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Basic Indexing Guidelines: Place Names
Symptoms (Problems)

What are the Basic Indexing Guidelines?

Basic Indexing Guidelines are instructions for all projects. Exceptions to the basic rules are noted in the Field Helps, Project Instructions, or Project Updates. Be sure to review the Project Instructions before indexing a batch and refer to the Field Helps.

Answer (Resolution)

The basic indexing guidelines for place names include:

Washington DC (District of Columbia)
  • District of Columbia is a federal district and not a state. For indexing purposes, Washington will be indexed in the City field and District of Columbia will be indexed in the State field.
Do not include information that does not appear on the record.
  • Some fields ask for a specific type of place, such as state, and exclude others.

  • Carefully review the Field Helps and if the requested information was not written on the record, please leave the field blank.

  • Do not try to determine or guess at the information.

  • For example, if a county was recorded, do not include the state unless the state name was written on the record.

Type only the name of the place.
  • Do not include terms as "county of," "county," "resided in," "rural," "of," and so on.

  • For example, type Pleasantview, not “city of Pleasantview."

Do not include periods, commas, parentheses, semicolons, or ampersands ( ) between levels of localities for any of the fields.
Most projects say in the Field Help to expand abbreviations and correct misspellings of place names. However, some projects require you to type exactly what is written on the document.
  • Please review the Field Help in each project to see how place names should be indexed.

  • If unsure of the spelling of a place or what an abbreviation stands for, type exactly what is written on the document.

A province or state from any country might be indexed in a State or Territory field in any project.
Geographical divisions might be designated differently in different countries or parts of a country.
  • Generally, a parish is equivalent to a town, and a province is equivalent to a state.

  • One exception is Louisiana, in which a parish is equivalent to a county.

If unknown if the place recorded was a city, county, state, etc., put the locality in the smallest geographical division.
If the project instructions or Field Helps do not say to expand an abbreviation, and if the name of a place such as New York or United States is abbreviated with the first letter of each word, index the letters without a space.
  • Whether or not a space is used does not affect search results later, but consistency in leaving out the space makes arbitration easier.

  • For example, New York would be indexed as NY.

Some place names contain abbreviations as part of their common usage.
  • If place names on the records include abbreviations commonly part of the name, do not expand them.

  • Do not include periods.

  • Examples in the United States are St. Louis, Missouri; St. Paul, Minnesota; Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.

  • Examples in Canada are Ste. Anne, Manitoba, or Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

Index only place names in the Place of Birth fields. Do not index ethnicity.
  • For example, Canada French or Canada English would be indexed as Canada.

When indexing Native American names, if the Degree of Blood or name of the tribe was written in the Place of Birth field, mark the field as Ctrl+B or <BLANK>.

Other Basic Guidelines and Helps :

  • 112975 Basic Indexing Guidelines: All Documents

  • 102817 Basic Indexing Guidelines

  • 102813 Basic Indexing Guidelines: Names

  • 102814 Basic Indexing Guidelines: Dates

  • 111803 Basic Indexing Guidelines: Ages

  • 108440 Basic Indexing Guidelines: Other

  • Glossary of Terms

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