Proper names are names of persons, places, or certain special things. In English, these are typically capitalized nouns. Such names are frequently a source of conflict between editors from different backgrounds, especially in cases where different cultures, using different names, "claim" someone or something as their own. Wikipedia does not seek to judge such rival claims, but as a general rule uses the name which is likely to be most familiar to readers of English. Alternative names are often given in parentheses for greater clarity and fuller information.
Personal names are the names given to people, but can be used as well for some animals (like race horses) and natural or man-made inanimate objects (like ships and geological formations). As proper nouns, these names are almost always first-letter capitalized. Exceptions are made when the lowercase variant has received regular and established use in reliable third party sources. In these cases, the name is still capitalized when at the beginning of a sentence, per the normal rules of English.
Most recent personal names have but one correct spelling[dubious – discuss], although presentation (use of initials, middle names, nicknames, etc.) can vary and still be correct. In these cases, it is best to use a recognizable form for an article title, with redirects from other longer/shorter forms to the article. The most complete name (with titles) should appear at the beginning of the article to provide maximum information. Inclusion of middle names or initials in article titles, when they are widely known, can be a useful form of disambiguation if there is more than one person known by that name. This can be particularly useful in disambiguating family members with very similar names (e.g., George W. Bush, George P. Bush, George H. W. Bush). However, if the person is conventionally known by only their first and last names and disambiguation is not required, any middle names should be omitted from the article title.
Names from history are less certain as to spelling, for a variety of reasons, but the further back one goes the less particular societies were about exact spellings, so variations are more likely to exist. Experts in specific fields of history should provide input to decisions where these must be made or a controversy arises. A readily accessible and authoritative source for the accepted name of a person who has written books, or who has been written about, is the U.S. Library of Congress Authorities database, which provides the accepted name and variant names used by the British Library, the National Library of Canada, and other English language libraries. Redirect pages can insure that all variants lead to the desired article.
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