The purpose of this page is to help people understand how source PAGES are titled. It is meant to provide guidance in creating new source pages or in renaming existing source page titles to make them consistent. See Help:Source pages for more general information about creating source pages. Remember: Source page titles are different from the titles of sources.
Source page titles serve multiple functions, and all are important to the purposes described here.
In order to serve all of these purposes, the rules for naming source pages need to be predictable, standardized, and unique. It's also helpful if the names are short, and if they will alphabetize in a useful manner. Beginning each title with the author or with the smallest relevant geographical area was determined, after extended discussion, to be the best way to accomplish each of those goals.
How to name most source page titles
When you create a new source page, "from scratch" (i.e., by using Add Source), you type certain information about the source into the text fields and boxes on the page. (Which fields are available and visible will depend on which source "type" you select.) The WeRelate system will then use this information to automatically create a properly formed, standardized title for the page. For most sources, this will follow one of these patterns:
Please note that if you rename a source page (using the Rename function), you will necessarily bypass this automatic process. In this case, you should form the new page title in accordance with the result (described below for each type) which the automatic process would have produced.
2. All other sources that have an author use the authored format.
3. In all other cases, enter just the "Title". This includes websites, unless the website content is a reproduction or transcript of an hard-copy book or a geographically-oriented record set, in which case see Rules 1 or 2; for example: Source:David Rumsey Historical Map Collection. The title of a website ordinarily is considered to be the title shown in the title bar at the top of the browser on the site's main page, . . . unless it's a very poor title (like "Records" or "Title goes here"). In that case, you probably should use the main heading on the page itself. (Use your best judgment.)
Other general naming rules:
Most church and government records follow the Place. Title format. Books that are transcriptions of government/church records also follow this format.
State the place name in smaller-to-larger order as the author of the source; e.g. "Ramsey, Minnesota, United States. Death Registers" or "Shoreview, Ramsey, Minnesota, United States. Incarnation Lutheran Church Marriage Registers". (Please note that this is the opposite of the "old" style.) Any authoring agency/organization should still be listed in the author field on the source page, but omitting it from the title field will keep the page title from becoming too long.
By naming source pages in this manner, all the sources for a particular area will be grouped together on category pages, in source drop-down boxes, and in other places where sources are alphabetized.
A major project was undertaken (involving hundreds of volunteer hours) to clean up our sources (most of them imported from outside WeRelate) and to standardize the page titles according to the rules described above. Even after all of the time spent on this project, there still may be "wrong" source page titles in the database. If you discover such a page, we ask you to take a moment to fix it. Click on the rename link in the left menu and enter the correct page title. If you do this, please do not delete the page with the old title, so that links to the source, especially external links, will take people to the correctly-titled source.
Occasionally you may encounter two or more pages for what appear to be the same sources with slightly different titles. This can happen for several reasons.
If you find pages that should be merged, you can help out by redirecting the duplicate page(s) to the page with the correct title. Please copy any unique information from the duplicate pages to the correctly titled page. Then enter #redirect [[Source:correctly titled source page]] on the duplicate source page to redirect it to the correctly-titled page. Please do not delete the duplicate page(s), so that links to them, especially external links, will take people to the correctly-titled source.
Note: In addition to the formats mentioned below, it is also ok to create "country-level" census sources that cover the entire country (such sources already exist for the U.S. census for 1790-1930).
The standard title style for Canada's census records is:
England and Wales
The standard title style for English and Welsh census records is:
The standard page title style for United States census records is: County name, State name, United States. XXXX U.S. Census Population Schedule (Example:Source: Crawford, Illinois, United States. 1870 U.S. Census Population Schedule)
The standard format (under the new style rules) for creating a Source page for a newspaper covering a particular area is: Name of the newspaper (City, State/Province/Country of publication). Omit leading articles.
The standard format for a general periodical is: Name of the periodical (Publishing organization, if any). Omit leading articles. By convention, a periodical does not itself have an "author." (The name of the society or other publisher is added because so many genealogical publications are titled simply "Quarterly" or "Register" or "Roots.")
Please put the author and title information for the actual article you're citing in the "Record Name" field or the "Text/Transcription" field of the Source Citation on the page citing the periodical. The practical reason for this is that most articles have such a narrow focus that they do not really need to have separate source pages devoted to them. However, if an article contains broader, more important information on a number of people which you believe will interest many descendants, a source page may be created for the individual article, using the rules for authored sources. (Use your best judgment.)
These follow the "Place. Title" format. List the place (in smaller-to-larger order) in the "Places Covered" field and the name of the record set in the "Title" field. The system will create a properly formed page title from this information.
In most cases, you will use the name of the records as given by the source you are using. If you need to name a record set yourself, such as a set of primary records held by a government entity, use a simple generic descriptive name for the record; i.e., "Marriages" instead of "Marriage Records" and "Probates" instead of "Wills and Probate Records."
Books and traditional authored sources
The standard format for a source page title for books and similar sources is: Author. Main Title. (Leading articles in the title are omitted by the system.) In the Author field, list the primary author first (on its own line) in "Surname, Given name Middle name" order as listed on the title page of the book. The "primary" author ordinarily is taken to be the first author listed on the title page. (By longstanding convention, the author's name is whatever the author says it is on the title page, . . . even if this varies from one book to another by the same author. Do not "invent" an author's name using information from other sources.) Do not add terms like "editor" or "compiler" to the primary author's name. Additional authors, editors, or compilers should be placed in the "Author" field on separate lines following the primary, each name on its own line. The system will display these on the source page but will ignore them in constructing the page title.
Please capitalize all major words in the title (i.e., as they usually appear on the title page of the book). Put lengthy subtitles in the "Subtitle" field.
The standard book title format applies whether the book is in hard copy, online, film, or some other format. Examples:
Most genealogical websites contain transcriptions of offline sources. If you know the title of WeRelate's source page for the original offline source that the website transcribes, please redirect the Source page for the online source to the offline Source by entering
in the large "Text" box on the online source page. If you cannot identify a source page for the original, offline source that this website transcribes, please take a moment to create a source page for it according to the following guidelines:
Note that if a website does not contain high-quality, original research or transcribe what appears to be an original, offline source, it does not meet the criteria to create a Source page.
Errors and problems
If you aren't sure you have the title right, don't worry about it. Just go ahead and add the source. Remember that "everything is forever" at a wiki. You (or some other user) can correct or recast the title later if necessary.
If you are interested, if you have comments or suggestions or questions, please participate in the discussion of how to properly title genealogical sources on this page's talk page.