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Geni project guidelines

This project sets out advice on how to create an effective project, including information on layout, style, and how to make a project clear, precise and relevant to the reader. The following guidelines have borrowed heavily from Wikipedia and modified for use on Geni.

If you support the guidelines of this project, please join as a collaborator.


Projects should normally adhere to the following criteria:

  • be related to genealogy. Focus on the people, not simply the topic.
  • have a clear scope. Clearly identify the purpose and scope of the project. Content should be within the scope of its policy.
  • be non-redundant. Avoid duplicating existing projects. When the scope of one project overlaps with the scope of another, minimize redundancy.
  • contain references. Refer a minimum one or more Geni profiles or sub-projects.

Manual of Style

The Manual of Style (MoS) is designed to help editors produce projects with consistent, clear, and precise language, layout, and formatting. The goal is to make Geni projects easier and more intuitive to use. Consistency in language, style, and formatting promotes clarity and cohesion; this is especially important within an project descriptions.

Project titles, headings, and sections

Project titles

The principal criteria for a project title:

  • Recognizability – Is the candidate title a recognizable name or description of the topic?
  • Naturalness – What title(s) are readers most likely to look for to find the project? Which title(s) will editors most naturally use to link from other projects? Such titles usually convey what the subject is actually called in English.
  • Precision – How precise is the title under discussion? Consensus titles usually use names and terms that are precise, but only as precise as necessary to identify the topic of the project unambiguously. For technical reasons, no two Geni project titles can be identical. For information on how ambiguity is avoided in titles, see the precision and disambiguation section below and the disambiguation guideline.
  • Conciseness – Is the title concise or is it overly long?
  • Consistency – Does the proposed title follow the same pattern as those of similar projects?

Project title format

The following points are used in deciding on questions not covered by the five principles; consistency on these helps avoid duplicate projects:

  • Use lower case, except for proper names: The initial letter of a title is almost always capitalized; subsequent words in a title are not, unless they are part of a proper name, and so would be capitalized in running text; when this is done, the title will be simple to link to in other projects: Northwestern University offers more graduate work than a typical liberal arts college.
  • Use the singular form: Project titles are generally singular in form, e.g. Horse, not Horses. Exceptions include nouns that are always in a plural form in English (e.g. scissors or trousers) and the names of classes of objects (e.g. Arabic numerals or Bantu languages).
  • Avoid abbreviations: Abbreviations and acronyms are generally avoided unless the subject is almost exclusively known by its abbreviation (e.g. NATO and Laser). The abbreviation UK, for United Kingdom, is acceptable for use in disambiguation. It is also unnecessary to include an acronym in addition to the name in a title.
  • Avoid definite and indefinite articles: Do not place definite or indefinite articles (the, a and an) at the beginning of titles unless they are part of a proper name (e.g. The Old Man and the Sea) or will otherwise change the meaning (e.g. The Crown).
  • Use nouns: Nouns and noun phrases are normally preferred over titles using other parts of speech; such a title can be the subject of the first sentence. One major exception is for titles that are quotations or titles of works: A rolling stone gathers no moss, or Try to Remember. Adjective and verb forms (e.g. democratic, integrate) should redirect to articles titled with the corresponding noun (Democracy, Integration), although sometimes they will be disambiguation pages, as at Organic. Sometimes the noun corresponding to a verb will be the gerund (-ing form), as in Swimming.
  • Do not enclose titles in quotes: Project titles that are quotes (or song titles, etc.) are not enclosed in quotation marks (e.g. To be, or not to be is the project title, while "To be, or not to be" is a redirect to that project). An exception is made when the quotation marks are part of a name or title (as in the movie "Crocodile" Dundee or the album "Heroes").
  • Do not use titles suggesting that one project forms part of another: Even if an article is considered subsidiary to another (as where summary style is used), it should be named independently. For example, a project on shtetls in Poland should not be given a name like "Shtetls: Poland" or "Shtetls (Poland)" – use Shtetls in Poland.

Section organization

Good projects descriptions start with a brief lead section introducing the topic. The lead section should come above the first header; it is almost never useful to add something like ==Introduction==. Sometimes, the first section after the lead is a broad summary of the topic, and is called "Overview", although more specific section titles and structures are generally preferred.

Section headings

Headings help clarify projects descriptions.

Headings are hierarchical. You should start with level 1 heading (=Heading=) and follow it with lower levels: ==Subheading==, ===Subsubheading===, and so forth. Whether extensive subtopics should be kept on one page or moved to individual projects is a matter of personal judgment.

Headings should not be links. This is because headings in themselves introduce information and let the reader know what subtopics will be presented; link should be incorporated in the text of the section.

Geni projects may include links to web pages outside Geni (external links), but they should not normally be used in the body of a project description. Instead, include appropriate external links in an "External links" section at the end of the project description.

Text formatting


Boldface (text like this) is common in Geni project descriptions, but only for certain usages. The most common use of boldface is to highlight the article title, and often synonyms, in the lead section (first paragraph). This is done for the majority of articles, but there are exceptions. Use italics, not boldface, for emphasis in project description text.