Author Topic: Should animal common names be capitalised?  (Read 4060 times)

animaltoyforum

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Should animal common names be capitalised?
« on: March 17, 2013, 11:52:59 AM »
I always thought the vernacular names for animals should be written entirely in lowercase (unless the name derives from a place or person) but some books and museum exhibits capitalise the first letters. Is their any standard convention? Books about plants and birds tend to have the common names capitalised.

Here's wikipedia's guidelines (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style/Capital_letters#Common_names), which deviate from the norm from group to group - there seem to be local styles depending on the tradition in each field. But I'd prefer consistency when, for example, I'm writing text for a gallery about all sorts of animal groups. Are there any formal rules out there?
« Last Edit: March 17, 2013, 11:53:23 AM by animaltoyforum »



sbell

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Re: Should animal common names be capitalised?
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2013, 03:29:48 PM »
I never ran into that much, although I seem to recall that common names would be left in lower case. If the text is meant to emphasize the animal's name I would prefer to see it bolded than capitalized. This would also distinguish the name from the latin binomial genus name.

stemturtle

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Re: Should animal common names be capitalised?
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2013, 06:49:13 PM »
I agree with sbell that it is correct to use lowercase for common names.  My last post on turtles, I used capital letters for common names, which did not feel right.  I followed the example of this reference: Turtles of the World, 2012 Update: Annotated Checklist of Taxonomy and Synonymy, Distribution, and Conservation Status. Turtle Taxonomy Working Group, van Dijk, P.P., Iverson, J.B., Shaffer, H.B., Bour, R., and Rhodin, G.J.
http://www.iucn-tftsg.org/checklist
In the future I will follow the rules of grammer instead and use lowercase.  Thanks for bringing up this topic, animaltoyforum.

EDIT: Capitalization has been changed to lowercase for common names of turtles in Groups/Turtles/Reply #48 about Yujin Series 1.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2013, 07:46:04 PM by stemturtle »

brontodocus

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Re: Should animal common names be capitalised?
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2013, 06:57:32 PM »
Hmm, it's difficult for me since English is not my native language, anyways (in German we would capitalise every noun without exception). But I always understood the vernacular name of a taxon (at least of a species) as a proper name that should be somehow distinguished from common nouns. For example, if somebody is talking about African wild dogs - does that mean Lycaon pictus or any possible canid (e.g. one of the jackal species) native to Africa? Without knowing if it's correct or not, if it's referring to a certain species I prefer to capitalise every word a vernacular name consists of (with the exception of articles and prepositions). I think it's sufficient enough to distinguish between vernacular and binominal scientific name by italicising the latter as recommended by the ICZN.

animaltoyforum

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Re: Should animal common names be capitalised?
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2019, 02:30:45 PM »
I'm just resurrecting this thread with the Animal Toy Blog in mind. We should be consistent on this front, and pretty much have been to date! So, I'm guessing we will all agree that common names should be in lowercase (except where parts of names refer to people and places). @sbell, I noticed you used uppercase in your reviews, was this intentional - maybe you are citing the names as written on the figures?


sbell

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Re: Should animal common names be capitalised?
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2019, 02:32:30 PM »
I'm just resurrecting this thread with the Animal Toy Blog in mind. We should be consistent on this front, and pretty much have been to date! So, I'm guessing we will all agree that common names should be in lowercase (except where parts of names refer to people and places). @sbell, I noticed you used uppercase in your reviews, was this intentional - maybe you are citing the names as written on the figures?

I don't think I was really paying attention. Although they should be lower case. I can go edit at some point.

animaltoyforum

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Re: Should animal common names be capitalised?
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2019, 02:43:50 PM »
I'm just resurrecting this thread with the Animal Toy Blog in mind. We should be consistent on this front, and pretty much have been to date! So, I'm guessing we will all agree that common names should be in lowercase (except where parts of names refer to people and places). @sbell, I noticed you used uppercase in your reviews, was this intentional - maybe you are citing the names as written on the figures?

I don't think I was really paying attention. Although they should be lower case. I can go edit at some point.

Sure, or @bmathison1972 or I can edit it, whomever of us three gets there first!


bmathison1972

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Re: Should animal common names be capitalised?
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2019, 02:49:21 PM »
Are we talking in the text or the title? For the main titles I have been using uppercase (for example, Tawny Owl), but in the main body of the text, lowercase.

animaltoyforum

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Re: Should animal common names be capitalised?
« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2019, 02:59:06 PM »
Are we talking in the text or the title? For the main titles I have been using uppercase (for example, Tawny Owl), but in the main body of the text, lowercase.

I was talking about the main body text, but you're right, there is some inconsistency in the titles. The common names in titles are mostly all upper case, but I wrote "Mantis shrimp". All titles will begin with a capital, of course. But upon reflection, even though they are titles, I think my preference would be to keep common names generally lowercase here as as well. For example, in the kangaroo review, the word "male" is lower case, and the word "by" is consistently lowercase. So, if they are lower case, the common names should really be as well, right?
« Last Edit: August 29, 2019, 03:01:34 PM by animaltoyforum »


bmathison1972

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Re: Should animal common names be capitalised?
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2019, 03:03:38 PM »
Are we talking in the text or the title? For the main titles I have been using uppercase (for example, Tawny Owl), but in the main body of the text, lowercase.

I was talking about the main body text, but you're right, there is some inconsistency in the titles. The common names in titles are mostly all upper case, but I wrote Mantis shrimp. All titles will begin with a capital, of course. But upon reflection, even though they are titles, I think my preference would be to keep common names generally lowercase here as as well. For example, in the kangaroo review, the word "male" is lower case, and the word "by" is consistently lowercase. So, if they are lower case, the common names should really be as well, right?

I did 'male' in lowercase as it is a subset of information. Red Kangaroo was the main title, the 'male' was just an add-on (so to speak). I almost put 'male' in another set of parenthesis, but back-to-back parenthesis look funny.

I'll stand by whatever you decide, Adam, and can help edit as necessary. But personally I like titles to be bold, and capitalizing animal names is the best option (except when Latin names are used, see next sentence).

Speaking of titles, I prefer common names for consistency, when available. Hence I edited 'Dynastes hercules' to 'Hercules Beetle'. There will be some instances where a common name is not an option, but I would like to use them then possible since it seems to be most common in the toy animal community :-)

animaltoyforum

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Re: Should animal common names be capitalised?
« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2019, 03:14:26 PM »
Are we talking in the text or the title? For the main titles I have been using uppercase (for example, Tawny Owl), but in the main body of the text, lowercase.

I was talking about the main body text, but you're right, there is some inconsistency in the titles. The common names in titles are mostly all upper case, but I wrote Mantis shrimp. All titles will begin with a capital, of course. But upon reflection, even though they are titles, I think my preference would be to keep common names generally lowercase here as as well. For example, in the kangaroo review, the word "male" is lower case, and the word "by" is consistently lowercase. So, if they are lower case, the common names should really be as well, right?

I did 'male' in lowercase as it is a subset of information. Red Kangaroo was the main title, the 'male' was just an add-on (so to speak). I almost put 'male' in another set of parenthesis, but back-to-back parenthesis look funny.

I'll stand by whatever you decide, Adam, and can help edit as necessary. But personally I like titles to be bold, and capitalizing animal names is the best option (except when Latin names are used, see next sentence).

Speaking of titles, I prefer common names for consistency, when available. Hence I edited 'Dynastes hercules' to 'Hercules Beetle'. There will be some instances where a common name is not an option, but I would like to use them then possible since it seems to be most common in the toy animal community :-)

I agree with you that we should use common names in titles when they exist.

I'm tempted to go lowercase for titles too. Given that there is already a little confusion and controversy about whether common names are capitalised or not, I feel it would be worth setting the standard and reinforcing our preference in the titles. But I'm not dead set on it. Anyone else have any preference?


sbell

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Re: Should animal common names be capitalised?
« Reply #11 on: August 30, 2019, 01:42:58 AM »
I would personally go with Title Case for the...titles. All 'important' words capitalized, modifiers and prepositions are not. But then that allows for the company and set names to be named properly as well.

In the body, yeah, common names should be lowercase. But--would it make sense to somehow have them stand out? My thinking is bold, which is annoying to use in the forum posts, but and easy CTRL+b in the wordpress editor. Obviously, we can't use italics because we all know better than that (and underlines...are for emphasis).

That is how I would use types, but not sure how people feel re: bolding common names.

bmathison1972

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Re: Should animal common names be capitalised?
« Reply #12 on: August 30, 2019, 01:47:12 AM »
I would personally go with Title Case for the...titles. All 'important' words capitalized, modifiers and prepositions are not. But then that allows for the company and set names to be named properly as well.

In the body, yeah, common names should be lowercase. But--would it make sense to somehow have them stand out? My thinking is bold, which is annoying to use in the forum posts, but and easy CTRL+b in the wordpress editor. Obviously, we can't use italics because we all know better than that (and underlines...are for emphasis).

That is how I would use types, but not sure how people feel re: bolding common names.

I have bolded Latin names in my posts (and the authors of description), but that's it.

sbell

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Re: Should animal common names be capitalised?
« Reply #13 on: August 30, 2019, 01:53:48 AM »
I would personally go with Title Case for the...titles. All 'important' words capitalized, modifiers and prepositions are not. But then that allows for the company and set names to be named properly as well.

In the body, yeah, common names should be lowercase. But--would it make sense to somehow have them stand out? My thinking is bold, which is annoying to use in the forum posts, but and easy CTRL+b in the wordpress editor. Obviously, we can't use italics because we all know better than that (and underlines...are for emphasis).

That is how I would use types, but not sure how people feel re: bolding common names.

I have bolded Latin names in my posts (and the authors of description), but that's it.

Should they be though? Isn't the italics supposed to be enough to have them stand out?

bmathison1972

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Re: Should animal common names be capitalised?
« Reply #14 on: August 30, 2019, 02:17:11 AM »
yes, Italics are sufficient. I am not a stickler about what's bolded and not, and have not corrected others' works accordingly. I have italicized Latin names that were not, however.
Overall I agree with your approach, Sean

Isidro

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Re: Should animal common names be capitalised?
« Reply #15 on: August 30, 2019, 08:43:40 AM »
Common names are just ornaments and never can have any kind of rule.

If you want to capitalize a name. use the true name of each species (the scientific name), whose genus must be always capitalized.

animaltoyforum

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Re: Should animal common names be capitalised?
« Reply #16 on: August 30, 2019, 10:02:01 AM »
yes, Italics are sufficient. I am not a stickler about what's bolded and not, and have not corrected others' works accordingly. I have italicized Latin names that were not, however.
Overall I agree with your approach, Sean

I agree that italics are sufficient (and proper) for genus and species names. Personally, I use the same formatting on the blog as I would in a more formal publication, so I don't bold any names, formal or common. But, I'm no stickler about this, either.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2019, 10:02:18 AM by animaltoyforum »


stargatedalek

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Re: Should animal common names be capitalised?
« Reply #17 on: September 03, 2019, 02:43:26 AM »
I agree with brontodocus, as even common names do have a degree of formality and specificity to them. A common name isn't following the same conventions as a binomial of course but is still generally assigned with purpose.

From what I've experienced in lay-writing at large, the rule of thumb is to capitalize the first word of a common name, IE; "Great black-blacked gull". Then again, birds also seem to be regarded as an exception to this, having an organized (if highly debated) methodology to common names, including capitalization, which is definitely where my limited experience lies.

Personally I like to capitalize at least the first word of a common name, but only if it's the common name for an individual species. In the end common names are always going to have some degree of arbitrariness, but that hardly means they are purely ornamental or devoid of rules.

I recommend having a section on the varied capitalization of common names in an FAQ page for the blog, as variation here seems to be almost inevitable. It's probably going to matter more that individual writers are consistent in their own methods than it would to establish a standard method for the blog as a whole.


*edit*

Binomial names however should be consistently italicized unless used in a title. And as for using bold text, it can become straining on the eyes if the name is repeated at multiple points throughout the text, but it works well for introductory statements (though I personally don't use it).
« Last Edit: September 03, 2019, 02:48:48 AM by stargatedalek »