Creating a CSL file for linguistics

At the time of writing, I am studying in the teacher’s programme at the University of Vienna, through which I am also in contact with the Department for English and American Studies. Said department is using non-standard citation style sheets, which are often required when writing scientific works there. Since so far there was only a PDF outlining how to use these citation styles, I have taken it upon myself to create a CSL file for use in Zotero and similar citation managers.

Currently, I am only working on a CSL file for the linguistics style sheet, literary studies will be perhaps done at some point in the future.

Work on this is suspended for now, since I was informed that the department is intending to switch to the standard APA style sheet.
Thank you very much!


Download the CSL style sheet here (beta3). Then, import it in your preferred citation manager software and cite as usual.

Usually just double-clicking the file is sufficient.

Please keep in mind that this project is NOT affiliated with the Department for English and American Studies!
Also, there are no guarantees of any kind. If something breaks or you get a bad grade that is your responsibility.

For installation help, please see the documentation of your preferred citation manager software. e.g. Zotero (see Alternative Installation Methods)

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.


If you have any questions or notice any problems or mistakes, please contact me via Email (zot [ at ], via ActivityPub-based social media or by leaving a comment on this post.


This is a pre-release style sheet CSL, which still requires testing. As soon as I receive confirmation by members of the department I will attempt to publish it in the official CSL repository for ease of use in manager software.

The base style sheet is somewhat convoluted, which makes it difficult to accurately formalise into a computer-friendly style specification. Some citations are not handled exactly as specified in the source style spec, here is a (non-comprehensive) list:

  • Only the text types defined in the source style sheet are tested. Others should work, but may be wrong or strange-looking. If you encounter any issues, please let me know.
  • When citing a movie or film where director and producer are the same person, “prod. and dir. by xxxxx” does not work. Instead, it will be listed individually as if they were two separate people.
  • YouTube videos seem to have a special style different from normal recordings in the source spec. This is ignored in this CSL.
  • For some material specifying the medium is expected by the source spec. This often does not have a corresponding field in Zotero. One can still add it by writing “medium: xxxxx” in the “Extra” field.
    e.g.: “medium: Video” or “medium: CD-ROM”
  • “Ed.” is always capitalised, the source spec calls for “ed.”. – I might still be able to fix this one…

Contradictions and Mistakes

The source specification sometimes contradicts itself, in these cases I took the liberty of choosing one of the options. I will attempt to list mistakes I find while working on this project. Presented in no particular order:

Contradictions in citation between example and bibliography at the end of the document

Cooper, Helen; Cowell, Alan. 2009. “Obama sets new tone for European allies”. New York Times Electronic Edition, 3 April. r=1&hp19 (5 April 2009).


Cooper, Helen; Cowell, Alan. 2009. “Obama sets new tone for European allies”. New York Times Electronic Edition, 3 April 2009.
europe/04nato.html?_r=1&hp (5 April 2009).

Use of minus instead of en dash

The style sheet generally uses minus instead of the typical en dash for denoting page ranges. Usually en dash is used for ranges, therefore the CSL file does so as well.

Citing Youtube without channel name

In the spec, a video to be found on YouTube is cited without the channel name, instead making use of a non-standard “special case” style. This differentiation from all other media is not easily formalised in CSL format. Therefore, citing with the channel name as “director” is expected.

Author’s comment

The following is my own opinion. Again, the Department for English and American Studies is NOT AFFILIATED with this project.

I want to make clear that this project would be entirely unnecessary would the department decide to simply use a more standard citation style sheet. Do not ever use the existence of this CSL file as an argument against retiring this style sheet in favour of APA or similar. The linguistics style sheet is contradictory and cumbersome to work with. The priority of university papers should be well-done research and well-written papers, not nitpicking about the proper use of special style sheet rules.