Proper names, also called proper nouns, refer to specific people, places or things. These names always have an initial capital letter regardless of where they are in a sentence. Many proper names have fixed spellings that do not change and are language staples, but others can vary.

Names Without Variation

Many proper names have only one spelling in English, and should be capitalized at the beginning of every word in the name. This includes names of well-known places, such as Lake Superior or Venus, which cannot be correctly spelled any other way in English. It also includes names of historical figures, the calendar weeks and months, holidays, languages, races, nationalities, sports teams and political groups, religions and religious terms, and brand names. Find a reputable source for these spellings, such as a manual of style or dictionary, and stick to them.

Names With Variation

On the other hand, not all proper names have only one spelling. Some do have variation, and you may need to check with the actual owner of the name to make sure you’re spelling it correctly. Common first names of people often have multiple spellings. Allison, for example, may also be spelled Alison or Allyson. People's last names also have various spellings, as do places. Always check with less well-known people, businesses, books, places and other titles to ensure you’re spelling a proper name correctly.