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The purpose of this project is to establish a convention for how to display post-nominal letters for Canadian profiles. For example, should Sir John A. Macdonald be shown as:

1) Sir John Alexander Macdonald GCB KCMG PC QC


2) Sir John Alexander Macdonald, GCB, KCMG, PC, QC


3) Sir John Alexander Macdonald, G.C.B., K.C.M.G., P.C., Q.C.


4) Sir John Alexander Macdonald, g.c.b., k.c.m.g., p.c., q.c.

or perhaps anyone of the many other permutations we can find out there.

And in French, there are other variations too.

In this project, we will explore the conventions that exist and, as the Geni community, select the one that we feel is the most appropriate for Canadian profiles.


As stated in Wikipedia, post-nominal letters, also called post-nominal initials, post-nominal titles or designatory letters are letters placed after the name of a person to indicate that the individual holds a position, educational degree, accreditation, office, military decoration, or honour, or is a member of a religious institute or fraternity.

An individual may use several different sets of post-nominal letters, but in some regions it may be customary to limit the number of sets to one or just a few. The order in which these are listed after a name is based on the order of precedence and category of the order. Post-nominal letters are one of the main types of name suffix. They should not be confused with pre-nominal letters, which precede the name rather than follow it.

In Canada, the order of precedence is established in the Canadian Honours System by the Privy Council.

In a Geni profile, the post-nominal letters are posted in the Suffix field. This field is limited to 64 characters.

The number of titles that can be inserted will therefore have to be limited to the 64-character limit.

Different conventions call for the use of uppercase letters, others for lowercase. There are a few titles that, by convention, require the lowercase at all time. For example:

With regard to the use of the period, the general conventions are divided. For example, the Governor General of Canada shows the use of periods, while List of post-nominal letters in Canada on Wikipedia (with a long list of sources) shown no period. Perhaps the convention that is the most clear about the use of period is, Abréviations des ordres religieux catholiques, which asks for the use of periods with lowercase titles and no period with uppercase ones.

Convention: How to Apply Post-Nominal Letters with Canadian Profiles

Convention A. Order of Post-Nominal Titles

Apply the rules established by the Privy Council and posted on the Governor General of Canada website.

Convention B. Uppercase vs. Lowercase

Use uppercase except for titles where a tradition requires a title to be shown in lowercase.

  1. Use CC, not cc (because, no tradition expressly calls for lowercase for the Order of Canada)
  2. Use c.r., not C.R. (because traditionally, lowercase are used for conseiller de la reine)

Convention C. Periods vs. No Periods

Do not use period with uppercase titles. Use periods with lowercase titles. Examples:

  1. Use CC, not C.C.
  2. Use c.c., not cc

Rationale: With uppercase, both (with and without period) are valid. Still for consistency purpose, we need to pick one. We are leaning toward no period because of the Geni's Suffix field size limit of 64 characters, we can post more titles if they do not contain periods. With titles in lowercase, with all general conventions, periods are always used.

Convention D. Limiting the Number of Titles to Post

Some profiles can have over a dozen titles. Should all be posted in the Suffix field?

As a soft rule, we recommend you post only those titles that are especially meaningful for a profile. Now, what does "meaningful" means for a profile? Good question. This depends greatly on the context of the profile. Use your best judgement. And add a line or two in the profile's About to explain what made you decide not to post some of the titles associated with the profile.

Also, there are some general conventions that offer some guidance. For example, for education-related titles, if one holds a bachelor's degree, a master's degree and a doctorate degree, usually, only the highest degree is used as post-nominal. (Example: "John Doe, PhD", not "John Doe, PhD, MSc, BEng")

Ultimately, the Geni's Suffix field size limit of 64 characters will force the discipline of not posting too many titles.

Convention E. Comma as Separator

Use a comma between the last name and the first title. Use a comma between titles.

Musing and Additional Thoughts

At the end of the day, Geni wants us to have fun building profiles. Therefore, when you are not sure, just post whatever you feel is the most appropriate for your profiles, in whatever format. What is most important is that the data you have is posted with a profile. The more information you can add to a profile, the richer is our Geni experience. Just be aware that other users may later update the data to align it with this convention, which is why collaboration is so advantageous: profiles keep improving over time.

If you have questions, comments or suggestions about this topic, contact any of the Canadian curators.

Special Cases

Academic Degrees

If a profile holds several degrees:

  • among several degrees, post the most advanced degrees, example
    • among PhD, MSc and BEng, post PhD, because it is the highest
    • among PhD, LLD and DDS, all are at the same level, therefore, post all three

Honorary Degrees: Do not post titles for honorary degrees.

Military Ranks

A retired member of the Canadian Forces can use the abbreviation of his rank at the time of discharge as post-nominal with "(Ret'd)". For example:

  • John Doe, BGen (Ret'd)


Here are examples of the application of this convention.

Exceptions to Resolve