Tip #137: Capitalization in the 245 field

When entering a title in the 245 field, capitalize only the first word and proper names.

245 10 |a Guide to medicinal herbs
245 14 |a The private world of Georgette Heyer
245 14 |a The pirates of Somalia : |b inside their hidden world

This rule, however, is not as simple as it first appears. The ‘first word’ does not just mean the first word in the 245 |a, and ‘proper name’ is more complicated than just the name of a familiar place or a person’s name.

Capitalizing the first word in a title means capitalizing not just the first word of the title proper, but also the first word of any alternative, parallel, or quoted title that appears in the 245.

245 12 |a A gentleman of fortune, or, The suspicions of Miss Dido Kent
245 10 |a Readings from Leaves of grass
245 10 |a William Shakespeare’s The tempest
245 00 |a Como agua para chocolate |h [videorecording] = |b Like water for chocolate

Exception: If the first word of a title is preceded by a dash, do not capitalize.

245 10 |a -and they all lived happily ever after

If the 245 contains subfields ‘n’ or ‘p’ (for the name or number of a part or section), capitalize the first word in these subfields.

245 00 |a Deadliest catch. |n Season 6

Do not capitalize the first word of a general material designation (GMD)

245 10 |a South of Broad |h [sound recording]

Do capitalize governmental bodies, imaginary places, and political parties.

245 10 |a My life among the Democrats
245 10 |a Lost islands of Witch World
245 12 |a A soldier of the First Infantry Division

When editing a record, be careful not to change a word to lower case unless you’re sure it’s not a proper name. Sometimes it’s hard to tell.

245 10 |a Return to Harmony

Below are some of the rules regarding personal names. See Appendix A of the AACR2 for other capitalization rules.

  • Capitalize any title or term of honor or address that immediately precedes a personal name: Queen Elizabeth; President Obama; Senator Gifford.
  • Do not capitalize civil and military titles that does not precede a personal name: George Bush, president of the United States; John Roberts, chief justice of the Supreme Court; the U.S. Army chief of staff.
  • Capitalize titles of royalty or nobility even when not used with a particular person: Duke of Wellington; Prince of Wales.
  • Capitalize religious titles: Cardinal Richards; the Dalai Lama.
  • Capitalize a term of honor or respect: His Holiness; Her Royal Highness.

Originally published on June 15, 2012.


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