Latin terms in Scientific Manuscripts

Scientific manuscripts usually contain terms and phrases in Latin languages. Though several style guides and journal instructions restrict the use of Latin terms and phrases in manuscripts or other academic materials, many such terms occur in academic as well as scientific manuscripts. However, despite aiming to convey information in a precise manner, Latin terms and phrases can sometimes increase ambiguity in formal writing.

Both English and Latin expressions are used in scientific writing. Usually, words from languages other than English are italicized in manuscripts. Nonetheless, the wide prevalence of Latin terms in scientific writing has prompted journal guidelines and style guides to advise that Latin terms such as et al., etc., e.g., i.e., versus, in vitro, in vivo, ex vivo, in situ, and in silico need not be italicized in research papers.

Actually, italicization is regarded as a scientific convention and not a style. Therefore, it is judicious to follow the target journal’s style guide while drafting the article. Some journals that are averse to the idea of italicizing Latin terms insist on using “et al.” in italics for references where there are several authors.

Here are few regulations that should be adhered to while writing academic or scientific manuscripts:

  • Insert a space before and after the Latin term or phrase to ensure that the gap on either side of the italicized text is uniform.
  • Italicizing ‘i.e.’ and ‘e.g.’ is not required in academic or scientific writing as they are now considered to be standard terms in the English language.
  • When required to use an entire sentence or passage in Latin, it is better to place the passage within quotation marks.

Prudent usage of Latin terms in research papers helps clarify the intended meaning and adds finesse to academic or scientific writing; conversely, incorrect use, or overkill of Latin phrases, could adversely affect the tempo and style of your writing.

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