT publisher (#PCDATA | link | url)*>
<!ELEMENT pageNums (#PCDATA)>


Fields Used by Bibtex

abstract: An abstract of the work.
address: Publisher's address. For major publishing houses, just the city is given. For small publishers, you can help the reader by giving the complete address.
affiliation: The author's affiliation.
annote: An annotation. It is not used by he standard bibliography styles, but may be used by others that produce an annotated bibliography.
author: The name(s) of the author(s).
booktitle:  Title of a book, part of which is being cited. For book entries, use the title field instead.
chapter: A chapter (or section) number.
contents: A Table of Contents.
copyright: Copyright information.
crossref: The database key of the entry being cross-referenced.
edition:  The edition of a book - for example "Second". Notice that it is in capitals.
editor:  Name(s) of editor(s). If there is also an author field, then the editor field gives the editor of the book or collection in which the reference appears.
howpublished: How something strange has been published. The first word should be capitalized.
institution: The sponsoring institution of a technical report.
ISBN: The International Standard Book Number.
ISSN: The International Standard Serial Number. Used to identify a journal.
journal:  A journal name. Abbreviations are provided for many journals.
key:  Used for alphabetizing and creating a label when the author and editor fields are missing. This field should not be confused with the key that appears at the beginning of the reference.
keywords: Key words used for searching or possibly for annotation.
language: The language the document is written in.
LCCN: The Library of Congress Call Number.
location: A location associated with the entry, such as the city in which a conference took place.
month:  The month in which the work was published or, for an unpublished work, in which it was written.
mrnumber: The Mathematical Reviews number.
note: Any additional information that can help the reader. First word should be capitalized.
number:  The number of a journal, magazine, technical report, or of a work in a series. An issue of a journal or magazine is usually identified by its volume and number; the organization that issues a technical report usually gives it a number; and sometimes books are given numbers in a named series.
organization:  The organization that sponsors a conference or publishes a manual.
pages: One or more page numbers or ranges of number, such as 37--42, or 7,53,82--94.
price: The price of the material.
publisher: The publisher's name.
school: The name of the school where a thesis was written.
series: Then name given a series or set of books. When citing an entire book, the title field gives its title and the optional series field gives the name of a series in which the book was published.
size: The physical dimensions of the work.
title: The work's title.
type: The type of technical report - for example, "Research Note".
url: The WWW Universal Resource Locator that points to the item being referenced. Often used for technical reports to point to the FTP site where it resides.
volume: The volume of a journal or multivolume book.
year: The year of publication or, for an unpublished work, the year it was written. It should only consist of numerals, such as 1976.

BibTeX citation Types

A reference can be to any of a variety of types. Following is a list of types. Each one also explains the fields associated with that type. Any fields not listed as required or optional are considered to be ignored.

article: An article from a journal or magazine. Required fields: author, title, journal, year. Optional fields: volume, number, pages, month, note, key.
book: A book with an explicit publisher. Required fields: author or editor, title, publisher, year. Optional fields: volume, series, address, edition, month, note, key.
booklet:  A work that is printed and bound, but without a named publisher or sponsoring institution. Required fields: title. Optional fields: author, howpublished, address, month, year, note, key.
collection: A collection of works. Same as Proceedings.
conference: The same as Inproceedings.
inbook: A part of a book, which may be a chapter and/or arange of pages. Required fields: author or editor, title, chapter and/or pages, publisher, year. Optional fields: volumer, series, address, edition, month, note, key.
incollection: A part of a book with its own title. Required fields: author, title, booktitle, publisher, year. Optional fields: editor, pages, organization, publisher, address, month, note, key.
inproceedings: An article in a conference proceedings. Required fields: author, title, booktitle, year. Optional fields: editor, pages, organization, publisher, address, month, note, key.
manual:  Technical documentation. Required fields: title. Optional fields: author, organization, address, edition, month, year, note.
mastersthesis: A Master's thesis. Required fields: author, title, school, year. Optional fields: address, month, note, key.
misc: Use this type when nothing else fits. Required fields: none. Optional fields: author, title, howpublished, month, year, note, key.
patent: A patent.
phdthesis: A Ph.D. thesis. Required fields: author, title, school, year. Optional fields: address, month, note, key.
proceedings: The proceedings of a conference. Required fields: title, year. Optional fields: editor, publisher, organization, address, month, note, key.
techreport: A report published by a school or other institution, usually numbered within a series. Required fields: author, title, institution, year. Optional fields: type, number, address, month, note, key.
unpublished: A document with an author and title, but not formally published. Required fields: author, title, note. Optional fields: month, year, key.

AUTHOR = "Donald E. Knudson",
TITLE = "1966 World Gnus Almanac",
PUBLISHER = {Permafrost Press},
ADDRESS = {Novosibirsk} }

<div class="book" id="kn:gnus">
  <div class="author">Donald E. Knudson</div>
  <div class="title">1966 World Gnus Almanac</div>
  <div class="publisher">Permafrost Press</div>
  <div class="address">Novosibirsk</div>


author = "X. Ai and H. S. Cheng",
title = "Influence of moving dent on point {EHL} contacts",
journal = "Tribol. Trans.",
volume = "37",
year = "1994",
pages = "323--335",

<div class="article" id="XAi_HSCheng_1994a">
  <div class="author">X. Ai and H. S. Cheng</div>
  <div class="title">Influence of moving dent on point {EHL} contacts</div>
  <div class="journal">Tribol. Trans.</div>
  <div class="volume">37</div>
  <div class="year">1994</div>
  <div class="pages">323--335</div>

Bib-enabled Applications

Reference-management applications that support the bib format. This is an incomplete list.

Desktop Applications
Web Applications
Academic Databases


RIS is similar to BibTeX and is handled by most desktop and web-based bibliography management software.

The specification and field types/tags are described at

In particular, see the list of different reference types.

A sample item in RIS format:

A1  - Baldwin,S.A.
A1  - Fugaccia,I.
A1  - Brown,D.R.
A1  - Brown,L.V.
A1  - Scheff,S.W.
T1  - Blood-brain barrier breach following
cortical contusion in the rat
JO  - J.Neurosurg.
Y1  - 1996
VL  - 85
SP  - 476
EP  - 481
RP  - Not In File
KW  - cortical contusion
KW  - blood-brain barrier
KW  - horseradish peroxidase
KW  - head trauma
KW  - hippocampus
KW  - rat
ER  -

Refer is a similar, smaller bibliographic format.


OpenURL aka Z39.88 defines a standard way of bundling citation data in a URL. It is widely deployed in academic libraries around the world to provide access to licensed content via link resolvers such as SFX. The Context Object in Span (COinS) community standard represents one way to embed OpenURLs in XHTML without including a resolver target. OpenURL also provides an XML encoding.

Example (from a book review written using the Structured Blogging plugin):

<p><b>ISBN</b>: <span class='Z3988'

Another example, a journal this time:

<span class="Z3988" title="ctx_ver=Z39.88-2004&rft_val_fmt=info:ofi/fmt:kev:mtx:journal&rft.issn=1045-4438"></span>

As you can see this isn't very much like semantic XHTML at all. However significant work has gone into defining the set of Key/Encoded Values (KEVs) that can be used in various types of citations: book, dissertation, journal, patent. It would be possible to simply provide a standard XHTML bundling for these keys as a microformat.


<div class="openurl-journal">
   <span class="aulast">Berners-Lee</span>, 
   <span class="aufirst">Tim</a>; Hendler, James; Lassila, Ora.</span>
   "<span class="atitle">The Semantic Web</span>". 
   <span class="jtitle">Scientific American</span>
   <span class="volume">284</span>(<span class="issue">5</span>), pp.
   pp. <span class="pages">34-43</span>. 
   <span class="issn">0036-8733</span>

Using OpenURL in this way would enable third party applications that could, say grab citation metadata from a blog, and without much work fire it off at your university's or public libraries openurl resolver to see if the article is available via a licensed databases. The benefits have been noted elsewhere.

The OpenURL Briefly Explained

An OpenURL consists of two independent parts: the ContextObject (or the bibliographic metadata surrounding a citation) and the location of resolver to parse the metadata and present contextual services based on said metadata. The problem is that the term "OpenURL" is also used as a catch-all for all of the independent parts and how they work. This is mainly because it's a catchier term than "Z39.88", which is the NISO standard all this is based upon.

The most common representation of the OpenURL ContextObject is seen as arguments in a URL string (which is referred to as "San Antonio Profile 1" -- more commonly SAP1 -- and is represented in Key Encoded Values -- KEVs). This "representation" is independent of the ContextObject (from here on known as CO) itself and is only intended to permit the CO to be transmitted via an HTTP GET request.

There is also SAP2, which is an XML representation of the CO (see: here for more information) and is a much more human readable format. This still falls outside the scope of microformats, but makes the point that encoding has nothing to do with the CO itself. They are just agreed upon means of conveying the CO to enable machines act upon them consistently.

The ContextObject could be conveyed just as easily in XHTML using attributes, as long as the terms follow the vocabulary defined in the OpenURL framework. The important thing to focus on here is the ContextObject -- the address of the link resolver is institution-specific and should be handled by a user's (or machine's) activating agent.

However, the link resolver is still a very important component to this whole process. Getting users "appropriate copy" is a very real (and very difficult) problem that libraries are trying to solve. Link resolvers are a pretty efficient means of overcoming this hurdle, so it would make sense to mark up bibiographic citations in a way that link resolvers can easily parse.


I'm not sure the best place for a guide to Z39.80 so please add links as you see fit:


A subset of the DocBook vocabulary is dedicated to representing a bibliography:

<!DOCTYPE bibliography PUBLIC "-//OASIS//DTD DocBook XML V4.1.2//EN"
  <title>Languages and Semantics</title>
      <title>Course in General Linguistics</title>
      <author><firstname>Ferdinand</firstname><surname>de Saussure</surname></author>
      <othercredit role="translator"><firstname>Wade</firstname><surname>Baskin</surname></othercredit>
        <holder>The Philosophical Library Inc.</holder>
        <publishername>McGraw-Hill Book Company</publishername>

Ann Arbor District Library XML feed

Here's a record in XML format from their project to simplify access to the catalog. More discussion on John Blyberg's blog.

  <callnum>823 Bu</callnum>
  <author>Burkart, Gina, 1971-</author>
  <fulltitle>A parent's guide to Harry Potter / Gina Burkart</fulltitle>
  <title>A parent's guide to Harry Potter </title>
  <pubinfo>Downers Grove, Ill. : InterVarsity Press, c2005</pubinfo>
  <desc>112 p</desc>
  <bibliography>Includes bibliographical references</bibliography>
    The Harry hype -- More than a story -- The modern fairy tale -- Discussing fantasy with children --
    Morals, not magic -- The real issues in Harry Potter -- Dealing with traumatic experiences -- Facing 
    fears -- Battling bullies -- Delving into diversity -- Hiding hurts -- Letting go of anger -- Getting 
    help -- Choosing good over evil -- The power of love -- Facing spiritual battles
  <avail>No copies available</avail>
  <recordlink xlink:href=""/>

SimpleDC supported by the zoom toolkit

<dc xmlns="http/">
 <title>Kantor Salomon Sulzer und seine Zeit : eine Dokumentation /</title>
 <creator>Avenary, Hanoch.</creator>
 <creator>Pass, Walter.</creator>
 <creator>Vielmetti, Nikolaus.</creator>
 <creator>Adler, Israel, (1925-)</creator>
 <subject>Sulzer, Salomon, -- 1804-1890.</subject>
 <subject>Jewish composers -- Austria -- Biography.</subject>
 <subject>Cantors, Jewish -- Biography.</subject>
 <publisher>Sigmaringen : Jan Thorbecke Verlag</publisher>
 <description>300 p., [12] p. of plates : ill., music, ports. ; 24 cm.</description>

this is the output of marc.toSimpleDC()

(NOTE: this schema is from the example, not the source schema)

SRU from the Library of Congress

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<zs:searchRetrieveResponse xmlns:zs="">
        <srw_dc:dc xmlns:srw_dc="info:srw/schema/1/dc-schema" 
          <title>3-D dinosaur adventure [computer file].</title>
          <creator>Knowledge Adventure, Inc.</creator>
          <type>software, multimedia</type>
          <publisher>Glendale, CA : Knowledge Adventure,</publisher>

          <description>Employs a dinosaur theme-park setting to introduce users to Triassic, Jurassic, and 
            Cretaceous periods. Features hypertext dinosaur encyclopedia covering 150 million years of 
            paleontology. Includes animated video simulations, three-dimensional dinosaur museum, narration,
            games, activities, and color illustrations.</description>
          <description>Ages 5 to 10.</description>
          <description>System requirements for PC: 486SX/25MHz processor or higher; 8MB RAM; Windows 3.1, 
            3.11, or 95; SVGA 256-color graphics adapter; hard drive with 5MB free space; double-speed CD-ROM
            drive; MPC-compatible sound card; mouse.</description>
          <description>System requirements for Macintosh: 68040 or Power PC processor; 8MB RAM; System 7.0 or
            higher; 256-color graphics capability; thirteen-inch color monitor or larger; hard drive with 4MB
            free space; double-speed CD-ROM drive.</description>
          <description>Ages 5 to 10.</description>
          <description>Employs a dinosaur theme-park setting to introduce users to Triassic, Jurassic, and 
            Cretaceous periods. Features hypertext dinosaur encyclopedia covering 150 million years of paleontology.
            Includes animated video simulations, three-dimensional dinosaur museum, narration, games, activities, 
            and color illustrations.</description>
          <subject>Dinosaurs--Juvenile software.</subject>

NOTE: this is just Dublin Core data in a sp*cial LOC envelope

LOC also delivers MARCXML, and MODS, see -- JakobVoss 05:37, 26 Jul 2007 (PDT)

University of Bath reference type

				<book title="How to get a PhD:  A handbook for students and their supervisors">
						<publisher>Open University</publisher>

				<website pagetitle="Radon&apos;s Real Threat is to the EPA" 
			<frdescription>an article by a prolific newspaper columnist in the USA - 
quotes empirical scientific research showing no provable link between radon in homes and elevated 
cases of lung cancer</frdescription>

Schema extract

Biblio RDF Class Schema

Regading the issue of types notes above, the biblio schema provides a comprehensive set of classes to describe citation metadata. It might prove useful as a guide for a micro-format. The primary classes are Agent, Reference, Collection, and Event. An "Article", then, would be a subclass of "Part", which in turn is a subclass of Reference. Likewise, a "Journal" is a subclass of a "Periodical," which in turn is a subclass of "Collection." An article would typically be linked to a journal through a dcterms:isPartOf relation.

ISBN Uniform Resource Names

RFC3187 defines an ISBN namespace for Uniform Resource Names (URNs).



I'm not sure if any browser uses this data, but it might have an application in citations describing registered materials with an ISBN.

There is also a URN namespace for ISSN (International Standard Serial Number), which identifies serials/periodicals e.g. A List Apart. It is defined in RFC3044. Additional URN namespaces are listed at


Oh, already a year ago! I was just trying to explain Microformats and its relevance for libraries (here (in German). You should have a look at the International Standard Bibliographic Description (ISBD). These rules specify how a bibliographic should be displayed in a library catalouge. This format could be used as basis for hCitation because millions of records are availble in ISBD or variants in library catalouges all over the world.

Here is an example:

Title: Harry Potter and the deathly hallows / Joanne K. Rowling. - [Children’s ed.], 1. ed. - London : Bloomsbury, 2007
ISBN: 0-7475-9105-9 - 978-0-7475-9105-4 (Children’s edition)

This could be broken into "semantic peaces":

<div class='hCitation'>
  <span class='title'>Harry Potter and the deathly hallows</span> /
  <span class='n'>
    </span><span class='given-name'>Joanne K.</span>
    <span class='family-name'>Rowling</span>
  </div>. -
  [<span class='edition'>Children's ed.</span>], <span class='edition-number'>1.</span> ed. -
  <span class='location'>London</span> : <span class='publisher-name'>Bloomsbury</span>,
  <span class='publication-year'>2007</span>
  <span class='ISBN'>0-7475-9105-9</span> -
  <span class='ISBN'>978-0-7475-9105-4</span>
  (<span class='edition'>Children's edition</span>)

The advantage of ISBD is that it is very elaborated and covers many field and types of publications and sp*cial cases. Of course you need to simplifiy parts of it for the microformat. I'd prefer a bottom up design with the current mass of real-world records in todays libraries instead of top-down by thinking of an "ideal record" or limited playing databases. -- JakobVoss 05:34, 26 Jul 2007 (PDT)


The OpenDocument Format also includes parts for citation and bibliography. See also the OpenOffice Bibliographic project. -- JakobVoss 11:55, 19 Jul 2006 (PDT)

Wikimedia foundation projects

Structurally-Based Citation Formatting

Bruce D’Arcus has drafted a partial proposal with a few examples, and a schema for the parts of a citation:

additional sources for citation formats

Nice to meet you, Bruce! Maybe I'm naive but it still think that there is a way to combine the best of both worlds: scholars and library professionals. Both have developed bizarre traditions and it would be a pitty to create a new bizarre microformat that is not based on both of them. Thanks to your links to xbiblio. I a stumbled upon it a while ago but have to look at it deeper. -- JakobVoss 11:48, 19 Jul 2006 (PDT)

common properties across formats

This is the start of the short list of common properties across documented formats. Once this is finished, there will be a union of Implied schemas between EXAMPLES and IMPLEMENTATIONS and we will see what that looks like. (This currently only covers a few of the formats listed, some documented formats still need to be explored)

common location information

Date Fields

Again, I'll emphasize: "date published" is problematic. If one needs specificity, then better to have the following list of date classes: date (the generic), issued (braoder than published), copyright (often not the same as issuance date), accessed. -- bruce

Other fields

Types and Roles

(Section is informative only as a place to capture various parts of publication citations.)

There are many different types of publications and this information should be captured in the citation. Possible types include:

Question: Certain works have specific types of citations, for example, the Bible--and, I assume, other religious works--have very specific citation formats with different relevant information (chapter/verse) than others, as do the works of Shakespeare. Should these be considered separate types/roles?

A: I think in terms of types, we should at least note the items (chapter, verse, etc). How they get dealt with is still way up in the air. - Tim White

Likewise, there are several different roles associated with publications -- author, co-author, editor, translator, etc. Should these be captured under a master "role" or treated as individual elements?

A: Good question. I think there is an important distinction, but whether we follow a design pattern of "role-*" (or more likely "author-*) or some other pattern hasn't been discussed yet. - Tim

Concerns not addressed by existing formats

There are some aspects NOT adequately covered by existing formats. I have addressed this issue on the wiki page, too. [see for an extending discussion, the paragraph on Reference Types]

These issues pertain mainly to Errata, Comments and Authors Reply and Article Retractions.

See also

citation-formats was last modified: Wednesday, December 31st, 1969