Metanorma: Aequitate Verum

Citations and localities

Citations and localities


Citations of references in Metanorma are formulated as cross-references.

The anchor cross-referenced is the internal identifier given for the bibliographic entry.

Example 1. Example of specifying a reference anchor (ref1 is the anchor)

Metanorma AsciiDoc works in a similar way to typical AsciiDoc: any text in a cross-reference that follows a comma constitutes custom text for the cross-reference.

A cross-reference <<ISO7301,the foregoing reference>> will be rendered as “the foregoing reference”, and hyperlinked to the ISO7301 reference.



Citations can include details of where in the document the citation is located.

These localities are entered by suffixing the lowercase type of locality, then an equals sign, then the locality value or range of values.

Multiple instances of locality and reference can be provided, delimited by comma or colon.

The references cannot contain spaces. Any text following the sequence of localities will be displayed instead of the localities.

Locality types

The following locality types are recognised in Metanorma:


a general section


a clause


a document part


a paragraph


a chapter


a page


a line identified by the line number


a table


an annex


a figure


an example


a note


a mathematical formula


a list


a particular time


an anchor




the title

Except for the locality types of whole and title, all locality types require explicit specification of an identifier to make sense.

Example 2. Example locality types that are used on their own
  • whole

  • title

Example 3. Example locality types that need to be used with identifiers
  • note 1 (or note=1)

  • page 77-99 (or page="77-79")

  • annex A (or annex=A)

  • line 399 (or line=399)

Locality types not listed here shall be entered using the mechanism described at Custom locality.

Simple locality

A simple locality is specified with a unique location identifier or free text.

Example 4. Example of referencing locality in Metanorma citations

NOTE: This table is based on <<ISO7301,table=1>>.

Sampling shall be carried out in accordance with <<xxx,section="5-3-1,bis">>
Example 5. Example that renders a reference as free text
// renders as: "the foregoing reference"
<<ISO712,the foregoing reference>>

To refer to the “whole” item, or the title within a block, the corresponding keyword is used (whole, title), without an argument.

Example 6. Example of referencing with a "whole" locality
// renders as: "ISO 712, Whole of text"

Hierarchical locality

A hierarchical location is specified through consecutive narrower localities.

Example 7. Example of referencing a hierarchical locality
// renders as "`Part IV, Chapter 3, paragraph 12`"
Example 8. Example that renders the reference with (multiple) hierarchical localities
// renders as: "ISO 712, Section 5, Page 8-10"
<<ISO712,section=5, page 8-10>>
Example 9. Example of referencing locality with additional text
// renders as "ISO 712, 5:8-10"
// ("5:8-10" treated as replacement text for all the foregoing)
<<ISO712,section=5, page=8-10: 5:8-10>>

Discontinuous locality

Discontinuous localities can be named by repeating the same locality type.

Example 10. Example of referencing a discontinuous locality
// renders as "`page 4, page 7`"

Discontinuous localities can also be specified by delimiting sequences of localities with semicolon [added in]

Example 11. Example of referencing discontinuous hierarchical localities
// renders as "`Part IV, Chapter 3; Part VI, Chapter 9`"

Complex locality

Complex relations between discontinuous references can be specified by prefixing conjoining verbs to sequences of localities separated by semicolon [added in].

This will result in overt connectives between the references, which will be internationalised.

Conjoining verbs include:

  • and!

  • or!

  • from!

  • to!

Example 12. Example of referencing a complex locality
// renders as: "`Chapters 3 and 7`"
Example 13. Example of referencing a complex locality that contains a hierarchical locality
// renders as: "Part IV, Chapter 3 or Part VI, Chapter 9"
This is similar to the behavior in Combination of cross-references.

As with cross-references, more than two references combined by “and” should be marked up with semicolons. Internationalisation during rendering will take care of separating the references by colon, and inserting any necessary conjunction wording (“and”).

Example 14. Example of referencing multiple references that are complex localities
// or
If references are joined with semicolons and connectives, but the locality is not supplied for a cross-reference, it is filled in by referring to the preceding conjoined cross-reference [added in]. For example, clause=3.2;and!4.7;to!4.9;and!9 is corrected internally to the more explicit clause=3.2;and!clause=4.7;to!clause=4.9;and!clause=9.

Trailing text after the sequence of locality=reference (or locality{space}reference) is treated as custom text for the cross-reference, as would occur normally in a typical cross-reference.

The locality can appear in quotations if it contains special characters (like dashes or commas).

Custom locality

Locality types not listed in Locality types are entered using the "custom locality" functionality.

Metanorma accepts a fixed list of locality types in cross-references (see Locality types), which is not meant to be exhaustive of all possible locality types.

annex is recognized as a generic reference to annexes in documents, but it does not recognize appendixes (instead of annexes), or as distinct from annexes (as is the case in ISO deliverables).

A custom locality is entered by prefixing the locality type with locality:.

A custom locality has the following properties:

  • The locality type will be rendered as text preceding the equal sign.

  • The locality type shall not contain commas, colons, or space.

  • The locality type is meant to be valid for all languages.

    The custom locality locality:appendix would be used for both English and French texts.
  • Localization of custom locality types is managed through inclusion in the internationalization YAML file for that language, which has to be customized as part of the Metanorma flavor implementation.

    The custom locality locality:appendix is realized as French Appendice through configuration in the Metanorma flavor implementation.
Example 15. Example of referencing a custom locality the locality: prefix

This encoding:


Renders as:

"ISO/IEC DIR 2, Annex SL, Appendix 2, Clause 3.2"

Locality plus custom text

Any text after the bibliographic localities is still treated as custom cross-reference text.

As with references without localities, the custom cross-reference text is the only text that is displayed in the document; but the cross-reference still captures the specific locality of the reference, e.g. for cross-reference generation.

Example 16. Example of referencing with bibliographic localities with additional custom text
<<ISO7301,clause=5,table=1,the foregoing reference>>

rendered as:

the foregoing reference

Anchor locality

Exceptionally, the anchor locality is only used in HTML, to generate anchor links to other HTML pages [added in].

It is intended for use with bibliographic anchors linking to URLs (repo:(), path:()): see [other-databases] and [hyperlink-biblio].

Example 17. Example of using the anchor locality for rendering in HTML output

The following input:



* [[[ISO7301,path:(./iso7301.html,ISO 7301)]]]

will render in HTML as:

<a href="./iso7301.html#xyz">ISO 7301, Clause 2, Table 1a, page 7-9</a>

Case and dropped locality labels

The capital%, lowercase% and droploc% options used for internal cross-references can also be used as prefixes to localities, modifying how those localities are rendered [added in].

Example 18. Example of using droploc in a citation locality
// renders as "ISO 7301, 2"
Example 19. Example of using lowercase in a citation locality
// renders as "ISO 7301, clause 2"

Styled cross-references

As with internal cross-references, cross-referenced citations can have a style attribute [added in]. As of this writing, the only values allowed are the types of docidentifier value that can be substituted for the primary identifier of the reference, for standards documents; those values will need to be looked up in Relaton (and the Semantic XML of the document). For example, given the citation

<bibitem type="standard" id="bib1">
<docidentifier type="ISO" primary="true">ISO/FDIS 17664-1</docidentifier>
<docidentifier type="URN">urn:iso:std:iso-fdis:17664:-1:ed-1:fr</docidentifier>

A crossreference [bib1] will be populated by default with the primary or else the first docidentifier value found, ISO/FDIS 17664-1. However, given style=URN%, the first docidentifier value of type URN will be sought instead, and the cross-reference will be populated by default as URN urn:iso:std:iso-fdis:17664:-1:ed-1:fr.

A standards document can be cross-referenced in Metanorma without that document appearing in the document references.

Such cross-reference is treated as equivalent to a cross-reference to a hidden citation, as documented in [hidden-citations].

Link-only references can be added to Metanorma AsciiDoc using the following command:


Where the std-link command contains the same text as a normal cross-reference to a standard, including localities and other directives. There is no need for an explicit bibliographic entry. [added in].

The following two examples are equivalent:

Example 20. Link-only reference of ISO 123 using std-link
std-link:[ISO 123,droploc%clause=3]
Example 21. Link-only reference of ISO 123 using a hidden citation

== Bibliography

* [[[ref1,hidden(ISO 123)]]]

Combination of citations

Simple citations can be combined with connectives, in a similar fashion to cross-references (Combination of cross-references), and which will be internationalised as appropriate [added in].

Example 22. Example of rendering a range of citations

The following citation range:


is rendered as:

From [3] to [7]