Citation Style Language

Citation Style Language is a system for specifying citation formats for use in bibliographic software like Zotero. It is a free/libre/open project that emerged in collaboration with Zotero, and has since received ongoing financial support from commercial enterprises like Mendeley and Elsevier. Its GitHub repository hosts over 8,000 separate styles, which include various style guides and journals.

Use cases

Practice using bibliographic software

Use CSL to introduce students to various citation formats and discuss the affordances of each.

Create a CSL style of your own

Have students develop their own style system or edit an existing one, based on a particular use case or need, in order to understand the challenges surrounding such systems.

How to use it

The repository can be accessed either on GitHub or through the Zotero website (which is a bit easier to search and browse). also hosts a style editor allowing users to customize their own styles.

Replacement for


External links