Cochrane Style Manual
Character formatting (typography)

In this section: General guidance | Bold | Italic | Underline | Subscript and superscript

General guidance

Seven character formatting styles are available for use in the text in Review Manager 5 (RevMan 5): regular, bold, italic, bold italic, underline, subscript, and superscript.

Avoid using font styles other than ‘regular’ for emphasis; instead, use an alternative sentence structure or intensify the adjectives and adverbs to achieve this.


Bold may be used to indicate letters used to form an acronym or abbreviation (see Abbreviations and acronyms).


Italic may be applied to titles and subtitles of books and journals, and genus and species names. There are also situations in which to avoid using italic; for example, non-English words that have become naturalized into English (these should be in 'regular' style). Punctuation around any text in italic, such as quotation marks, semicolons, and colons, should be in 'regular' style.

  Correct Incorrect

Titles of books and journals in the text of reviews

We looked through Brain Injury.

Note: 'The' should have an initial capital and be in italic if it forms part of the title (e.g. we looked through The Lancet).

We looked through Brain Injury.

We searched the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews for a particular review.

Note: among the Cochrane Library databases, only Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews is italicized.

We searched The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews for a particular review.

Genus and species names

Plasmodium falciparum

Staphylococcus aureus

Note: the genus name starts with an upper-case letter, and the species name is all lower case.

Note: once an organism's name has been mentioned in full, use the abbreviated form, e.g. P falciparum, S aureus.

Note: for more information see Virus names.

Plasmodium falciparum

P. falciparum

Staphylococcus Aureus

S. Aureus

Words naturalized into the English language

in vitro

in vivo

a priori

et al

in vitro

in vivo

a priori

et al


Avoid underlining words. Underlined text can be confused with internet links.

Subscript and superscript

Subscript and superscript have specific uses. Some examples are displayed below.

  Correct Incorrect


Member of chemical group: vitamin D3

vitamin D3

Number of atoms: H2O





Mass number: 14C


Metres squared: 12 m2

12 m2

See also: Footnotes