Help:Location Fields

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Here are guidelines for what to enter in birth, death, and marriage location fields, and how to name regional categories.

This page only includes style rules that have been agreed-upon by the community for all of WikiTree. Projects have developed more particular style rules for most pre-1700 profiles and some others. See the Location Field Guidelines directory.

Don't worry if you can't apply these rules perfectly. They are the ideals. No profile is ever perfect and complete.


Location Field Style Guide

Our guiding principle for location names is the same as the one for Name Fields: "use their conventions instead of ours."

Applied to locations, this means using place names in native languages and using the names that people at the time used, even if they now no longer exist.

Tip: If you're unsure of the name in the native language, look it up on Wikipedia. Every place page will say in the first line what the name is in each of the official languages of that country, e.g. see Germany.

Location names that changed over time

Place names and boundaries change over the course of history. They also have different names in different languages.

We aim to use the name that was used in that place, at the time of the event you're recording. This standard is difficult to apply, but it is an ideal that members from all over the world can agree upon.

For example, when recording the birth place of someone born in Port Royal, Acadia, in the 1600s, you should use "Port-Royal, Acadie" rather than the English "Port Royal, Acadia" or the present day "Port Royal, Nova Scotia, Canada".

Uncertain locations

As a general rule, entering almost any location is better than no location.

See Help:Uncertain Locations for the details of our policy on uncertain, estimated, modern and translated location names.

One location name per location field

Do not put a second alternative or translated location name in a location field.

Alternative or current location names can be discussed in the biography or Help:Research Notes.


Use the full place name for counties, states, provinces, d├ępartements, etc. Examples: Rhode Island, not RI; New Brunswick, not NB; Hampshire, not Hants; Seine-et-Marne, not S-M.

Abbreviations for country names may be acceptable when it is the general standard and most recognizable.

Street names, building numbers, etc.

Do not include a house number, street address, building name, church, hospital, etc., in the location field unless it represents an administrative division, such as a parish.

Location details at this level should go in the biography or Help:Research Notes.

Location names for immigrants and travelers

If there is a difference between the place name used by the person themselves and the place name used by most people in the location, the choice between these two alternatives should be left to those actively contributing to the profile, or in the case of disputes or pre-1700 profiles, the project that covers them.

Automatic Place Name Suggestions

WikiTree utilizes FamilySearch's Place Research database to make suggestions for location names based on what you type.

You will see a pin icon map.gif next to suggestions. If you click it, you'll be taken to the research details page at FamilySearch for the location. This may be necessary to see the years in which the place name was valid.

You do not need to accept any of the place name suggestions. They may not be the ideal way to record the place name on WikiTree. See our style rules above. In particular, the suggestions may not be in the person's own language. See the Language Selection page for more explanation.

Hiding place name suggestions

Beneath the location fields on any profile's edit page you will see a small link that says "hide place name suggestions." If you click this, the automatic suggestions will not appear.

Some members prefer to hide the suggestions because they want to see the automatic suggestions from their web browser, i.e. the ones based on names they have entered in the past. If the FamilySearch suggestions are not hidden, the browser's suggestions are overridden and will not appear.

Correcting place name suggestions

If you notice a mistake in a place name suggestion you can suggest an improvement at FamilySearch's Place Research database.

You will need to be signed in to your FamilySearch account. Type in the place name you want to correct, and then click the "Improve This Place" button.

You can suggest a place that doesn't exist yet by clicking the "Suggest a New Place" link in the upper left.

Regional Categorization

The style rules discussed above apply to Category:Categories as well. For example, Ottawa, the capital of Canada, used to be called Bytown. So, someone who lived there before 1855 would have called it Bytown, not Ottawa. That person should go in Category:Bytown, Canada West. Someone born after 1855 should go in Category:Ottawa, Ontario. (Note that Category:Bytown, Canada West is a subcategory of Category:Ottawa, Ontario so the people born before and after 1855 won't be completely separated from each other.)

For more information on location names in Category:Categories, see Category Names for Regions.

Also see these G2G discussions:

We used to recommend using the native language for all location-based categories. However, this involved a lot of difficulties, particularly when a location had multiple official languages. So, we switched to having parallel categories in multiple languages.

If you have questions, ask the Categorization Project by posting in G2G using the tag categorization.

Location Fields for Pre-1700 Profiles

Projects have developed location naming conventions for many profiles of people born before 1700 and some later profiles.

See the Location Field Guidelines directory.

This page was last modified 02:36, 2 June 2023. This page has been accessed 112,691 times.