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SBL Handbook of Style
The SBL Handbook of Style
2nd edition

style guide cover

“Every graduate program should make The SBL Handbook of Style a required text.”

— Carol A. Newsom, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Old Testament and Director of the Graduate Division of Religion, Candler School of Theology, Emory University


The SBL Handbook of Style has been thoroughly updated to reflect the latest practices among scholars, editors, and publishers as well as to take into account current trends in scholarly publishing. This edition has been meticulously supplemented with important new subject matter that fills gaps in the first edition. Chapters and sections have been reorganized and restructured to be more intuitive and logical.

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Please send any questions or comments about SBLHS 2 to SBL Press staff here.


Additions to the Second Edition
  • Clearer and more comprehensive guidelines for authors in preparing manuscripts for publication, including a discussion of Unicode fonts
  • An expanded list of authorities
  • Expanded guidelines on style rules for numbers
  • A list of ancient Near Eastern archaeological site names
  • An expansive discussion of the treatment of qur’anic sources
  • An expanded and improved list of capitalization and spelling examples
  • Addition of a section on Islamic dates
  • An introduction on the principles of transliteration and transcription
  • Addition of capital letters to the transliteration scheme for Greek
  • A substantially revised and updated discussion of Akkadian transliteration
  • Addition of Sumerian, Hittite, Old Persian, Moabite, Edomite, Ammonite, Syriac, Mandaic, Ethiopic, Arabic, and Turkish to the list of ancient languages treated
  • A more complete discussion of the rules of citation
  • New rules for the treatment of Latin titles
  • A comprehensive list of publishers and their places of publication
  • An explanation of electronic resource identifiers (DOIs versus URLs)
  • Detailed guidelines for citing a variety of electronic sources
  • Clearer and more comprehensive guidelines for preparing indexes
  • An expanded list of technical abbreviations
  • Expanded coverage of rabbinic works and ancient codices
  • A thoroughly updated and expanded list of secondary sources
Rule Changes in the Second Edition
  • Following The Chicago Manual of Style, all names form the possessive with an apostrophe s. Jesus’s and Moses’s are not exceptions to this rule (4.1.6).
  • In the academic transliteration style for Hebrew, SBL now specifies upside-down e for a vocal shewa, to distinguish it from khatef segol (5.1.1).
  • For the stems/binyanim, SBL now uses a consistent general-purpose style of transliteration: qal, niphal, piel, pual, hiphil, hophal, hithpael. The previous version was a mix of academic for consonants and general-purpose for vowels (
  • Titles of unattributed ancient works are no longer italicized even when they represent a direct transliteration of the ancient language. This rule applies to nonbiblical ancient Near Eastern texts, Old Testament pseudepigraphical texts, Dead Sea Scrolls, apostolic fathers, New Testament apocrypha and pseudepigrapha, and Nag Hammadi codices (, 8.3).
  • In bibliographies and notes, the basic facts of publication (city, publisher, and date) are set within parentheses, while all secondary publication information is now placed outside of the parentheses (6.2–6.4).
  • Series and journal titles are now abbreviated in both bibliography and notes (6).
  • SBL now recommends using two-letter postal abbreviations rather than traditional state abbreviations (8.1.1).
  • SBL now uses all caps without periods for BCE and CE rather than B.C.E. and C.E. (8.1.2).
  • Small caps are no longer recommended for abbreviations of versions or texts of the Bible: NRSV, MT, etc. (8.2).
Questions regarding Digital Editions of the SBLHS 2

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