When to use italics

Last revised by Daniel J Bell on 7 May 2022

Making a decision about when to use italics in Radiopaedia.org articles and cases is important because the addition of bold and italic words in prose actually reduces readability. In general, if there is any doubt, it is best to not use italics.

In literature, italics can be used for a number of things, including titles of works and foreign words. However, in order to keep things simple and to maximize readability, we have decided to only use italics in very specific situations.


Naming organisms

Occasionally, we will name specific organisms in an article. Where we do, we should use the genus and species of the organism, and both should be italicized. The genus should also be capitalized and if abbreviated, be followed by a full stop (period):

  • Escherichia coli
  • E. coli

If any higher taxonomic ranks are used, e.g. family, these are not italicized.

Gene nomenclature

Occasionally we will use short gene symbols in articles e.g. the symbol for ceruloplasmin is CP, by scientific convention, the gene is italicized i.e. CP, whilst the protein product, CP, remains in standard typeface. This does not apply to the long name of the gene so that ceruloplasmin is the name - and written in the same typeface - for both the gene and its protein product (see also gene and protein naming).

Atomic physics

The symbols for atomic number (Z) and mass number (A) are italicized by convention.


If a case mentions a specific medical device by brand name, then the disclaimer stating that the author has no conflict of interest with regards to the device is written in italics. See: disclosures


The name of our website is written without the use of either bold or italics, except in cases where the use of bold as defined in our style guide applies. The first sentence of this article serves as an example.

Italics not required

In the following cases, italics should be avoided and if you are unsure it is best to not use:

  • statements that articles are incomplete
  • foreign words/phrases used in everyday English, for example "in situ", "in vivo", etc.
  • titles of books, journals, etc
  • for non-specific emphasis

ADVERTISEMENT: Supporters see fewer/no ads

Updating… Please wait.

 Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

 Thank you for updating your details.