Help:Naming conventions

The contents of this page should eventually be merged with Help:Page titles.
(Dallan, The text below, however, is not specific to page *titles* but also individual name fields. -- jillaine 07:44, 16 February 2009 (EST))
(Maybe it should be part of Help:Person pages since it describes how to fill in field on that page? --Jrich 09:35, 16 February 2009 (EST)
I agree, when we are done drafting I will add it to the proper help pages. Dallan will be done with the new revisions sometime this quarter. All the help pages will need to be gone over. I really appreciate your input here and would welcome extra editors on the rest of the help pages. Thanks again. :)--sq 17:08, 20 February 2009 (EST)


Person Pages

Preferred Name

When ADDING or creating a brand new person page, use only the first name in the GIVEN field, and only the last name (or patronymic) in the SURNAME field.
  • Use the name the person was born with; other names should be listed under alternate names.
  • When the surname of a family has multiple spellings, the most commonly accepted spelling should be used; other spellings that have appeared on the person's records should be added as "alternate names", as shown below.
  • For women, use their maiden name; See exceptions below.
  • For either men or women where the surname is not known, leave the Surname field blank or enter "Unknown."
  • When the given name is not known, leave the Given name field blank.
Once the page is created, you can go back and edit the fields to:
  • Add a middle name after the first name in the given name field.
  • Add "Jr.", "Sr.", "III" etc in the Suffix field.
  • Add "Captain," "Dr.", etc. in the Prefix field.
Note: In searches, the surname field matches both surnames and suffixes, and the given name field matches both given names and prefixes.

Alternate Names

Once you've added a page, you can add alternate names. There are several options available under "Alternate Names":
  • Alt Name: use this for nicknames, other names the person was known as, alternatives that may appear on various documents, etc.
  • Birth Name: use this if there is evidence that the name a person was born with was not the one they later used, such as an official name change (other than marriage), misspelling on the birth certificate, adoption, etc.
  • Immigrant Name: use this for what's recorded on an immigration, emigration or passenger's list, if different from the primary name.
  • Married Name: use this, if desired, to record the name of a woman if her name changed when she got married.
  • Religious Name: use this if the person adopted a name for religious purposes, such as Sister Mary Magdalena.

Scandinavian Names

Rural areas in Norway, Denmark and Sweden did not introduce inherited surnames until recent centuries. People were known by their given name plus a patronymic and possibly either a "byname" (such as unge or gamle) or the name of the farm on which they lived. The byname would come before the given name (e.g., unge Jørgen Hansen), while the farm name would come after the patronymic (e.g., Halvor Hansson Berge).
Note: Farm names were widely used in Norway - for Norwegian genealogy, you should assume that the farm name is part of the name. They were also used in Northern Jutland (Denmark), while bynames were used in the Danish Isles. If you are not certain about the naming practice in the area you are researching, check to see if the farm name is used in parish registers and other documents in conjunction with the names of people. If so, assume that the farm name is part of the name.
For regions using the form <given name(s)> <patronymic> <farm name> (e.g., Halvor Hansson Berge), enter the name as follows:
Given name field: <given names>
Surname field: <patronymic> <farm name>
The preferred name should include the farm name where the person was born (or the first known farm name if the person’s origin is unknown). Alternate names should be created for subsequent farms where they lived. There should only be one farm name per version of the name – that is, do not include alternate names in the same name.
Where a written record uses the holding (sub-farm) name instead of the farm name (e.g., Kittel Johnsson Sagabukti, where Sagabukti is a holding in Kviteseid farm), the name can be entered this way as an alternate name, but the preferred name should include the farm name (e.g., Kittel Johnsson Kviteseid).
For regions using the form <optional byname> <given name(s)> <patronymic> (e.g., Jørgen Hansen, unge Jørgen Hansen, or gamle Jørgen Hansen), enter the name as follows:
Prefix field: <byname> (if applicable)
Given name field: <given names>
Surname field: <patronymic>


Please do not put surnames in ALL CAPS.

Page Titles

A WeRelate person page title has three components:
  1. Namespace (Person:)
  2. Name of Person (Given + Surname)
  3. Index Number (automatically generated)
In any wiki, including WeRelate, the page title must be unique. In a genealogy wiki, duplicate names abound. Therefore, WeRelate automatically assigns a unique index number to each page title so that it's impossible to have two "John Smith (1)" pages.
When a person is first created, WeRelate creates a page title by combining the Given Name and the Surname fields, then adding the unique index number.
When a GEDCOM is uploaded, WeRelate does the same thing: it takes the first name in the GEDCOM's Firstname field and the entire contents of the GEDCOM's Lastname field, and uses them to create a Page Title.
Once a page is created, the name fields can be edited and this does NOT change the name of the page title. To change the page title, you must use the RENAME feature.


  1. "The Wikipedia Exception." If the person has no conventional last name (often the case for medieval names or European nobility), see if the person has a page on Wikipedia; if they do, use that name.

Family Pages

The family page name is created by taking the page names of each of the spouses separated by the word "and". WeRelate automatically uses the names from the given and surname fields of the subject spouse's person page.

The family page title is created by:
  1. selecting family from the add menu and entering the given and surname of each spouse in the name fields, or
  2. by clicking on the find/add link in the Parents and Siblings family group page field and entering the given and surnames of the parents in the proper name fields, or
  3. by clicking on the find/add link in the Spouse and Children family group page and entering the given and surname of the spouse in the proper name fields. The system will automatically use the names from the given and surname fields of the subject spouse's person page.

Place Pages

(pull in naming conventions from or point to existing pertinent help page)


See Help:Articles#Titles for articles


(pull in text from or link to Source page naming convention page)