How should I enter names in Family Tree?

Every person in Family Tree must have a first or last name. The following guidelines help you enter a person’s name correctly and make it easier for other people to find that person in Family Tree. 

Select the correct language

When you add or edit a name in Family Tree, you can change the language setting. The language setting allows you to enter the name in the correct order with the correct character sets.

Enter the correct version of the name in the Vitals section

In the Vitals section, enter the person’s birth name or complete legal name.

  • Capitalization—Use normal capitalization.
  • Maiden and married names—If a woman changed her surname after marriage, use her maiden name. 
  • Legal name changes—If a person changed his or her name legally (other than surname changes after marriage), enter the newer legal name.
  • Most commonly used name—If the person did not use his or her legal name in life, you can enter the commonly used name in the Vitals section and the legal name in the Other Information section.

Put each part of the name in the correct field

  • Title—Use Title for words like “Count” or “Mister.” If a person lacks a title, leave this field blank. 
  • First Names—Enter the person's first and middle names. Put nicknames in the “Other Information” section.
  • Last Names—Enter the person’s family name or surname. If a woman changed her surname after marriage, enter her maiden name. If the person has no last name, such as for Native Americans, leave the Last Name field blank.
  • Suffix—Enter words like “Jr.” or “Sr.,” or perhaps a Roman numeral, as in “John Smith III.”  If a person lacks a suffix, leave this field blank. 

Put nicknames and other variations in the Other Information section

Add other names a person had in the “Other Information” section. Here are examples:

  • Nicknames
  • Names used before or after moving to a new country
  • Names used to avoid identification
  • Name changes from adoption, divorce, or some other legal actions if they were not the last legal name the person used
  • Name variants caused by naming customs, such as French "dit" names
  • Married names of women
  • Spelling variations

Avoid invalid words and characters

When an invalid character is used in one or more of the name fields, the information cannot be saved. A warning message displays describing the problem. If the message displays in red, the invalid characters must be removed before you can continue—even if those characters were present prior to editing.

Follow these guidelines:

  • These characters are not permitted: \ @ # $ % ^ & * _ + = | ~ ? < > [ ] { } ( ) ; : 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9.
  • Avoid extra spaces.
  • Hyphens and apostrophes are allowable if they are a part of the actual name.
  • Avoid names with initials only.
  • Avoid words that are not usually names, such as “not named,” “unnamed,” “Mister,” “Wife,” "twin," or "son." 
  • Generation numbers, such as Steven Smith III, are acceptable in the suffix field.

How do I change vital information in Family Tree?
How do I add nicknames to Family Tree?
How do I enter a name from a different language into Family Tree?
Why does a person's name have a question mark in Family Tree?
How do I enter Scandinavian names into Family Tree?

Was this helpful?