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Help:Surname

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A surname is the family name of a person, usually the last name in Western countries but the first name in Asian traditions. On this site we should have:

  1. an article for each surname: ("Surname (surname)")
  2. a category, which should automatically include the article and every page dealing with an individual who has that surname: ("Category:Surname (surname)")

Where you are familiar with alternative spellings (e.g. White/Whyte), please note them on the surname article page, preferably in the "Variants" section of the template near the top. Other readers may not have known of the alternatives or thought to look there.

Finding surnames

To find pages for people bearing a specific surname, start with Category:Surnames, which indexes every surname that has been categorised. Use a one-letter or two-letter key to jump to the right part of the very long list. Articles for individuals should be listed in order of first name. (If one is out of order, please note that fact on the article's talk page or fix it yourself if you know how.)

If you don't find the surname in that category, use the search function of the website. Simply:

  1. Type the surname in the "Find" box; then
  2. Click on "Go" or hit "Enter".

If there is a page with exactly that name, you will jump to it. If not, the search page should list:

  1. articles with the name in their titles; then
  2. articles with the name in text.

If there is no separate page for the surname, please read the instructions below to learn how best to create one. It is EASY.

Surname categories

There is (or is intended to be) for each surname a separate category, which in turn is a subcategory of the category for surnames in general. It should include every individual who was given that surname at birth. It should also contain every relevant "Surname in place" category. People whose surnames changed (e.g. on marriage) may be included also under the new surname (because that may be the only link in a record).

How to put a page into its surname category

If a person-page has been created with our standard form and has the correct surname in the surname "field" (box), the page will be automatically in the surname category and needs no further action under this section.

If the above does not apply, edit or create the category link on an individual's page (normally near the bottom) so that it states that person's surname. For example Moses Handley (c1789-aft1820) has [[Category:Handley (surname)]] at the bottom of its edit box. This leads to the Category:Handley (surname). We now have a simpler form of link, which involves less typing and achieves what looks like the same result but is actually better in the long run: see {{Surname}}. See also the combination template Template:Categories.

After saving the page, click on the category link (near the bottom of the page in the standard "skin"). If the category for that surname does not already exist, you will be taken to an edit box and invited to create the category, which is incredibly easy to do, as explained in the next section.

Contents of surname category

Normally just a short template

In the edit box of every surname category, there should eventually be only the new Template:SCat (short for "SurnameCategory") displaying as {{SCat}}.

It cunningly incorporates a link to the article page, a brief explanation, and a link to the parent category. If it is not there, please add it. All you have to do is type or paste {{SCat}} right at the top. Now save the page and look over it. Someone may have added information; if so, that should be moved to the article page.

Any existing introductory sentence that is virtually duplicated by the templated introduction above it should be deleted.

Other material such as headings and paragraphs should be:

  1. deleted if no actual content; but
  2. moved to the surname article if there is content.

The link at the top of the surname category page takes you to the existing or proposed article for the surname.

Exceptions

The only other text a surname category should want is where you have a hyphenated surname. For maximum information, a hyphenated surname category is added to the surname categories for its constituent parts, preferably with a pipe and space before the final brackets so that it lists near the top of each parent category. Example: for Dow-Jones surname, add [[Category:Dow (surname)| ]][[Category:Jones (surname)| ]].

What you see

On the displayed surname category, you should see:

  • a link to an existing or proposed article with a matching name, and instructions on how to create it
  • list of articles and maybe other pages (such as images) that are in the category
  • parent categories, at least [[Category:Surnames]] and more if it's a hyphenated name

Surname articles

Early in this wiki's life we had very few surname articles, but from July 2008 we have established procedures to make it easy to create them (and to include in them much of what used to be encouraged on category pages).

Each such article's page name should have just the surname followed by " (surname)" (NOT " (Surname)"). Regrettably, the current state of the underlying software requires that the surname must start with a capital letter, so that what should be "te Kolste (surname)" and "von Braun (surname)", for example, must become "Te Kolste (surname)" and "Von Braun (surname)" respectively.

The first text on the article page should be the full pasted-in version of Template:SurnameArticle; that page has instructions on how to make full use of it. If unsure, leave it as it is, put your data below in article form, and use the help desk or ask another active contributor for help in optimising the infobox and other features.

The infobox includes a one-click search of Wikipedia for the name. Wikipedia has different ways of presenting surnames; a search should give one of these:

  • a page containing the name (possibly a disambiguation page linking to places and/or people), such as Wikipedia:Special:Search/Milton; or
  • a hit list starting with some of the most useful pages: such as a page of the form "XXX (surname)" or pages mentioning (in name or text) people with that surname; or
  • an article redirected from the name; if you want a full search, repeat with a comma added.

A Wikipedia search may turn up useful information about your relatives, which can be copied - even a whole article - then adapted for this wiki.

See also

External links

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