I am working on the design of a scientific publication. For the job, the lead researcher provided the raw text along with the original PDF of the research paper, as a reference. I am going through his document as I am deciding upon the various typographic treatments (such as quotes, references, etc.) and one thing confuses me: the treatment of brand names. In the original PDF, the researcher makes an italicised reference to Instagram, yet in other places throughout the paper the word Instagram is set in a regular cut, not in italics. See the images below as a reference, they are screenshots of the original PDF.

What are the rules for such cases? Is the first mentioning of a brand name, such as Instagram, to be italicised and every following instance is then set in regular? This is how it appears to be in the paper I've been given but I am unsure, hence my question.

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  • 2
    Hard and fast, if it's something being referenced then it should be in italics. The <i> Emogi.com </i> is being used in the same way as "x.x and x (2003) say that "<i>...blah...blah..blah</i>". Once the reference has been introduced it can be regular. Jun 4, 2017 at 11:17
  • @AndrewTice Hard and fast, there is no such hard and fast rule. According to most style guides, quotes should never be italicised if they are not italicised in the original. Whether brand names should be italicised on first mention or not is a style guide issue; some would probably say yes, others no. I don't think this is about graphic design at all. If the publication adheres to a style guide (which it should), it's the style guide’s view on these things that matters, not the designer’s. Jun 4, 2017 at 16:30
  • I am a graphic designer by trade, and when I am writing a document, I frequently miss correct formatting, so I wouldn't put to much emphasis on what formatting the original author did or didn't do. I would suggest, however, that you contact the lead researcher and ask him/her if they are using any style guide, and then follow the rules from that guide. I would guess that scientific papers have fairly specific guidelines, particularly if they will later be included in a journal somewhere.
    – magerber
    Jun 6, 2017 at 0:17

1 Answer 1


There are no specificic rules for this. The designer however is free to make up his own rule and apply consistently throughout the document.

I would not use italics for brand names, but instead look at small caps with a slight tracking increase and/or possibly medium/bold.

To avoid spending too much time on this, define a character style and apply this automatically as a 'Grep Style' via your main body text paragraph style for each brand name (instagram, etc).

  • I like the idea of using small caps and tracking/bold instead of italics. And GREP styles are made for this type of usage. +1
    – magerber
    Jun 6, 2017 at 0:18

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