Should all instances of 'n or n' be changed to 'n'?

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There are some editors that are changing every instance of ‘n to ‘n’ or n’ to ‘n’. I know the guidelines state that we can make grammar changes over faitfulness to the cover art, but this seems kinda extreme. Same with every 90’s or 80’s title to 90s or 80s. Is there a general opinion on these situations? I feel like the tracklisting or cover art as on the release should be honored in these situations.


Cover art definitly as for other similar cases (vs. or vs, feat. or feat or featuring, St or St.). Moreover many songs relying on those are quiet old and it was the way to speak/write back then.

To my point only explicit errors should be corrected at the release level and if so with annotations written (ex: Artist name missing a letter on a cover, wrong track credits,…). If a standardization should be done it should be only on the Recording/Work level/Release group levels.


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I don’t see why we should put our preference everywhere if it’s not printed as such. :wink:


Agree this is different in every case. There is no “standard”. It should be as per the cover.

I don’t understand editors like that. This is not an English library. We are representing the music.


Yep. What is given on the release trumps preference.


So I believe this was probably inspired by some of my edits. Now, I just want to preface this post by saying I wouldn’t mind if MusicBrainz was aiming to be a completely accurate database of release information, down to any misspellings on packaging – I could get behind that. However, judging from the current guidelines around error correction, slavish accuracy doesn’t appear to be our aim here. Instead it seems to be aiming for accuracy to the release where possible, except where the information is clearly wrong (unless it’s the artist’s intent), which I’m also fine with, and seems to me to be inline with a database that is more concerned with information about the music (the recordings and the works), than it is about the minutiae of the individual releases.

I think the idea behind error correction, at least as stated on the page about error correction, is standardization and consistency. Which, I believe, is also the same reason we have a style guide – telling us where to put colons and commas, which errors to correct, and how to capitalize titles consistently between releases. Presumably to make things easier to read and avoid us ending up with a database that is half entirely capitalized names and titles, and half a random assortment of whatever the graphic designers thought looked nice and hopefully knew how to spell.

To speak about apostrophes specifically, they – like most other letters or marks – do have standard grammatical uses and forms. Most commonly they indicate elision (i.e. something missing, e.g. a from an in ’n) and possession, though only the former use is relevant here (and goes as far back as Ancient Greek). Understanding the basic use of apostrophes makes correcting misused (or even missing) apostrophes almost as simple as correcting spelling.

It is easy to see how their use can seem to be entirely up to preference or style though, as they often are on cover art, but I’d suggest that stems more from most people’s general confusion around proper apostrophe placement, probably due to the far less intuitive (and less standard) way they’re also used to indicate possession in various contexts, and of course all the examples of misuse people get to see every day on store fronts and cover art only deepens the feeling that there is no standard.

In any case, correcting apostrophe misuse is also the third example on the page I linked earlier (and directly relates to the 90’s / ’90s example), so if it’s something we shouldn’t correct, then the documentation should be updated. Apologies for probably way too much explanation.


The documentation is out of date in a lot of places, but the Guns N’ Roses example in there seems to cover things quite well. It points out some bands just spell things different. They are musicians and not English students. If they consistently keep using the same style for something then we should respect that. If it is a typo on a bootleg or VA collection then it should be corrected to the band style.

I am a music collector who likes to see my music titled as the artist chose, not how an English teacher dictates as school was a few decades ago… Even trying to work out Verbs and Adverbs for the Capitalisation Rules is Confusing to Me.


I totally agree. Nothing I said above about making corrections should trump artist intent, as I think the guidelines already make clear.


Sorry, didn’t mean to aim that at you. I am confused by the thread as there are no examples being given of this actually happening.

The way it is worded in the OP it seemed like someone was on a mission of “changing every instance of ‘n to ‘n’ or n’ to ‘n’.” Currently we just have lots of posters agreeing by saying “Yeah, see guidelines, see cover:grin:

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