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Status: This page describes an active style guideline proposal and is not official.

Proposal number: RFC-xxx
Champion: caller#6
Current status: Discussion

Changes (this section to be removed from final draft)

(Please feel free to leave comments in this section)

  1. "Jr.", "Sr.", etc, were being sorted incorrectly. Er, sub-optimally? Example: if one follows the current official guideline, Hank Williams would not sort adjacent to Hank Williams, Jr.
  2. References to "first" and "last" names changed to "given" and "family", respectively
  3. Some restructuring/reformatting done to (I hope) improve readability
  4. Some redundant examples removed. Also, specifically, Bob Marley & The Wailers removed since that may become an NGS collaboration (and in any case the MB entry didn't follow the guideline :P )
  5. Guideline for "Leading Articles" (e.g. "The") simplified. The effect is the same. Only move the "The" if it is the first word in a name and will significantly affect the sort-order.
  6. Guidelines for "stylistic ligatures" and "symbols" condensed. As it says in the "Intent" section, this is not an attempt to have a separate "rule" to cover every possible possibility.
  7. Some example sort-names for the existing guideline no longer (or never did) comply with the guideline as it is currently written.
  8. Relaxed the use of commas somewhat. Do I have that right? Do commas affect sort algorithms?
  9. If this passes, I'll make a discussion section for "corner cases".


Sort names make it possible for external applications to create logical, alphabetical indexes. For the best results, have an understanding of the guidelines listed below, but also understand that there will be cases in which an editor should override these guidelines using his/her best judgment™ if a more logical sort-order would result. The intent of this guideline is not to anticipate every possible exception and "corner case". Unusual cases can be discussed on the discussion page.

Sort-order Guidelines

Family Name Given Name (plus "nicknames", "middle names", Jr., Sr. etc) Prefix / Suffix Connector (e.g. "&") Band Name Leading Article (e.g. "The")

  1. "Given names" include "middle names", "nicknames" and (as the last element) Jr., Sr., III
  2. Prefixes and Suffixes include, for example, "Sir", "Dame", "DJ" and "Esq."
  3. A "leading article" is an article (e.g. "the") that would otherwise have been the first word in the sort-order. Other articles need not be moved.

Typographical Guidelines

  1. Separate the "parts" of a sort name with commas where doing so makes the sort name more "human readable". Commas will not affect the sort order.
  2. Regardless of the script used for the Artist Name, use Latin characters (including diacritics and numerals) for the Sort Name, transliterating if necessary.
  3. Where special characters or symbols are used "stylistically" in an artist's name to represent common Latin characters, they should be converted to those common characters (if doing so allows an artist's name to be more logically collated).


Artist Name Family Name Given Name Prefix / Suffix Connector Band Name Article Sort Name
Hank Williams, Jr. Williams Hank Jr. Williams, Hank, Jr.
Johnny "Guitar" Watson Watson Johnny "Guitar" Watson, Johnny "Guitar"
DJ Shah Shah DJ Shah, DJ
The Beatles Beatles The Beatles, The
Los Lobos Lobos Los Lobos, Los
Bill Haley & His Comets Haley Bill & His Comets Haley, Bill & His Comets
Hootie & The Blowfish Hootie & The Blowfish Hootie & The Blowfish
The Jimi Hendrix Experience Hendrix Jimi The Experience Hendrix, Jimi, The Experience
布袋寅泰‎ Hotei Tomoyasu Hotei, Tomoyasu
My$t:c DJz My$t:c DJz Mystic DJz
♪◆m599XGSMF6 ♪◆m599XGSMF6 ♪◆m599XGSMF6
René Löwe Löwe René Löwe, René
Spın̈al Tap Spın̈al Tap Spinal Tap

Language-Specific Guidelines

No language-specific exceptions are currently official. Please reference the discussion page for proposed language-specific exceptions to this guideline.

Note: Family names take different forms in different cultures. When in doubt, consult an editor familiar with the language and culture in question.