Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Capital letters/Archive 8

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Archive 7 Archive 8 Archive 9

Dog breed capitalization

There is a move request at Talk:Welsh Corgi#Requested move related to this guideline. ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 18:35, 10 February 2012 (UTC)

This is a manual of style guideline and is to do with content not article titles. For capitalisation of article titles see the section Article title format in the AT policy and its guideline WP:CAPS. -- PBS (talk) 00:23, 18 February 2012 (UTC)
Nope, that distinction doesn't apply here, there is no question here about how to apply WP:TITLEFORMAT in this discussion. If the question was whether to entitle the article Welsh corgi or The Welsh corgi (dog breed) then that would be a question for WT:AT. Here, though, there is no question at all about what words to use to entitle the article. The entire issue there is whether Welsh corgi should be written—in running text, image captions, titles of articles, whatever—as Welsh Corgi or as Welsh corgi. It is strictly a style issue about capital letters, absolutely the purview of this page. The fact that it is a move request about the article title is very tangential to the main debate—there is general agreement everywhere I think that the title of the article ought to be cased the same way as the phrase in running text (excepting the first letter, of course), so if you want to change the case of a phrase in an article whose title contains the phrase it is very efficient to have that debate in the form of an RM. ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 00:56, 18 February 2012 (UTC)
Right. And furthermore (I wonder how many thousands of times this is going to have to be said?) the presence of a {{policy}} instead of {{guideline}} atop WT:AT lately means one and only one thing: "Be more certain you are citing WP:IAR correctly when you ignore this page." It does not mean WP:AT makes up its own style rules, including on capitalization. It derives them directly from WP:MOS. I really, really wish people hadn't wrangled a "policy" label onto WP:AT. It's does precisely zero to reduce strife, and has generated a massive amount of confusion stemming from a failure to understand WP:POLICY and what it really means. I've had to address the "AT trumps MOS even on style because it's a policy" error in four six different forums in the last week alone, and I haven't even been looking for them. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒〈°⌊°〉 Contribs. 22:10, 19 February 2012 (UTC)
And now the Welsh Corgi RM has failed, showing that there is still consensus to capitalize dog breed names (and probably also cat breeds, see Category:Cat_breeds, and horse breeds Category:Horse_breeds). Can we now change the guidelines to reflect current practice, or do we need more RMs, or maybe a cat RM? --Enric Naval (talk) 16:03, 20 February 2012 (UTC)
It didn't show that there is consensus to capitalize dog breed names, it showed that there was no consensus to move that article, because MOS has not come to consensus on what to do with this issue yet. I would strongly suggest a WP:RFC or it's very, very likely to lead to another several-years-long flame festival. And the arguments pro and con are actually quite different than for upper/lower casing of species common names. I think that the RfC should be held at WT:MOS proper, because that page is widely watchlisted, and WT:MOSCAPS is ignored by almost everyone, which ensures that an RfC held here will not be representative of a broad view. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒〈°⌊°〉 Contribs. 01:39, 22 February 2012 (UTC)
I think the root of the problem is: if "non-specialist sources like newspapers, non-animal magazines, encyclopedias, dictionaries, general English usage style guides, etc." contradicts specialist sources, should we pick the non-specialist source over the specialist source?
So a RfC ought to ask: "Do we want to use the capitalization in specialist sources (different for some fields, capitalization is not coherent across all species articles) or non-specialist sources (same for all fields, contradicts reliable sources in some species articles)." This should address the root of the question instead of its symptoms. What do you think?
(the RfC would affect the naming of articles, so it should be held at the naming policy page WT:AT and advertised at the other pages) --Enric Naval (talk) 14:16, 22 February 2012 (UTC)
Here or MOS is fine. It's about what our style is regarding capitalization, which is this page. It really isn't about titling any more than about anything else, I don't understand your point. Probably doesn't matter much. I'm having trouble parsing your quoted proposal, though. And your "I think the root of the problem is..." is a huge oversimplification, of course, but you know that. ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 16:16, 22 February 2012 (UTC)
Right, titling will simply follow whatever caps style we use, since it says "The initial letter of a title is almost always capitalized; subsequent words in a title are not, unless they are part of a proper name, and so would be capitalized in running text". The question though is not about choosing sources; we respect all reliable sources. It's about choosing a style. Maybe we can phrase it like "should WP allow specialist publications to determine style of capitalization and hyphenation and such, or stick with styles used by generalist publications and styles designed to maximize clarity to a general audience?" or something like that. It seems likely that we've had such a discussion before, but I don't know of it. Dicklyon (talk) 02:03, 23 February 2012 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────That sounds like the right question to me, pretty much word-for-word (kudos for the objectivity), except that it should be "capitalization, hyphenation and other style". It should be discussed at WT:MOS because:

  1. MOS is the authoritative page here for style matters, and things like MOSCAPS are derivative sub-guidelines of it. Even if the question were limited to capitalization, it should be at WT:MOS which is definitive and very broadly watchlisted, unlike MOSCAPS.
  2. AT and its NC subpages derive every iota of their style advice from MOS; they emphatically do not make up their own rules (and whether it has {{policy}} on it or not is irrelevant). This only tangentially has anything to do with article naming.
  3. WT:MOSCAPS is too specific as well as problematic in other way. It really doesn't have anything at all to do with any particular style issue like capitalization, but is a general style-handling and WP-practice-derivation issue at the upper-most level of abstraction.

That said, I'm in strongly favor of such an RfC and would like to see it advertised via both WP:VPP and WP:CD so that no one can say it didn't have enough eyes on it from a wide enough slice of the editorship (there have been 7+ years of RfCs, polls and proposals, just about the capitalization sub-issue, and one side or the other always ignores their results with a "that wasn't a real consensus" claim). I hope it does not become full of straw man arguments (I saw one up above, where someone tried to criticize Dicklyon for saying something like that a dictionary or thesaurus was a more reliable source for facts about an organism than specialist works about the organism, when of course he said nothing of the sort (dictionaries and other English usage guides from major publishers are more reliable about English usage, including about how to refer to an organism in general-purpose prose, than are books about an organism's natural history. Zoologists are not copyeditors, and botanists are not linguists.) Most discussions of this topic have been intentionally derailed by entrenched specialists' misdirection and FUD tactics, especially WP:IDHT, straw man, and argument to authority. It's time that stopped and we had a real, site-wide, long-term, broadly-advertised RfC, and real, consistent changes made based on its results. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contribs. 09:34, 27 February 2012 (UTC)

PS: Some statistics easily prove that MOS is one of the most watchlisted pages on the system, even more so than almost all other guidelines and policies, and that MOSCAPS is ignored by almost everyone: Wikipedia:Manual of Style has over 1400 editors watchlisting it [1]. This is more than (and of course I mean the real pages, not these shortcuts) WP:NPOV, WP:NOR, WP:RS, WP:CONSENSUS, and WP:AT, among innumerable other crucial pages, and is about equal that of WP:Verifiability, and not much less than WP:Notability, the chief source of debate on the entire system. By comparison, Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Capital letters has a paltry 154 watchers[2]; it's a place where few ever tread. So, it would be bordering on WP:POINTy to hold a major site-wide RfC with wide-ranging ramifications on this talk page, since any result would simply be ignored by the opposition as "didn't have wide enough discussion and isn't a real consensus"; it would be a total waste of time and attention. (This page probably is a good place for nitpicks like whether some job titles should be capitalized even when not in front of persons' names, e.g. "Prime Minister of Pakistan"; trivia like that probably won't lead to 7-year-long, 100-editor flamewars.) — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 04:29, 28 February 2012 (UTC)
The best thing to do is to have the actual RFC here on WT:MOSCAPS but leave a {{please see}} at WT:MOS; so all people who are watching WP:MOS are informed of it but it doesn't further contribute to the giganticness of that talk page. ― A. di M.​  12:49, 28 February 2012 (UTC)
Except this page is far worse, with 64 threads on it, not counting subthreads, vs. MOS-proper's measly 12 (granted one of them is very long, but it'll be archived soon because it's closed or nearly so). — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 14:46, 28 February 2012 (UTC)
Well, WT:MOS is set to archive threads that didn't receive replies in 7 days, but this page is set to 120 days .... I just changed it to 45 days, it should work on a couple of days. --Enric Naval (talk) 15:03, 28 February 2012 (UTC)
Indeed. In an ideal world where WT:MOS only contains discussions of general issues, whereas more specific ones are discussed at the relevant subpage with only a pointer left at WT:MOS, WT:MOS would maintain a reasonable size even with a reasonably long archival time. ― A. di M.​  23:54, 3 March 2012 (UTC)
This isn't an ideal world, by any means. What really happens is virtually no one watchlists or gives a damn about these subpages (WP:MOSNUM being an exception) and tendentious WikiProjects end up trying to WP:OWN them to push agendas they couldn't possibly advance at WT:MOS where people actually pay attention. Even aside from that, regulars on a subpage have a strong tendency to forget to bother keeping the sub-guidelines in synch with the main one and with each other. It's taken me over 2 months already to get MOS, MOSCAPS and FAUNA in anything close to agreement even one on tiny subject, and its still not done (not least of which because of resistance by people who seem to think these sub-pages have some kind of magical autonomy such that MOS can just go screw itself). I'm strongly considering an RfC to redirect all MOS subpage talk pages to Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style, in order to centralize discussion of the MOS and stop this constant stream of "we're going to sneak in something special for our project's pet peeve" garbage. We're about to centralize discussion of all the citation templates, and similar moves to centralize have been successful elsewhere in WP namespace. MOS as a document needs supbages as does WP:AT, so they're not huge one-page documents no one will read. This does not mean every subpage needs its own talk page, any more than long lists that are split should have independent subpage talk pages. There's no necessary logical connection between MOS being split up and referring with {{please see}} to subpages, and discussion of MOS being fragmented to such a grossly detrimental and strife-generating extent as it now is. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 11:03, 6 March 2012 (UTC)

Smallcaps template

The documentation for {{Smallcaps}} has a long list of reasons to use small caps that needs some review. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 13:23, 27 February 2012 (UTC)

Yeah, I noticed that too. Wasn't sure what to make of it, other than I disagreed with some it. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 14:42, 28 February 2012 (UTC)
The issue is getting more attention at WT:MOS than here, despite only being posted yesterday. Further evidence no one really pays any attention to this page at all. Anyway, TfD is likely, and two other smallcaps template are merging into that one, that did even worse things. It's just there seem to be no article-space use case for this ting, so it either needs to be deleted, or changed like {{xt}} to throw a warning if you try to use it an article. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 10:45, 6 March 2012 (UTC)
Yes there is, perhaps. Author names in bibliographies. If editors do not use the small-type ref template -- or even then --, the bibliography is hard to read after it reaches a certain length (B-class articles or better). Without something to make the author names stand out, they are just a wall-of-text. This is probably also in line with many non-Wikipedia manuals of style (check out Chicago MoS 18.10–11, 18.143, 18.149 "Small caps in indexes"). Most scholarly journals and other publications with long reference lists/bibliographies use either smallcaps or indent to set off authors or items in long lists; indent is probably not advocated (harder to code, perhaps harder to read/wastes space). Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 05:15, 30 March 2012 (UTC)

Capitalization for titles in languages other than English

From the history of the article:

  • diff Latest revision as of 18:40, 27 February 2012 Roman Spinner "deleting controversial sentence (with example) appended without discussion six weeks ago (12:11, 17 January 2012); strong WP:LOCALCONSENSUS already exists against such a change at Talk:La Strada#Upper or Lower Case"

Text removed was:

For titles in languages other than English, the capitalization used in the original language is applied, rather than applying English capitalization rules. For example: "Dein ist mein ganzes Herz".

It would be useful to hear what the opinions on this are here. Besides that as that was a discussion about a requested move of an article title (covered by the WP:AT policy), not bout the content of a page (covered by the MOS). -- PBS (talk) 19:57, 27 February 2012 (UTC)

I think that a sentence like "Dein ist mein ganzes Herz" used as a title should certainly not be capitalized. "La Strada" looks well as a title in English, but even in an English context a hypothetical title "La strada è lunga ma piacevole" should not be capitalized. Mozart's opera "Così fan tutte" should not be turned into "Così Fan Tutte". Esoglou (talk) 20:46, 27 February 2012 (UTC)
I agree with Esoglou, modulo various facts of usage that can on a case-by-case basis be ascertained by reliable sources in English, that short titles of this sort ("La Strada") are almost always capitalized, very well known pieces often are ("Così Fan Tutte" is actually quite plausible; it depends on how the piece is referred to in most reliable sources in English, including generalist ones like magazines and encyclopedias, not just music-geek specialty publications), and newer works, especially films, TV shows, games and novels are more and more following the style of English publications, simply due to the influence of the English-language online and offline media juggernaut and its consistent favoring of title case (which has never been English-only, even if some major languages use sentence case). I.e., I think our chain of reasoning must be:
  1. If in doubt, use title case as the baseline default.
  2. If the title is in a language that usually uses sentence case for this sort of work, then the default becomes sentence case.
  3. This can be overridden if a preponderance of English-language sources of various types but high reliability, with more weight given to generalist ones because this is a style not factual allegations issue, prefer title case ("Les Miserables" and "La Femme Nikita" are among the most famous examples)
  4. Always use title case for English-language titles, for both works and sub-works, including in reference citations (WP doesn't care if some journal's internal style guide calls for article titles like "The quantum induction paradox: an examination of flux capacitor design theory"; they are confusing and ridiculous looking to every English speaker who is not a professional academic, and even some of them think it's awful.)
  5. Exceptions can be made, for good reason, on a case by case basis, e.g. a statement by an artist that lower case was intended and is important to the interpretation of the work.
It would probably forestall a lot of squabbling if something step-wise, cascading and clear like this were incorporated into the guideline. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 04:43, 28 February 2012 (UTC)

To be clear, I propose including something like this explicitly in the guideline. It should go a long way to reducing disputes about foreign-language titling. Going once. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 17:02, 15 March 2012 (UTC)

I very much support your general outline here. Points 2 and 3 need a bit of clarification though. "Sentence case" describes normal practice for most foreign languages with Roman alphabets, but not for German and French because of their particular conventions for capitalization of nouns. Some acknowledgment of that would be helpful. Secondly, I think that the two variant examples given, Les Misérables and La Femme Nikita, may not actually be instances of "title case" preferences, since they are just following the French rules for capitalization of a noun following a leading definite article, as set out at WP:FRMOS#Works_of_art. A better example of title case preference might be La Dolce Vita, which in Italian would take lower case caps, but because "dolce vita" is a phrase which has been adopted into English and and now appears in English dictionaries, there is an argument for applying English-style capitals to it. Finally, I think the explicit invitation to override style rules on the basis of "reliable sources" (which ones?) risks opening up the arguments all over again and undermining the rest of your good work! Lampernist (talk) 12:47, 17 March 2012 (UTC)
That all makes sense to me. I wasn't actually very clear on the French convention (I haven't studied French formally at all). The "dolce vita" case is pretty much exactly what I was getting at: The titles of some works are so familiar in English, for one reason or another (either as the titles of the works per se or because, as in that case, the phrase used as the title is familiar to English speakers) that most general-purpose reliable sources like newspapers would use English orthography. I don't think my wording made any reference to reliable sources, only artist statements, but I suppose we'll have to think about that. I guess WP:COMMONSENSE, WP:RS and WP:IAR already permit exceptions to any MOS issue when editors justify them, so mentioning an artistic intent exception may be unnecessary. I also wouldn't want to see WP:OR happen because of over-application of non-English style to non-English works like current films and video games that are in fact capitalized in the English style, which is growing in popularity internationally. Hopefully "this sort of work" does cover that, but maybe there's a better way to put it without rambling. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 16:26, 17 March 2012 (UTC)

(od) Redraft, factoring in the above and using more guideline-like wording:

  • Use title case as the default style for the title of any work, from a poem to a franchise.
  • If the title is in a language that has a different capitalization convention for this sort of work, then default to that convention when giving the title in that language. E.g., both German and French have specific and sometimes complicated title capitalization rules.
  • However, use title case if such a work is so familiar to English-speakers that a preponderance of English-language reliable sources (especially general-audience ones), prefer title case: La Dolce Vita (properly La dolce vita in Italian).
  • Always use title case for English-language titles, for both works and sub-works, including in reference citations. While some journals' internal style guides call for article titles in sentence case, this style is inconsistent with our treatment of titles generally, and is unfamiliar, even confusing to many readers; capitalization is understood by everyone.

SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 16:56, 17 March 2012 (UTC)

Re current RM on a Greek Eurovision song, Wikipedia:WikiProject_Songs#Naming seems to be correct for European song names. In ictu oculi (talk) 00:01, 21 April 2012 (UTC)

Apparent conflict of guidelines

There appears to be a discrepancy between the advice given in the last sentence of Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Capital letters#Composition titles ("Capitalize parenthetical phrases in titles as if they were separate titles") and that given in point 2.5 of Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Music#Capitalization ("Titles that include parentheses should be capitalized as follows: the part outside the parentheses should be capitalized as if the parenthetical words are not present; the part inside the parentheses should be capitalized as if there were no parentheses at all"). There's been a couple of contested move requests over at Talk:I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing (in Perfect Harmony) that involve the point, and although no one has yet brought up the question of the conflict within the MOS there, it might be a good idea to iron this out. (Incidentally, the example given at MOS:CT—"(Don't Fear) The Reaper"—seems poorly chosen and unenlightening, since "Don't Fear" would be capitalized whether read "as if [it] were a separate title" or read "as if there were no parentheses at all".) Deor (talk) 19:20, 7 March 2012 (UTC)

It doesn't necessarily have to be a conflict. Maybe outside music, it makes sense to treat them as separate titles (though currently I actually don't know of any example outside music where titles with parentheses are used). --The Evil IP address (talk) 11:10, 8 March 2012 (UTC)
My hunch is that the advice in MOS/Capital letters is basic (and slightly misleading) and that the advice in MOS/Music is more complete and probably the better route to go. MOS/Capital letters should be modified to match at the MOS/Music for clarity. Powers T 16:33, 8 March 2012 (UTC)
An example of a non-music title is Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask), where the article is titled in accordance with the MOS:CT guideline, whereas the MOS/Music rule would call for lowercase "but". Deor (talk) 02:37, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
Good example; if certain editors were to have their way (those who call for our titles to match the case as it appears "officially" on the actual media), we'd have to title that article Everything you always wanted to know about sex* (*BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK). And wouldn't that look professional? Powers T 20:03, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
I don't think that the packaging decisions made by graphic designers are considered "official" even by the designers themselves (unless they have extraordinarily swelled heads). I've never understood where people get that idea. Then again, I'm quite positive that references to a famous band should be styled "the Beatles" and by no means "The Beatles", but I wouldn't dare try to make an argument for that on WP. All off the subject, of course. Deor (talk) 21:25, 9 March 2012 (UTC)

This has actually come up twice for me today: Talk:Pretty_Fly_(For_a_White_Guy)#Move_request and Talk:I'd_Like_to_Teach_the_World_to_Sing_(In_Perfect_Harmony)#Requested_move. This issue should be settled, since it would be cause for me to revisit those decisions. I really don't care which style we go with, but I feel like it should be consistent across genres; is there a compelling reason to have a capitalization rule for song titles that is different from that for book or movie titles? If so, it should be noted in Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style/Capital_letters#Composition_titles that song titles follow a different rule; if not, then Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style/Music#Capitalization and Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style/Capital_letters#Composition_titles should say the same thing.--Aervanath (talk) 23:17, 11 March 2012 (UTC)

I think it's not an "actual" conflict, just a situation of a case needing clarification. And it's not necessarily specific to music. Based on the examples, it looks like the intent is that when the stuff in parens is a continuation of the other stuff, then it should be capitalized as if the parens aren't there. But when it's extra info that isn't a continuation, capitalize the start. If we agree, then we can work on re-wording to clarify. Dicklyon (talk) 00:14, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
I think it is a conflict, by MOS/Music not representing reality if it would call for "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing (in Perfect Harmony)", which is definitely not common usage in song titling or any other kind of titling. I would hazard a guess that it might have been common usage back in the Enrico Caruso era or something, but it's extremely rare in modern music labeling and has been my entire life (I'm in my 40s). "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)" is the norm. There is certainly no need, or justification, for the music guideline to split from the main MOS on this. This is yet another reason I think all MOS subpages' talk pages should redirect to WT:MOS, so it's no longer possible for people keep making farcical, POV-pushing WP:LOCALCONSENSUSes with far-reaching implications on backwater talk pages no one pays any attention to. The happy thing is that MOS proper has far more consensus that disused subpages. If ever in doubt, do what MOS says, and ignore the subpage. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 00:27, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
Inconsistency between MoS central and its subpages is a profound disservice to editors, and ultimately to readers. Yes, the central page should prevail, but there shouldn't be inconsistencies in the first place. Tony (talk) 05:04, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
Yep. The WP:LOCALCONSENSUS crap at MOS:MUSIC needs to be undone. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 16:48, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
You guys do understand that "the central page should prevail" means that, for instance, the MOS would be recommending that (You're the) Devil in Disguise be renamed with capitalized "The", right? (Thanks to The Evil IP Address for providing that example elsewhere.) I don't particularly have a dog in this hunt myself, but I think we want more nuance than that. As for "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)", that's a case where the parenthetical matter is an alternative title rather than an extension of the title phrase, and its relevance to the sorts of cases cited by Aervanath is dubious at best. Deor (talk) 10:54, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
MOS certainly would not recommend capitalizing "The" in "(You're the) Devil in Disguise". Maybe "Escape" was a poor example; my point is that it's near-universal to do titles in the form "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony)" not "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing (in Perfect Harmony)", including of song titles. MOS:MUSIC is off the deep end. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 16:46, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
MOS:CT certainly does recommend capitalizing "The" there: "Capitalize parenthetical phrases in titles as if they were separate titles." The first and last words of titles are always capitalized, so if that parenthetical element is to be so capitalized, it would be "You're The". Deor (talk) 17:32, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
But surely you don't think that's desirable? Surely we can agree it looks better as lowercase? Powers T 15:23, 15 March 2012 (UTC)
You are correct; I don't think that the current situation of contradictory guidelines, with MOS:CT suggesting such capitalization as "(You're The) Devil in Disguise", is desirable. That's why I started this thread. The question is, What's to be done about the matter? Deor (talk) 15:34, 15 March 2012 (UTC)
@Deor: Ah, I see what you mean. That's a bad wording loophole and an unintentional side effect. I cannot think that anyone intentionally meant to capitalized " The)" in that case. Just needs a wording fix. We all seem to agree this is a bad result. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 16:50, 15 March 2012 (UTC)
Didn't you also say, though, that "(In Perfect Harmony)" was preferable? How do you reconcile lowercase in "(You're the)" but uppercase in "(In Perfect Harmony)"? Powers T 19:37, 15 March 2012 (UTC)
How about something like, "In the English-language title of a work, use title case [as explained at some link?], including always capitalizing the first word and (unless an indefinite or definite article) last word of any title or subtitle"? Subtitles can usually and often do operate independently (and we probably WP:DGAF if they can't from time to time), as in "You're the". Such a rule would yield examples like: My Baby Told Me (The Time Has Come), Where Are You (Gonna Be At)?, (Sitting Up) In Bed, all of which appear to me to represent the majority usage in English, but not examples like (This Is The) Big Picture or (It's A) Fine Sunny Day. But some might object to (Going in For) The Kill. Some might even object to Where Are You (Gonna Be At)?. I've always lower-cased "simple" prepositions like in, at, for, and capitalized longer ones like Under and Toward in titles, and I've seen some style guides recommend this, but I've also seen many, many times song and other titles with monosyllabic prepositions capitalized, especially if they're "significant" or stressed, as in Where Are You (Gonna Be At)? versus What Kind of Fool Am I? (emphasis added) and the like. Usage in the real world isn't entirely uniform; we have to settle on some kind of convention and stick to it. I've only ever once (and I've read a lot of style guide stuff) seen the "always capitalize the first and last words regardless what they are" advice in a published style guide, so if people balk at it we can drop even the less excessive version I'm proposing here, and just go with "just use title case except always capitalize the first first of a title or subtitle". I think I'd actually prefer that; the "and the last word too" bit is too iffy. Then again someone might actually prefer (This is The) Big Picture, but I think that usage is very rare. I'm flying blind here. That's my best first draft for now, based on my memory of 30-odd years of song, book and film titles; being a total media hoarder, I have over 35,000 MP3s/AACs/FLACs, 2,000 CDS, 1,000 DVDs/BrDs, 3,000 books, and 7,000 periodicals, so my experience isn't worthless, but I'm likely forgetting something. I do have a huge stockpile of style guides, US and UK, so if we want to have an RfC on this I can "easily" (i.e. with a boatload of research, but no further monetary expense) provide a run-down on all the advice in major "authorities" on the topic. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 01:31, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
The last word of a title is always capitalized. I think we should distinguish between a parenthetical that is a continuation (or prefix) of the main title, versus one that acts like an independent subtitle. The former should be capitalized as at Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Music, while the latter should be capitalized as at Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Capital letters. Powers T 13:46, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
LtPowers's suggestion sounds reasonable to me—basically the same as Dicklyon's suggestion above. It would mean, however, that the moves of I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing (in Perfect Harmony) and Pretty Fly (for a White Guy) should not have occurred. We'd need to state explicitly that in either case the non-parenthetical part of the title should be capitalized as a normal title, to cover cases like "(Don't Fear) The Reaper". Deor (talk) 14:41, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
I strongly agree they should not have occurred and certainly would have said so if I'd noticed them in time, and with the suggested revision, at both pages. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 19:33, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
I will also note that MOS/Capital letters and MOS/Music are BOTH subpages of MOS, so the principle of "the central page should prevail" doesn't really help.--Aervanath (talk) 11:52, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
Sure it does. Do what MOS says: Use title case. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 16:46, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
Sorry, I feel really dense asking this, but where on WP:MOS does it say that? All I can find is this snippet in Wikipedia:MOS#Article_titles: 'Use "sentence case", not "title case"', which is obviously not what you're referring to.--Aervanath (talk) 17:22, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
<groan> Some joker deleted it quite a while back. I put it back in. The ENTIRE part at MOS about titles of works was missing! One of those "WTF?" things... — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 16:47, 15 March 2012 (UTC)

I agree with Dicklyon above: it depends on whether you view the part in parentheses as an alternative title or as a continuation. People refer to "Break On Through (to the Other Side)" as "Break On Through" or as "Break On Through to the Other Side" but not usually as "To the Other Side)", whereas they refer to "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" as "Welcome Home" or as "Sanitarium" but not usually as "Welcome Home Sanitarium", hence I think they should be capitalized the way I did. (But I can't be bothered to issue a RM for the former, because I don't think the benefits of having the capitalization I like would be worth the time spent on such a RM.) ― A. di M.​  21:01, 16 March 2012 (UTC)


Judging by the way the conversation has gone above, I think we are honing in on consensus. So, how about this draft wording, to be pasted into both guidelines? (Or possibly, just into MOSCAPS, with a note at MOS:MUSIC to see this guideline.)

Capitalization of titles containing parentheses: Words outside the parentheses should be capitalized as if the parenthetical words are not present.

  1. In cases where the parenthetical is a continuation or prefix of the main title, the part inside the parentheses should be capitalized as if there were no parentheses at all.
  2. In cases where the parenthetical is an alternate title, then the part inside the the parentheses should be capitalized as if it were a separate title.

--Aervanath (talk) 01:08, 17 March 2012 (UTC)

I don't think that's it. Firstly, there is more than one reason to have parentheses in a title, and subtitles can be formatted more than one way. We should limit this to discussion of subtitles, not parentheticals. Secondly, the entire upshot of everything I've been saying is that even when subtitles flow into titles (or vice versa) grammatically, the convention is to still treat them as independent titles, but with possible (I'd say likely) exception that a prepended subtitle that ends in an article (a/an/the) doesn't have that capitalized. Your version would prevent capitalization of a/an/the or a preposition when it is the first word of the title, but it is overwhelmingly conventional to capitalize there, despite the two recent boneheaded song article moves. Regardless what we settle on, I do indeed think it's a good idea of have MOS:MUSIC just refer to this page; too many MOS subpages and wanna-be MOS subpages give advice on the same things in different wording, and they get out-of-synch quickly.
I'd go with something like:
Capitalization of titles with subtitles: Words in the main title are capitalized as if the subtitle were not present. For a subtitles, whether parenthetical or following a colon, semi-colon, dash or other punctuation:
  1. Where it is an alternate title, grammatically unrelated to the main title, it is capitalized as if it were a separate title.
  2. Where it is grammatically a continuation of or an interpolation into the main title, it is still capitalized as if it were a separate title.
  3. Where it is prefixed to the main title, it is treated as if it were a separate title except that if its last word is a definite or indefinite article, that is not capitalized.
Then give examples. I've manufactured enough above, they can just be copy-pasted. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 05:36, 17 March 2012 (UTC)
The reason I phrased my proposal the way I did is that the reason we got into this discussion was through parentheticals in titles. Not all parentheticals are subtitles, and not all subtitles are in parentheses. Also, your version would result in Pretty Fly (For a White Guy) when I was under the impression above that we were agreeing on Pretty Fly (for a White Guy). I guess we're not as close on this as I thought; I don't actually care about this either way, but I don't think the other editors above would agree with your #2, there. But I'll wait to see what other editors chip in with before I offer another proposed wording.--Aervanath (talk) 15:51, 17 March 2012 (UTC)
I agree that the present discussion seems to be trending against the acceptance of SMcCandlish's #2 and in favor of your #1, but so few people have participated that I'd hesitate to say that there's a consensus. As you said, best to wait for further input. Deor (talk) 16:06, 17 March 2012 (UTC)
The present discussion is quite confused, and thus couldn't possibly represent a consensus on anything. This should be an RfC after the confusion is gone. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 16:16, 17 March 2012 (UTC)
(ec) Aervanath, I was pretty clear above with every example that I gave that Pretty Fly (For a White Guy) is the conventional style and that if I'd known about it I would have strongly opposed the move to Pretty Fly (for a White Guy), which was moved on the technicality that it didn't seem to agree with MOS. I think you've therefore misunderstood my argument. I get what you're after with your version, but it has multiple problems. I don't agree that the debate arose because of parentheticals per se; it's just coincidence that the examples at issue at the time happened to be parenthetical. They could just as easily have been things like The Hobbit; or, There and Back Again (using the very old-school "; or," novel-style separator) and The Cat: A Guide to the Classification and Varieties of Cats (using the very common ":" book-style separator; both are real titles. If I write an article awkwardly titled "Nutrition Reasons to Eat Peas and (Not or) Carrots" your rule would improperly capitalize "or" by misinterpreting the parenthetical as a subtitle. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 16:16, 17 March 2012 (UTC)
I don't see any way to capitalize "For a White Guy" without also capitalizing "In Perfect Harmony", unless we do something where we avoid consecutive lower-cased letters to begin or end a subtitle or parenthetical. Powers T 18:11, 18 March 2012 (UTC)
Again, I'm suggesting that the conventional style by far in fact to capitalize "(In Perfect Harmony)". I'm having a hard time finding any examples anywhere other than unreliable sources like lyrics sites and other bloggish things of subtitles being lowercased. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 16:19, 19 March 2012 (UTC)
"Again"? You said above that you "strongly agree they [referring to the moves of "Pretty Fly..." and "I'd Like to Teach..."] should not have occurred." "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing (in Perfect Harmony)" was the original title, and it was moved to the version with a capital "In". (It's since been moved back.) Now you say the capital was correct? Powers T 17:21, 19 March 2012 (UTC)
Yes, the capital was correct. I must have misunderstood the direction of the RM. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 00:12, 25 March 2012 (UTC)

Sorry for replying rather late, as I was actually the one to initiate all this in the beginning with the move request of "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing ...", but reading through it, this all seems to be rather difficult. There appear to be different usages of parentheses; another difficult case I found recently is a parentheses in the middle of the title in "Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine", where in fact it would make a difference. Could we list some examples of other cases? --The Evil IP address (talk) 15:50, 18 March 2012 (UTC)

My simpl3 1-2-3 proposed wording clearly addresses that case. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 16:19, 19 March 2012 (UTC)
Re your edit summary: Have you considered the possibility that others are, in fact, bothering to read your contributions to the discussion but that they simply disagree with your ideas? Re your three-part proposal above: So you think it should be "Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine"? That's what your #2 seems to say. Deor (talk) 16:39, 19 March 2012 (UTC)
Of course, but I didn't see evidence that was the case. This is in part because I misconstrued something myself and wrote something confusing and conflicting, with the result that some people seemed to be agreeing with me and not agreeing with me at the same time. I was expressing consternation and confusion, not criticism (and the confusion was my fault). Anyway, yeah, there's a "loophole" in what I drafted. What I'm really proposing would be "Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine" and "The Hardest Way (To Come Down)"; I haven't seen any consistent application of capitalization of a/an/the at the end of a subtitle, ever, except where all articles capitalized, like "She's A Beauty", which is obviously wrong. But articles are generally capitalized at the begginging, and prepositions at both beginning and end, just not in the middle except in certain constructions. I'll try a redraft again. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 00:12, 25 March 2012 (UTC)
Third attempt
Capitalization of titles with subtitles: Words in the main title are capitalized as if the subtitle were not present. For a subtitle, whether parenthetical or following a colon, semi-colon, dash or other punctuation:
  1. Where it is an alternate title, grammatically unrelated to the main title, it is capitalized as if it were a separate title.
  2. Where it is grammatically prefixed to, a continuation of, or an interpolation into the main title, it is still capitalized as if it were a separate title, except that if its last word is a definite or indefinite article, that is not capitalized.

I'm having a hard time thinking of any case at all in which /a/an/the should be capitalized, even if, say, the entire title of the work was "What the...". The "except that if its last word is a definite or indefinite article, that is not capitalized" part could be applied to all titles. Is there an off-wiki style guide that says to always capitalize the last word, and which also gives an a/an/the example? I would strongly suspect any guide that said "always" on this simply hadn't considered that some titles could end with an article and would probably not have recommended capitalizing that, even if they would capitalize terminal prepositions, as in "Get Up" vs. "Get up on Top". If we went with this, it would be something like this:

Version four
Capitalization of titles with subtitles: Words in the main title are capitalized as if the subtitle were not present. A subtitle, whether parenthetical or following a colon, semi-colon, dash or other punctuation, is capitalized as if it were a separate title. This is applied regardless of whether it is an alternate title (grammatically unrelated to the main title) or is grammatically prefixed to, a continuation of, or an interpolation into the main title.

And in material above this, the "except that if its last word is a definite or indefinite article, that is not capitalized" would be worked in, about titles generally.

I wonder if there's a database of song, film, etc. titles that isn't user-edited and full of random garbage like CDDb and IMDb? I have a strong sense of how titles are normally done in English because of the huge stockpile of music, movies, books, etc. that I have, but my experience is still anecdotal. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 00:12, 25 March 2012 (UTC)

I think part of the mental blockage occurring here is that I, personally, equate "subtitle" with "alternate title". also implies that. The problem with the wording you have here is that it classifies any parenthetical as a "subtitle"; I personally wouldn't consider "I Feel Like a" as an alternate title of "Get Up (I Feel Like a) Sex Machine". I also just thought of another thing to iron out (sorry): if we say that the title is always capitalized as if the parenthetical (or subtitle, or whatever) weren't there, then we would have "Get up (I Feel Like a) Sex Machine", with a lowercase "up", since we would be capitalizing it as if it were "Get up Sex Machine". So does that imply that an infixed subtitle/parenthetical would split the title into three parts to be independently capitalized? ARGH MY HEAD HURTS.--Aervanath (talk) 13:56, 25 March 2012 (UTC)
I think up is an adverb, not a preposition, in that title (part of the phrasal verb "get up"—i.e., "arise"), so it would be capitalized in any event. See the last main bulleted entry at MOS:CT.
With regard to SMcCandlish's rules, they seem to me to be designed, at the cost of much convolution and special-casery, to achieve the particular style that SMcCandlish has decided he prefers. I personally would be happier with the simple guidelines you (Aervanath) set forth at the beginning of this "Proposal" subsection—though I'd advocate a few minor changes of wording if we ever get that far. (And I too find SMcCandlish's use of "subtitle" idiosyncratic.) Deor (talk) 14:35, 25 March 2012 (UTC)
I concur. Powers T 20:22, 30 March 2012 (UTC)
Whatever works, I guess. I think we've talked past each other quite a bit. Part of my issue with what had been proposed was that people seemed to be equating "anything parenthetical" with "subtitle", so to be accused of doing that myself makes no sense, especially after I've gone out of my way to remind us that subtitles often follow colons or otherwise aren't in parentheses to begin with. Meh. I have better things to spend cycles on. I repeat that in over 6 years of WPing, I cannot recall a single case of someone "correcting" my title case usage, so I'll continue doing it the way I do it. If someone wants to follow me around and "fix" what I write to match whatever random stuff someone has changed this section of MOS:CAPS to say this week, have at it. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 05:40, 20 April 2012 (UTC)


Maybe we should enumerate the topic areas that except themselves from MOS:CAPS? From current RM discussions, it looks like maybe we'll need to add meridians to birds, dog breeds, subway lines, and astronomical objects. Dicklyon (talk) 23:56, 2 April 2012 (UTC)

Never mind; the RMs all went with MOS:CAPS, so meridians are not seen as an exception. I fixed some more. Dicklyon (talk) 01:54, 15 April 2012 (UTC)
I made a new section called "Meridians". HTML2011 (talk) 02:03, 19 April 2012 (UTC)

Small caps

We say elsewhere that small caps should not be used for emphasis or titles, and that if they are in a quote, we can (should) change to s.t. else. And here we say that we should avoid all caps and small caps, though of course sometimes they are appropriate, as in initialisms or LORD (which one might argue is essentially an initialism). My question is whether there's any consensus on using small caps, not in place of sentence case, title case, or italics for extended text, but in place of all caps in individual words, such as NASA or BC. This is what is done with LORD, because all caps disturb the text by being inappropriately emphatic, but you can't lose the caps altogether, as "Lord" has a different meaning. It's common in interlinear morphological glossing for a similar reason—grammatical morphemes are indicated by caps, but should not overwhelm lexical morphemes—and we use it in our respelling template for stress. It's common in a number of publishers for initialisms like BC or NASA as well. Is the latter discouraged for some reason, are we neutral on it, or has it not come up? — kwami (talk) 19:10, 8 April 2012 (UTC)

Gawd no, don't small-cap things like "NASA". "LORD" is a weird case, that not even everyone agrees on (see various discussion at TfD and elsewhere over the last several years - just because biblical scholars of particular stripes like to draw a distinction doesn't mean that it's universally recognized as an encyclopedic one). The last thing we need to do is multiply the weirdness by broadly emulating it. Yes, there are some mostly older (or still published, by excessively antiquarian publishers, who also use weird fonts with numerals at jumping-up and sinking-down heights) that small-cap acronyms, but it looks increasingly farcical to modern eyes, and I say that as someone in his 40s. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 05:27, 20 April 2012 (UTC)
It seems that "sentence-case" digits are coming back, but that's up for the reader to decide when they choose a default font. BC/AD is commonly small-cap'd. LORD isn't just by biblical scholars, but in mainstream biblical translations. — kwami (talk) 05:39, 21 April 2012 (UTC)

All capital names for legal purposes

The following statement on the page is incorrect: 'Reduce court decisions from all caps. Write Roe v. Wade, even though the decision when issued was "ROE v. WADE".'

Names in all capital letters refers to fictional entities such as CORPORATIONS and PERSONS (person in legal terms) and not to real people. Court cases are based on fictional entities, not real people, and this is why names are always in uppercase letters. This is why 'John Smith' is not the same as 'JOHN SMITH'; the former is a human being and the latter a fictional entity. This has to do with Maritime Law. Please remove or update this section on the page to state the legality of the issue. Thank you. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Elboertjie (talkcontribs) 14:15, 10 April 2012 (UTC)

It's not incorrect – it's our chosen style. And it's what most books do, too (look up "ROE v. WADE" and you almost always see "Roe v. Wade"). Dicklyon (talk) 17:30, 10 April 2012 (UTC)
Elboertjie appears to be a believer in the "Capital letters" argument, which is so baseless that it is not even wrong. Indefatigable (talk) 22:41, 10 April 2012 (UTC)
As someone with a long background in processing legal documents, form 1993 onward (thousands of the damned things) I can confirm that the idea that all-caps is some kind of special legal usage is unadulterated nonsense. It's simply a bare-ASCII attempt at emphasis (italic or bold, as the case may be), familiar to lawyers because so many documents were prepared on typewriters well into the word processing era and, especially, because WestLaw, Lexis/Nexis and other legal databases were only available for a long time in bare ASCII text. If you see the actual documents as given to and produced from the court, they're word processor documents these days that properly use bold and italics, not ALL-CAPS. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 05:32, 20 April 2012 (UTC)

Military terms

In Sept. 2007, after brief discussion, we adopted a guideline that encourages capitalizing all military terms that are notable:

Accepted full names of wars, battles, revolts, revolutions, rebellions, mutinies, skirmishes, risings, campaigns, fronts, raids, actions, operations and so forth are capitalized. .... As a rule of thumb, if a battle, war, etc. has its own Wikipedia article with capitalized name, the name should be capitalized in articles linked to it as it is in the article name.

Is this an intended exception to the general advice in the lead that says

Wikipedia avoids unnecessary capitalization. Most capitalization is for proper names or for acronyms and initialisms. Wikipedia relies on sources to determine what is a proper name; words and phrases that are consistently capitalized in sources are treated as proper names and capitalized in Wikipedia.

? Or just a poor rule of thumb with unintended consequences?

As an example, consider Jacobite Risings. Perhaps the various names of risings and rebellions are "accepted", but if we defined "accepted" as "consistently capitalized in sources" then certainly not. Book n-grams show minority capitalization by a wide margin. WP doesn't usually approve exceptions like this, but it looks like that was done, perhaps inadvertantly, for risings and such. See n-grams for the Jacobite risings, the Jacobite rising, the first Jacobite rebellion, the second Jacobite rising, the second Jacobite rebellion, rising of 1719. This article has already been downcased once, and moved back to caps in 2009 on the basis of this guideline. Dicklyon (talk) 16:47, 15 April 2012 (UTC)

This so-called exception goes against the spirit of the general advice as well as the majority of book sources. It is not WP's role to crusade for capitalisation. Tony (talk) 00:52, 16 April 2012 (UTC)
I take the accepted to be supposed to mean ‘accepted as a proper name’; if people are misunderstanding it it should be fixed. ― A. di M.​  15:14, 16 April 2012 (UTC)
It's just more WP:SSF "can't see the encyclopedic and general-prose forest for the obsessive, specialist trees" capitalization fetish. Major wars are one thing, but "actions" and "skirmishes"? Why not memorable latrine diggings or drunken fistfights in the mess hall? Follow the sources, by which I mean general-audience ones, like newspapers, news magazines, other encyclopedias, not miiltary memoirs written by officers, who are wont to emulate the Governmental and Especially Military Pactice of Capitalizing Every Damned Thing Under the Sun. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 05:22, 20 April 2012 (UTC)
Are you aware of any well-known publication that uses such an approach: Looking at other sources to determine case by case when to capitalize words? HTML2011 (talk) 19:56, 20 April 2012 (UTC)

I started a multi-RM at Talk:Jacobite_Risings#Requested_move. Dicklyon (talk) 04:47, 21 April 2012 (UTC)


A meridian name is a place name. A "specie name" is a class name. The words museum, river, hemisphere, range, city, county, peninsula are capitalized per Wikipedia style when they are part of a proper noun. These are place names. A named meridian is a place name too. Until 14/15 April the meridians with few exceptions - some of them were proposed for moves to upper case - did use the WP naming convention for place names.

proper name descriptive or class name
Rocky Mountains The Abc Mountains are rocky mountains (mountains that are rocky)
New York City Abc is a New York city (a city related to an entity "New York")
Liard River
Albany Hill Albany Hill is a Californian hill.
South Pole (normally meaning one specific on earth) The Abc Pole is a south pole.
Southern Hemisphere (normally meaning one on earth)
Black River The Abc River is a black river.
National Maritime Museum (there are many) The Australian National Maritime Museum is a national maritime museum.

And for the Ngram fans, here you have New York city with a peak around 1900. HTML2011 (talk) 01:39, 19 April 2012 (UTC)

The New York City ngrams and Rocky Mountains ngrams support capitalization. The Greenwich meridian ones don't. There's no way that a majority of lowercase usage in books can be made compatible with the MOS:CAPS criterion of "consistently capitalized in sources". Dicklyon (talk) 04:33, 19 April 2012 (UTC)
By the way, I don't usually move articles, or request moves, without studying the book sources first. I just put your Antwerp Meridian back to Meridian of Antwerp (with lowercase in "meridian of Antwerp" in the text), because that's what I find in sources, including the two cited sources there; you can't just make up a name and call it a proper name. I apologize for briefly having it at Antwerp meridian, which was my first, and inappropriate, reaction to your move. Dicklyon (talk) 04:49, 19 April 2012 (UTC)
Exactly. Wikipedia doesn't decide which nouns are proper; we follow sources and English usage. -- JHunterJ (talk) 11:29, 19 April 2012 (UTC)
Right, JHJ. But only in part. Have you have fallen into the same common error as HTML2011? Capitalisation and proper names are related topics; most proper names (including proper nouns) are capitalised, but many capitalised items are neither names nor parts of proper names. Sources typically have not the vaguest idea about this distinction, and a source's capitalisation of a noun typically does not, by itself, make it a proper noun.
Much capitalisation is a matter of style. That is why we have a MOS page dedicated to it: WP:MOSCAPS. Wikipedia's Manual of Style makes recommendations on capitalisation (like practically every other manual of style, for its constituency). But it does not make determinations of which items are proper nouns or proper names. No manual of style does that (though some think they do); it is a matter for grammars of English, and even they differ among themselves. See this, at my talkpage.
But capitalisation, where it is at all optional? WP:MOSCAPS is the resource for determining that. One day we might get it to do a more respectable job of it, and to use terms in a linguistically informed way.
NoeticaTea? 12:19, 19 April 2012 (UTC)
No, I haven't. -- JHunterJ (talk) 12:56, 19 April 2012 (UTC)
Imagine Ngram brings lower case for mountain ranges and upper case for rivers, because the lower case camp did publish more mountain range books and the upper case camp did publish more river books. But neither camp maybe would ever mix both ways in one publication. Wikipedia is one publication. Either camp would use its house style. So should Wikipedia. To me it looks weird to change WP capitalization based on book counts. HTML2011 (talk) 02:44, 20 April 2012 (UTC)
In that imaginary scenario, we'd follow our house style and follow reliable sources for mountains and rivers. Any given topic would be consistently capitalized in the one publication "Wikipedia", and nothing weird would happen. -- JHunterJ (talk) 20:01, 20 April 2012 (UTC)
"Given topic" is unclear, each article treats a topic, so some rivers by n-gram counting may end up lower case, and some as upper case. N-gram counting for each article. If you refer to classes of items, where the class name is part of the name (Black River -> class = river, Main Street -> class = street) then it can be, that rivers, peninsular, streets, mountain ranges end up lower case and lakes, avenues, hills end up upper case. Which MOS outside WP do you know uses an approach of source counting? HTML2011 (talk) 22:59, 20 April 2012 (UTC)
Who cares which MOS outside of WP uses it? Using it inside WP results in consistency inside WP. -- JHunterJ (talk) 14:36, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
I wouldn't usually rely on capitalization to convey meaning: rather than New York city I'd say city in the state of New York. ― A. di M.​  16:56, 19 April 2012 (UTC)
How about New City vs new city? Or The Nautical Almanac vs nautical almanac. HTML2011 (talk) 02:38, 20 April 2012 (UTC)
Those would probably be fine. I think A. di M. meant you wouldn't want to rely on the lower case city in New York city to convince the reader to override their higher prior expectation on New York City; they'll just think it's a typo, unless something else in the text makes it clear enough. Sometimes you also can't rely on the spelling of person's name to tell this the reader "this is not a typo". I fixed "Sze" several times after well-meaning typo fixers mangled it, and decided I couldn't rely on that to be read correctly by most readers, so changed it, using a linked full name Simon Sze instead. Sometimes you have to look at where the ambiguity is for the reader, and deal with it. Dicklyon (talk) 04:37, 20 April 2012 (UTC)
I prefer to rely on what A. di M. declares about him/herself. HTML2011 (talk) 19:58, 20 April 2012 (UTC)

Since the discussion at Talk: Meridian (geography) has unhelpfully been forked over here without even leaving a link, then I guess I am going to have to repeat some of what I said over there;

But style variation is the very thing the MOS is meant to smooth out. We are supposed to follow the MOS for house style even when the majority of outside publications would do otherwise. On the question of logic, I would say there is a logical difference. "New York City" is a proper noun because it is the generally recognised name of the settlement. "Salt Lake Meridian" is different, it is a meridian at Salt Lake so "Salt Lake meridian" makes equal sense. This is different from "South Pole", a pole at (the) South does not really make sense. One would have to say "a pole at the South Pole" which is unhelpfully redundant. SpinningSpark 17:48, 19 April 2012 (UTC)
There is an infinite number of meridians through "Salt Lake". Only one is called "Salt Lake Meridian". It is the name of one specific, not? If not, please show sources. Sometimes some of the names are ambiguous, e.g. there are several meridians named Washington Meridian, like there are several rivers named Black River. This naming was well established in WP. And then a handful of users change it, mostly giving as reason "MOS:CAPS" or "Ngram".
  1. But MOS:CAPS doesn't say meridians are exempted from the general place name rules.
  2. And no Ngram reference says that Ngram should be used to determine the capitalization of single meridians, could be quite a mess not?. Imagine Ngram brings lower case for mountain ranges and upper case for rivers, because the lower case camp did publish more mountain range books and the upper case camp did publish more river books.
HTML2011 (talk) 01:32, 20 April 2012 (UTC)

Apart from individual meridian pages other pages were affected by the 2012 mid-April mass changes:

HTML2011 (talk) 02:30, 20 April 2012 (UTC)

It is not a question of counting sources. We do not necessarily follow the majority. The style on Wikipedia is not to capitalise except for phrases "that would always occur capitalized" (WP:CAPS). The only benefit of looking at Ngrams is to show whether or not there are counter-examples to the premise that a particular phrase is always capitalised. The actual count is largely irrelevant. SpinningSpark 02:48, 20 April 2012 (UTC)
So you think New York City should be moved to New York city, per [Ngram findings]? Or move Colorado Springs to Colorado springs per this Ngram?HTML2011 (talk) 04:21, 20 April 2012 (UTC)
The ngram tool is just one way to get a quick sampling of many sources, and it's not perfect. With respect to sources more generally, we agreed that "consistently capitalized in sources" means way more than 50% of the time, but short of "always". Nobody has been keen on trying to define a treshold, but I'm pretty sure that if you'd look into those New York city and New York City n-grams, it would be clear enough that we'd have no disagreement. Dicklyon (talk) 04:30, 20 April 2012 (UTC)
Aren't you the one who uses two books to move an article, e.g. placing the Antwerp Meridian at meridian of Antwerp? I am pretty sure we have a disagreement. You move articles to lower case based on one or two 100 year old books. And for the Cimarron Meridian Ngram doesn't even give one book having "Cimarron meridian", but you moved it. Same is true for Huntsville.
N-grams show that upper and lower case is used for meridians. WP style is to favor upper case class names if these are part of the proper name for a place. Maybe you define a meridian not to be a place because it has no area? What about South Pole then? And what do you do when the n-gram tool does not find a meridian at all, like for the IRM? HTML2011 (talk) 05:00, 20 April 2012 (UTC)
For Cimarron meridian and Huntsville meridian, I just clicked the cited source and checked; it's lower case. The n-grams won't show anything where the total number is less than something like 30. On Meridian of Antwerp, I put it back where it started because the only sources I could find had it that way. I don't think it's the case that "WP style is to favor upper case class names if these are part of the proper name for a place" unless consistent capitalization in sources shows the name to be proper. WP style is to use lower case if some sources do. And on those Cimarron and Huntsville n-grams, if you click through to the books, you find mostly lower case, for whatever reason; the upper case ones are mostly multiple copies of the same doc. Dicklyon (talk) 02:14, 21 April 2012 (UTC)

Capitalization of White and Black in board games, such as Go

There is an ongoing discussion on the Go (game) talk page and I'd like to solicit input from editors of Wikiproject Go. The discussion regards the proper capitalization of White and Black in the article on the game Go. Coastside (talk) 09:43, 8 June 2012 (UTC)

Make an exception to the MoS capitalization guidelines for the job titles

Make an exception to the MoS capitalization guidelines for the job titles: Chief Mechanical Engineer and Locomotive Superintendent
Please comment on the talk page. Jojalozzo 15:04, 12 September 2011 (UTC)

Moved from WP:Requests_for_comment/Request_board Coastside (talk) 22:45, 14 June 2012 (UTC)

Can we ignore this, or is someone re-opening a request for an MoS exception? Dicklyon (talk) 03:24, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
I was cleaning up the RfC Request board. You're welcome to close this if you think that's appropriate, but the article talk page doesn't show the discussion as closed. Coastside (talk) 06:53, 15 June 2012 (UTC)

Relevant move request

Talk:Wild_Turkey#Requested_move—FYI. ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 23:26, 18 June 2012 (UTC)

Pardon, to avoid sending you there if this kind of thing isn't interesting to you, I should have noted that this has to do with the bird exception at Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style/Capital_letters#Common_names. ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 23:28, 18 June 2012 (UTC)

"Unnecessary capitalization"

There are a few editors who vehemently believe that the phrasing "Wikipedia avoids unnecessary capitalization," found in the lead of this style guideline, should be interpreted to mean that if any significant number of sources avoid capitalizing an item, then Wikipedia should never capitalize it. That is, if some sources don't capitalize, then the capitalization is clearly "unnecessary", and the lead sentence of this guideline thus demands that we avoid it.

But I think this might be overstating the case. The specific sentence in question is not well supported in the main text of the guideline, except in so far as it applies to specific subject areas. It is not addressed in the general sense, and I think it may appear more strict that it was intended to be. I suggest that a modified wording -- perhaps "gratuitous capitalization" -- might make more sense. It would allow us the leeway to use capitalization to mark something as a proper noun when it is useful to distinguish a specific use from the general, such as with Crown of Thorns or Cuban Missile Crisis.

In either case, whichever way we decide, examples and a detailed explanation of how the consensus interpretation was arrived at should be added to the guideline to complement the specific subject-area examples already present.

-- Powers T 15:47, 13 June 2012 (UTC)

  • Oppose modified wording suggestion. (If it ain't broke – don't fix it. :)
Although I was not involved in the consensus discussion to rename Crown of Thorns to crown of thorns, I agree with the sound reasons given. The Cuban Missile Crisis move request discussion is still ongoing, so it does not seem appropriate to change MOSCAPS to possibly influence the outcome of that discussion, and I do not choose to comment here on that issue.
FWIW —Telpardec  TALK  19:07, 13 June 2012 (UTC)
My contention is that it is "broke". My examples were just that, examples -- there are numerous others. Powers T 20:10, 13 June 2012 (UTC)

I am one of those who favor the WP style and its clear statement that ""Wikipedia avoids unnecessary capitalization." We had general agreement on "words and phrases that are consistently capitalized in sources are treated as proper names and capitalized in Wikipedia" (though Noetica quibbles with "proper names" as the right characterization); where sources are inconsistent, there's no harm in WP preferring the style of not capitalizing. LtPowers's logic that "there's only one so it must be a proper name" is not supported in WP or anywhere else that I know of. Dicklyon (talk) 19:49, 13 June 2012 (UTC)

You are mischaracterizing my argument, which is an indication that you do not understand it. It is little surprise that you oppose the straw man version of my contention, but please don't think it accurately represents what I think. Powers T 20:10, 13 June 2012 (UTC)
Hmm; I don't know what you think, then, if that isn't it. In addition to chastising, can you present your non-strawman contention to clear things up? ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 20:36, 13 June 2012 (UTC)
It is not that all singular entities have proper names, but that a) some singular entities are often treated as if they have proper names, and b) even if such usage is not universal, it may be useful or desirable for our purposes. Powers T 23:15, 13 June 2012 (UTC)

I also think it's reasonable the way it is and is being interpreted, as you described. I like the opening paragraph as is: "Wikipedia avoids unnecessary capitalization. Most capitalization is for proper names or for acronyms and initialisms. Wikipedia relies on sources to determine what is a proper name; words and phrases that are consistently capitalized in sources are treated as proper names and capitalized in Wikipedia." ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 20:36, 13 June 2012 (UTC)

But the opening paragraph should be a summary of the contents below, but "Wikipedia avoids unnecessary capitalization" is not supported by the content in the rest of the page. Do you know there was once a contention that our article on Halley's Comet should be at Halley's comet? An exception had to be written into this guideline to avoid that result. Powers T 23:15, 13 June 2012 (UTC)

I have stayed away from this forum since my painstakingly consultative efforts to bring the lead up to standard were hijacked by those with a separate agenda. In particular, PMAnderson's sockpuppet User:JCScaliger was deployed provocatively against me (here and elsewhere), and used disruption of the lead as part of that campaign. Of course I backed off. An admin had site-banned PMA for a year, and ArbCom has since added an indefinite prohibition on his involvement with MOS issues interpreted broadly. I am not yet ready again to take up the issue of the lead, which remains factually defective, ignores current linguistic theory, and is seriously misleading as a guide for article titles, RM discussions, and much more on Wikipedia.
I will just say this, for now: "Wikipedia avoids unnecessary capitalization" has stood as a guiding principle through all these shifts. It is solidly in accord with our reliable sources (that is, major style resources across the English-speaking world). It is not meaningless as some allege, since however "unnecessary" gets interpreted, the statement efficiently records a consensus against unprincipled capitalisation. It is not abused in RM discussions such as the current one at Talk:Cuban Missile Crisis – where no matter what precise numbers are extracted from the sources, and however "unnecessary" gets interpreted, capitalisation is plainly optional because it is plainly avoided in a large proportion of publications. That finding, combined with our statement, yields robust guidance to settle time-wasting disputes. A pity the rest of the lead undoes some of that good work.
NoeticaTea? 23:38, 13 June 2012 (UTC)

You're missing the point (amidst your typical self-aggrandization... "my painstakingly consultative efforts to bring the lead up to standard were hijacked" indeed). The problem is that any use of lowercase in sources is seen by you, Tony, and Dick as rendering capitalization "optional", and thus verboten on Wikipedia. That's the whole reason why I suggest the word "necessary" must go; it's being used as a bludgeon by the three of you against anyone who dares disagree with your consensus-of-three. Here's Dicklyon: "Even if current usage were majority caps ... , we would use lower case, per MOS:CAPS." That's right, even if a majority of sources think that a phrase is a proper noun and thus should be capitalized, Dicklyon suggests that MOS:CAPS requires us to use lowercase. That's absurd, and clear evidence that MOS:CAPS is being abused, if it can be construed to produce such an absurd conclusion. Powers T 20:19, 14 June 2012 (UTC)
If you want to test that theory, it would be better to do so in the context of a title that actually does have majority upper case in sources. That's not the case with Cuban missile crisis, nor crown of thorns, as has been demonstrated ("painstakingly" even, as Noetica points out). Dicklyon (talk) 22:20, 14 June 2012 (UTC)
If you must make impotent attacks instead of contributing to the development of the Manual of Style, please at least have substance to support them. "Self-aggrandization"? Review the dialogue that I initiated and you will see that those efforts were indeed painstakingly consultative. It's in the archives here. Note my 1000-word initial post which canvassed all relevant issues for the benefit of editors, and the way I stewarded proceedings from there. Note how eventually the discussion was waylaid by sockpuppeting political activity that ruined everything. I withdrew, when that came to the fore. Note that your voice was entirely absent, though you had every opportunity to contribute, as many of your colleagues here did.
Your allegations are ridiculous and offensive. No one is abusing the long-standing key provision in the lead of MOSCAPS. You are simply not paying attention, as we can see from statements like this: "That's right, even if a majority of sources think that a phrase is a proper noun and thus should be capitalized, Dicklyon suggests that MOS:CAPS requires us to use lowercase." Have you actually read what you pretend to report on here (this RM discussion)? The term "proper noun" does not appear anywhere in that discussion. Nor should it. You have repeatedly failed to grasp the dynamics of the issue. If you had read the 1000-word post that I refer to above, you might have some sense of what is going on. I suggest you do that; then reflect on what a manual of style is, and how style differs from content, and how an encyclopedia must use its sources differently with respect to content and style. Come back when you are better informed and ready for a civil dialogue. ♥
NoeticaTea? 23:30, 14 June 2012 (UTC)
For the billionth time, Noetica, you don't get to decide who gets to participate in discussions. Powers T 14:46, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
I don't understand. I never wanted to decide any such thing; I called for, and welcomed, as many comments as could be got from all quarters. No one was left out because of time limitations, or for any other reason. Nor do I begin to comprehend "for the billionth time". My push is always for genuine, wide-open community discussion. I would seek to exclude a user who is topic-banned from such discussions, who comes in under a cloak of sockpuppetry to sabotage consensual process and to wage a campaign against me in several forums (including ArbCom). That's all. Can we move on? NoeticaTea? 01:40, 17 June 2012 (UTC)
"Come back when you are better informed and ready for a civil dialogue." I am always prepared for civil dialogue; that I disagree with you is not an indication of incivility, although it seems like you often conflate the two. So I am not about to let you dictate when and where I can participate in discussions based on your notions of whether or not I'm being civil. Powers T 19:06, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
I think Noetica was referring to your phrasing "amidst your typical self-aggrandization" and your characterization of our position as "absurd". I agree it's a bit uncivil and too personal to say that the long-standing phrasing and interpretation of MOS:CAPS is due to me and Noetica and Tony and is absurd. In fact, though we have been active in moving toward better MOS compliance, many other editors also help with that. I don't mind if you have a different opinion of what the MOS should say or how it should be interpreted, but try not to be so obnoxious about it. Dicklyon (talk) 20:47, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
You three almost always vote in lockstep; it's like clockwork. You're in accord on almost every naming-related issue I've seen. There may be others who agree with you, but the regularity with which the three of you show up to comment is astounding. Regardless, I'd be happy to return to discussing the merits of your interpretation of the phrasing. Do you care to respond to my point that taking such a strict view of capitalization-only-when-unanimous is non-optimal for the reader? Or the fact that such wording as you rely on for your characterization is present only in a segment of the policy designed to summarize the policy and not in the more detailed body of the policy? Powers T 23:02, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
(Sheesh, no wonder I've been staying away from this talkpage.) Lockstep like at this current RM, you mean? And if you look at the history you will see that Dicklyon and I have edited in opposing directions on the lead of this very page, which we are now discussing. I might as well complain that you vote in lockstep with Kauffner and JHunterJ, the propriety of whose move closures is currently under examination at ArbCom, and where you support his closures as predictably as I (and several others) censure them (see preserved comments, including yours and mine).
As I say, let's move on; but do acquaint yourself with the relevant facts of English first, by reading and understanding the painstaking 1000-word post that I link above. It is essential background that you currently lack.
Then I might consider replying to your own specific questions.
♥ NoeticaTea? 05:04, 19 June 2012 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Powers, I've never advocated that one lower-case use vetoes otherwise consistent caps; I in fact specifically denied such a radical position when the wording of the lead was last extensively discussed and revised. See Wikipedia_talk:Manual_of_Style/Capital_letters/Archive_6#General_principles. Also note that Noetica has never been happy with the wording that DGG proposed and I inserted into the lead, and he tried to change it, over my objection, and got dragged into an arbcom proceeding partly based on the shit-storm that ensued. So far this lead is as close as we've come to consensus on this particular guideline. Dicklyon (talk) 05:33, 19 June 2012 (UTC)

And I disagree with Dicklyon on that last point. The present lead is amateurish garbage, and nothing like consensual. It is not even founded in linguistic facts, or facts about the competence of "reliable sources" to rule on proper names. Sources that are reliable for content are generally clueless about proper names (and matters of linguistics more broadly). Wikipedian principles concerning reliable sources only ever envisaged their use for settling content, not for their linguistic prowess or their stylistic acumen.
When people are ready to move through this slowly and attentively, I will once again be ready to show in detail how the lead is broken and how it might be repaired. Then we could have a genuine discussion toward a genuine consensus.
NoeticaTea? 06:24, 19 June 2012 (UTC) ☺
Yes, yes, you will someday bestow your wisdom upon the masses that we might be enlightened. Can we get back to discussing the merits, please? Powers T 19:25, 19 June 2012 (UTC)
If you really want informed and consensual improvements to the lead of this crucial MOS page, let me know. On the other hand, if you are more comfortable at a level of wilful avoidance when someone with relevant specialist knowledge posts here, that's your limitation and no one else can do anything about it. A pity for the Project; but no problem for me personally.
NoeticaTea? 00:39, 20 June 2012 (UTC)
I apologize for exaggerating your adherence to the textual equivalent of the one-drop rule, Dick. May I ask, then, what percentage (apparently greater than 0.001% but less than 50%) is the minimum proportion of lower-case usage required to determine that a phrase is not a proper noun, based on your reading of this guideline? And is there any support for that reading beyond a single very general sentence in the lead of this guideline? And under what circumstances would you support an exception to this guideline (which, by definition, is supposed to allow for common sense exceptions)? Powers T 19:25, 19 June 2012 (UTC)
I don't have an answer. Do you? You could look at my capitalization history and try to find cases where I've switched to lower case, or argued for lower case, where the percentage of lower case in sources is relatively low; then we'd have something to talk about. Dicklyon (talk) 00:57, 20 June 2012 (UTC)
I've been watching this thread for a few days, noting Powers's uncivil and sarcastic comments and expressions of unusual logic. I suppose I should change my signature to Noetica–Dick–Tony, should I? I'm feeling like the tail-end of a Siamese triplet: is this a reasonable item of gossip to be putting about, Powers? Am I allowed to comment without accusations that I'm a sock or a conspiratorial backchanneller? Tony (talk) 04:28, 20 June 2012 (UTC)

Capitalization of terms of art and doctrinal names

Are terms of art or doctrines capitalized under this manual? I've noticed that Tax deed sale and Sheriff's deed both capitalize the phrase "Tax Deed" and "Sheriff's Deed" (though inconsistently). That appears to be inconsistent with the preferences stated here but I figured I should first before changing them.

(Side note: if I'm posting this in the wrong place, I'd appreciate direction on where this ought to be posted instead.)

--Nuncio (talk) 00:39, 15 July 2012 (UTC)

Celestal bodies

See Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style/Capital_letters#Celestial_bodies. It says:

  • The words sun, earth, moon and solar system are capitalized (as proper nouns) ....

Yea sure. That is the way to write a MOS/documentation/Help. -DePiep (talk) 01:07, 14 July 2012 (UTC)

And there is a rule: "when 'the' is used (the earth), do not capitalise". This rule did not end up in the MOS, but could help a lot. -DePiep (talk) 01:58, 15 July 2012 (UTC)

List of WP:JOBTITLES articles

Why are so many job titles capitalized, e.g. as in Category:Lists of Masters of Cambridge University colleges and Category:Lists of presidents? Can we fix this? Compare Category:Lists of presidents of organizations, which is pretty clean (I fixed a few). Dicklyon (talk) 21:02, 21 July 2012 (UTC)

Surely the reason is that—for newspapers, magazines, and books at least—rules for capitalization in headlines, article titles, category titles, chapter titles and section titles are usually quite different from (more flexible than) rules for capitalization in body copy? Surely it should be the same for Wikipedia too? Wikipedia is surely not going to collapse if most capitalization in titles is NOT "fixed"? Surely there are lots of more important things that need "fixing". Do you think that Manual of Style/Capital letters absolutely MUST be changed to Manual of style/capital letters? On capitalization, the Economist Style Guide online cites Emerson as writing that, “a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds”. ;-) LittleBen (talk) 13:02, 22 July 2012 (UTC)
I think the MOS represents general consensus and practice about how articles should be styled, including titles. There's no particular urgency to fixing these things, but some editors, like me, do like to work on style. You need not if it doesn't interest you. But please do at least be aware that in WP, the style is explicitly that caps in titles follow the same rules as in sentences, unlike many of those other works that you mention, which often use "title case". We don't do that. Dicklyon (talk) 06:15, 23 July 2012 (UTC)

I started an RM at Talk:List of Presidents of the United States#Requested move, which is the one people like to point to as precedent for caps. We'll see where it goes... Dicklyon (talk) 06:26, 23 July 2012 (UTC)

It's annoying to a lot of readers to have to bumpety-bump through a bunch of initial-capped words every time there's a job title in the text. And there's the slippery-slope effect, too: He's now a Garbage Collector with the local city? He's the boss's Assistant? Tony (talk) 07:32, 23 July 2012 (UTC)
As mentioned here, there are a zillion such capitalized Presidents of the United States articles. The people who created all these articles surely would disagree with you about capitalization—and maybe compare such a proposed change with running a steamroller over Wikipedia to flatten it out, or switching from color TV to B/W. You should lump all the articles together in any proposal, to make it clear that this is not a "small change", rather than try to sneak one through and then quietly zap all the others "to bring them into line". LittleBen (talk) 07:52, 23 July 2012 (UTC)
LittleBen, I strongly support your views. I think its aesthetically better to have capitalized form of titles. I have no desire to entangle myself into a discussion about WP rules (in this case, MOS:CAPS), I just don't think it will look good without capitalization. That's one of the reasons why I reverted certain edits on this matter last year. The other reason is, indeed, consistency. If someone decide to work on this issue in the future, that user will need to fix literary countless of lists of presidents and other heads of states and governments on Wikipedia which have capitalization. From my point of view, its much better to leave it this way. --Sundostund (talk) 10:29, 23 July 2012 (UTC)
In many cases, like List of Presidents of Afghanistan, the person who created the article with the correct title might be pleased to see it move back there. Dicklyon (talk) 20:56, 24 July 2012 (UTC)
I would dispute your use of the word "many", which (I believe) is not supported by facts. In any case, it's better to go with what the majority of Wikipedia users prefer, rather than force them to eat what you prefer or think "right". People come to Wikipedia for authoritative, interesting, and well-written content, and good grammar, but certainly not to fight never-ending wars over small details of punctuation and capitalization. Wikipedia is not about absolute right and absolute wrong, it's about walking the middle road, being tolerant of other people's views—ignorant and ill-informed as you may think they are; it's about—as far as possible—treating everyone gently and with respect, and not about whacking as many people as possible with rules and reverts, and certainly not about harassing dedicated contributors and users into quitting Wikipedia. The Wikipedia ideal is a community of people who make the utmost effort to work together, rather than trying to force their "religion" down other people's throats all the time. LittleBen (talk) 01:16, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
Why are you using such combative language? It would be fantastic if we could discuss this in a civilized, detached manner, please. ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 21:47, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
Have you read this or this? LittleBen (talk) 03:39, 27 July 2012 (UTC)
I see more unnecessarily combative language from you in both discussions. ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 04:30, 27 July 2012 (UTC)
Erik, about the end of June, LittleBen suddenly took an interest in Wikipedia space and started editing style and naming policies and guidelines. He got really bent out of shape when I didn't let him add his how-to link into the titling criteria section; read about it [in WT:AT archive 37]. Since then, he's been wikihounding me, objecting to what I do routinely, canvassing others to help object, etc. It will blow over, I expect. We'll probably need to restart some RMs when the RM bot is fixed, and get some more neutral eyes on things. Dicklyon (talk) 05:45, 27 July 2012 (UTC)
The issue of referring to MoS (regional) for authoritative guidance on use of foreign terms and foreign names in articles and article titles is surely obvious to anyone. Article titles are supposed to be in English, but how to do it obviously requires a regional MOS. Despite this, Dicklyon not only refuses to allow any link from WP:Article titles to MoS regional, but also seeks to have a user who repeatedly tried to romanize Vietnamese article titles to English banned. That's not merely inconsistent, but also abusive. He has also posted threatening messages on my talk page. LittleBen (talk) 08:43, 27 July 2012 (UTC)
As far as I can recall, I have not commented on the issue of links to MoS regional from WP:AT; certainly I have not "refused to allow", as I have no power to disallow such a thing; and I don't see why it would bother me. Yes, such a link may have been caught up in a revert; I don't recall exactly who did what when you were warring there. As for Kauffner's sockpuppet investigation, yes, it does seem that some kind of a ban would be right to seek next. And I can't see what you would consider threatening in my post to your talk page. So, again, what's with the tantrum? Dicklyon (talk) 14:55, 27 July 2012 (UTC)
Were his threatening messages on your talk page somehow expunged? What happened to them? ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 16:44, 27 July 2012 (UTC)

A question on sentence and Title case

Perhaps this has been asked before. Is it ok to use Title case for the names of books, magazines etc and the sentence case for the news headings in the reference section of an article? Regards.--Dwaipayan (talk) 05:48, 28 July 2012 (UTC)

Yes, as long as the article isn't already using a consistent referencing style that uses title case for news headings. If news headings are already being consistently title cased, you should continue that. If they are already being sentence cased consistently, you should continue that. If there aren't any examples to follow in the article, or if they are inconsistent, you can make them consistent in either mode. See Wikipedia:CITE#Citation style for the parallel guidance for citations. -- JHunterJ (talk) 14:27, 28 July 2012 (UTC)
It is quite acceptable (everywhere, as long as a house-style doesn't say not to) To Downcase Lumpy NYT Titles Et Al. In A Ref List. This is quite different from, say, changing BrEng spelling into AmEng spelling in a heading or quote, which is of course verboten, ofr a number of good reasons. But you don't have to downcase the original in a ref list. Tony (talk) 04:03, 29 July 2012 (UTC)
Ok, thanks for the help.--Dwaipayan (talk) 14:50, 29 July 2012 (UTC)



is Bridge over Troubled Water (song) really correct? You state that words consisting of four or less letters should be in lower case, but several reliable sources disagree with this claim. Regards.--GoPTCN 20:31, 24 July 2012 (UTC)

Different sources use different length thresholds to decide which preposition to capitalize. Myself, I prefer to capitalize those with several syllables, as that feels to me less arbitrary than picking a number of letters; but that's not Wikipedia's style. A. di M. (talk) 07:31, 31 July 2012 (UTC)

Titles of people (2)

See also Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Capital letters/Archive 7#Titles of people.

The section has improved since I last looked at it but some strange wording has drifted in. The title of king etc is not a "job title" or an "office [of state]" or a "position". Calling it such distorts several of the sentence:

  • "Offices, positions, and job titles" if king and emperor are to be listed then the word "job" should be removed from the sentence.
  • "When a very high ranking office ..." Queen title is not an office. So Betty's title is to be used as an example the the words "very high ranking office" needs to be replaced with the word "title".
  • "When the correct formal name of an office" The French kingship was not a office of state.

-- PBS (talk) 14:28, 7 August 2012 (UTC)

I detect no significant change to the wording since your last edit there in January. Dicklyon (talk) 14:50, 7 August 2012 (UTC)
Shrug, must not have noticed the above when focusing on what I though was a bigger problem. However on re-reading it now I do not think the wording mentioned above is correct. -- PBS (talk)
It would probably be useful then to look at the history and see what it evolved from. Or propose a change. Dicklyon (talk) 16:58, 7 August 2012 (UTC)
I thought I had proposed two specific changes (and indicated that a third sentence needs a similar change) -- although I am not fussed about whether the titles or the examples are changed. -- PBS (talk) 20:25, 7 August 2012 (UTC)

Offices, positions and job titles are subcategories of titles; kings are nonetheless titles and should therefore be capitalised. Your suggestions while valid, are very specific and focus more on nuance of diction than pragmatic policy. Feel free to perhaps modify the language accordingly, if you think you could make things more clear. Best, Paul.m.kirschner (talk) 16:30, 7 August 2012 (UTC)

Royal Family

Part of a discussion at Talk:Elizabeth II#Capitalisation and Rhodesia focuses on the capitalisation of the proper name "Royal Family" in the article. Right now, the article does not capitalise the proper name. I wonder if some who are familiar with the matter of capitalising proper names could offer their input where the debate is taking place. Cheers. --Ħ MIESIANIACAL 22:08, 25 August 2012 (UTC)

Important new RFC at WT:TITLE

Editors may be interested in a new RFC that has just started at WT:TITLE (not to be confused with an earlier RFC, which it appears to make redundant):

This RFC affects the standing of WP:RM as the established central resource for dealing with controversial moves; many of those involve MOS provisions, so perhaps the standing of MOS is affected as well.

NoeticaTea? 10:20, 1 September 2012 (UTC)

Composition Titles

Hello. I'm new to Wikipedia, which means that I am not well-versed in the subtleties of the various Manuals of Style. I noticed that both the Manual of Style subsection here, and the Manual of Style for calital letters dealing with composition titles here only have rules for English titles. However, there are numerous composition titles that were either first presented by the creator in another language or that are better known in another language. Especially in the latter case, as per Wikipedia's article naming guidelines, it might be useful to reference the capitalisation rules for foreign works on the style guide pages for articles and composition titles. Since the rules for other languages can be written concisely, unless this is stated elsewhere or against policy, they should be briefly stated here:

  • For German titles, capitalise the first word and all nouns
  • For French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese titles, capitalise only the first word and all proper names.

The guides are very dense, so it is likely that there is a good reason the rules are not stated in the style guides in which I thought to look. However, they are important rules to follow as I've noticed a few discrepancies with the titles of musical compositions. Regards, Paul.m.kirschner (talk) 20:46, 3 August 2012 (UTC)

It's actually a bit more complicated than that, as you can see by looking at, for instance, Wikipedia:Manual of Style/France & French-related#Works of art. In that case, people working on different topics—to wit, literature and music—have adopted different capitalization conventions for titles, and both have precedent in contemporary French practice. Deor (talk) 21:18, 3 August 2012 (UTC)

Hello, Deor. Thank you for your response, and I do know that the rules I gave were quick simplifications. For example in German, the pronoun "Sie" is capitalized, while all others are not. In addition, nominalized adjectives are generally capitalized, while most others are not. Some of the arcane rules, especially with the Romance languages, can be very confusing. I should have been more clear that my comments pertained to the titles of musical compositions. I see that a reference to the source of rules is made on the page you provided, but is that really pragmatic? For people new to Wikipedia it might be difficult to find, but I do understand the organisational reasons behind the decision. Perhaps on this page there could be a level four subheading "Languages other than English", where there would be internal links to the rules of capitalization in different language. Since this could get bulky as there are thousands of languages, there could be categories (e.g. "Romantic Languages") with, if need be, a further set of links. Thanks, Paul.m.kirschner (talk) 22:33, 3 August 2012 (UTC)

I am wondering if this would be useful for German works. I tend to think not. The MOS page linked above has ". . . generally, retain the style of the original". I would normally expect someone mentioning a German work to have access to that work and just copy the actual title. I only see problems occurring if an individual English source applies different formatting rules, e.g. because of the house style of the English publisher concerned, but I don't see how a simplified Wikipedia version of the foreign rules would be helpful. I see the problem with French, if French publishers use different standards. Does this lack of consistency apply to any other languages? With German, I see a problem of editors being encouraged to deviate from the actual standard because of simplifications in the Wikipedia rules. On the other hand, I see the advantage of requiring the original capitalization to be used, in order to avoid lack of consistency caused by copying from English publishers with different house styles. There is an occasional problem with different editions of a book using different capitalization, but I don't think this proposal would help much. --Boson (talk) 12:48, 4 August 2012 (UTC)

Hello Boson, and thanks for your comments. It is usually best to retain the style of the original, but sometimes it is very hard to determine the original title as first presented by the composer. Discrepancies can be found among different editions, and that can be confusing. For example, a work originally published in Leipzig might be reproduced by an American publishing house who will actually change the original title. Another common practice among publishers is to capitalize all the letters of a publication. Old editions of Schirmer, Peters, Novello, and Breitkopf und Härtel are notorious for this. When the original title of the work cannot be found, it is usually safest to rely on the LoC Authorities Catalog. My proposal really isn't one of adding simplified rules, but actually making the actual rules easier to find on the MoS pages. Thanks, Paul.m.kirschner (talk) 16:11, 4 August 2012 (UTC)

Non-English titles should simply be in sentence case. Title case only applies for titles in English. (For some titles, determining the language will be difficult, but the context of, say, an album, the language of a complete work, or an artist's other work should offer help.)
A thorny problem I see with German titles is if they should use the new (post-1996) spelling rules, or not. For older works, this would strike me as questionable, and for newer works, it should be avoided, as well, if the artist intentionally decided to retain pre-1996 spelling, but how to determine if it was intentional or not will likely be impossible in most cases and is bound to make this issue a big headache. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 20:17, 16 August 2012 (UTC)

I don't actually mean the titles of the pages but rather when titles appear in other places, such as work lists. Paul.m.kirschner (talk) 12:17, 6 September 2012 (UTC)

Capitalization of species names

This sentence caught my eye: "As of March 2012, wikiprojects for some groups of organisms are in the process of converting to sentence case where title case was previously used."

In 2003 a guideline to title all animal articles in all caps was added, and then amended to say bird articles. It turns out that the name of a species capitalizes the first letter only, other than fish and birds. Bird names have the most complicated rules. I would caution against changing "Grizzly Bear" to "grizzly bear" in all cases, because if you are talking about the name of the species, the correct spelling is "Grizzly bear". If you are talking about members of that species, the correct spelling is "grizzly bear". I hope this is about as clear as mud. In the case of birds and fish, ornithologists and ichthyologists use all caps (mostly) when they are talking to themselves - in ornithological articles (Snowy Owl), or ichthyology articles (Rainbow Trout), while normal rules of capitalization use sentence case (rainbow trout). I would caution editors from making changes just for the sake of making changes, especially if it breaks the meaningful use of capitalization, and especially about changing capitalization in bird and fish articles, as different rules apply. Apteva (talk) 21:50, 21 September 2012 (UTC)

OTOH, I would caution against claims of caps being correct. And so would Merriam-Webster.[3]. And before you claim that isn't talking about the species (even though it is), there's also this. Gnomish edits to improve the style and usage of the general encyclopedia are not "for the sake of making changes", especially if it fixes the Improper Use of Capitalization. -- JHunterJ (talk)

Beatles RfC

You are invited to participate in an RfC at Wikipedia talk:Requests for mediation/The Beatles on the issue of capitalising the definite article when mentioning that band's name in running prose. This long-standing dispute is the subject of an open mediation case and we are requesting your help with determining the current community consensus. Thank you for your time. For the mediators. ~ GabeMc (talk|contribs) 03:49, 22 September 2012 (UTC)

Capitalization of original titles

Again on the subject of "compositions of titles", the fact that rules for titles are being given implies that WP style takes precedence over respecting the capitalization of titles as used in the original work. For example, if the original title was of our aircraft is missing or Butterflies are Free, in WP they are to appear as ......One of Our Aircraft Is Missing (although in fact that title seems to have lost its leading ellipsis as well) and as Butterflies Are Free (as here).

This policy makes sense because it produces a consistent style through a list of titles and because it's the sort of thing that other style guides call for as well. But it is still a modification of original text, so I think the MOSCAPS should explicitly point this out, in the same way that the main MOS explicitly covers what are "allowable typographical changes" in quotations.

P.S. The CAPTCHA that I had to pass to post the links in this section was "argueoften". Is that an imperative or a description of me? :–) -- (talk) 23:06, 30 October 2012 (UTC)

Hyphenated titles

At "Composition titles", the MOSCAPS says in part:

In the English titles of compositions (books and other print works, songs and other audio works, films and other visual media works, paintings and other artworks, etc.), every word is given an initial capital except for certain less important words...
In hyphenated terms, capitalize each part according to the applicable rule (generally, that which follows a hyphen is not capitalized unless it is a proper name).

I take "capitalize each part" to be saying that a title like The Tell-Tale Heart should have three capital T's, the same as if it would if it was spelled The Tell Tale Heart, rather than two as in The Tell-tale Heart, because "Tale" is treated as a separate "part" and is not one of the "less important words". This makes sense and I'm confident that it describes common practice today for hyphenated titles in English. However, what I don't understand is what the parenthetical "generally" means. All I can think is that it refers to capitalization outside of titles — the way we write Tell-tale signs of trouble appeared. rather than Tell-Tale signs of trouble appeared.. But if that is it, then it doesn't belong in this section.

Would someone please either clarify what this parenthetical note is about, or else delete it? In either case, examples would be welcome. -- (talk) 22:50, 30 October 2012 (UTC)

It doesn't make sense to me as it is written. However, the reference to proper names makes me think it should read "The part following a prefix (, pre, or anti) is not capitalized unless it is proper noun or a proper adjective)", which is the rule given by Chicago. Examples (from CMS): "Self-Sustaining Reactions" (because "self" is not a prefix) and "Non-Christian Religions (because Christian is a proper adjective) but "Anti-intellectual Pursuits" and "Strategies for Re-establishment (becaue anti and re are prefixes). --Boson (talk) 23:27, 30 October 2012 (UTC)
(Original poster at a different IP address) Okay, nobody's produced a way that it makes sense. My guess is that the words escaped from an unrelated context, like capitalization of Wikipedia article titles: if those were WP articles they'd be "downstyled" as "Self-sustaining reactions", "Anti-intellectual pursuits", and "Non-Christ ian religions". Here we're talking about titles of compositions, which follow a traditional "upstyle" even in WP. I see that the articles The Tell-Tale Heart, The In-Laws (1979 film), and The Out-of-Towners (1970 film) all capitalize "each part according to the applicable rule". I'm going to delete the parenthetical part. -- (talk) 05:17, 8 November 2012 (UTC)


As an encyclopaedia, and therefore somewhere that should have impeccable grammar. Surly unless a place name specifically doesn't have an apostrophe, ie it never has or it has had its name officially changed, then Wikipedia should always include the apostrophe, even if it's drifted out of use? Theofficeprankster (talk) 11:23, 10 November 2012 (UTC)

See WP:OFFICIALNAME and WP:COMMONNAME. Surely, Wikipedia should use the common name, which would be the one that lacks an apostrophe if the apostrophe is no longer in common use. Also, the "Capital letters" talk page may not be the best choice for discussing punctuation. -- JHunterJ (talk) 13:48, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
So basically if something is done wrong enough, it becomes true? Theofficeprankster (talk) 21:09, 11 November 2012 (UTC)
The talk pages of the two guidelines above would be the place to try and build consensus for switching to linguistic prescription. -- JHunterJ (talk) 12:21, 12 November 2012 (UTC)

Is "like" to be capitalized?

Blue Like Jazz or Blue like Jazz? A recent series of moves suggests it's the latter but I have never seen it in lower case. --Walter Görlitz (talk) 15:26, 12 November 2012 (UTC)

As an adverb, it should be capitalized. The recent series of moves may have mistaken it for a preposition. vs. -- JHunterJ (talk) 18:06, 12 November 2012 (UTC)
Maybe there should be an sub-rule for adverb-y prepositions. Prepositions that can be modified by "more" or "most" seem well-suited to capitalization. "Blue More Like Jazz", "Blue Most Like Jazz" (vs. "One Flew More over the Cuckoo's Nest", "One Flew Most over the Cuckoo's Nest"). -- JHunterJ (talk) 18:17, 12 November 2012 (UTC)
Thanks. I didn't know the rule and was loath to undo the change. You'll see the editor made several other, similar changes. --Walter Görlitz (talk) 18:36, 12 November 2012 (UTC)
Hi. I was the editor. Looks like I was a bit too bold with the move. However, I am reading "like" as a preposition in this title, comparing "Blue" and "Jazz" versus "like" further describing blue (Close to blue, almost blue, blue-like), but I believe it would be hyphenated in that case. From what I can see, "like" is rarely used on its own as an adverb, mostly in colloquial speech as outlined in Like. The use of the word in this title does not seem to be one of those indicated. BOVINEBOY2008 20:04, 12 November 2012 (UTC)
Then it would be correctly titled "Blue, like Jazz". --Walter Görlitz (talk) 01:11, 16 November 2012 (UTC)

OK, there's some sort of disconnect here. I would always capitalize the word over in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and our articles on both the novel and the film agree. If the MoS doesn't, then the MoS must change, because capitalizing over is correct. --Trovatore (talk) 22:15, 12 November 2012 (UTC)
But see and and . It's not a question of "correct" (they are both "correct"), it's a question of style. -- JHunterJ (talk) 23:40, 12 November 2012 (UTC)
I strenuously object to any style recommendation that would not capitalize over in a title. --Trovatore (talk) 23:51, 12 November 2012 (UTC)
And what does that mean, exactly, since this isn't a courtroom? -- JHunterJ (talk) 00:05, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
It looks very very wrong. I was taught that the only words you don't capitalize are the "unimportant" ones, essentially the ones that have no content. A, an, the, and, or, but, maybe nor; that's about it. I think that will be the expectation of a majority of readers. --Trovatore (talk) 00:11, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
(Oh, I guess maybe a few very simple prepositions too: of, with, from, to. Nothing much more unusual or specific than those. --Trovatore (talk) 00:28, 13 November 2012 (UTC) )

US Supreme Court members

In their article intros, should the members of the US Supreme Court have their offices capitalized or not? Former members, aswell as current members. GoodDay (talk) 05:24, 29 November 2012 (UTC)

How about a link or something less elliptical? Dicklyon (talk) 05:56, 29 November 2012 (UTC)
Here's an example change at the Elena Kagan article. -- GoodDay (talk) 06:34, 29 November 2012 (UTC)
If you look for such phrases in books, you find a mix. Per MOS:CAPS, WP style would suggest lower case (like this). Dicklyon (talk) 06:48, 29 November 2012 (UTC)
Actually, it doesn't matter what books say as Wikipedia uses its own MOS. In this instance, there's no ambiguity. Lowercase is required by MOS:CAPS. As for GoodDay's claim that other articles do it wrong, WP:OTHERCRAPEXISTS is no justification for having it wrong in these articles, and this is an instance where I changed it to lowercase, yet GoodDay insisted on reverting, despite the guideline.--Bbb23 (talk) 15:17, 29 November 2012 (UTC)
I went with capitalization, due to the presidents, vice presidents, cabinet members bio articles, etc etc. GoodDay (talk) 07:11, 29 November 2012 (UTC)
Also, many of the former AJs bio articles also use capitalization. GoodDay (talk) 16:51, 29 November 2012 (UTC)

Bridge over Troubled Water vs Bridge Over Trouble Water

Anyone have anything to add at Talk:Bridge_over_Troubled_Water#Requested_move_2 --Rob Sinden (talk) 12:50, 5 December 2012 (UTC)

Star Trek into Darkness vs Star Trek Into Darkness

Anyone have anything to add at Talk:Star Trek into Darkness#Into vs into --Rob Sinden (talk) 12:50, 5 December 2012 (UTC)



the correct way to write this album is: Bridge Over Troubled Water. The album's liner notes among other sources write the "Over" in uppercase. So, why does Wikipedia create such odd rules and propose to write incorrectly? Regards.--Tomcat (7) 21:20, 5 November 2012 (UTC)

And other sources use "over" in lowercase, which is not incorrect. We propose to write with stylistic consistency. -- JHunterJ (talk) 13:49, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
Uhm, so you are basically saying that unreliable sources are the same as reliable sources? Suggest you read WP:V. Really, why do most of the reviews write it Bridge Over Troubled Water? Regards.--Tomcat (7) 11:35, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
Uhm, no, that's not what I was basically saying. Suggest you read again. -- JHunterJ (talk) 12:15, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
You haven't proofed me that reliable sources use Bridge over Troubled Water. Also what about WP:COMMONNAME?--Tomcat (7) 12:58, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
This isn't a sourcing issue, it's a style issue. And as editors of this publication, we are required to follow the in-house style. --Rob Sinden (talk) 13:05, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
I don't follow your logic. The guideline is about how the article should be titled. And it states that inacurrate titles are to be avoided.--Tomcat (7) 13:11, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
It's not an inaccurate title. The wording is not in dispute, the styling is the only issue. --Rob Sinden (talk) 13:18, 5 December 2012 (UTC)

Till vs. till

Additional input is welcome at Talk:From Dusk till Dawn#Requested move. -- (talk) 16:27, 7 December 2012 (UTC)


Any thoughts on whether scripture and scriptures ought to be capitalised when used in reference to the scripture of a specific religious tradition. I notice that in some Christian-related articles that scripture is capitalised. This doesn't seem correct to me in accordance with WP's style policies but I am reluctant to change it. Thanks, Afterwriting (talk) 16:05, 20 December 2012 (UTC)

It appears to be capitalized (or at least capitalizeable) when used in that situation. -- JHunterJ (talk) 16:34, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
I would guess that in general scripture should not be capitalized. I always try to avoid what looks like honorary capital letters. For instance, when one is talking about their own church, they will often capitalize it (i.e. The Church) as if it were a proper noun, but that type of capitalization isn't appropriate for encyclopedic writing. ~Adjwilley (talk) 22:18, 28 December 2012 (UTC)

A posteriori or A Posteriori

What is correct? I know that "A posteriori" is Latin phrase, and the word "posteriori" is not capitalised. But what about the name of the album? A Posteriori, Enigma album. I think, the name should be A posteriori (album). Nicolas Love (talk) 07:37, 4 January 2013 (UTC)

I don't see anything subtle here. The Latin phrase should be lowercase, of course (even the a should be lowercase unless it starts a sentence). But the album title is a proper name, so it's uppercase. This is perfectly standard. --Trovatore (talk) 09:19, 4 January 2013 (UTC)

Important RFC at WT:TITLE

Editors will be interested in this RFC at Wikipedia talk:Article titles, to confirm the roles of WP:TITLE and MOS in determining article titles. The question affects the smooth running of many discussions on Wikipedia, including RMs. The more participation, the better.

NoeticaTea? 07:10, 9 January 2013 (UTC)