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4.03 Personal names

(a) Capitalize proper nouns and epithets that accompany or replace them:

  • John Diefenbaker
  • Margaret Thatcher
  • Peter the Great
  • the Sun King

(b) When O’ forms part of a proper noun, it and the first letter after the apostrophe are capitalized:

  • O’Brien
  • O’Malley

(c) When the particle Mc or Mac forms part of a name, the letter M is capitalized. Capitalization and spacing of the letters that follow may differ and individual preferences should be respected:

  • McDonald or MacDonald or Mac Donald or Macdonald

(d) Individual preferences regarding the capitalization and spacing of articles and particles in French or foreign names should also be respected when they can be ascertained.1 The following are correct forms:

  • Walter de la Mare
  • Ethel Vandenberg
  • John Dos Passos
  • Cornelius Van Horne
  • Pierre de Savoye
  • Paul DeVillers

(e) In the case of historical figures, treatment in English may differ from that in the original language, and no real standard appears to exist. Consistency in treating a particular name (such as Leonardo da Vinci, Luca della Robbia or Vincent van Gogh) is all that can be aimed for. In some cases, the most familiar form of the name omits the particle entirely:

  • Beethoven (Ludwig van Beethoven)
  • Torquemada (Tomás de Torquemada)

(f) Capitalize a nickname (a word or phrase used as part of, or instead of, a personal name):

  • the Chief
  • the Rocket
  • the Iron Lady

Similarly, capitalize names of fictitious or anonymous persons, and names used as personifications:

  • Johnny Canuck
  • Paul Bunyan
  • the Caped Crusader
  • John Bull

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  • Back to the note1 Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules is an excellent source of such information.