My name is William George Dunbar.

Do I record it like that in a Family History data base or use any of the following formats

William George DUNBAR


william george dunbar

Is there an internationally recognised standard, and if not, why not?

2 Answers 2


Names around the world do not follow the Western conventions that we're so familiar with. In particular, the use of upper- and lower-case characters. Some languages do not have such a concept because their script (the symbols used to write it) does not have it. In some, the usual capitalisation of the first letter may actually apply to the the second letter (e.g. in some Irish names, such as hEochaidh), or to the first two letters (e.g. O'Connor), or to some part of the name further along (also known as 'camel case'). In some alphabets, upper- and lower-case are not mirror images, such as in German where the eszett character has no direct upper-case equivalent. Also, names such as diCaprio lose their structure when upper-cased in their entirety.

In principle, a name should be written as the person used it, and not as your software wants it, or as some "international convention" dictates it.

Some background reading that might help clarify a lot of the issues involved: http://parallax-viewpoint.blogspot.com/2014/08/the-game-of-name.html.


A convention used by some genealogist for their own record keeping is to UPPER case the last name for those individuals who are in their direct line. Thus, my mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, etc. would all be upper case.

This helps when following 1000's of names in your database.

As to a standard, I don't know but I have seen this and variations on this throughout.

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