Rules of Thumb

You will find it easier to work with citation styles if you follow a few rules of thumb:

hmtoggle_plus1 A component has identical properties every time it is used.

Components are reusable within a citation style, but it is critical to understand that every instance of a component is identical — if you edit a component in one place, every other instance of it will change as well. If you need the same component in different templates, but with different formatting, you must make a separate component for the alternative formatting.

Conversely, this means that if you need the same component formatted identically (for example, the name of a journal in italics), you can define it once and use it in different templates and use cases.

hmtoggle_plus1 Punctuation before is more important than Punctuation after.

In the citation style editor, you set the punctuation that appears between components. When both punctuation before and punctuation after are present between two components, punctuation before always "wins".

For example, many citation styles use a colon between the author and title. Imagine that you are assembling the citation, starting with the end, layering each component and its punctuation. In this example, put the colon (and a space!) in the punctuation before of the title component.

You can also use this property to your advantage: if you are defining a style where most components are separated with periods, enter periods in the punctuation after for every component,  and then just define punctuation before for the exceptions.

hmtoggle_plus1 Don't use the punctuation fields for parentheses (and the like)

Only use the punctuation fields for periods, commas, semicolons, colons, spaces, non-breaking spaces, tabs, and returns. For everything else, create components with text elements instead.

hmtoggle_plus1 Use replacements to clean up

Sometimes, the punctuation rules you set up will inadvertently result in unwanted punctuation. Rather than investing too much time trying to solve the puzzle of what is causing the extra punctuation, it can be easier to just define a replacement rule. For instance, suppose a citation ends up ending with a comma, a space, and a closing parenthesis. It is probably faster to just add a custom replacement that searches for "comma, space, closing parenthesis" and replaces it with just a closing parenthesis.