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Coalition for the Standardization of Geni Naming Conventions

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This project aims to provide accurate naming conventions for specific places and times.

General Rules

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.

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

3. Use the Display Name field for the modern version / translation / transliteration in your own language.

4. A person's birth surname should to be entered in the "Birth Name" field & surname changes that occurred after the birth surname, should be entered in the “Last Name / Surname” 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

5. Do NOT fill in the Display Name field; by leaving it empty, each person's "name preferences" will be used automatically.

6. Don't fabricate facts without evidence eg don't provide married names for women in eras / cultures where they didn't use them. Add sources to validate your data wherever you can.




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:



The Geni Wiki page on Finnish names is outdated and will be updated soon (



This convention will focus more on the Malay Muslim from Malaysia. However it may also be applied by any other profile not only from Malaysia but also include Brunei, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, and any that practice the same naming system.

Native American





1. Scottish women did not generally use married names before about 1600 (when they began copying the English about the time the Stewarts succeeded in the Tudors in England). The custom of using married names began with the nobility and spread downwards. In some rural parts of Scotland, married names did not come into use until the 19th century.

2. In Scotland, territorial designations are part of the surname, & do not go into the Suffix field. The surname, including the territorial designation, is properly used by the head of the family, his wife, oldest son, and all daughters. Younger sons use the surname alone, unless they acquire their own property. Look at primary sources to determine whether someone used a territorial designation; & remember that a place name is only a territorial designation when a person is "of" a place. If they are "in" or "at" then it's a mere description of residence. See Territorial Designations, the correct form.

"of that Ilk" (Ilk is always capitalized) is a territorial designation that means "of the same name or place". So, the surname and territorial designation are the same. This is common when the surname is taken from a place name eg the surname Moncreiffe of Moncreiffe could be Moncreiffe of that Ilk.

It is also used by chiefs of the name who don't have a landed estate. For example, Mackintosh of Mackintosh could be Mackintosh of that Ilk.

You have to know which form the person prefers, duplication or "of that Ilk". In general, Lowland families prefer of that Ilk and Highland families prefer duplication. It’s a good idea to look up the current chief in Wikipedia then use his preferred form for his ancestors.

3. A Scottish Lord (of Parliament) is the equivalent of an English Baron. A Scottish (feudal) Baron is the approximate equivalent of an English Lord of the Manor. In other words, the titles are (loosely) reversed. See Barons in Scotland usage.

A Scottish laird is just a landowner. Laird is not a title of nobility. However, a laird might be a feudal baron -- that is, a land owner with the right to hold a baronial court (just as an English lord of the manor anciently had the right to hold a manorial court).

A usage such as "John Grant, 2nd of Freuchie" is a conversational shorthand, not his real name. His name recorded in the Naming field would be "John Grant of Freuchie", and he would be "2nd Laird of Freuchie" in the Suffix field.


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.' British ancestors follow the naming patterns for Britain, where Married Names were used from about 1600.
  • Zulu & Xhosa nobility often use patronymics eg Mageba kaGumede & Gcaleka aPhalo. These should be recorded in the Birth Surname field. See South Africa - Profile Naming Conventions



Though the Welsh have recently started using the old naming customs, from about 1600 on, their names follow English customs. This is not true, however, for the middle ages and the early modern periods. Until the Laws in Wales Acts of 1535 and 1542, which caused Welsh law to be subsumed into English common law, most of the Welsh used the patronymic naming system. (The main exceptions to this would be found in the borderlands of the Welsh Marches, where Anglo Norman and Welsh gentry intermarried; you find many Welsh families there using surnames.)

In Welsh, the word "ap," or "ab," before a vowel, means "son of." So "Ieuan ap Rhys" means "Ieuan, son of Rhys." "Ferch," or "verch," (or "merch," in very early profiles), means "daughter of." So "Gwenllian ferch Madog" means "Gwenllian, the daughter of Madog."

1) "Ab" and "ferch" go together with the name of the father (or in some cases the mother) of the profile; put them together into the Surname fields; do not separate them, with the "ab" or "verch" in the middle name field, or capitalize them. (This becomes a problem when duplicates are merged, in which case it's easy to end up with problematic names such as Llewelyn ap ap Owain.)

2) Women do not change their names or take a different last name when they marry; Gwenllian ferch Rhys remains Gwenllian ferch Rhys when she marries. If she marries Caradog ap Rhirid she does not become Gwenllian ap Rhirid; she is not the son of Rhirid. It is a good idea to put the "ferch Rhys" into both of the surname fields, to keep mistakes from happening when duplicate profiles are merged. Even in cases wherein a Welsh woman is marrying into an Anglo-Norman family, she does not take her husband's surname. Like the Scots, the Welsh did not use married names until the Reformation.

3) Often, in the medieval Welsh profiles, people will have nicknames, such as "Mawr" or "Fawr" (the great), "Hir" (the tall), "Fychan" or "Vychan" (the younger), "Hen" (the old), "Llwyd" (the grey), "Goch" (the red), etc. These are often mistaken for surnames, but they are best put in the middle name field.

4) In the early modern period, after 1542, the Welsh gentry started using surnames, and the rest of the Welsh followed suit, slowly (rural areas kept the old system longest). But they had not originally had surnames, and so surnames needed to be invented (this is why there are a relatively small number of surnames used in Wales even now). These were created in various ways. "Ab Owain" became "Bowen," for instance, and "ap Rhys" became "Prys," or "Price." Sometimes people took their father's or grandfather's name as a surname; "Craddock," for instance, comes from "Caradog; "Traherne" comes from "Trahearn," and the like. Many of the nicknames became last names -- "Llwyd" became "Lloyd," "Vychan" became a last name in its own right, and "Goch" became "Gooch." During the many decades when the Welsh changed systems, there were name variations even within families. Best practice is to put the "Englished" name in the surname field, the Welsh name in the birth surname field, and any other variations into the nickname field. The family names straighten themselves out within a generation or two.


Roman Empire (27 BC - 488 AD)

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

Medieval Europe (ca. 1100 - 1350)


Wiki Pages