[Tweeters] Blue jay and capitalization

Michael Schrimpf schrimpf at u.washington.edu
Thu Mar 17 12:43:15 PDT 2011

Some of the confusion regarding capitalization likely comes from lack of
conformity in the scientific world. Ornithology has a tradition of using
capitalized common names for birds, but many other scientific disciplines do
not have such rules for other organisms. Many scientific journals,
therefore, which all have some set of formatting rules, might require a
researcher to label it a "blue jay," while others may allow for "Blue Jay".
When the common name involves a proper name, however, that proper name does
need to be capitalized, even if the rest of it is not (e.g. Steller's jay or
Pacific wren).

In all cases, a scientific name has certain universal rules: it should be
italicized and the genus should be capitalized while the species should not
(e.g. *Cyanocitta cristata*). That convention may also be responsible for
confusing people, because it should only apply to the scientific (latin)

Michael Schrimpf

Michael Schrimpf
Research Technician
School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences
University of Washington
Box 355020
Seattle, WA 98195-5020
Tel: 206-221-6904
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