Names

This guide contains all the information required to be able to add and correct names on the site. By 'names', we mean the names of actors, actresses, crew members, and basically any person eligible to be included on IMDb.


Guides (By Section)

General Rules | Primary Name | Capitalization
Name Particles | Roman Numerals | Suffixes and Prefixes
Group Names | Alternate Names
Name Corrections | Merging a Name| Splitting a Name | Removing a Name
Asian Names | Japanese + Korean Names
Accented Characters | Special Characters | Transliteration: Russian Names

General Rules

There are no strict rules when it comes to proper names. The correct way of writing a name depends on the individual, and may differ between people for the same name in the same country. Names should be submitted in the following form: Last Name, First Name(s). Examples:

Paul Newman is stored as Newman, Paul
James Earl Jones is stored as Jones, James Earl

When displaying filmographies and film credits, the names are converted to the more common/clearer "First Last" format (i.e. Cruise, Tom is shown as Tom Cruise).

  • We make an exception for stage names that don't resemble normal names, i.e. Little Richard, Meat Loaf, 50 Cent, Cedric the Entertainer, Boyz II Men, and Herbert the Rooster are not reversed.
  • This is also true when a title is an intrinsic part of the name: Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth II. If you require a new name formatted this way, you should add a miscellaneous comment with your submission.

Primary name

General Rule: The primary name for a person in IMDb is the one by which they are most often credited.

  • John Wayne was once credited as Duke Morrison, and even though that's closer to his birth name of Marion Michael Morrison, his primary name in the database is John Wayne.
  • We make an exception to the rule if we have reason to believe someone will be using a different name for all future credits. For example, if they changed their name because of marriage or have registered a new professional name with the relevant guild.
  • Such changes are made only for people with active careers. In the past, we required at least one onscreen credit with the new name; while that is still preferable, it is no longer a strict requirement.

Capitalization

Capitalization of name particles (i.e. van, von, di, de, la, etc.) may vary depending on the context in which the name is used. The most common usage is not to capitalize the particle when the full name is being used. However, the particle is capitalized if the last name is being used by itself. For example:

Cornelia ten Boom (first name being used)
Mr. Van Damme (first name not being used)

Name Particles

Whenever we have reliable information on how a specific name should be written, we try to use it. When that information is not available, we use the following rules:

  • All name particles (e, du, d', den, der, des, la, le, l', ten, ter, van, von, etc.) belong to the 'last name' part of a name, regardless of nationality. Examples:
  • von Gritz, Hans     (not: Gritz, Hans von)
    De Niro, Dino       (not: Niro, Dino De)
    De Los Gatos, Oscar (not: Los Gatos, Oscar De)
  • The first letter of every separate word in a name is always capitalized, unless it is a particle beginning with "v":
  • von Gritz, Hans     (not: Von Gritz, Hans)
    De Niro, Dino       (not: de Niro, Dino)
    De Los Gatos, Oscar (not: de los Gatos, Oscar)

These are generic rules, to be enforced only when we lack 100% reliable information on a how a name appears in film credits. If we determine that Herr Otto Von Grunt always or mostly has his 'Von' uppercase in credits we use the latter version and lock it to prevent further changes.

Roman Numerals

If two people have the same name, we use a Roman numeral in parentheses to separate the credits for the two people. Examples:

  • The two directors named George Miller are Miller, George (I) and Miller, George (II) for our purposes.
  • The (I) and (II) are not considered part of their name; the name is not George Miller II. By comparison, stuntman Danny Aiello III uses "III" as part of his name; we store his name as Aiello III, Danny . Again, this is not the same as Aiello, Danny (III) .

Suffixes and Prefixes

Where a name includes a suffix (III, Jr.), we do not use a comma to separate it from the name, regardless of how it appears on screen. It is treated as an integral part of the surname, i.e. Downey Jr., Robert. The same applies to the corresponding suffixes in foreign languages, like père, fils, hijo, etc.

  • Courtesy titles like Mr., Dr., Sir, and degree indications like Ph.D., are not considered part of the name, and are not included in the primary name, even if that is how the name appears on screen. They are included as alternate names. (Exception: In the silent era, it was not unusual for women to be credited as, i.e., Mrs. John Smith -- in such cases, Mrs. is an integral part of the name, since John Smith is an entirely different person.).
  • Suffixes indicating professional affiliation, like ASC, CSA, MPSE, etc., are never included; such guild memberships can be noted in biographical trivia

Group Names

When a group with identifiable members appears on screen, we credit according to the way they are credited in the production.

  • If The Beatles are credited that way, we would not enter "Lennon, John (as The Beatles); McCartney, Paul (as The Beatles); Harrison, George (as The Beatles); Starr, Ringo (as The Beatles)" Instead, they would simply be credited as "Beatles, The".
  • In the above cases, individual members of the group can be added to credits with the (uncredited) attribute.
    i.e. Help! (1965): Paul McCartney ... Paul - The Beatles (uncredited), or if appropriate (documentaries, talk shows etc.) Paul McCartney ... Himself - The Beatles (uncredited).
    Please note we prefer the "Paul - The Beatles" hyphenated character notation, rather than "member of" or "one of".
  • Note that this applies to cast as seen on the film and does not in any way, change the rule not allowing uncredited employees (XYZ employee) of a credited company (XYZ Inc.) be listed as part of a film's crew.
  • If they are credited both as a group and individually (i.e.: "The Beatles: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr"), then both the group name and individual names would be listed as they are in the credits.

Alternate Names

The best way to record an alternate name is to use the (as ...) attribute on the credit(s) where that alternate name was used. We will automatically create the alternate name entries from this.

  • All names are in surname, first name(s) order (even for Japanese, Chinese etc.).
  • We are not interested in punctuation differences (i.e. J.X. Doe vs. JX Doe) or differences in spacing (i.e., J.X. Doe vs. J. X. Doe).
  • Sometimes, an alternate name is used in other contexts (i.e., an author's pseudonym, or a name used when recording music). In these cases, you should send in the alternate name as a separate entry.

Please do not use this process to:

  • Correct a name, or combine credits that have been incorrectly split into two separate names. (Solution: Correct one of the names, and check the box to retain the alternate name).
  • Record the birth name of people as opposed to the stage name, unless the birth name was also used as a stage name for some time (birth names go to the biographies list).
  • Record a nickname if it was never used in credits.

Name Corrections

Before correcting a name, please be sure the name actually needs to be corrected! In particular, see the naming conventions (above) to make sure the suggested correction meets them.

  • Please remember that we record the name as it appears on-screen; even if the name is not spelled the way its owner prefers, it could still be the name we want in the database.
  • If a name is spelled differently in one particular credit, then you should add the appropriate (as ...) attribute to it instead by correcting that particular credit.
  • Name corrections can be used to combine entries for a single person that appear under two or more different names. In this case, you should decide which name should remain -- usually the name used most often, though if a person is expected to use a single name for all future credits, this would be the one to choose.
  • All other names should then be corrected to that name, choosing the option to Preserve previous name on existing credits - thus retaining the spelling used in the original credits. You will see a warning that you are combining two names, but since that is the intent, check the box to ignore the warning (see more under 'Merging a Name' below).

Merging a Name

Please only submit a name merge if you are sure that all data on both name pages belong to the same person. If data is mixed up you'll need to move each item separately (for help with this process we recommend visiting the official IMDb support community powered by Get Satisfaction).

If a name page looks empty and you think a dupe page was created incorrectly, merging is the preferred way to get rid of the empty name. IMPORTANT: A name page can only be considered 'empty' if it does not contain any bio, credits, Resume, photos or Contact data - some of which you cannot see or access unless you are an IMDb Pro subscriber. If you don't have Pro, check for a More at IMDb Pro section - if a name page has links to Contact Info or Clients etc, the page isn't empty and you shouldn't merge it.

If you're sure all data belongs to the same person or that the name page is completely empty, before submitting a name merge you'll need to determine which name is correct, or which is to be the "primary name".

  • If a person has worked under two or more names, their primary name should be the one used most often, unless they have chosen to use a particular name for all work in the future.
  • In this case, let's assume the primary name is X. You would go to the listing for name Y (the incorrect or less common name) and click Edit Page.
  • Choose Name Correction or Merge from the list of options
  • Enter name X in the box, in reversed form (i.e. Doe, John). If there is more than one person with the same name, be sure to include the proper Roman numeral (i.e., "Doe, John (I)" ).
  • If person X also used name Y in some credits, you should leave the Preserve previous name on existing credits check box underneath ticked. If name Y was a typo and did not appear on screen, or you are correcting a mis-transliteration, untick the check box. Include an explanation in the box provided.
  • You'll see a warning that you are combining two names. Since that is what you wanted to do, you should check the box acknowledging the warning. If you've unticked the Preserve previous name on existing credits check box you'll also need to acknowledge that you know what you're doing. The rest of the process proceeds as normal.

Please note that the updates may happen in stages, which can mean that some credits may disappear for a day or two while the merge is being processed.

Splitting a Name

The best method of splitting credits when two people are both listed under a single page, depends on what categories are involved.

  • If the credits are cleanly divided by category (for example, X is an actor and Y is a production designer), the easiest way is to use the name split option.
  • If the credits are more messy (for example, two different actors with the same name have their credits intermingled), then you'll need to choose the "correct" option for the affected filmography categories. Once you have the affected credits, you should choose the "show name" check box. You will then need to add Roman numerals to the names as necessary.

Again, please note that the updates may happen in stages, which can mean that some credits may disappear for a day or two while the split is being processed.

Removing a Name

In certain instances it may be necessary to remove a name page entirely.

However, please remember:

  • If a page is a duplicate of another it should not be deleted, instead please submit a merge for the two pages (see section above on merging names)
  • If a page appears to be empty, it could have attached data that is not visible to you. Please do not attempt to merge or delete it.

A name should only be removed from the site if it is obviously incorrect i.e. the name of a film or company.

To report a bad name, go to the official IMDb support community powered by Get Satisfaction (if you don't already have an account you will be asked to register). Start a new thread and include the URL of the name page that you think should be deleted.

Asian Names

Chinese and some other Asian nations put the family name first.

  • Example: Chow Yun-Fat. Chow is the family name (like "Smith") and Yun-Fat is the given name (like "John"). Therefore, according to the rules above, the name is stored in IMDb as Chow, Yun-Fat and displayed in film credits as Yun-Fat Chow..
  • NOTE: A case like the above is easy to determine because there's a dash in the name, which typically identifies the first name.

Japanese/Korean Names

For Japanese names and titles, we prefer "Revised Hepburn" romanization (Hepburn, but with syllabic "n" never converted to "m"). Circumflexes for long vowels are accepted since macrons are not available. For Korean names and titles, we prefer the transliteration outlined here.

  • Names that are already in use in English should be used as they are presented in English dictionaries and not transliterated. Thus, Park and Samsung instead of the precisely transliterated Bark and Samseong.
  • This rule should be applied mainly to composers, writers, companies and politicians who are well known. Other names should be presented according to the rules. In case these names are taken from Western materials with a different transliteration, these names should be presented as an alternate name: "(as Park)" or "(as Lee)".

Accented Characters

We store names according to how they appear in on-screen credits.

  • If someone's given name is José but he has always been credited as Jose, we will use the latter form, regardless of what is on his birth certificate. This means that in many cases accents will be ignored, especially for people working in English-language films.
  • If an individual is credited on some films with an accented letter, we record that fact for each film for which we know it to be the case and the name with an accented letter will be noted as an AKA ('also known as'), in other words a pseudonym.
  • By default, we ignore accents in names unless we know for sure that they appear in on-screen credits. If you need to enter accented characters and are unable to type the necessary characters from your keyboard, there is an alternate way to enter them, as explained in a separate guide. There is also a special guide available explaining how to transliterate Russian names.

Special Characters

If you need to enter accented/extended characters into the additions interface and your keyboard does not allow you to type them directly, you may use the following HTML codes instead. For example to enter the title Léon (1994) you may use Léon (1994)

HTML codes supported by IMDb interfaces
&lt;< &gt;> &amp;& &quot;" &AElig;Æ
&Aacute;Á &Acirc;Â &Agrave;À &Aring;Å &Atilde;Ã
&Auml;Ä &Ccedil;Ç &ETH;Ð &Eacute;É &Ecirc;Ê
&Egrave;È &Euml;Ë &Iacute;Í &Icirc;Î &Igrave;Ì
&Iuml;Ï &Ntilde;Ñ &Oacute;Ó &Ocirc;Ô &Ograve;Ò
&Oslash;Ø &Otilde;Õ &Ouml;Ö &THORN;Þ &Uacute;Ú
&Ucirc;Û &Ugrave;Ù &Uuml;Ü &Yacute;Ý &aacute;á
&acirc;â &aelig;æ &agrave;à &aring;å &atilde;ã
&auml;ä &ccedil;ç &eacute;é &ecirc;ê &egrave;è
&eth;ð &euml;ë &iacute;í &icirc;î &igrave;ì
&iuml;ï &ntilde;ñ &oacute;ó &ocirc;ô &ograve;ò
&oslash;ø &otilde;õ &ouml;ö &szlig;ß &thorn;þ
&uacute;ú &ucirc;û &ugrave;ù &uuml;ü &yacute;ý
&yuml;ÿ &acute;´ &brvbar;¦ &cedil;¸ &cent;¢
&copy;© &curren;¤ &deg;° &divide;÷ &frac12;½
&frac14;¼ &frac34;¾ &iexcl;¡ &iquest;¿ &laquo;«
&macr;¯ &micro;µ &middot;· &nbsp;  &not;¬
&ordf;ª &ordm;º &para; &plusmn;± &pound;£
&raquo;» &reg;® &sect;§ &shy;­ &sup1;¹
&sup2;² &sup3;³ &times;× &uml;¨ &yen;¥

Transliteration: Russian Names

The following rules are used for transliterating most of the Russian names and titles in the database. This system is the classic British BGN or PCGN system adopted in 1947, with minor changes required for ASCII compatibility.

Russian Transliteration
Capital Small Capital Small
А а (vowel) A a
Б б B b
В в V v
Г г G g
Д д D d
Е е (vowel) E e
Ё ё (vowel) Yo yo
Ж ж Zh zh
З з Z z
И и (vowel) I i
Й й Y y
К к K k
Л л L l
М м M m
Н н N n
О о (vowel) O o
П п P p
Р р R r
С с S s
Т т T t
У у (vowel) U u
Ф ф F f
Х х Kh kh
Ц ц Ts ts
Ч ч Ch ch
Ш ш Sh sh
Щ щ Shch shch
Ъ ъ (hard sign) (none) (none)
Ы ы (vowel) Y y
Ь ь (soft sign) (none) (none)
Э э (vowel) E e
Ю ю (vowel) Yu yu
Я я (vowel) Ya ya

Important Notes

  • The "soft sign" and the "hard sign" are used in modern Russian only as separators and therefore should not be transliterated.
  • Names that are already in use in English should be used as they are presented in English dictionaries and not transliterated. Thus, Tchaikovsky instead of the precisely transliterated Chaykovskiy.
  • This rule should be applied mainly to composers, writers, and politicians who are well known. Other names should be presented according to the rules. Thus, Ezhov and Shumyatskiy, not Yezhov and Shumiatsky. In case these names are taken from Western materials with a different transliteration, these names should be presented as an alternate name: "(as Yezhov)" or "(as Shumiatsky)".
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