Italics for genus and species names?                         Inbox        X
June 30, 2010
Hi Daniel,
Something I have been meaning to bring up for a long time is the convention in biology that the genus and species names of organisms are written in italics. (This is not true of any other higher taxa however: for example, family names are not written in italics). In situations like your site, where your answers to queries are written in italics, the genus and species name would be rendered in non-italics so that it stands out.
Maybe this is a stylistic choice that you made a long time ago, but since you have such a major following, and because you are educating so many people about biology, people who may know little or nothing about it, I thought you might want to consider this.
All very best wishes,
Susan J. Hewitt

Hi Susan,
Thanks so much for bringing up this issue as it has been a consideration for quite some time.  The italicized responses have been part of the What’s That Bug? design dating back to 1998 when the column first appeared in the photocopied “zine” American Homebody.  When the column went online in 2000, the format stayed the same.  When What’s That Bug? became a unique website in 2002, the italicized response format remained.  I have been in a quandry with how to deal with the convention of italicized genus and species names, and your suggestion to render them in non-italicized font is great.  However, if I took the time to retrofit the archives, I might not be able to respond to any new mail for months.  Since our website migration in 2008, there are numerous new features that the site offers, but preparing the archives for those items is an item for the back burner.  Perhaps one day there will be a real staff that can tackle things like that.  One of the major remaining tasks post migration is to take advantage of all the new subcategories.  Thanks again, and I will from this point on try to remember to post genus and species in regular, non-italicized font.

Hey, that sounds great Daniel, Thanks,

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