Help:Style guide

To facilitate matching or merging records, the following data entry conventions are (recommended or required?):



  • Except as specified below, do not use special characters, acronyms, or abbreviations in data fields.
  • If a name, date, or location is unknown, leave the field blank. Do not enter "Unknown," abbreviations or acronyms such as Unk, LNU, NMI, or special symbols such as brackets < > or [ ].
  • Do not use numbers in the name fields to differentiate between generations (Royal lineages excepted).


Given name

  • Enter both first and middle name in full, if known.
  • If an initial is known rather than a full name, enter it with a period. In the case of dual initials, enter with a single space between the two. Use the same convention for individuals who were given initials only as first names: R. J.
  • Do not include nicknames in the primary name field; enter nicknames in the Alternate Name field.
  • Special characters may be used if they are part of the legal name: Jean-Baptiste, Françoise, Bjørn.
    • Searches for Jean will find Jean-Baptiste and "Jean Baptiste"; searches for Jean-Baptiste will find "Jean Baptiste", but will not find just "Jean" if the exact checkbox is checked.
  • When two children in a family have the same given name, enter (1), (2), etc. in the Title Suffix field to clarify the birth sequence if you do not otherwise know a birth or christening date.
  • Also see exception for patronymics and instructions for dit names under Surname below.


  • Do not enter surnames in all capitals; use initial caps only.
  • If the surname is unknown, leave it blank or use simply Unknown. Do not use abbreviations such as LNU, question marks, dashes, or brackets.
  • Use of special characters is permitted as with Given Names above.
  • In the case of articles and contractions, you may wish to enter variations in the Alternate Name field (Van der Mark, Vandermark).
  • Enter the name as it was used by the individual, including abbreviations if applicable: St. Leger.
    • If the individual used multiple spellings, use the most common or the name most of his children used as the primary name (and name of the page).
    • If the name was in the process of changing from one variant to another, or is frequently misspelled in records, enter the different spelling(s) as an Alternate Name(s).
  • Enter maiden names for women regardless of the number of prior marriages. Do not use a married surname in place of a woman's maiden name.
  • Dit names: Enter the full version in the Surname field: Destroismaisons dit Picard.
  • If an individual was given a multiple surname show as one entry with a single space (no comma or hyphen) between each name: Gonzales Diaz.
  • If an individual was baptized with a patronymic surname and later received a different legal surname, enter the patronymic as a second middle name in the Given Name field and the legal surname in the Surname field. For example, (Given Name): Signe Gustava Jansdatter, (Surname): Krug.

Title prefix and suffix

  • The Title Prefix and Suffix fields may be used to list military, noble, or religious titles (Capt., Rev., Duke of ____). Civil and professional titles (governor, senator, attorney, doctor, etc.) should be entered as individual Events.
  • Enter "Senior" and "Junior" when father and son have exactly the same name. If the name is carried over several generations, use Roman numerals in the Suffix field to clarify the sequence.

Alternate names

Use these fields for all spelling variations as well as nicknames, AKA's, aliases, legal name changes, and pseudonyms. Include given name and surname with each alternate name entry.


  • Enter dates using the Gregorian calendar in the format d Mmm yyyy, e.g., 6 Aug 1945. Do not use leading zeroes or question marks for the day, years should have four digits so a year before 1000 should have leading zero's . Use 3-letter English abbreviations for the months, case is unimportant.
  • When part of a date is unavailable, enter only what is known. Do not enter, for example, ?? May 1815. Dates given for a fact should describe when that exact event occurred. For example, do not enter baptism dates in the birth field. Rather, enter it in a fact of the correct type.
  • If you know a baptism/christening date rather than the birth, enter it in the christening field and enter nothing in the birth field (the system will treat it as a birth date where it needs to). Similarly, if you know a burial date and not a death date, enter it in the burial field and enter nothing in the death field.
  • Estimated dates should have an attached note or source citation that explains how the estimate was arrived at. Estimated dates should include one of the preferred three letter qualifiers:
  • Abt - the date is near the specified date.
  • Aft - the date is on or after the specified date
  • Bef - the date is before or on the specified date
  • Bet - the date is between (inclusive) the two specified dates (separated by a dash)
  • Double dating should be used in pre-Gregorian dates for dates between 1 Jan and 24 Mar, if known. For example, 11 Feb 1731/32 is the birthdate of George Washington.
  • A.D. and B.C. are entered in capital letters with periods and no space between.
  • Dates that have been converted (e.g., from numeric form) should be given in their original form in an attached source ctiation.

See also Help:Date Conventions and wikipedia:Gregorian calendar.


  • Internal links: Links to other WeRelate pages may be created by typing [[namespace:page title]]. This is most easily done by copying the top line of the target page since all the punctuation and spacing must be exact. For example, [[Person:Abraham Lincoln (1)]], which displays as Person:Abraham Lincoln (1); or [[Person:George Washington (6)|First President of the United States]], which displays the optional display text instead of the raw link text (First President of the United States). Do not use the URL of the WeRelate page as URL punctuation may make the link hard to read.
  • External links: Use of the [ Text to display] format to add a link to an external page is preferable. For clarity, avoid using shortened URL’s (such as TinyURL & It is recommended to always use the optional description ("Text to display") after the URL (separated by a space) so that long URLs don't affect the page width.
  • Source links: When citing information found online, the preferred method is to put the URL in brackets with display text if it is helpful, either in the Vol./pages field or in the Transcription/text field.
  • See Help:Guidelines for use of Wikipedia for more information on using wikipedia. Wikipedia links to additional information may use the form [[wikipedia:Gregorian calendar]].