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Re: [Groff] refer question

From: Ted Harding
Subject: Re: [Groff] refer question
Date: Fri, 01 Apr 2005 23:42:51 +0100 (BST)

On 01-Apr-05 Peter Schaffter wrote:
> On Fri, Apr 01, 2005, Jorgen Grahn wrote:
>> On Thu Mar 31 23:22:08 2005, address@hidden wrote:
>> > Hi.
>> > 
>> > I've begun work on adding refer capabilities to mom.
>> > Using the ms refer module as a starting point, I'm
>> > setting mom up to use MLA bibliographic rules.
>> MLA seems to be "Modern Language Association". What kind
>> of status (official or unofficial) does this style have?
>> I have never heard about it or seen it used.
> As far as I'm aware, there exists no overarchingly official
> bibliographic style.  Numerous institutions and organizations
> have developed their own.  Their status is "official" only
> within their respective fields.  What works best in a medical
> text may not be appropriate to a dissertation on Shakespeare.
> In contemporary North American bibliographies, about five
> styles are "standard", though by no means the only ones used:
>     AMA      (American Medical Association)
>     APA      (American Psychological Association)
>     MLA      (Modern Language Association)
>     Turabian (from Kate Turabian's _A Manual for Writers of Term
> Papers,
>               Theses, and Dissertations_)
>     Chicago  (The Chicago Manual of Style)
> The Modern Language Association has been around for well over a
> century, which gives their dicta concerning style considerable
> clout, though, as with other styles, no official standing.
> It's a nice style: neat, clean and flexible.  I have some quibbles
> with it, as I do with other styles, but as a "general" style, it's
> by far the one I prefer.

I understand that the MLA style is the general "norm" for
publications in the Humanities, to the extent that many
Humanities journals either strongly recommend it or insist
on it.

To your above list you could also add, for instance, the
AMA (American Mathematical Association) style, used in
JAMA. There are so many! One of the principal merits of
specialised bibliography programs is that they can be
configured (using a syntax-like "style file") to adhere
to a specified standard.

This is one reason I've never much liked using {g|t}roffs
"refer". While it has the feature that you can set up a
database using standard tags, and refer to items in this
in various natural ways in your text, it is distinctly
inflexible when it comes to changing style.

This is not helped by the fact that the implementation
of the formatting is done by specialised macros in whatever
macro package you happen to be using. See for instance
"module ref, Refer support" in s.tmac. In the past I've
had to rewrite this stuff to make it adapt to a different

In the end I switched to a different approach, based on
Tim Budd's 'bib' program, a preprocessor for troff, which
you can configure using "style files". But this seems to
have disappeared from public view since some time ago.

Best wishes,

E-Mail: (Ted Harding) <address@hidden>
Fax-to-email: +44 (0)870 094 0861
Date: 01-Apr-05                                       Time: 23:42:13
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