FamilySearch Wiki:Naming Conventions for Geographic Names

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Style guideline proposal - A conversation on this issue is found on the discussion page. Once consensus is reached, a Manual of Style guideline will be added to this page.

This page describes proposed conventions for determining the names of Research Wiki articles on places. Our naming policy provides that article names should be chosen for the general reader, not for specialists. By following modern English usage, we also avoid arguments about what a place ought to be called, instead asking the less contentious question, what it is called.

Country names in English

Use the form of a current country's name as it appears in the CIA World Factbook.

When a widely accepted English name, exists for a former country or empire, we should use it. For example, New Spain rather than Virreinato de Nueva España, Ottoman Empire rather than دولتْ علیّه عثمانیّه or Osmanlı İmparatorluğu.

Browse by Country page, and Category:Countries

Use the CIA World Factbook to determine which nations are listed on the Browse by Country Wiki page, and in the Category:Countries. Only continuously inhabited places with indigenous populations in the World Factbook are eligible.

Countries which are not listed in the World Factbook should not appear on the Browse by Country page, or in the Category:Countries. However, they may be appropriate as part of another country's page/category, or on the List of extinct states page, or in the Category:Former Countries.

Country sub-divisions: as in the FHL Catalog

For places smaller than a country use the name as it would appear if it were in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog. However, normally write the name in order from smallest to largest jurisdiction, for example, Chicago, Cook, Illinois.

Also, use diacritics as they would appear in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog, for example, Höfgen (AH. Meißen), Sachsen, Germany.

Administrative sub-divisions

Names of classes of places do what English does. In particular, when dealing with administrative subdivisions, we write of United States counties and Cook County, Illinois, or of Russian oblasts and the Moscow Oblast, but of Chinese and Roman provinces, not sheng or provinciae.

Also, use Jackson Township, Hamilton, Indiana, but use Cicero, Hamilton, Indiana for an incorporated municipality.


It is often the case that the same geographic place-name will apply to more than one place, or to a place and to other things of interest to genealogists such as a tribe or language; in either case disambiguation will be necessary. See FamilySearch Wiki:Disambiguation.

See also