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Capitalization of Fantasy Race Names — 16 Comments

  1. This was very helpful and interesting to read through. I think you’re absolutely right, and I’ve been only capitalising when referring to a race name using their homeland (Tilshan).

  2. Thank you. I did quite a search in Google till I found your essay. It’s been driving me nuts deciding when to capitalize Elves, Fairies, etc. What of trees then, if they are sentient beings in my story? You have answered my question for me. and I ran it by a number of English teachers who could not.

  3. If the trees were sentient, then I would you should give them a special name. Tolkien, for example, called them Ents. You could make up some special name for your sentient trees as well, and then capitalize that name. The word “tree” would be lower cased, as it is a common noun (like “human” or “elf”). At least, that is the way I understand it, and the way I tree it… I mean treat it.

  4. Pingback: Capitalization of Fantasy Race Names, Redux « Maniacal Musing

  5. Brilliant article. I love how detailed you went into it and also provided a summary/guidelines at the end. This will be bookmarked for life! <3 Thank you!

  6. Wow is all I can say. I seriously did not expect to find such a thorough, detailed analysis of a fundamental problem I was having while writing. Though it was written a while back, I feel the need to say thank you for your hard work and critical analysis. The work you did will be of great use to me and many others.

  7. Thank you so much for this! I have always been confused when it comes to writing the names of my species, as I typically prefer to use common nouns (which makes it even harder to decide). I feel more confident now. I only hope my lecturers agree (haha!).

  8. I had forgotten that Trolloc was always capitalized. (Which means I’ve been typing it wrong for years now…) Since I’m going science fiction, I’ll stick with capitals then. Thanks for the tips.

  9. The essay on capitalization was a fascinating, well-thought out piece. It was joy to see a complex issue described and summed up with meaningful and useful guidelines.

  10. This is officially my first reply to any article I have read online. Thank you for posting this. I had no clue how thorough of an answer I would find when I googled this topic.

    I will go read your book now. It is obviously the genre I like and it is the most tangible way, other than this comment of course, that I can thank you for educating me on this frustrating topic.

  11. Thank you for your post. Your post helped me figure out what’s been bugging me in all of my stories. I have decided that when I refer to a character as by her collective race, it’s going to be lowercase (like elf) but when I refer to her specific race, it will be capitalized (like Fire Elf). So, thank you.

  12. Great, thought provoking article, but I personally disagree about capitalizing races/species. Simply put, if you don’t capitalize ‘human’ (or cat or chicken for that matter), then IMO, you don’t capitalize klingon, unless klingon were derived from the name of a nation. End of story for me.

    Human races are only capitalized because they are named according to nationalities. African-American is obvious, Hispanic derives from Hispania which we know as Spain, and Caucasion refers to the Caucasus Mountains between the Black and Caspian seas).

    Just my two cents though, and how I like to write. To each their own.

  13. Like others here I stumbled upon this through a Google search about capitalizing species in stories, in my case it’s fantasy. It was just like you said the “human” bit that got to me, and which led to me to use lowercase on all of the species I use (none named after a planet, country or otherwise! Great info!), but it didn’t always look right. Might be because I also read a lot of scifi. I’m still not a 100% sure but after reading this I’m leaning towards keeping it the way I have so far, and keep it all lowercase.

    Very nicely written, I learned some new things and have a few new footholds to move forwards again, so thanks for that.

  14. This has been something that crops up in my mind from now and then. This was very interesting to read and I shall save this for future reference. One of the first times I wondered about the capitalisation thing is from the Mass Effect games series, in which the alien names are common nouns, so: quarian, turian, asari, volus.
    However, adding to the general confusion of this area, I would point out that Neanderthal should be capitalised as it is named after the Neanderthal/Neandertal (or Neander Valley) in Germany.

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