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When collecting first and last name from users, should the name be formatted if it will be shown to the user again?

Example: BILL is formatted to Bill

It seem almost impossible to account for all the variations on names.

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Related reading: Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names –  Simon Richter Jun 30 '12 at 0:58
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3 Answers 3

up vote 16 down vote accepted

Good question...

I don't think you ever will be able to get it right, so it's better leave this responsibility to the user.

You can trim spaces, of course, but you shouldn't mess with the case.

The only foolproof formatting you could do, is to make everything uppercase. This might be handy for internal use, but not as a correction of the user's entry.

Country names, states, citys and so on can be formatted, though...

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+1 Though I would expand on "can be formatted" to explicitly exclude street names. See Montreal's « Boulevard de Maisonneuve » or is it « De Maisonneuve »? Nobody knows; even the municipality doesn't use a consistent spelling. –  msanford Aug 1 '12 at 15:55
    
Making everything uppercase is probably not foolproof in all cultures. –  Brian Aug 2 '12 at 16:52
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Instead of a systematic solution, you could use suggestion. For example, you could build a dynamic suggestion tool into the interface that offers a 1-click update to all lower-cased or all upper-cased names. If the name was "steve smith", maybe place a link next to it that says "Update to 'Steve Smith'" and then perhaps an ignore link. I imagine something like this might work well on a confirmation step of a signup process after the main flow is completed and a user might want to do some house keeping.

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I'd like to understand the context more. If the user types their name in a particular way, then that should be how they are addressed. You could take it further - rather than collect first and last names, why not just collect 'name'. That way, if the user wants to enter not just their name but a title, they can do so.

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I agree. It was brought up that if a user types their name in all uppercase or lowercase, it looks incorrect; however, like you said, that's the way the user asked to be addressed. I wanted to see what others thought about it. –  user4427 Jun 29 '12 at 22:02
    
You also have people who intercap their names - deBeers etc. - which can look wrong if you're not familiar with it. Applying a standard formatting in this case would actively annoy the user :D –  Peter Jun 29 '12 at 22:06
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