• A: I've come accross quite a few books which state in the frontmatter that the book which I am holding in my hands is not the first edition of 1982 but (example 1) a "new impression with new material" from 1990. Others state that they are (example 2) the "fifth impression, 2004".

How to deal wth that in biblatex? My current approach is to claim that whenever there is new material added, then it is a new edition (i.e., example 1 above would be: "2nd edition, 1990"). But if it is just an unaltered re-print then i just use the original date and add no information (i.e., example 2 above would be: "1st edition 1982" (and not 1st edition 2004!)).

What do you say?

  • B: If a book is something like "TITLE: SUBTITLE. Translation, Introduction and Annotations by XY", then I take it, that this information is not part of the title and thus does not need to be stated in my bibliography as it is on the cover of the book. And this is exactly what biblatex does: I add the name of the Translator/Annotator/Introducer in my bib-file and biblatex creates then a sentence like this "TITLE. SUBTILTE. Translated and annotated, with an introduction, by XY". (please note that the sentence on the coverpage differs from the result of biblatex).

Firstly, what do I do if it says on the Coverpage "TITLE: SUBTITLE. Translation, Introduction and Annotations and a Note on Recent Work by XY"? I know, I could add them using editorial roles (biblatex.pdf, pp.31ff), but do I have to? (remember that in the previous question I claimed that this information is not part of the title and thus need not be reproduced as stated on the cover!)

Secondly, what about titles like "A Translation of TITLE with Introduction and Commentary by XY"? (Here the information of the translator and commentator seems to be part if the title. do I have to reproduce it?) There are two possibilities:

  1. Author. A Translation of TITLE with Introduction and Commentary. Translated and annotated, with an introduction, by XY. (--> not good because double information)

  2. Author. TITLE. Translated and annotated, with an introduction, by XY. (--> not good because changed title!)

  • Excuse me for my curiosity: Why do you need such level of detail?
    – Count Zero
    Jun 7, 2012 at 12:59
  • @CountZero : I am doing scientific research. In my field, some colleagues are rather strict on these sorts of bibliographical information while others are not at all. But you are right: part of my question in fact was whether or not I need such level of detail. Jun 7, 2012 at 13:03
  • @ClintEastwood I would definitely second what lockstep and CountZero have suggested so far, and if I may add my own views regarding B: what's the title of the book? If part of it doesn't use the same font or size, then it is probably not part of the title. Since no one in their right mind ever prints "A Translation of" or "with and Introduction by …" in 48pt size, you can alter it freely. The purpose of bibliographies is to harmonise disparate information, not to reproduce the phrases people thought would look nice on the front page – especially since you are using a bibtex database.
    – ienissei
    Jun 9, 2012 at 0:03

2 Answers 2



(A) the fact that it was not altered does not mean it's not a new edition. I'd definitely enter the year of the physical book (reprint). You may add that information to another field. Misprints, repaginations, etc. may happen. If such thing happens, you're covered. :)

(B) 'Title:Subtitle' is ok. Introductions, notes, annotations, commentaries, etc. are ancillary material (often outside the mainmatter of a book) and not part of the main work itself. I wouldn't spend much effort on reproducing it, unless it is required or you are actually quoting from two different editions and need to make that obvious.

In the case of

A Translation of TITLE with Introduction and Commentary by XY

the question is rather who is the author? If you choose the actual author of the original work, then I think 'TITLE' is what the title field should contain. Otherwise you would probably need the full 'A Translation of...'

Personally, I don't think the translator should ever be in the author field, regardless whether he/she added any ancillary material.

So these are my thoughts. Any other suggestions? :)

EDIT: Still, on a personal note, but also based on the constructive comments I received, I'd like to add a few suggestions, after looking up the biblatex documentation (Version 1.7 as of November 13, 2011), I think the original title should be in any of the cases above the value in the corresponding title field. biblatex is very generous when it comes to field types. :) So here are a few I picked, where text like 'Translation of...', 'Reprint of...' could go, (provided it's part of the title): booktileaddon, maintitleaddon, reprinttitle, titleaddon. You have also fields to store the author(s) of a foreword or annotations: annotator, foreword, introduction. In the case of translations, where it's relevant, the origlanguage field can be useful. Also, original publishing dates can be entered into origdate. If this is still not enough, and you need to save information like what the original book is, of which you have a reprint, then note might be your friend. Quoting from the biblatex documentation - page 20:


Miscellaneous bibliographic data which does not fit into any other field. The note field may be used to record bibliographic data in a free format. Publication facts such as “Reprint of the edition London 1831” are typical candidates for the note field. See also addendum.

  • ad (A): when I said "unaltered" I meant not altered in anyway: so, I'd have checked whether there was any repagination etc. However, you are right: sometimes they correct typos in new impressions. But is a 2nd impression (that corrected some typos) a new, i.e. second, edition? As to (B): I think our opinions are close to each other! And yes, I also think that the author is the one who should be named, and not the translator, although I still want to state that the work has been translated and annotated by someone else. Jun 7, 2012 at 13:06
  • 1
    to quote from the copyright page of my desk copy of the texbook: "Twenty-first printing, revised, June 1992". it's not considered a new edition. i've also seen "reprinted with corrections" quite frequently. a new edition presumes that there has been quite a lot of revision, rewritten chapters, maybe new chapters, ... if you're working on a historical project, this detail is important, so you've asked a good question (which, unfortunately, i can't answer with authority). Jun 7, 2012 at 16:03
  • 1
    Regarding (B). I think there is a difference between a translation of a modern book where the original author can vet the translation and a translation of an older text; e.g.: "Avverroes on Plato's Republic." Translated, with an Introduction and Notes, by Ralph Lerner. (Here, the translation is in fact from a Hebrew translation of Avverroes (lost) Arabic text!) I think translator information is very important in this case. And translation is no easy task: one deserves credit for what can be very hard work. One should also know that the text was not originally written in English (say).
    – jon
    Jun 7, 2012 at 16:11
  • @jon : just to clarify an ambiguity I left in my comment when I said that "the author is the one who should be named, and not the translator": I intended to say that the work should be listed under the name of the author while the editor/translator/... should nevertheless be named in the bibliographical information following the author, the title and the subtitle. Jun 7, 2012 at 17:15
  • 2
    @ClintEastwood -- Ah, OK; that was my main point. (I take the opposite view: the editor of a classical / medieval text is the 'author' since the text the original author wrote is no longer extant. [MSS. are a different matter.] I'm less convinced of this need in the case of translations---unless the point is the translations themselves---, but when I get to pick, I put translator as author for consistency's sake. But I know I'm in the minority on this issue. Anyway, I think some of your problems might be best solved by the titleaddon field.
    – jon
    Jun 7, 2012 at 17:32

With regard to question A:

  • For the first case, I would use "1990" as year and "New impression with new material" in the edition field (biblatex will typeset this field as-is if the content is non-numeric). I would not state that the 1990 impression is the "2nd edition", as such an edition may have been published at a later date.

  • For the second case, I'd use the original date but (as I consider the information "1st edition" superfluous) state no edition number at all.

  • Your first point is a nice idea, although I would then use the field Titleaddon. It fits better and the editor field might be occupied by the editor who also did the translation, the introduction and the annotations... Jun 7, 2012 at 17:22
  • @ClintEastwood I actually meant the edition field.
    – lockstep
    Jun 7, 2012 at 17:52

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