The historian reference style is almost exactly what I need, but it's causing a lot of errors and seems to be kind of outdated. Are there any recommended recent alternatives?

I need footnote references containing:

  • for books: initial, the author's last name in small caps, italic title, place, year, page.
  • for articles: initial, the author's last name in small caps, 'article title', italic journal title (edition, year), page.
  • for ancient texts: the abbreviations of Thesaurus Lingua Latina & Liddell-Scott-Jones
  • Mhh, how far do you get with the standard verbose/verbose-ibid/verbose-inote styles? What you now seem to want is quite easy to modify from these, I imagine. But I suspect there might be some more rules you need/want to follow. For a starter on how to modify a style see Guidelines for customizing biblatex styles.
    – moewe
    Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 6:56
  • The documentation of biblatex-historian says it follows Turabian which in turn is based on Chicago, so you might want to try biblatex-chicago which is under active development. Keep in mind though that it is often easier to modify standard styles then heavily-tailored styles such as CMS.
    – moewe
    Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 7:07
  • 1
    I just had another look at the styles, probably verbose-inote comes closest to biblatex-historian. In order to get small caps, you will want \renewcommand*{\mkbibnamelast}[1]{\textsc{#1}}. The rest seems to almost be in order (maybe this is missing).
    – moewe
    Commented Mar 5, 2015 at 11:20
  • Thanks. Where can I find the verbose-inote style?
    – Password
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 13:34
  • 1
    For the abbreviations, you'll have to add those in yourself. The shorthand field might be the way to go.
    – jon
    Commented Oct 10, 2015 at 18:24

2 Answers 2


Unfortunately, biblatex-historian has last been updated in 2010 and does not seem to be actively maintained any more. biblatex has progressed quite a bit in the last five years and so getting biblatex-historian to work without rough edges becomes increasingly complicated.

In biblatex version 3.3, the name formatting has been revised quite substantially (see https://github.com/plk/biblatex/issues/372, Biblatex 3.3 name formatting), so many styles released before March 2016 will have problems with newer biblatex versions. Depending on the commands used this can cause biblatex to silently ignore certain modifications, issue harmless warnings or fatal errors.

The biblatex-philosophy style family is very actively maintained (version 1.9 is dated 2016-11-26) and its philosophy-verbose style allows for footnote citations. This style family implements many additional options for a finer and more comfortable control over lots of features.

As an alternative you can use biblatex-chicago (version 1.0rc1 is from 2016-06-07). Turabian style, which is what biblatex-historian implements, and the Chicago Manual of Style are closely related and differ only in details. There are going to be subtle differences though, and since biblatex-chicago is purpose-built to follow the CMS it might not to be too easy to get the exact output of biblatex-historian. See an example of the chicago-note style here.

Another style for the humanities is biblatex-dw. It has been updated to version 1.7 recently (2016-12-06) and now works with the current versions of biblatex. You can see an example of the footnote-dw style here.

Finally there are biblatex's standard styles, footnote styles are called verbose-.... The style verbose-inote as well as the verbose-trad1, verbose-trad2 and verbose-trad3 styles could fit the bill. Using the standard styles offers the advantage of easy customisability, they are also guaranteed to keep up with biblatex's development.

  • +1, biblatex-dw has been a good choice for me, easy to customize, at least to a certain degree.
    – doncherry
    Commented May 22, 2016 at 11:57

Since the question is also about ancient texts and their abbreviations I can recommend a biblatex-style which is called


However the style covers rules of the German Archaeological Institute (Deutsches Archäologisches Institut) in first place there are many options to adjust the outcome to ones preferences.

Furthermore the style is fully implemented within German, English, French, Italian and Spanish language.

Options for the preamble are regarding

* additional bibliographies

  • bibancient (bibliography-file with ancient authors and work),
  • bibcorpora (bibliography-file with corpora),
  • lstabbrv (list of abbreviations for journaltitle and series [@String]),
  • lstlocations (list of abbreviations for location [@String]),
  • lstpublishers (list of abbreviations for publisher [@String]),

* notation of names

  • bibfullname(full name in bibliography),
  • citeauthorformat (citationformat within text),
  • initials (show digraphs/trigraphs of initials),
  • scshape (print authos with scmall capitals).

* manner of citing

  • edby (change editor-format),
  • inreferences (different citing for @inreferences),
  • noabbrv (show long forms of journaltitle/ series),
  • publisher (print publishers),
  • seenote (different citation-system [see note XY]),
  • translation (show translated titles),
  • yearinparens (put year of publication within parentheses),
  • yearseries (switch order of year and series).

    • global bibliography settings (adjust the width of label and full-citation, count the appearence of a work in the text)

Options for entries options = {}

  • ancient (entry is ancient source) enter image description here enter image description here
  • frgancient (entry is a fragmentary ancient source) enter image description here
  • corpus (entry will be cited with its shorthand) enter image description here
  • uniqueme (in cases of several works of the same ancient author) enter image description here



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@inbook/ @incollection

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@proceedings and @inproceedings

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