If you have not already downloaded Zotero, the free, open source bibliographical reference manager for Firefox, now would be a good time. It now supports the cutting edge Firefox 3, and, for all those interested in writing papers in biblical studies, there is now an extension that produces SBL-compliant citations and bibliographies.
Installation is easy enough. You will need to have Firefox installed (either link above will guide you, but I recommend Firefox 3 RC1, as it is pretty stable and supports a lot of great features). Once you have firefox up and running, follow this link and click of “Download.” Firefox should do the rest. You will need to restart firefox to get started–you should see the Zotero icon in the bottom right corner. Click on it to play around!
To install SBL support, Click Here in Firefox and let Zotero do the rest. You will need to restart your browser for the changes to take affect.
Zotero takes a little practice. You can manually type in entries or download them by clicking on the little book icon in your browser’s address bar on cites such as Amazon.com or The Westminster Library. Once you have some entries, try creating a citation or bibliography. First, go to “Preferences” (an option under the gear icon in the main bar). Click on the “Export” tab and select SBL as your “Default Output Format.”
To create a citation, click on the entries you want to cite. Use the keyboard shortcut a to create a citation in your Clipboard, which you can then “Paste” into any document editor. To create a bibliography, select the desired entries, right click on one of them, and choose “Create Bibliography from Selected Items.” Follow the instructions. Paste wherever you see fit.
There is also a plugin for Microsoft Word that integrates the Zotero interface into your document editor. Usage instructions are provided in the previous link. For those more dedicated to open-source software, there is also an openoffice.org version available.
I hope to publish a full guide to using Zotero in a week or so–complete with Screencasts.