Skip to Main Content

Waidner-Spahr Library

German: MLA Citations in German

This guide highlights the most important library resources for German Studies at Dickinson.

Capitalization and Personal Names in Foreign Languages

This page contains reccomendations for writing personal names and for capitalizing in German. For more information on MLA style, please refer to the Citing Sources Guide

All of the following samples are taken from:

MLA Handbook. 8th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2016.


Personal Names

German von is generally not used with the last name alone, but there are some exceptions, especially in English-language contexts, where the von is firmly established by convention.

Kleist, Heinrich von


Von Trapp, Maria

In alphabetizing a German name with an umlaut (the mark over the vowel in ä, ö, and ü), Germanists treat the umlauted vowel as if it were followed by an e; thus, Götz would be alphabetized as Goetz and would precede Gott in an alphabetical listing. Nonspecialists, however, and many libraries in English-speaking countries alphabetize such names without regard to the umlaut; in this practice, Götz would be alphabetized as Gotz and would therefore follow Gott in an alphabetical listing. Whichever practice you choose or your instructor requres, follow it consistently throughout your paper.



In prose and verse, German capitalization differs considerably from English. Always capitalized in German are all nouns - including adjectives, infinitives, pronouns, prepositions, and other parts of speech used as nouns - as well as the pronoun Sie ('you') and its posessive, Ihr ('your'), and their inflected forms.

Generally not capitalized are

1. The subject pronoun ich ('I')
2. The names of languages and days of the week used as adjectives, adverbs, or complements of prepositions
3. Adjectives and adverbs formed from proper nouns, except when the proper nouns are names of persons and the adjectives and adverbs refer to the persons' works or deeds

In letters and ceremonial writings, the pronouns du and ihr, ('you') and their derivatives are capitalized. In a title or subtitle, capitalize the first word and all words normally capitalized.

Thomas Mann und die Grenzen des Ich