Skip to Main Content

Waidner-Spahr Library

Spanish & Portuguese : MLA Citations in Spanish

Capitalization and Personal Names in Foreign Languages

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

All of the following samples are taken from:

The Modern Language Association of America. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 7th ed. New York: The Modern Language Association of America, 2009. Print


Personal Names

Spanish de is not used before the last name alone.

Rueda (Lope de Rueda)

Spanish del, formed from the fusion of the preposition de and the definite article el, is capitalized and used with the last name alone.

Del Río (Angel Del Rio)

A Spanish surname may include both the paternal name and the maternal name, with or without the conjugation y. The surname of a married woman usually includes her paternal surname and her husband's paternal surname, connected by de. Alphabetize Spanish names by the full surnames (consult your sources or a biographical dictionary for guidance in distinguishing surnames and given names).

Cervantes Saavedra, Miguel de
Matute, Anna María
Sinues de Marco, María del Pilar
Zayas y Sotomayor, María de

Even persons commonly known by the maternal portions of their surname, such as Galdos and Lorca, should be alphabetized by their full surnames.

García Lorca, Frederico



In prose and verse, Spanish capitalization is the same as English except that the following terms are not capitalized in Spanish unless they begin sentences, or, sometimes, lines of verse:

1. The subject pronoun yo 'I'
2. The names of months and days of the week
3. The names of languages and nationalities
4. Nouns and adjectives derived from proper nouns
5. Titles preceding personal names
6. The words meaning "street," "square," and so on, in most place-names

In a title or a subtitle, capitalize only the first words and words normally capitalized.

La gloria de don Ramiro

Some instructors follow other rules. In the titles of series and periodicals, they capitalize all major words

Revista de Filología Española.