Answered By: Priscilla Coulter
Last Updated: Jun 02, 2023     Views: 3480

When you use a species’ Latin scientific name in a paper or discussion post, you should include both the genus name (capitalized) and the specific epithet (not capitalized).  The species name should be italicized.  

The blue-tailed bee-eater's scientific name, for example, is Merops philippinus.


  • If you aren't sure about a correct scientific name or taxonomy, or you want to double-check your spelling, consult the Integrated Taxonomic Information System
  • Kingdom, phylum, class, order and family names must also be capitalized, but are not italicized (example:  Animalia, Chordata, Aves, Coraciformes, Meropidae). 
  • After you have spelled out the genus name once in your paper or discussion, it's okay to abbreviate it by its first initial (still capitalized).  So, Merops philippinus can be referred to (after the first mention) as M. philippinus.

Read more about Biological Classification here (PDF).

For more writing help, visit the Scientific Writing section of  Writing@APUS.

bionomial nomenclature, ENGL221


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