Categories: WikiTree Help
A person's name can be displayed in a variety of ways on WikiTree. Here's an explanation. For the recommended usage of name fields, see Name Fields.
Although we would all prefer simplicity, our name fields and their implementation are complicated by many competing needs.
We want our name displays to work as well as possible for any person, in any culture and language, at any time in history. We want them to work for all members, and we want them to enable all members to work together. Our privacy rules mean that we can't display Formal First Names or full Middle Names for private people unless you are on the Trusted List. Certain display contexts on WikiTree have limited space while others do not. And adding to the complication, we try to optimize our profiles as cousin bait in external search engines such as Google. The optimal implementation for these search engines is never certain and changes over time.
Therefore, it's important to understand that name displays will not be ideal for every person on WikiTree. The name display forms described below are compromises.
Name Display Forms
There are essentially five ways we combine name fields.
- [Preferred First Name] ([Last Name at Birth]) [Current Last Name] [Suffix]
- John Smith Jr.
- Betty (Jones) Smith
This is the most common form for private people and it is used for all people in informal contexts and where space is limited.
This is used in:
- Headlines (H1, title, and alt tags) on profiles and associated pages for private people, whether or not you're on the Trusted List.
- Links to private nuclear family members on profiles, whether or not you're on the Trusted List.
- Change history items in Activity Feeds for private people.
- Tabs on public views.
Although the full Long Name (see below) could be shown in many of these contexts if you're on the Trusted List, we decided to use Short Name more consistently for the sake of simplicity, and because private people are generally living family members. Using the Preferred First Name in prominent contexts shows more respect for their preferences. Non-living people's personal preferences are given relatively less priority in favor of genealogical clarity and accessibility.
- [Formal First Name] [Middle Name] ([Last Name at Birth]) [Current Last Name] [Suffix]
This is the most common form for public people.
- Jonathan Robert Smith Jr.
- Elizabeth Anne (Jones) Smith
- Links to public nuclear family members on profiles.
- Descendant lists for public people, and for private people if you're on the Trusted List.
- Search results and surname index pages for public people, and for private people if you're on the Trusted List.
Long Name with Dates
This is the same as Long Name but it includes ([Birth Year]-[Death Year]).
- Jonathan Robert Smith Jr. (1968-)
- Elizabeth Anne (Jones) Smith (abt.1850-bef.1936)
- Headlines (H1, title, and alt tags) on profiles and associated pages for public people.
- Change history items in Activity Feeds for public people.
- "Name on Watchlist" Quick Finder search tool. Here it is used for all people.
Long Name - Private
- [Preferred First Name] [Middle Initial] ([Last Name at Birth]) [Current Last Name] [Suffix]
This is used rarely. The only difference between this and Short Name is that Long Name - Private includes the middle initial. It's used where showing the maximum amount of information is important. The full Middle Name needs to be private but the middle initial can be valuable for distinguishing between people in lists and search results.
- John R. Smith Jr.
- Betty A. (Jones) Smith
- Search results and surname index pages for private people if you're not on Trusted List.
Note that middle initial will not display if the Preferred First Name is the same as the Middle Name. For example, if Jonathan Robert Smith prefers to be called Robert he will be displayed as Robert Smith instead of Robert R. Smith. If his Preferred First Name is Rob or Bob the middle initial will still show.
- [Formal First Name] [Middle Name] [Last Name at Birth] [Suffix]
- Jonathan Robert Smith Jr.
- Elizabeth Anne Jones
This is used on family trees for public people and for private people if you're on their Trusted List. It is the same as Long Name except Current Last Name is left out. On family trees, the Last Name at Birth is most relevant for genealogy, and space is an issue. Personal preferences of living people are given relatively less priority in favor of genealogical clarity.
Tree Name - Private
- [Preferred First Name] [Last Name at Birth] [Suffix]
- John Smith Jr.
- Betty Jones
This is used on family trees for private people if you're not on their Trusted List. It is the same as Short Name except Current Last Name is left out.
There are a few other combinations that may appear in certain views or features. Most of these are now being consolidated into one of the five forms discussed above.
One of the most visible displays is what appears at the top of the left column of the person's profile. This isn't a standard form. It includes all the name fields. This and the edit page are the only significant views that include the Prefix, Nicknames, or Other Last Names.
No Effect on Search Results
Display forms do not affect search results. Even the way a name is displayed in search results (Long Name for public people; Long Name - Private for private people) is independent of how the matching is done.
To ensure that your profiles can be found in searches, now and in the future as our technology improves, it's important to use name fields according to our style standards without consideration of name displays.
Viewing Name Displays for a Person
To see all the standard name displays for a person, click the pull-down menu that starts with their WikiTree ID at the top of any of their pages. Then select "Name Displays."
This page was last modified 10:50, 22 November 2020. This page has been accessed 9,439 times.