Genealogy applications, such as geni.com (the web app that I use), ask me to fill the middle name of profiles that I add. My ancestors usually have two personal names, one of them even has four personal names, but I am not sure which one of them is the "middle". I am not sure what "middle name" means at all. Should I just leave the "middle name" blank, and put all the personal names under "first name"?

  • 2
    Welcome to G&FH.SE! To get an overview of the usage "middle name" in English, see the article in Wikipedia. The question is a bit broad because it may have a different answer depending on the software used, but I think it is useful to consider the advantages or disadvantages of both choices.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Jan 18, 2015 at 6:23
  • Is it geni.com that you are using? If so, you can edit that into your question to clarify it by using the edit button beneath it. Would you also be able to include the cultural group(s) that you are interested in because I suspect that this may influence the recommendations made too.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Jan 18, 2015 at 7:07

2 Answers 2


Most of my British ancestors have only one or no middle name which makes it easy i.e. I would leave the middle name field blank for those without one.

However, my 4th great grandmother (Louisa Dorothea Wedderburn Hope Moore) does have four personal names like your worst case so I will use her as an example of what I do in Ancestry.com which has two name fields:

  1. First and Middle Name: Louisa Dorothea Wedderburn Hope
  2. Surname: Moore

If I were using software with separate fields for First, Middle and Surnames then I would do:

  1. First: Louisa
  2. Middle Name(s): Dorothea Wedderburn Hope
  3. Surname: Moore
  • So you say that the "first name" field only includes a single name, and all other given names go to the "middle name"? Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 9:11
  • I think this depends on country and culture. Personally I'd consider registering multiple first names where the names are traditional first names (in the example above I think I'd go for "Louisa Dorothea" as first names and "Wedderburn Hope" as middle names), but it is hard to give any general rules.
    – HavardMoe
    Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 9:52
  • 1
    @HavardMoe In this case she was known as Louisa Moore so a single first seems appropriate but you are right that there are times when British names can include two first names e.g. Mary Ann.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 12:10
  • @ErelSegalHalevi It depends on culture so I qualified my answer with the culture I know best.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 12:11

You should write as the system gives you ability. I'd propose the next conventions:

  • middle name only for patronyms. Such are usually used in countries with Cyrillic alphabet like Russia
  • if there is two or more first names - put them all into First Name field
  • if there is title like baron or graf (earl, count), please write BR/GR in Title field. Also DR for doctor here goes

Also please use "pseudonym" and "show as" fields for alternate spelling of names.

You may agree or use your own set of rules/conventions.

Of course, geni sucks in many meanings. It is not clue-oriented database, so it is difficult to express some things like: - difference between "no name" at all and "unknown" name - if one particular person NEVER had a couple (if you do not add one, somebody may think that the couple may exist). - the same thing with dates

To be honest I don't know ANY good program or site for professional family tree growing...

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