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Schemas describing the Citation Style Language

This is the official repository for schemas describing the Citation Style Language (CSL). Current schemas include:

  • CSL schema - describes CSL style and locale XML files
  • CSL-JSON schema - describes a commonly used JSON data model for storing CSL processor input (such as bibliographic metadata).

For more information about CSL, visit For general quesions and discussions have a look at the CSL-forum.

CSL Schema

The CSL schema is written in the compact syntax of RELAX NG, and currently consists of the following files:

CSL style and locale files should be validated against csl.rnc, which incorporates the content of the other files.

The CSL schema contains several Schematron rules to make sure all macros called in a CSL style are actually defined. Since the popular Jing XML validator currently ignores embedded Schematron rules, we also provide the csl.sch Schematron schema, which contains the Schematron rules extracted from the CSL schema. Jing users can use csl.sch to perform a secondary validation of CSL styles.


The CSL-JSON schema is written in JSON Schema, and currently consists of the following files:

To render citations and bibliographies, CSL processors not only require CSL style and locale files, but also bibliographic metadata. The citeproc-js CSL processor introduced a JSON format to store such metadata, and this format has since been adopted by various other software products. The format, also known as "citeproc-JSON", has been codified in the CSL-JSON Schema. This same schema can be used to validate YAML.

At this point the CSL-JSON schema is not yet fully normative, and care must be taken to ensure compatibility with other tools built around CSL-JSON.

Whereas csl-data.json describes how the metadata of bibliographic items can be stored, csl-citation.json incorporates csl-data.json and adds an additional layer of information to also describe the context in which bibliographic items are cited. This includes information such as the order in which items are cited, which items are cited together in a single citation, etc.


This repository is released under the MIT license.