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capitalization: personal names

Capitalize personal names:

  • Justin Pierre James Trudeau
  • Margaret Atwood
  • Jean Vanier
  • Louise Arbour


Capitalize epithets that accompany or replace personal names:

  • Peter the Great
  • Richard the Lionheart
  • the Sun King


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

  • the Chief
  • the Rocket
  • the Iron Lady

Fictitious names

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

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

Names beginning with O’, Mac or Mc

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

  • O’Brien
  • O’Malley

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

Foreign names

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.Footnote 1 The following are correct forms:

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

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 (for Ludwig van Beethoven)
  • Torquemada (for Tomás de Torquemada)
Footnote 1

Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules is an excellent source of such information.

Return to footnote 1 referrer