An opinionated BibLaTeX implementation of the Unified Stylesheet for Linguistics Journals
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biblatex-sp-unified is an opinionated BibLaTeX implementation of the Unified Stylesheet for Linguistics Journal. The stylesheet was developed by CELxJ, the Committee of Editors of Linguistics Journals. There is a standard BibTeX implementation, called unified.bst, which was developed by Bridget Samuels, based on work done for the house-style of the journal Semantics and Pragmatics (S&P).

This project is a ground-up re-implementation in modern BibLaTeX. It is now being used by S&P in production.

Full documentation of the design choices can be found in doc/

Please file an issue to let us know of any problems you encounter and any recommendations for improvement.


The biblatex-sp-unified style consists of two files:

  • biblatex-sp-unified.bbx -- for formatting the bibliography.
  • sp-authoryear-comp.cbx -- for formatting in-text citations in the style of S&P.
    • Since the Unified Stylesheet does not give any guidelines for in-text citations, this file is optional and users can choose other citation styles.

Requirements and backward compatibility

Compiling LaTeX documents with this style depends on a modern TeX installation that includes BibLaTeX 2.0+. It is tested only with the biber backend.

This repository's tags correspond to supported BibLaTeX versions. If you have BibLaTeX 3.8 (or 3.8a), you should use biblatex-sp-unified@3.8.x where x is the latest value in the series.

You can check which version of BibLaTeX you have by running tlmgr info biblatex --only-installed --data cat-version at the command line.


The commands in this section must be run at the command line, e.g., on MacOS, or Terminal on many common Linux GUIs.

The two source files should be put somewhere where your TeX system can find them; for example, under the TEXMF "home" directory. Run this command to create the directory structure:

mkdir -p $(kpsewhich -var-value TEXMFHOME)/tex/latex/biblatex

And then copy/download each file into that directory (replace master in the URLs with the appropriate tag if you have an older version of BibLaTeX):

cd $(kpsewhich -var-value TEXMFHOME)/tex/latex/biblatex

If you are using the MacTeX distribution on macOS, you will end up with a file structure that looks like this:


Configuring your .tex document to use the style

To use the style in conjunction with S&P's sp.cls, simply add the biblatex class option when importing sp.cls:


If you are not using the S&P document class, you can still use this style by adding the following to your preamble (after \documentclass{...} but before \begin{document}):


If you were previously using natbib, remove \usepackage{natbib} and any accompanying \bibliographystyle{...} and \bibpunct{...} settings. You might also find it helpful to add natbib to the list of options (\usepackage[..., natbib]{biblatex}), to load BibLaTeX's natbib compatibility module, which implements common natbib commands like \citet, \citep, \citealt, \citealp, etc.

Configuring your document to use BibLaTeX instead of BibTeX

Whether you're using sp.cls or a different document class, you'll need to change the usual BibTeX commands to BibLaTeX, in two places:

  1. Replace the \bibliography{your-bibfile} line in the backmatter with \printbibliography.
  2. Add the following command to your preamble: \addbibresource{your-bibfile.bib}
    • NB: the .bib extension must be included (unlike BibTeX)


Testing consists of rendering unified-test.tex (and unified-test.bib) into a PDF, converting to plain text, then comparing to a static file containing the expected output (test/[test/]. The various steps are specified in the Makefile, which can be run by calling make test.