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Title formatting

Updated - 15-November-2023

    Title formatting general rules

    • The way in which media content is released to the public is constantly evolving; some of our title types though relevant at the time are no longer applicable to some of the titles released today. This is an area we will look to address once we have completed the migration to move all areas on the site from our existing infrastructure. Until we can define these titles appropriately within our systems please use the existing title type that most applies to the title in question. Please note that IMDb reserves the right to amend any titles where we feel that another title type is more applicable to the title in question.
    • If a standalone title is first released via a subscription-based streaming OTT service it should be submitted as a movie, for example, Roma (2018). If the title follows an episodic structure please submit the title as a TV-series, for example, "Stranger Things" (2016).
    • We use the original title of a movie/show in its original language as it appears on screen (on the title card) in the opening credits. So all alternative titles found on posters, DVD boxes, reference books, trailers, websites, re-releases, etc. are irrelevant. They do NOT define what the primary title should look like. All titles must include the year of first public screening enclosed in ()'s as explained further below.

    Title types/formats

    All titles are assumed to be theatrical movies unless indicated otherwise as follows:

    • TV-series and mini-series
      "Title" (year) i.e. "Mad Men" (2007)
      Please submit as Made for TV   

    • Anthology series
      An anthology series will often have different seasons with different titles which cover different subject matter and may have different cast. Usually IMDb policy is to list the 'series title' as the title under which the first episode of the first season airs, however to better represent the content for our audience, we may make exceptions to this policy in the case of an anthology series.

      If a series is announced to have more than one season with different titles we will list the original title as the core part of the series title (eg. a word or phrase which ties each season together). Each season title can them be stored as an AKA with the appropriate attribute (eg. first season title, second season title, etc.) 

      For example: The series American Crime Story (2016) originally aired and was displayed under the title "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story". When the second season was announced titled "The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story", the Primary title was changed to "American Crime Story" to best fit the overall series, with the season titles as AKAs. 

      This way the anthology series is more accurately represented on IMDb for users, as opposed to listing the primary title as "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story" when later seasons tell different stories, with different titles.

      Please note that this anthology series policy is an exception to IMDb’s general rules and will be applied with editorial discretion.

    • Made for TV Movies and TV Specials
      Title (year) (TV) i.e. The Oscars (2015) (TV)
      Please submit as Made for TV

    • Made for Video Movies
      Title (year) (V) i.e. Aladdin and the King of Thieves (1996) (V)
      Please submit as Made for Video

    • Video Games
      Title (year) (VG) i.e. Tomb Raider (1996) (VG)
      Please submit as Video Game

    • Episodic Video Games
      Episodic Videogames, such as those developed by Telltale Games, do not fit neatly into any of our existing title types.
      In order to avoid duplication of credits we would prefer to list the collected episodes of a season as a single title i.e. The Walking Dead: The Game - Season 1.
      Individual episode titles should be submitted as Alternate Titles with the attribute (videogame episode) to distinguish them.
      For example - The Walking Dead: The Game - Season 1 would have akas of 'The Walking Dead: The Game - Season 1. Episode 1: A New Day', 'The Walking Dead: The Game ? Season 1. Episode 2: Starved for Help' etc
      Individual release dates of these episodes should be listed in a similar fashion, again distinguishing between them with attribute for each episode - in this case (videogame episode 1), (videogame episode 2) etc.

    • Video Game Expansion Packs
      Video Game Expansion packs should be treated in one of two ways depending on their original release. If the expansion pack requires the original game in order to play the additional content then it should be considered as part of the existing Video Game title. In these cases the title AKA (expansion title) should be added to the existing title page i.e. "Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadow Broker" on Mass Effect 2 (2010) (VG)
      If the expansion pack can be played without owning the original game then it should be added as a standalone Video Game title.

    • Online Standalone Video
      Title (year) (V) i.e. Jerry O'Connell Plagiarizes Shia LaBeouf with #IAMSORRYTOO (2014) (V)
      Please submit as Made for Video
      A link should be submitted in the Video Clips section under Links to Other Sites with the description WebsiteName - Full video.

    • Web Series
      "Series Title" (year) i.e. "The Walking Dead: Webisodes" (2011)
      Please submit as Made for TV: TV Series
      Please add the keyword: web-series
      A link to the playlist/channel should be added to the Video clips section under Links to Other Sites
      The web series should be listed as a standalone TV series even if it is a spin-off of an existing series, for example "The Walking Dead: Webisodes" (2011)
      In this case please submit a movie connection for spin off from the original series with an explanation i.e. character xy got their own series

    • Music Video
      Artist/Band: Title (year) (Music Video) i.e. Justin Bieber: Ghost (2021) (Music Video)
      A link should be submitted in the Video Clips section under Links to Other Sites with the description WebsiteName - Full video.
      An artist is playing a character in a music video as they are performing, and should not be listed as Self which should be reserved for talk show appearances, documentaries etc. To reflect this the artist should be added with the character name as their own name, i.e. Ellie Goulding, unless playing a clearly defined character/s in the video i.e. Taylor Swift in the video You Belong with Me who is listed as Popular Cheerleader/Studious Bandmember.
      In cases where the artist doesn't appear in the video then the artist should be listed as above but with the attribute voice. If the entirety of the video is compiled of footage from a film then the cast should be listed as archive footage.
      The songwriter is eligible for a composer credit and the lyricist should be credited in the music department as lyricist.

    • Virtual/Augmented Reality Experiences
      Virtual and Augmented Reality experiences can be listed on IMDb in a number of ways, dependent on the participation of the user within the content of the title. If a user is merely a spectator to the events, then these titles should typically be considered as VR/AR Movies. In these cases, please submit as Movie, with the keyword vr-movie or ar-movie. If a user plays an active role in advancing or tailoring the narrative through their actions or is otherwise participating in challenges, then these titles should typically be considered as VR/AR Video Games. In these cases, please submit as Video Game with the keyword vr-video-game or ar-video-game.

    • Online Channels
      Online channels should be listed in the way that best represents the content. If the channel is made up of a combination of individual videos and ongoing features please add the titles as standalone videos and separate TV series following the above guidelines in order to accurately reflect the running order of each feature and display clearly on a name page i.e. Anthony Padilla . On the occasions where the channel is made up of purely episodic content with no separate features then it may make the most sense to list the entire channel as a TV series. If you are unsure then please add the titles as individual standalone videos and separate TV series.
      A link to the video should be added to the Video Clips section under Links to Other Sites on the title and a link to the channel should be added to the Official Sites section under Links to Other Sites on the name page of the star. If the channel name is an alias of the star then it should also be added as a nickname to the name page.

    • DVD Extras
      Name of Movie/Series and season: title of feature (year) (V) i.e. NCIS: Season 11 - NCIS in New Orleans (2014) (V)
      Please submit as Made for Video
      Please add the keyword: dvd-extra

    • Apps
      Title (Year) (VG) i.e. Angry Birds (2009) (VG)
      Please submit as Video Game
      Please add the keyword: app

    • Commercials 
      Brand: Title of advert if known (year) (V) i.e. Chanel N°5: The One That I Want (2014) (V)
      Please submit as Made for Video
      Please add the keywords: commercial, the brand i.e. chanel-no.-5
      Connections - follows for ongoing commercial series 

    • Podcasts (Audio & Video) 
      "Title" (year) (Podcast series) i.e. "The Joe Rogan Experience" (2009) (Podcast Series)
      Please submit as Podcast series via the new title form
      If audio only then please also add the keyword "audio-only"
      A link to somewhere the podcast can be watched or listened to should be submitted in the Miscellaneous Link section, with the description WebsiteName - Full audio, or WebsiteName - Full video, as appropriate.

    • One Series or Two?
      On occasion some titles warrant a second series listing though this is subjective and each case has to be judged on its own merits i.e Arrested Development (one), 24 and 24: Live Another Day (two) etc. Here are some of the criteria to consider when trying to define whether a series should be listed as one or two titles: the length of time that has passed between the seasons, significant changes to the credits including production details, how the series is marketed when released and perceived by the public and if there were any changes to the primary title. If you are uncertain how to categorize a title (series, TV movie, theatrical, etc.), please see this guide.

    • Sporting Events 
    • As sporting coverage from varying providers involves work from many different people, these should be listed separately on the database. More information can be found below:
      Olympic coverage should be added as a Mini-Series, with the title reflecting the on screen name from the provider, each day's coverage can then be contributed as an individual episode and the production/distribution company added to identify the source - for example, see the London 2012 Olympics.
      Independent sporting mini-events (such as the World Cup or Six Nations) should be added as a Mini-Series, with the title reflecting that of the on screen name and the production/distribution companies added to the page. However, each episode should relate to a particular game, such as the 2010 FIFA World Cup
      One off events (usually pay per view) such as UFC or boxing matches should be added as a TV Special, reflecting the name the coverage provider has listed and including any production/distribution companies attached. For example, see UFC 222: Cyborg vs. Kunitskaya


    • A serial is a film released in parts or chapters and should be listed as a standalone feature film title with the keyword serial. They are generally screened one chapter each week at a cinema where the story structure has each chapter ending with a cliffhanger to entice the audience to watch the following chapter when released. For example, Flash Gordon (1936).

    Years and roman numerals

    • IMDb does not allow title years from before the title type existed.
    • The year in ()'s should be the year of first public screening of the title. For TV- series this is the broadcast year of the first episode/pilot. For movie titles this year is either the year of general release or of a festival presentation if earlier (note that closed screenings for the crew or the media/buyers/sellers or test screenings of the unfinished product for marketing reasons do not count as public screenings). Please note that there are occasional exceptions to this rule. If a film is never completed, or is completed but never released, it can be more representative to list the year the film was produced so as to more accurately reflect the title on the associated cast and crew name pages. See for example The Day The Clown Cried (1972) or Kaleidoscope (1967) or L’enfer (1964).

    • Please note that we do usually NOT create separate new titles for each season of a TV-show so the year used is the year the show first aired.

    • If two films have the same title in the same year we add a "/" followed by roman numerals after the year as necessary. For example, Twilight (2008/I) and Twilight (2008/II).


    Capitalization and character sets


    When adding the title text (either the primary or alternative), it should follow these rules on capitalization:

    • They should not consist of only capitalized letters, even if the title on-screen is fully capitalized. The exception to this rule is if the name itself is an acronym (e.g. R.I.P.D).
    • In English titles, most prepositions and conjunctions (of, and, in, for, etc.) should not be capitalized unless they are the first or last word or immediately follow a colon, em dash, or end punctuation.
    • For English, Portuguese, Hebrew, Indian languages - these should all have capital letters at the start of words, with a few exceptions:
      • English language words which must begin with a lower-case letter (unless at the end of a title) are: a an and as at by for from in of on or the to with.

      • French, Italian, Spanish, Scandinavian languages, Hungarian, Dutch, Slovenian, Serbian, Croatian, Russian, Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Greek:
        All lower-case letters at the start of words, except first word plus some exceptions (names etc.).

      • German: Mixed

      • The character set of all primary titles is ISO-LATIN-1. Original titles using other character sets (ISO-LATIN-2, Chinese pictograms, Cyrillic letters etc.) must be transliterated to ISO-LATIN-1. If you are unsure about the rules to follow check examples from the same country to see how it's done. For titles in Russian, there is a special guide available.


    • One exception to the "as it appears on screen" rule: Author or filmmaker possessives such as Bram Stoker's Dracula, Disney's The Kid, or Andy Warhol's Flesh are used only in alternate titles with the attribute (complete title) unless it is a part of the joke i.e. Jane Austen's Mafia! or Monty Python's Flying Circus. Note that by the time The Meaning of Life and Life of Brian were released the group had adopted the name "Monty Python" qualifying both as possessives. However, in certain cases, where the possessive helps to identify an otherwise ambiguous title, we will allow the possessive title to be added as the (imdb display title) as opposed to the otherwise (complete title). This should only be submitted as the (imdb display title) if the possessive title is how the title is commonly referred to in that specific country.


    • Subtitles are separated from the main title with a colon for English titles and a '-' for German titles IF the title on the 'film' uses no separator. Other languages are not (yet) standardized. If the title on the 'film' already uses a separator it is used.

    • A subtitle can be identified by either appearing on a separate screen from the main title, or being in a significantly smaller font.

    • When there are 2 or more subtitles following each other use alternatively : and - unless the title card has its own.

    (Film) series titles

    • For titles in a series (not regular TV series), particularly for short films, only the title of the individual episode is to be used as the main title if the series title is on previous title cards. If series and episode title are on the same card, the primary title is the full title on that card.

    • Primary titles that do not include the series (by the above rule) should be submitted with alternate titles that do include the series. The alternate title should be the episode title, separated by a colon from the series title, and should include a "series title" attribute. Episode numbers should be included in primary titles only if the number appears on the (last) title card. If the episode number is implied at the end, it can go to an alternate title.


    • Certain type modifiers are controlled by genres or keywords. The "Short" and "Documentary" modifiers are taken directly from the relevant genres. In addition, the keywords tv-mini-series and tv-special cause different display of what would otherwise be a TV series or TV movie.


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