Start My Family Tree Welcome to Geni, home of the world's largest family tree.
Join Geni to explore your genealogy and family history in the World's Largest Family Tree.

Coalition for the Standardization of Geni Naming Conventions

« Back to Projects Dashboard

Project Tags

This group aims to concisely define a set a rules that everyone in this project can abide by.


1. Use ordinary case. Do not enter surnames in all uppercase Here is the place to change your personal settings so that your Birth Surnames shows in CAPS even when entered in ordinary case.

Try & get the name as close to the original name as possible, taking into account the dialect and time period. (Cut & paste from Wikipedia etc can provide the appropriate diacritical marks if they aren't a function on your keyboard.)

2. A person's Birth Surname should to be entered in the "Birth Name" field AND THEN also in the "Last Name/ Surname" field if their surname did not change during their lifetime.

Established Western genealogical principals prioritize Birth Surnames (including 'maiden names' over 'married names'), so although Geni provides the opportunity to record later-life name changes too, please never leave out the Birth Surname field, if you know the Birth Surname.

A couple of points regarding naming conventions from previous Geni head, Noah Tutak:

  • As much as possible, the current fields should be used as they are set-up.
  • Maiden name should be maiden name [Birth surname field] and last name should be last name.
  • In cases where a married woman kept her maiden name, that should be her last name as well.
  • In cases where she legally changed her name to a different last name, that should be used in the last name field.

3. Surname changes that occurred after the Birth Surname, should be entered in the “Last Name / Surname” field. The last name field should not be used as a placeholder for names given as birth surnames, instead of filling in that field. It is possible for each user to change their name preferences to show only maiden / Birth Surnames instead of Last Names. Here is the place to change your settings to only view the Birth Surname

Eg A woman's 'married name' is used only in the "Surname/ Last Name" field. (If she is unmarried or has retained her 'maiden name' after marriage, then her maiden name can appear in both fields.)


4. Add sources to validate your data wherever you can. Try not to 'fabricate facts' without evidence.

Eg don't provide married names for women in eras / cultures / languages where they didn't use them.

Area Specific Rules



Geni has recently released an entire system for Chinese names. Most importantly surnames now appear before given names, if they are entered under the Chinese tab. For details, see:


Please refer to Hrvatski portal - Pitanja i odgovori/Croatian portal - Questions and answers



As Finnish names to a large extent contained patronymics, please see

Native American






South Africa

  • A woman's married name is used in the Surname field after 1800 (when Britain took over the Dutch Colony). Before 1800, married female ancestors from the continent (France, Holland, Germany) are unlikely to have used their husband’s surnames as ‘Married Names,’ so both fields can be filled with their birth surname. British ancestors follow the naming patterns for Britain, where Married Names were used from about 1600.
  • See also South Africa - Profile Guidelines
  • See also SA Genealogical Reference Centre


Period Specific Rules

Roman Empire (27 BC - 488 AD)

Ancient Wales, Ireland, and Scotland (60 BC - 1066 AD)

Medieval Europe (ca. 1100 - 1350)

Topical Rules

Wiki Pages


If you wonder how this image got inserted: just add {{daddy_heart.gif}} to your project description or About Me. You find other images in the Blog_Badges page.