Wikipedia:Naming conventions (capitalization)
|This guideline documents an English Wikipedia naming convention. It is a generally accepted standard that editors should attempt to follow, though it is best treated with common sense, and occasional exceptions may apply. Any substantive edit to this page should reflect consensus. When in doubt, discuss first on the talk page.|
|This page in a nutshell: Article titles should be in sentence case, not title case. Only the first word is capitalized, except for proper names.|
Do not capitalize the second or subsequent words in an article title, unless the title is a proper name. For multiword page titles, one should leave the second and subsequent words in lowercase unless the title phrase is a proper name that would always occur capitalized, even in the middle of a sentence.
This convention often also applies within the article body, as there is usually no good reason to use capitals. Outside Wikipedia, and within certain specific fields (such as medicine), the usage of all-capital terms may be a proper way to feature new or important items. However these cases are typically examples of buzzwords, which by capitalization are (improperly) given featured status.
In general, each word in English titles of books, films, and other works takes an initial capital, except for articles ("a", "an", "the"), the word "to" as part of an infinitive, and prepositions and coordinating conjunctions shorter than five letters (e.g., "on", "from", "and", "with"), unless they begin or end a title or subtitle. Examples: A New Kind of Science, Ghost in the Shell, To Be or Not to Be, The World We Live In. (For details, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Capital letters § Composition titles.)
Because credibility is a primary objective in the creation of any reference work, and because Wikipedia strives to become a leading (if not the leading) reference work in its genre, formality and an adherence to conventions widely used in the genre are critically important to credibility. For these reasons, Wikipedia has carefully built its WP:Manual of Style (MoS) to address modern, global encyclopedic writing and reading needs. Please consult in particular its sections on capital letters and, when relevant, on trademarks. When in doubt, reliable reference works for capitalization conventions and other style matters may be useful. Note that all style guides conflict on some points; the Wikipedia MoS and naming conventions are a consensus-based balance between them, drawing primarily upon academic style, not journalistic or marketing/business styles, and taking into account Wikipedia-specific concerns.
The software treats all article titles as beginning with a capital letter (unless the first character is not a letter). For information on how to display article titles beginning with lower-case letters (as in eBay), see Wikipedia:Naming conventions (technical restrictions)#Lowercase first letter.
However, when you create a link with the first letter of the link uncapitalized, like this, the first letter of the target page is automatically capitalized by the software. So like this points to the page titled "Like this". However, the remainder of the link (after the initial character) is case-sensitive.
Searching using the Go or Search button is, generally speaking, case-insensitive. It is not necessary to create redirects from alternative capitalizations, unless editors are likely to link from a differently capitalized form. For example, National Park should be created as a redirect to National park, but it is unnecessary to create Isle of wight as a redirect to Isle of Wight (although many such redirects do exist and are mostly harmless).
Specific topics and examples
Page names that differ only by capitalization
It is acceptable to create two articles (on different topics) with titles that differ only in capitalization. If this arises, place a hatnote at the top of each page, linking each to a dedicated disambiguation page or to the other article. It is also acceptable to use names that are differentiated in other ways; which approach should be taken may vary from case to case, balancing such considerations as the risk of confusion in using one set of names against the departure from brevity and common usage in using the other.
- See: Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Animals, plants, and other organisms, as well as Wikipedia:Naming conventions (fauna) and Wikipedia:Naming conventions (flora).
English common names of species and of general types of organisms are not capitalized, and article titles about them are sentence-cased, except where proper names appear and are capitalized: Bottlenose dolphin, Mountain dog, Red oak, but Small Indian civet. Redirects should be created from the alternative capitalized form(s), e.g., Bottlenose Dolphin, and from plural forms of each spelling.
Capitalization of expressions borrowed from other languages
For French, see for instance Wikipedia:Manual of Style/France and French-related#Works of art. In French the capitalization rules (for books, works of art, and many other topics) are different from those in English. The situation is further complicated by loanwords, for example a French expression can be adopted in English (such that you'll find it in English dictionaries), but with a different capitalization:
- Art Nouveau is how the name of a certain art movement is most often written in English; but art nouveau is how it is written in French.
For expressions borrowed from other languages a two-step approach is advised (example explained for expressions borrowed from French):
- Check whether or not a French expression has been adopted in English as a loan word: if it is, follow the usual English capitalization rules, as explained in other parts of this page.
- If the French expression is untranslated (not a loan word), follow French capitalization practice. For French: some expressions are not capitalized at all (e.g., fin de siècle), others have a capitalization of the first word.
For Spanish, German, and any language usually written in the Latin alphabet the same (or something similar) would apply.
Works of art
If the article is about a work of art (such as a book or other written work, movie, album, song, or composition) with a title in a foreign language, or by a foreign language creator, usually the capitalization found in English-language reliable sources is recommended, but when such sources use different capitalizations there is some leaning towards the capitalization rules valid for the language of the creator.
- Multiword articles: Practical joke, Particle physics, 1993 Russian constitutional crisis
- Proper names: North America, William Shakespeare, International Phonetic Association
- Proper names within article titles: History of the Soviet Union (1982–91), Politics of the United States
- Titles of books and other works: A New Kind of Science, Ghost in the Shell, Oliver Twist. Such titles often need to be italicized; see WP:ITALICTITLE for information on when and how to italicize article titles.
- Help:Renaming (moving) a page
- Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Capital letters
- Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Trademarks
- Wikipedia:WikiProject Albums (capital letters)
- Wikipedia:Manual of Style
- Current editions of some mainstream, general style references frequently used by MoS editors (current editions as of May 2016):[update]
- The Chicago Manual of Style (16th ed., Chicago U. Press, 2010)
- The Elements of Style (Strunk & White, 4th ed., Longman, 1999)
- Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage (Butterfield, 4th ed., Oxford U. Press, 2015)
- Garner's Modern English Usage (4th ed., Oxford U. Press, 2016)
- New Hart's Rules (Waddingham, 2nd ed., Oxford U. Press, 2015)