Words in a foreign language

Words in a foreign language that are not in wide general use in English should be italicised. Words that are widely used, such as ‘ad hoc’, ‘café’, and ‘vice versa’, should not be italicised.

Scientific Latin names for animals, plants etc.

For all creatures higher than viruses, write the full name in italics giving an initial capital to the first word, which indicates the genus, for example, Turdus philomelos (song thrush). On second mention, the genus may be abbreviated, for example, T. philomelos. In some species, such as dinosaurs, the genus alone is used in lieu of a common name, such as Diplodocus and Tyrannosaurus.  However, the bacterium Escherichia coli is known universally as E. coli, even on its first mention.

For example:

  • Academic supervisors can offer guidance on preparing for the viva voce examination.
  • Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) is a deadly fungus that has ravaged frog populations around the world.
  • The committee is responsible for determining whether prima facie evidence of research misconduct exists.
  • Food poisoning from E. coli is commonly associated with eating contaminated beef or chicken products.


Italics should be used when referring to the titles of books, plays, journals, newspapers and periodicals, films, musical compositions and works of art.

Where a title includes ‘The’ or ‘A’, those words should also be capitalised.

For example:

  • In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Professor Maggie Dallman talked about the need to inspire the next generation of scientists.
  • As part of the 2015 Imperial ArtsFest, the Imperial College Symphony Orchestra performed Rachmaninov’s Isle of the Dead.
  • Research by Imperial academics into biodiversity was recently published in Nature.

Roman type and single quotation marks should be used for articles in a journal or periodical, chapter titles and the titles of stories or short poems.

For example:

  • The article, entitled ‘Herbivores and nutrients control grassland plant diversity via light limitation’, examines how rabbits, deer and kangaroos can offset nitrogen pollution and reduce biodiversity loss in grassland areas.

Roman and title case should be used for titles of conferences and lectures.

For example:

  • The Our Common Future under Climate Change conference took place in April 2015 in Paris.
  • The Grantham Annual Lecture took place in June.

Find out more

Spelling and commonly used scientific terms