I am currently writing my thesis for a MSc in computer science. In some places I came up with short but crucial explanations or remarks that I wanted to show in a stand-out display to emphasize their importance.

So I show a little grey text box, with a title. As for now I chose Nota Bene as the title — see an example here:

Nota Bene: If the dashed lines in the interface-graph (cf. Figure 7.2, on the right) are not explicitly included, a VPN network will essentially be represented by several disconnected graphs.

Now I am wondering if nota bene is something that I can use in this context. I know that is has the right meaning but I am unsure about the style. Does this feel pompous to you? Or old-fashioned?

  • Thx for the quick answers. I changed all Nota-Bene's to the abbreviated form. I guess I was kind of unsure about the entire thing because `nota bene' is actually a phrase that is used in spoken dialect (Swiss German) from time to time... – fgysin Feb 7 '13 at 9:59
  • 6
    A far more comfortable option would be to just say "Note:". Most readers would appreciate it. – Kris Feb 7 '13 at 10:31
  • 1
    "Nota bene" is a phrase used in English from time to time too, but not that often. As with what was said below, some people would understand it, but some would not. – Jon Hanna Feb 20 '13 at 15:00

It's better known, and more often used, as the abbreviation NB. Expanded, it could indeed be taken as pompously using Latin for the sake of showing off that you know a Latin phrase.

In other contexts I'd worry that some who know NB might not know Nota Bene. That's probably not a great concern in a masters' thesis, but it's another reason to favour the abbreviation, generally.

  • I have usually seen it written N.B.: and not just NB. That said, even with the abbreviation I have sometimes found the people I was writing to had no idea what I meant. – Casey Jun 4 '14 at 18:31

It's not pompous. I use it all the time with my clients, e.g.,

I have corrected the issue with the new flash update. N.B. if you manually install the update when prompted your software will break again.

It's simple translation is a note to your benefit. Also, I consider it a caveat: in my writing, if anyone who knows me sees N.B., it means pay attention to this part!


"nota bene" is Latin, great for academic papers. However, it is usually used within a paragraph, not as a headline for a comment. Thumb rule: use 'nota bene' where 'by the way' is inappropriate.

protected by tchrist Jun 4 '14 at 16:00

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.