Posted by: Jack Henry | August 19, 2013

Editor’s Corner: Capitalizing Particles?

Good morning folks! I hope your weekend was better than mine. I made a very unhappy discovery that the power had been out to our garage freezer for about five days. Black beans, salmon burgers, turkey, chicken, lentils, ice cream, and some wool yarn (long story) added to 80 or 90 degree heat? The smell of death was a barf-inducing weekend spoiler. I think the vegetarian contingent at work just added a new member.

On that note, let’s talk about something else. Today’s article is about particles. Nope, not the fine layer of dust on your curio cabinet, but grammatical particles. Like dust particles, grammatical particles are also tiny. They are the words included in some names, such as de, d’, de la, le, la, l’, the, von, van, and ten.

The capitalization and spacing rules for particles varies, since most of these are from non-English names and may follow rules particular to the country they are from. The Chicago Manual of Style recommends checking a biographical dictionary when you aren’t sure of the spelling or capitalization. Here are some other rules (and examples) they recommend to help you with an educated guess:

· Le, La, and L’ are always capitalized when not preceded by de:

Robert M. La Follette Sr.; La Follette

John Le Carré; Le Carré

Pierre-Charles L’Enfant; L’Enfant

Walter de la Mare; de la Mare

· The, which sometimes appears with the English form of a Native American name, is always lowercased.

the Prophet Tenskwatawa

· When the surname is used alone, the particle is usually retained, capitalized or lowercased and spaced as in the full name (though always capitalized when beginning a sentence).

Alfonse D’Amato; D’Amato

Diana DeGette; DeGette

Paul de Man; de Man

Thomas De Quincey; De Quincey

Page duBois; duBois

W. E. B. DuBois; DuBois

Daphne du Maurier; du Maurier

Anwar el-Sadat; Sadat

Abraham Ten Broeck; Ten Broeck

Robert van Gulik; van Gulik

Stephen Van Rensselaer; Van Rensselaer

Wernher von Braun; von Braun

Kara Church

Senior Technical Editor

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

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