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Should first and last name be formatted?

Scene

  • User doesn't care how he/she types their name in "First name" & "Last name" text boxes.

What happens

  • If the user has not typed in their first name and last name in Sentence Case ("normal" capitalization) it might look like "jenifer lopez"

  • Or sometimes user enters their pen names like "JLO" or JlO or jlo

  • Sometimes JenIFER LoPeZ

  • And if user has used proper capitalization for pronouns: "Jenifer Lopez" - Which looks absolutely fine.

My question

  • Should User names; First name & last name appear in sentence case with pronouns properly capitalized or should the application keep showing it in the same way it was input?
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marked as duplicate by Jørn E. Angeltveit, Ben Brocka Aug 1 '12 at 14:47

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

1  
Keep the username as the user entered it! –  Jørn E. Angeltveit Aug 1 '12 at 14:08
    
@Sachin Gawas: There's a distinction between username and regular name that needs to be made clear here. Which are you referring to? –  dhmholley Aug 1 '12 at 14:11
    
If my application has a executive & rich look, I think it will benecessary to re-furnish first name & last name –  Sachin Gawas Aug 1 '12 at 14:11
    
@dhmholley I am referring to user's First name, last name as well as Usernames which becomes screen name for them. –  Sachin Gawas Aug 1 '12 at 14:13
1  
The first name/last name part is a dupe; I hadn't read the comments saying it's also about usernames. I could see that as a slightly different answer, but IMO the answer on the duplicate applies equally well to usernames; since the answer is basically "don't format" and with usernames not formatting may be even more important –  Ben Brocka Aug 1 '12 at 14:50
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2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The Chicago Manual of Style suggests:

"If unconventional spelling is the strong preference of the bearer of the name, it should be respected in appropriate contexts."

I would apply this principle to unconventional capitalisation as well - it simply becomes a matter of determining appropriate contexts.

To start with, don't change user's usernames. Since usernames don't have a standard capitalisation format (or even standard structure) their capitalisation is an inherent quality, and users won't be happy if you automatically change "iNtErCaP" to "Intercap" without checking.

You'd think that since regular names have a more regular structure you could probably get away with it in the majority of cases. However, since it's almost impossible to account for all the edge cases, you should still probably not alter regular names automatically - or if you do, check with the user first.

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This really depends on the app you're building. For example this kind of name: oR@j1337 is pretty common for games, forums, chats but I believe Oraj just works much better for more serious places like Stack Exchange or place that people need to identify you clearly, like Facebook or LinkedIn. There's also a third place in between these two: where people want to identified but with only a first name for example. It's really up to you to get that feeling right.

If the app in question would be a place that people would like to use nicknames instead of real aliases, shows the name entered in Sentence Case instead of the way the user has entered it, the user can get annoyed.

But it could have advantages in certain conditions such as if you don't let your users rename, it would fix the typo. If you could implement that right on the registration form for example, it would really look good - and it would mean no surprises for the most part.

In the end it really comes down to the feeling of the experience and the web app you're building.

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