How to–write names, dates and places


Entering personal names into a genealogy software database is simple–as most provide individual points of entry for the given (first) name, middle name, and surname (last name). Where a location for a middle name is not available, they can be inserted right after the given (first) name–using a space between them. Some software automatically converts the surname into all capital letters; while most allow a choice of “as typed” or “all capitals.” Aliases and nicknames are usually inserted after the given (first) name, and generally have quotation marks surrounding them.


When typing dates into genealogy databases (software programs), there really is no choice other than to follow the strict genealogists protocol. Many individuals are more comfortable entering dates in some other fashion; but they cause confusion and lead to many errors. And, many software applications will not accept them without change. Dates should be entered in the standard format of first showing the day of the month, followed by a three-letter abbreviation for the month, followed by the year fully listed. An example would be 12 Aug 1942


The genealogical convention is for locations to be listed in the following way:

City or township, County, State, Country

There are four fields in which information must be inserted, and each MUST be separated by a comma. If you do not know the city, or county, then the commas are still added but no writing falls within the commas.

Detroit, Wayne, Michigan, USA is the correct way to write a place. When the county is not known. it should be listed in the following manner:

Detroit, , Michigan, USA

Other missing information should be handled similarly.

Foreign countries sometimes get a little confusing, but generally follow the same pattern. Sometimes a 5th field is used in foreign countries due to town naming patterns; and sometimes in the United States the census enumeration district is shown similarly–usually preceding the city or town.

Beginning genealogists invariably have difficulty with county names; and for that reason it may be prudent to use the word ‘County’ immediately after the name of the county to aid in understanding. Sloppy genealogical work abounds on the internet, with the biggest offender being that of missing or incorrect county names; or inserting city names where county is requested. If you choose to use the word ‘County’ after the county name, and you intend to run the names through the LDS Temple Ready program, the word ‘County’ will have to be removed at that time. (But I still think it will be helpful to begin your work in this manner.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>