Wikipedia:WikiProject Viruses/Guidelines

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Review and assessment[edit]

Quality scale[edit]

WikiProject article quality grading scheme

Importance scale[edit]

WikiProject article importance scheme

Article mechanics[edit]

Article subject[edit]

Virus articles can be on any level that makes sense in context. In some cases, it makes sense to combine several taxonomic levels in a single article - the family Roniviridae contains only one genus, Okavirus, so the one article can cover the other level too. Most will be about particular taxa, for example:

It may be useful to start with a high-level article, such as a family article, and then split off genus and/or species articles as the material builds to prevent the birth of unwanted stubs.

When creating a new article for a virus, ensure that the capitalization follows the suggested orthography:

  • Orders, families, subfamilies, genera, and species should be written in italics with the first letter capitalized (e.g. genus Ebolavirus belongs to family Filoviridae, order Mononegavirales).
  • Other words aren't capitalized unless they're proper nouns (e.g. Murray River encephalitis virus).

Article titles[edit]

In general, the Latin name should be redirected to the common name and the common name used for article titles - for example:

Sometimes exceptions need to be made, usually when newly discovered viruses do not yet have a formal common name. Also, some distinct groups may be known only by their scientific name. Please create a redirect from the uncapitalised form when applicable.

Article structure[edit]

Whilst not practical to enforce or put forth hard guidelines as to how a virus article is structured, some degree of uniformity can be achieved using the following suggestions:

  • Use a taxobox at the beginning of the article - for the specific viral taxobox used, please see below. This will also provide links back to immediate taxa above and below
  • Provide a short introduction covering most aspects of the article before starting any headers
  • Where applicable, use the following headings
    • Structure - to state the capsid shape, special appendages or viral envelope constitution
    • Genome or Genetic Material - to state the type, shape, sense or strandedness of their nucleic acid
    • Diseases - to discuss any diseases a species or family is known to cause. A list of commonly encountered diseases is very useful for the layperson.

Italics and capitalization[edit]

Italics and/or capitalization are not used for

  • Informal, everyday references (e.g. "the rhinoviruses", not "the Rhinoviruses", c.f. Rhinovirus)
    • However, proper nouns in virus species should always be capitalised (e.g. Murray River encephalitis virus, the Ebola virus)
  • Common or laymen's terms (e.g. "chicken pox", not "chicken pox")
  • Acronyms (e.g. "HIV", not "HIV")
  • Adjectival usage (e.g. "poliovirus polymerase" not "Poliovirus polymerase")

Italics and/or capitalization are used for

  • Specific references to viral taxonomic ranks: orders, families, subfamilies, genera, and species should be written in italics with the first letter capitalized (e.g. genus :Ebolavirus belongs to family Filoviridae, order Mononegavirales)
  • Proper nouns in virus species should be capitalised (e.g. Murray River encephalitis virus, the Ebola virus)

As an example of the above: "The viral species Human herpesvirus 3 (also known as Varicella-zoster virus) causes the common childhood disease known as chicken pox. Vaccines may prove to be useful in preventing human herpesvirus 3 (HHV-3) but due to the severity of symptoms exhibited when contracting the disease later in life, many parents try to get their children exposed to HHV-3 young."


We recommend the de facto standard for Wikipedia virus articles to be the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) method. A good place to see this in action and get an idea of how it works can be found at Virus classification.

A useful website is ICTV Home.

The Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) database ("MeSH Browser". ) also is a useful resource for virus taxonomy.

If you have any suggestions for a better resource, please let us know!