I've sometimes seen proper nouns put in all capital letters. And it's not because the entire sentence is in capitals, or because the person is "shouting".

For example, I've seen in the CIA factbook

... chief of state: Queen of Australia ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General Quentin BRYCE (since 5 September 2008)

And on the English language edition of the "about" page of Sapporo RubyKaigi, I see names in all capitals such as

Koji SHIMADA (Nihon Ruby-no-Kai, Enishi Tech Inc.)

The Japanese language version doesn't use the Latin alphabet for Koji's name. I also see this at https://bugs.ruby-lang.org/projects/ruby-trunk , suggesting it isn't a once-off error by an editor of the Sapporo RubyKaigi website.

Is this regarded as valid English according to a certain style that I'm not aware of?

  • 3
    This comes up fairly often with Japanese names, since (as you know) they're written surname first in Japanese. In English, they're usually written surname last, but not always, so it helps to disambiguate.
    – user230
    Mar 13, 2013 at 9:45
  • 1
    This looks to me like a hangover from typewriter days, when all-caps and underscores were used in lieu of printed boldface and italics. Mar 13, 2013 at 11:46
  • One other place where it's common to see nouns all capitalized is in biblical and religious texts, where words that mean "God" are often capitalised, for instance "The LORD is my shepherd"
    – Matt
    Mar 13, 2013 at 21:17

3 Answers 3


Is this regarded as valid English according to a certain style ...?

Surnames in all-capitals is a common style used in genealogical databases and in genealogical discussions. For example, a Recording Names lesson at genealogy.about.com says

2. Print SURNAMES in upper case letters. This provides easy scanning on pedigree charts and family group sheets and also helps to distinguish the surname from first and middle names. This convention is widely used, but is not necessary. Example: Garrett John TODD

Several genealogy programs have options to choose letter-cases for surnames, and some genealogists use different rules. (1, 2, 3, 4)


jwpat7's answer aside, in the context that you give, I am not aware of any convention to capitalize proper names in ordinary narrative texts. I presume someone did it there just to make the proper names stand out.

It's fairly rare but not unheard of to use some typographical convention to highlight a set of words that one considers important in a certain context.

When I am writing about computer databases, I often put an initial capital on database table names, partly to make them stand out and partly to distinguish them from ordinary uses of the word. Like if there's a table named "employee", I'll write it "Employee" to make clear that it's a table name and not a reference to an ordinary, human employee.

A military history magazine that I read routinely puts the names of military units from one side in italics and the other side in normal type to help the reader quickly distinguish them.

Capitalization, italics, bolding, sometimes even a different font are used in this way. But whenever it's done, the details are specific to a particular context, often to that particular piece of writing. There's no general rule that I know of.

Thus to get back to jwpat7: That's a convention used in one particular context, which makes it a little broader than I've been saying. (Also in genealogies, I've see italics used for women and upright type for men.)

In computer books it's common to use a Courier font for things you actually type into the computer and a Roman font for narrative text.

I'm sure there are other context with recognized common conventions. I can't think of another off the top of my head.


There's no reason to put anyone's proper name in all caps. To do so would be to make it improper. The only thing that I've seen that gives a clear explanation is "CAPITIS DIMINUTIO". Outside of acronyms, corporations, joking around or text talk, I've seen no other valid explanation.

"In Roman law, A diminishing or abridgment of personality. Tills was a loss or curtailment of a man’s status or aggregate of legal attributes and qualifications, following upon certain changes in his civil condition. It was of three kinds, enumerated as follows:

CAPITIS DIMINUTIO MAXIMA. The highest or most comprehensive loss of status. This occurred when a man’s condition was changed from one of freedom to one of bondage, when he became a slave. It swept away with it all rights of citizenship and all family rights.

Capitis Diminutio Media. A lesser or medium loss of status. This occurred where a man lost his rights of citizenship, but without losing his liberty. It carried away also the family rights.

capitis diminutio minima. Tile lowest or least comprehensive degree of loss of status. This occurred where a man’s family relations alone were changed. It happened upon the arrogation of a person who had been his own master, (sui juris,) or upon the emancipation of one who had been under the patria potestas. It left the rights of liberty and citizenship unaltered.

See Inst. 1, 1G, pr.; 1, 2, 3; Dig. 4, 5, 11; Mackeld. Rom. Law"

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