Portuguese capitalization

not sure if this has been discussed before, but i saw the other day that since 2006 the Wikipedia guidelines for work (films, books, albums, etc.) titles say they should be titile cased, as in English:

Nos nomes de bandas e os títulos de canções ou álbuns, não use maiúsculas nas conjunções (e, nem, mas também, como também, quanto), preposições (de, desde, após), artigos (o, a, uns, umas).

from: Wikipédia:Convenção_de_nomenclatura/Música
see also: Wikipédia:Projetos/Cinema/Títulos_de_filmes

the Acordo Ortográfico states both sentence and title case are allowed for work titles:


Nos bibliónimos/bibliônimos (após o primeiro elemento, que é com maiúscula, os demais vocábulos podem ser escritos com minúscula, salvo nos nomes próprios nele contidos, tudo em grifo): O Senhor do Paço de Ninães, O Senhor do paço de Ninães, Menino de Engenho, Menino de engenho, Árvore e Tambor ou Árvore e tambor.

from: Acordo Ortográfico da Língua Portuguesa de 1990

so i’m wondering if we should update the MB (and other Meta projects) guidelines to match WP, or keep them as they are. are there some native pt speakers that can weigh in?


Interesting! This Reddit comment from a native Brazilian Portuguese speaker also says that either style is acceptable, “but [sentence case] is probably the best choice”.

It feels to me that roughly half of the Spanish and French titles that I see in MB were entered using the English capitalization rules, so I’m not sure how much changing the Portuguese guidelines to say that either is acceptable will change things. :frowning:

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There was an old ticket (STYLE-493) about this but IIRC any discussion we had ended up with people not managing to agree on anything :smiley:


I’m Brazilian and it seems that some artists still follow the sentence case guideline. Example

Personally, I like how it looks and I’ve grown used to it, if it’s said that both cases are ok, I’d rather not have to pick a side.

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Perhaps the guideline could be ‘capitalize as printed’?

But maybe there are many full caps tracklists.


Hey all,

Just wanted to bring up something that I’ve noticed, which may not be on everyone’s radar. It’s about title capitalization rules. I know, I know, it sounds like a tiny detail, but it’s been bugging me, and I think it’s worth a chat.

See, I’m from Brazil, and as a Portuguese speaker, I’ve noticed that the Portuguese capitalization rules here aren’t quite aligned with what they should be. And before you say “but we’re following English rules, right?” - yes, that’s true for English titles, and it works great. But here’s the thing: Portuguese has the same grammatical rules for titles as English does (once you’ve done the translating bit, of course). I reckon that’s true for most languages, too. You can check out the English rules here: English Style Guide

But then I look at the Portuguese rules on the site, and they seem to be based on regular sentence rules, rather than title rules. It’s all a bit like a sentence that’s lost its final period. Check them out here: Portuguese Style Guide

So, I’m scratching my head and thinking: why is that? If these other languages share the same title grammar rules as English, why aren’t they using the same capitalization rules? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. And if there’s no big reason, maybe we could consider tweaking the rules for other languages to match?

Thanks for all inputs. :slight_smile:

That’s very much not true for most languages - most languages in Europe for example use something a lot more similar to sentence case for titles (Spanish, French, Italian, Finnish, Estonian at least from the ones I can tell) or do their own weird stuff (German). As such I moved this discussion to the Portuguese capitalization since this is an issue specifically with Portuguese, where both styles seem to be accepted (see the rest of the thread).


i there,

First off, thanks for merging the topics - I was seriously surprised no other Portuguese speaker has said anything about this titling guideline. It doesn’t really fit with how we usually handle titles in Portuguese.

So, back to the main point: I can’t speak for other languages, but when it comes to Portuguese, here’s what I propose:

  1. Reconsider the existing guideline regarding the capitalization and style of Portuguese titles. It diverge from the standard Portuguese linguistic norms.

  2. Instead of the current guideline, I propose that we adopt the guideline used for English titles, as it is aligned with the Portuguese standard.

Even though adopting the English style guide could present an option of using both styles, it’s crucial to note that capitalizing a title as a sentence is incorrect in Portuguese, as it would be in English.

Hope this makes sense,


As quoted in the first post here, that seems to be incorrect as per Acordo Ortográfico - Portal da Língua Portuguesa. But it might very well be that English-style caps are more common :slight_smile:


As @reosarevok said, the current orthographic agreement (1990) doesn’t clearly state it one way or the other (it says that after the first word, the others can be written in lower case), it seems most people interpret this to mean should be written in lower case — i.e. that only sentence case is allowed. In my experience, most current styles guides, both in Portugal and in Brazil, prefer sentence cases for titles. However, writing privately, (on the internet, etc., without being aware of these regulations) many people try to imitate English title case, but often simply capitalize the first letter of each word, not understanding title case rules.

MusicBrainz has its own Portuguese language guideline, which is in line with the (assumed) preference in the 1990 orthographic agreement.

Historically, the 1945 agreement (signed but never ratified by Brazil; signed and ratified by Portugal) actually demanded title case for titles with very specific rules (see Base XLIV). Until the 1990 agreement, orthography in Brazil was ruled by the 1943 Formulário Ortográfico which also demanded the use of title case (see XVI, article 9) in similar cases, but these two documents are no longer valid.

Personally, I think you can argue for title case, but almost always this is badly done — I’m not exaggerating when I say well over 90% of “title case” examples I’ve seen would be wrong according to the two documents above —, sentence case for titles is correct, simple, and easy to fix for all MB editors.


I’m not arguing against it being correct, but… sentence case isn’t that simple for editors who don’t understand the language, right? I often struggle when entering Portuguese or Italian titles due to not knowing whether a particular word is a regular non-capitalized word or a proper noun. If there’s some trick that I’m unaware of, please let me know. :slight_smile:


Yes, I suppose I should have said easier; easy for Portuguese speakers, easier for non-speakers, because all words will be lower-case unless they’re proper nouns. There’s no trick as far as I know, unfortunately… But with title case, it’s much harder, and even most native speakers don’t understand the rules, as title case isn’t taught in schools.


Ah, how I wished that MB used sentence casing for French, as well!

This is still quite easy to recognise proper nouns for sentence casing, no?

But with title casing, even knowing the language, it’s easy to make mistakes.

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Hi @blackdarkmatter,

I appreciate your insight on this matter. Taking into account the Official Portuguese Language Guideline, my request indeed gains more substance. Allow me to quote the relevant section (apologies to our non-Portuguese speaking readers):

*Escrevem-se com maiúsculas iniciais, nas citações, os títulos e subtítulos de livros, de publicações periódicas e de produções artísticas: O Primo Basílio - Episódio Doméstico, Os Sertões, Serões Gramaticais; A Noite (nome de jornal), Diário Oficial, Revista Lusitana; O Desterrado (estátua de Soares dos Reis), O Guarani (ópera de Carlos Gomes), Transfiguração (quadro de Rafael). No entanto, escrevem-se com minúsculas iniciais (ou minúscula exclusiva, se unilíteros), sem prejuízo de haver sempre maiúscula na primeira palavra, os seguintes componentes de títulos e subtítulos deste género: *
*1.°) formas do artigo definido ou do pronome demonstrativo afim; *
*2.°) palavras inflexivas (preposições, advérbios, etc.), simples ou combinadas com as mesmas formas; *
3.°) locuções relativas a qualquer categoria de palavras inflexivas e combinadas ou não de modo idêntico. Exemplos dos três casos: Contra o Militarismo, Sóror Mariana, a Freira Portuguesa; A Morgadinha dos Canaviais - Crónica da Aldeia, Mil e Seiscentas Léguas pelo Atlântico, Oração aos Moços, Reflexões sobre a Língua Portuguesa, Voltareis, ó Cristo?; Algumas Palavras a respeito de Púcaros em Portugal, A propósito de Pasteur, Viagem à roda da Parvónia.

Titles and subtitles of books, periodical publications, and artistic productions are written with initial capitals in citations: O Primo Basílio - Domestic Episode, Os Sertões, Grammar Evenings; A Noite (newspaper name), Diário Oficial, Revista Lusitana; The Exiled (statue by Soares dos Reis), O Guarani (opera by Carlos Gomes), Transfiguration (painting by Rafael). However, the following components of titles and subtitles of this genre are written with initial lowercase (or exclusive lowercase, if single-lettered), without prejudice to always having a capital letter in the first word:

  1. forms of the definite article or related demonstrative pronoun;
  2. inflective words (prepositions, adverbs, etc.), simple or combined with the same forms;
  3. phrases related to any category of inflective words and combined or not in the same way. Examples of the three cases: Against Militarism, Sister Mariana, the Portuguese Nun; The Country Girl from Canaviais - Chronicle of the Village, A Thousand and Six Hundred Leagues Across the Atlantic, Prayer to the Young Men, Reflections on the Portuguese Language, Will You Return, O Christ?; Some Words about Jugs in Portugal, Regarding Pasteur, A Journey Around Parvónia.

This official documentation firmly supports my request. I want to emphasize that the current approach adopted by MusicBrainz for Portuguese titles contradicts the Official Portuguese language guideline. This, I believe, further substantiates my claim.


Not necessarily if you don’t know the language. If you have song title “Rua Do Capelão” (common bad title case, with all the words capitalized), and you don’t know the word rua means street, you might correct it to “Rua do capelão”. But a street name is a proper noun, the correct would be “Rua do Capelão”. (An actual example I corrected some time ago). In any case, and as you said, still much easier than title case.

I’m sorry, maybe I wasn’t clear. The document you are quoting is the 1945 Orthographic Agreement which was only valid in Portugal (and then colonies, it was ratified long before the decolonization), but isn’t in force in Portugal for over a decade and never was in Brazil. I was just trying to give the historical background to title capitalization in Portuguese, not implying we should apply a historical document.


@blackteadarkmatter Absolutely, no need for concern. The current applicable Acordo Ortográfico da Lingua Portuguesa para o Brasil aligns perfectly with the rule I’ve mentioned, see PAGE 88, Article 44.

Now, let’s make this a bit more interesting.
I extend a challenge to ANYONE to identify a title of a song, album, book, movie, or any other artistic work from Brazil that follows the MusicBrainz guideline.
You’ll likely discover the majority as I’ve been advocating. When it comes to design style with all capital or lowercase letters, I genuinely believe you’ll have quite a task on your hands to find any. If you do manage to locate one, it’s likely to be an anomaly or a stylistic deviation. :slight_smile:


Major label release from a well known Brazilian artist with printed capitalization matching the MBz guideline, what do I win?

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I guess what I wanted to say is that I don’t think this is so simple. I think it’s better to go by official orthography rather than what’s most common, since it’s all over the place. As someone who doesn’t speak Brazilian but end up edits Brazilian music sometimes, I see both used all the time. Capitalization of prepositions like “do” also varies on titles that tend to capitalize words other than the first and proper nouns.

I don’t have any language experience, but I can safely say I’ve seen a lot of variations and that I’ve tried to follow the guidelines here as close as possible when editing.

@finalsumer, well done indeed! As anticipated, you’ve unearthed an anomaly, specifically a stylistic choice made 50 years ago. It’s quite remarkable how you managed to dig up a piece from such an obscure artist—Marcos Valle certainly isn’t a name you hear every day. I must say, I was expecting an example from a more recent work or a more mainstream contemporary artist.