Note: This post contains very minor plot points from The Last Jedi.
Two years ago the copy editors at The A.V. Club created a Star Wars-specific style guide. Here we collected a list of the strange spellings, confusingly punctuated movie titles, and made-up words that populate the Star Wars universe.
Since then we’ve added entries that address common mistakes about the new crop of films, including the hyphen in BB-8, a capital E in BB-9E (or as I call him, Darkseid BB-8), “Rey” as opposed to “Ray,” and how to style the names of the new trilogy and spin-off films, which drop the episode number construction and with it the punctuation that plagues those wordy formal titles.
Those are the easy parts; trickier for the pop culture copy editor is making a ruling when a writer asks, “Is ‘porg’ capitalized?” Species in general present a challenge for us, since made-up proper nouns are often capitalized in text, but actual, real species aren’t. Then there’s the history and canon of the Star Wars texts themselves. We always prize clarity over pedantry, and we sometimes break with grammar rules just because following the rule looks or feels wrong. Such is the case with Ewoks. They’re technically a species, but also a distinct group that propels them into proper noun-capitalization territory; it’s a gut call to up-style (capitalize) the species while down-styling “bantha.” That species, though, really does act more like dogs. They are animals that don’t form a specific, recognizable group critical to the story.
We toe a similar line with video game species, lower-casing “goomba” and “koopa troopa,” for example, and upper-casing when referring to a specific character who shares the name of the species. (“That Mario Bros. level where you first encounter lakitus is really hard,” but “In Mario Kart 7, I only play as Lakitu.”) In Game Of Thrones, on the other hand, the species are generic enough to lower-case: “direwolf” and, naturally, “dragon” are down-styled.
Which brings us to Porgs. The little birds made a big impression when they appeared in promotional material before The Last Jedi released. We didn’t have enough information to know if they’d act like Ewoks or like banthas. But we had to make a decision, so we made the call to capitalize the species. Our reasoning was as simple as looking at how the word looked in running text: “These baby Porgs are probably a delicacy to some freak in the Star Wars universe” reads a bit more clearly than “These baby porgs are probably a delicacy...” as the down-styled version reads more like a typo. A capitalized word reads as intentional. And since that article about baby Porgs was published, we’ve learned that baby Porgs are called Porglets. Now that’s canon, both in the Star Wars universe and in The A.V. Club Star Wars style guide.
The rest of our Star Wars style guide:
Chewie (not Chewy)
Finn (formerly FN-2187)
First Order, the First Order
the Force [(the light side and the dark side of the Force (not Light Side, Dark Side)]
Industrial Light & Magic
Jabba The Hutt
Jar Jar Binks (not Jar-Jar)
Jedi, Jedi knight
Mos Eisley cantina
- the “cantina band” is also known as “Figrin D’an And The Modal Nodes”
- the “cantina song” is probably the best way to describe the music played in the cantina. It’s called “Cantina Band” on the official Star Wars soundtrack, and Star Wars cannon calls it “Mad About Me.”
sith lord: as a title, “sith lord” follows the rules for titles. Capitalize only if appearing before an individual’s name: Sith Lord Darth Maul. But Darth Maul, a sith lord...
Snoke, Supreme Leader Snoke
Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic II—The Sith Lords
Star Wars: The Old Republic
Clichés: The following have become clichés when writing about Star Wars and should not be used:
A long time ago
In a galaxy far, far away
This is the ___ you’re looking for
Note: Italicize Star Wars in all instances, unless for some reason you are referring to Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative.
Correct styling of Star Wars movie titles (plus release year):
Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace (1999)
Star Wars: Episode II—Attack Of The Clones (2002)
Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge Of The Sith (2005)
Star Wars: Episode IV—A New Hope (1977)
Star Wars: Episode V—The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Star Wars: Episode VI—Return Of The Jedi (1983)
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
Star Wars: Episode IX (2019)