I'm helping design a website for a environmental conversationalists group. The website is intended to be accessible to a large audience, but does contain some scientific information (such as Latin names of plants).

As I've been told, the style for scientific writing is to have the first letter uppercase and the word italicized if it's a genus. Is this true? I personally think it stands out poorly, in the body of text, or especially in a heading or a caption to a picture. Examples are 'nepenthes' would appear as Nepenthes and 'isolepis' as Isolepis when using this convention.

In a nutshell, this can be seen as a conflict between technical correctness and aesthetics. What good is following a rule, if most people are unaware of the rule?

  • You will seriously annoy the scientific people if you don't write species names in italic, regardless of aesthetics. Myself included, and i am miles away from being a biologist…
    – benteh
    Commented Mar 30, 2018 at 15:39

2 Answers 2


The benefit in correctly capitalising latin names is that people who don’t know how they should be capitalised are not inconvenienced by the capitalisation, where as people who are aware of how the capitalisation should work may be annoyed and question the reliability of your information.


It's always a good Idea to put emphasis on scientific terms by making them Italic/Emphasised but there are exceptions.

And over your point "conflict between technical correctness and aesthetics" if there are a lot of scientific terms which are styled italic with other word it will look displeasing and will not look pleasing aesthetics wise.

If there are fewer words each paragraph and someone is reading it then they will be more likely to understand the reason behind decision of putting it that way, and they will appreciate to have those things emphasised.


  1. More scientific words then article is for scientific reading and style can be left like normal text.

  2. Fewer words make them emphasised as they are intended for all kind of readers, and must understand the context of the word.

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