Brian Dunning's FileMaker Custom Functions

SmarterProper ( inText ; prevCase ; textSoFar ; prefixList ; exceptions )

Similar to the Proper function, but handles names with prefixes better

  Average rating: 2.6 (211 votes) Log in to vote

David Tremmel   David Tremmel
Duke University

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  Sample input:
SmarterProper ( "MACDONALD"; 2; ""; "Mc¶Mac"; "ITT¶Macintosh" )
  Sample output:

  Function definition: (Copy & paste into FileMaker's Edit Custom Function window)

** UPDATED on 7/11/16
Updated and corrected the examples, and fixed the bug noted by Rob

** UPDATED on 6/24/13
finally got around to fixing the bug noted by Lindee - apologies to all who had problems

** UPDATED on 4/30/12 to:
added a way to enter an exception list of words that would be left exactly as entered

** UPDATED on 6/15/09 to:
(1) really fix a bug affecting formatting around apostrophes
(2) fix a bug that gave incorrect results if there were multiple spaces between words

** UPDATED on 6/3/08 to:
(1) fix a bug affecting formatting around apostrophes
(2) add the ability to capitalize after hyphens
(3) add the ability to specify that the word start with a lowercase letter

SmarterProper is designed to handle names better than the standard Proper function. It returns text with the first letter of each word capitalized - like Proper does - but unlike Proper, it also:
(1) keeps any letters in the middle of words capitalized (if they were preceeded by a lowercase character in the original);
(2) capitalizes letters after an apostrophe (for names like O'Malley) - but only if the remaining text is longer than one character (to correctly format words like Didn't and It's);
(3) capitalizes the first letter of the second part of a hyphenated name;
(4) capitalizes letters after any prefixes you specify (e.g., Mc, Mac).

Syntax: SmarterProper( inText; prevCase; textSoFar; prefixList )
inText = the original text
prevCase = a number representing the case of the preceeding character (for recursion); it should be set to 2 to capitalized the first character of the text, or 0 if you want the first character of the text to be lowercase
textSoFar = the text string at this piont in the recursion; it should be set to empty when the function is called
prefixLIst = list of prefixes that should be followed by a capital letter (a return-delmiited list)


SmarterProper ( "MACDONALD"; 2; ""; "Mc¶Mac" ) returns MacDonald
SmarterProper ( "LaMond"; 2; ""; "Mc¶Mac" ) returns LaMond (rather than Lamond)
SmarterProper ( "o'shea"; 2; ""; "Mc¶Mac" ) returns O'Shea
SmarterProper ( "SMITH-THOMAS"; 2; ""; "Mc¶Mac" ) returns Smith-Thomas



Lee Smith   Lee Smith
Aug 13, 2010
Does anyone review the reviews to catch SPAMM?
Brian Dunning   Brian Dunning,
Aug 13, 2010
Katy Butterworth   Katy Butterworth, New Zealand
Sep 15, 2010
This was an excellent quick fix to names that were being entered via a website. Many thanks for sharing.
Jeff   Jeff, Los Gatos
Dec 19, 2010
Have you ever handled acronyms which need to be all caps. This is in regards to our effort to account for known company names such as ITT?
Nik   Nik, Cygnet, Tasmania AU
Apr 29, 2012
Thanks so much for this.
David Tremmel   David Tremmel, Duke University
Apr 30, 2012
This custom function was updated on 4/30/12. You can now include a list of exceptions - words/names that will be left exactly as entered.
Lindee   Lindee, Tucson, AZ
Oct 4, 2012
Good function however:

SmarterProper ( "o'shea"; 2; ""; "Mc¶Mac" ) actually returns O'shea

The problem appears to be in the formula for newCase. The third ( test ; result ) parameter appears to be missing a result. I don't think you intended it to be:

firstChar = "'" and Length ( inText ) > 2; firstChar = "'" and Middle ( inText; 2; 1 ) = " ";

A 2 seems to work:

newCase = Case ( prevCase = 0 and IsEmpty ( textSoFar) ; 0 ;
firstChar = " " or firstChar = "-" or not IsEmpty ( FilterValues ( textSoFar; prefixList ) ) ; 2 ;
firstChar = "'" and Length ( inText ) > 2 ; 2 ;
firstChar = "'" and Middle ( inText ; 2 ; 1 ) = " " ; 2 ;
Exact ( firstChar; Upper ( firstChar ) )
Tobias Sjögren   Tobias Sjögren, Stockholm
Jun 5, 2013
I've used this function for the past few years, it's great.
Now, I returned to this page to find that it has an update - the thing is that it doesn't work.
When I try to press OK from the Edit Custom Function window it says: "There are too many parameters in this function."
This is the line that it stops at: "prevCase = 2; Upper ( firstChar ) & SmarterProper ( newText; 1; textSoFar; prefixList; exceptions );"
David Tremmel   David Tremmel, Duke University
Jun 24, 2013
Finally got around to fixing the bug noted by Lindee...
Annette   Annette, Ireland
Nov 4, 2013
I can't even get this to add to the custom functions. It is telling me it's missing operators when I copied and pasted exactly from the above.
Ryan   Ryan, NY
Jul 1, 2015
I've been trying to use LLC as an exception and it does not prevent it from improperly formatting it.
Peter   Peter, Bristol
Aug 1, 2015
succeeds with Mcwhirter-o'shea to translate as McWhirter-O'Shea
but fails with o'shea-mcwhirter - translates as O'Shea-Mcwhirter
Rob   Rob, Monk Media
Jan 2, 2016
This function is great. Thank you!

I took it one step further and added a global field for prefix and one for exceptions. I've added each exception or prefix followed by a carriage return. Then reference the field in the calculation instead of typing out all the prefix and exceptions into the calculation.

This makes it easier and quicker to add new prefix and exceptions as you come across them, also if you use the function in several scripts you don't have to update all of the scripts.
Rob   Rob, Monk Media
May 8, 2016
I found an odd bug, it does correct the 's at the end of a word if there is another word after it.

SILLY SALLY'S returns--> Silly Sally's (which is perfect)
SALLY'S SILLY returns--> Sally'S Silly

Any thoughts? Other than this I love this function, thanks for your help.
Eric   Eric
Jun 15, 2019
This is great! Thank you!

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