Abbreviations

Q. More often in bibliographic citations, I am seeing the abbreviations s.l. and s.n. in place of n.p. where the place and/or publisher are unknown. What do these abbreviations mean, and are they likely to take over n.p.?

A. The abbreviations “s.l.” and “s.n.” stand for the Latin terms sine loco (without place [of publication]) and sine nomine (without name [of publisher]). They also happen to coincide with French bibliographic apparatus, standing for, respectively, sans lieu (de publication) and sans nom (de maison d’édition). They might also stand for Spanish sin lugar and sin nombre. These are perhaps superior to the English “n.p.,” which must stand equally for “no place,” “no publisher,” or “no page,” but in English publications “n.p.,” used correctly, is more likely to be understood; CMOS, therefore, recommends “n.p.” Note that “n.p.” can stand in for both publisher and place, if neither is known.