If you are interested in making writeups about biological taxonomy, here are a few tips, based upon the experiences of other people who have made them:

  • The node title should be the Latin name of an official taxon.
    • Each genus has a singular name.
    • Most taxons larger than a genus have plural names. This generates an important class of exceptions to the E2 preference for singular node titles.
    • Also, mostplant taxonomic groups large than a genus now follow a naming convention, using a distinguishing character or a "type" genus with a suffix for the grouping type:
      • Supergenus: -iinae (plants and bacteria) -ida (invertebrates)
      • Subtribe: -inae
      • Tribe: -eae (p&b) -ini (animals)
      • Subfamily: -oideae (p&b) -inae (animals)
      • Family: -aceae (p&b) -idae (animals)
      • Suborder: -ineae (p&b) -oidea (animals)
      • Order: -ales (p&b) -formes (birds nd fish)
      • Class: -opsida (plants)
      • Phylum: -ophyta (plants) -mycota (fungi)
  • Avoid making nodes about individual species using that species's binomial nomenclature. Otherwise, searches on a genus will produce unnecessary result lists.

    • Try to place writeups about an individual species in a node whose title is the common English name of the species. Thus White Oak rather than Quercus Alba. You'll get a result list if you search on Oak but you'd have gotten a list even if no one had noded any individual oak species. We're shooting for that single hit on Quercus.

    • Species that don't have common names should have their own nodes only if several such species within a genus have a great deal of commentary. Otherwise, put it in the node about the genus.

  • If Webster 1913 already does the job adequately, don't bother.

  • Taxon names appear in italics.

  • Avoid putting content in nodes about obsolete taxonomic names. Such names are ideally firmlinked nodeshells. However, if the "obsolete" name represents a different way of organizing things, make your writeup, but indicate somewhere that you description isn't universally accepted.

  • Ideally, content should only appear in nodes about one of the Principal taxonomic ranks: Kingdom, Phylum or Division, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species. Avoid putting content under taxa of secondary ranksssuch as subclasses, subfamilies, tribes, and the like. However, intermediate classifications can be used to give your list some hierarchical structure, see below.

    Try to list all of the taxons of the next principal rank down that are included in the subject taxon. That is, list all of the families in an order, all of the genera in a family, all of the species in a genus. Of course, some taxons will have too many members of the next rank down, and in this case, indiviual nodes taxons in a convenient secondary rank are a good idea. For example, Compositae lists only its tribes.

  • Some description about what distinguishes the taxon is nice.

  • On the other hand, if a taxon of the next rank down includes only one or two taxons of the rank below that, it may be a good idea to list the grandchildren in the grandparent node. Add a nodeshell of the middle taxon and get it firmlinked.

  • Ideally, list all of the "ancestor" taxa that include the subject taxon.

  • Hierarchical structure is preferable to alphabetical order. If people want to find a particular taxon link in a writeup, they can do a text search within the page.

  • Cite your sources properly. Biologists spend their entire careers figuring out the taxonomy you're reporting on.

Much help from the Utah State University Intermountain Herbarium's "The Taxonomic Hierarchy" at