talk:Naming conventions (capitalization)


Geographical features

What is the naming convention for geographic features? Is it Great Victoria desert or Great Victoria Desert, Colorado River or Colorado river? I'd say that these are proper names, and therefore should be written with capitals, and most style guides for English support that. However, not everybody does write it like that, making it a difficult point to decide upon with this naming convention on capitalization. Should we go for "capitalize"? Jeronimo

Unless we can find a good precedant that I am unaware of, they should be capitalized. But maybe that is an American English perspective. Colorado river is just wrong, but what about Thames river (or the river Thames)? Rmhermen 08:09 Aug 12, 2002 (PDT)
The desert's name is not Great Victoria, with 'desert' as an explanatory apposition, it's Great Victoria Desert. Admittedly, some deserts do have plain names, like the Sahara and the Gobi, but consistency requires the 'Desert' to be capitalized if you add it.
Rivers usually do have independent names - Thames, Rhone, Nile - but consistency again says if you do add 'River' it should be capitalized as part of the name: River Thames, Colorado River. (The UK convention is that Old-World rivers generally begin with 'River'.)
Likewise Mount Rushmore, Lake Constance, Caspian Sea: if it's a name, its generic part is always capitalized. Gritchka

Laws and Razors

Would I be right that 'Law' should be in lower case?

(most others are in caps)

What about 'Razor'?

Lower case is correct in both instances. Eclecticology 05:24 May 4, 2003 (UTC)

Moved from the pump:

Article title starting with lower-case

Currently, it is impossible to start an article title with a lower-case letter. So we get things like IMac instead of iMac. Was there any discussions about this feature? Any possibility that it will be changed in the future? Thanks, Tomos 05:02 Mar 24, 2003 (UTC)

Leaving your ACTUAL question for the more technically minded to answer, in the meantime, you can take advantage of the fact that the first letter of an article is case-insensitive: iMac and IMac take you to the same place. So even if the article title is "funny", your reference to it doesn't need to be... -- Someone else
Initial capitalization is a tricky thing. If we were to make title completely case-sensitive, you'd get links to two separate pages from these two sentences:
Asteroids are relatively abundant in the region between...
Many have dreamed of colonizing the asteroids and mining...
That would greatly magnify the occasional problems caused by variations in capitalization in subsequent words. Alternatively, we might preserve the case, thus allowing iMac and pH to look right, while allowing both variations to match and link to the single article. This would lead to great inconsistency in titles, as we find ourselves with here a lowercase asteroid and there a capital Comet. This would at least be aesthetically displeasing (less a lot of effort at renaming to maintain a nicer system); and I'm not sure how much trouble it would be to make partial case insensitivity work -- and if we were to change to complete case insensitivity, at least hundreds of title pairs would need to be cleaned up. Redirects removed and alternates merged or disambiguated; that's going to require some manual labor.
The simplest solution would be to create a manual tag of some sort creating a 'display title', which would be displayed in the header in place of the page's 'real' name and could be differently capitalized or contain special characters. (I think this was discussed a long time ago on the mailing list, I don't know what the commentary was.) --Brion 06:30 Mar 24, 2003 (UTC)
The "Display Title" - yes, great idea! Tannin 09:08 Mar 24, 2003 (UTC)
Brion noted that full case insensitivity in links would cause hundreds of duplicated title pairs. Except for redirects (which could just be eliminated), shouldn't these be cleaned up or merged anyway? - Lou I 06:30 4 Jun 2003 (UTC)

Article titles

I don't understand why article titles don't follow usual English language titling rules, wherein the first and last word are always capitalized and all other words are capitalized besides the articles and prepositions (basically). This would lead to less argument over page titles, among other things, since there wouldn't have to be arguments over whether some concept is a proper noun or not, as seems to erupt from time to time. john 05:45 4 Jun 2003 (UTC)

Amen to that. However flexibility isn't a hallmark of Wikien. Style is more important than content. By definition, Wiki is full of obsessives (like me) and for many the desire to be like a paper encyclopedia (=a real encyclopedia) matters more than the content. You will have noticed that most of those insisting on capiatlisation don't actually write new articles on the animal subjects, or sort out, for example, the three different articles on the Moose that existed untill yesterday. jimfbleak 05:53 4 Jun 2003 (UTC)
I wasn't commenting on the animal issue entirely, but on all sorts of issues. I just don't see why there's any reason at all not to uses standard title capitalizations. john 06:01 4 Jun 2003 (UTC)
As I understand it, it's mostly to make inline references work better without a zillion redirs - for instance (from Astronomy and astrophysics) "...astronomy embraces the scientific method..." which would sound way too Teutonic if you had to do it as "...astronomy embraces the Scientific Method...". In theory, Wikipedia canonicalization could be made smart enough, but it would be really hard and consume lots of server cycles. Chicago Manual of Style also discourages much traditional capitalization these days. Stan 06:12 4 Jun 2003 (UTC)
The linking issue makes sense, but the subject of capitalisation of headings that arent linked doesnt seem to have been addressed on this page. For an example of inconsistent use of title case, see the Wikipedia main page, it is using "Title Case" for its headings, but it seems to be encouraging users to not use "Title Case" in its articles... Steeev 12:54, 10 Dec 2003 (UTC)


Might I suggest that the animal capitalization bits point over to Wikipedia:Naming conventions (fauna), that way it can be hashed out in one place? Stan 06:12 4 Jun 2003 (UTC)

As long as there is a link from capitalisation, I have no problems with that. I'd forgotten the fauna bit, and its clear from the current edit wars that most other people start from capitalisation. I don't think there is any contradiction between the two articles, so mine is probably superfluous once a link is added jimfbleak 06:31 4 Jun 2003 (UTC)
The Wilson's Storm-petrel example given here before (as Wilson's Storm-Petrel) was in conflict with the specifications on the Wikipedia:WikiProject Birds page, so I've amended it to match that page - MPF 23:41, 8 Feb 2004 (UTC)


While my personal preference is to capitalise as done for birds & most other fauna, the overwhelming majority of plants are already not capitalised, so changing them all to capital first letters would be a logistic nightmare. So the handful of cases where they have been capitalised (e.g. the Scots Pine example cited here) I'm converting (as I find them) to only the very first letter capitalised (Scots pine) for the sake of standardisation - MPF 12:30, 10 Feb 2004 (UTC)


I think it important to point to the differences in capitalisation in American English and British English, as Jtdirl has discussed on the mailing list and in Wikipedia talk:Naming conventions (theorems). -- Jim Regan 02:14 20 Jun 2003 (UTC)

I just read the assertion that the UK uses capitals more than the US. I am convinced that it is the other way around, at least for headings. I have discussed this over the years with people. I tell people to compare the article headlines in the US newspaper with the article headlines in the UK newspaper
Note that the US newspaper headlines are not even Word Case. They Use the Rather More Difficult to Specify Title Case, Where Some Words have Capitals and Others Do Not (believe me, I have tried to specify it on behalf of an international client).
With Word Case, it is not possible to highlight a word for any reason (e.g. proper noun). Without word case, the opportunity to highlight a word remains. In most situations it does not matter, but it can. The following two sentences look quite different:
Arrival of gardener to support bush
Arrival of Gardener to support Bush
but they would be indistinguishable in Word Case:
There are even some companies that use lower case for the beginning of sentences e.g.

In summary, I support the use of sentence case. However, I think that the assertion that the UK uses word case more than the US is the opposite of the truth. It should therefore be modified in some way (e.g. made more general).

Bobblewik 23:37, 17 Jul 2004 (UTC)

That struck me funny when I read it too. Mackerm 01:37, 18 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Laws, Theorems and doctrines

  1. So whats the final word on capitalization for articles on laws and theorems ? Upper case or lower case or whatever the respective page's contributor wishes ? I couldn't find a mention of this in the conventions.
  2. The page says "Most names of doctrines shouldn't be capitalized." Is there no British English vs. American English clash here ? Most of the doctrines I found are capitalized though - Monroe Doctrine, Stimson Doctrine, Truman Doctrine, Eisenhower Doctrine, Brezhnev Doctrine, Carter Doctrine.

Jay 09:12, 29 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Titles of cultural works

User:Topbanana/Reports/This page contains a link that might be mis-punctuated is a Quality Assurance report listing links which may be miscapitalised. Before we sort that list out, I'd assert that unless I have not looked hard enough, the Naming Convention does not provide good enough advice on the format of the titles of cultural works. Which of these three is correct:

  • Jamie and the Magic Torch?
  • Jamie And The Magic Torch?
  • Jamie and the magic torch?

and I suspect others might be hard to call (or not - YMMV)

  • Bailey Bridge?
  • Bailey bridge?

Could I ask for more advice from the community, to cover this issue in Naming Convention, perhaps with some worked examples of the Magic Torch variety. --Tagishsimon

Capitalization includes the normal rules for titles. So without even looking at your links, Screen Test is probably the title of something, while Screen test is probably a description of an acting audition. Keep in mind, some titles have intentionally strange capitalization. Mackerm 17:44, 17 Jun 2004 (UTC)
Thank you, but it doesn't really address the Magic Torch example, and there is a wide spread of normal rules, judging by Topbanana's report. --Tagishsimon

Sorry. Jamie and the Magic Torch and Bailey bridge. Also, I'd change the first word in the bridge article from "the" to "a". Mackerm 21:08, 17 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Main Page

Main Page should be Main page, right? I know this probably can't be changed... but it still bugs me. - DropDeadGorgias (talk) 14:04, Jul 30, 2004 (UTC)

Russian History

What about these articles: Russian Civil War, Russian Revolution of 1905, Russian Revolution of 1917, Polish-Soviet War. Should that be changed? Der Eberswalder 15:37, 13 Aug 2004 (UTC)