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This page is an English extract of the German page GEDCOM/NAME-Tag [1], for full details see the German page.

Name and Meaning






Text to describe the name of an object like an individual, a file, position. Multiple NAME lines should be used, if the individual is known by various names.

Formal Description of Permissible Values

Base: GEDCOM Standard Draft 5.5.1

This description only addresses NAME for individuals as of today. The syntax for Individuals is:


where at least one <NAME_TEXT> must be existing.

Within the character "/" the surname is located.


1 NAME Johann /Meyer/

1 NAME Johann /Meyer/ III

1 NAME Johann Michael /Meyer/

No special characters (except "/" as separator for surname) and digits are allowed in NAME.

According to the standard optional further sub-tags may follow NAME to better describe the parts of NAME:

GIVN : Given name

SURN : Surname

NPFX : Name prefix - text which appears on a name line before the given and surname parts of a name

SPFX : Surname prefix - a name piece used as a non-indexing pre-part of a surname

NSFX : Name suffix - text which appears on a name line after or behind the given and surname parts of a name

NICK : Nick name - a descriptive or familiar name that is used instead of, or in addition to, one's proper name

NOTE : Note structure

SOUR : Source structure

The standard allows these NAME sub-tags only once {0,1}, except NOTE and SOUR which may be used multiple times {0,M}.

Agreements for NAME

The agreements for NAME are derived from the discussion on the Gedcom-L . They were decided by a vote of the program authors of the list.

E10, E11, E13 and I5 are only for programs supporting multiple NAME entries.

Export of NAME

E1 Syntax of NAME

The NAME line to describe a person must be built according to the standard 5.5.1:


The surname of an individual, if known, is enclosed between two slash "/" characters. At least one element <NAME_TEXT> must be existing.

E2 Allowed characters in NAME

According to the agreements for CHAR following characters may be used for <NAME_TEXT>: All chars of UNICODE except:

  • Slash "/" , reserved for separation of surname from other name parts
  • Comma ","
  • WHITESPACE chars
  • Solely accepted of the WHITESPACE chars are space and protected space U+00A0

E3 Substructure of NAME

For NAME tag to describe individuals, following sub tags of NAME may be used:

  • GIVN, NICK, NPFX, NSFX, SPFX, SURN, TYPE, _RUFNAME ( each only once {0,1} as maximum )
  • FONE, NOTE, ROMN, SOUR ( as often {0,M} )

E4 Composition of NAME

The content of various parts <NAME_TEXT> of the line 1 NAME … depends first and foremost on the user input. The order of the contents entered by the user may not be changed by the program.

E5 Sequence of NAME text in composition from name pieces

If the program doesn't offer the name entry by a name field, but only by individual fields for GIVN , NICK , NPFX , NSFX , SPFX and/or SURN , the NAME content should be composed as follows (standard version for Western cultures):


The program may offer the option to change the sequence for other cultures (e.g. GIVN after /SURN/).

E7 Export of substructures of NAME

If the user input is done in sepatare fields for GIVN , NICK , NPFX , NSFX , SPFX , SURN , these tags must be exported as a substructure of NAME .

E8 Use of comma in name parts

In opposite to the tag NAME the standard defines for name parts GIVN, NPFX, NSFX, SPFX, SURN a separation of their name pieces by a comma. This requirement may be waived, in particular the separation by space or a content entered by the user will be tolerated.

E9 Further contens of NAME

Further structural contents that is not part of the name structure within an individual data record may not be integrated by the program when exporting to the < NAME_TEXT > in NAME. This concerns in particular information from the tags OCCU and TITL.

E10 Multiple names

The tag NAME with appropriate substructure may be used as many times in the individual record { 0 , M }. This multiple use is recommended in the standard, if persons during their lives wearing several names ( e.g. due to changes by adoption, marriage, immigration etc. ).

E11 Marking of multiple names: TYPE

To indicate the meaning of each name in multiple names the standard provides the sub tag TYPE. This type of labeling is recommended here.

In cases where the standard 5.5.1 defines specific values ​​for the tag TYPE, no other values should be used for TYPE. This also applies to the following values:

  • aka ( also known as, alias, further name for the person)
  • birth ( name given on birth certificate )
  • immigrant ( name assumed at the time of immigration )
  • maiden ( maiden name, name before first marriage; to be used if birth name is not certain )
  • married ( name was persons previous married name )

E13 Order of the names when exporting multiple names

During the GEDCOM export of multiple names, the order must be such that the most important single name comes first, followed by the other individual names in the order of decreasing importance. If the user can define the importance by the program, the user definitions must be followed when exporting.

If no user definitions are made, the birth name - if available - should be considered as the most important single name and exported first.

Import of NAME

I1 Minimum requirements for the import

The scope described in items E1 and E2 must be supported during the import.

I2 Handling of contradictions between NAME and name parts

The information in the NAME tag should match with the details in the subordinated parts of names such as GIVN , NICK , NPFX , NSFX , SPFX , SURN , _RUFNAME. If during import contradictions between these data are found, an error message should be communicated to the user and stored suitable ( e.g. in a comment field ).

I3 Import to a program with explicite fields for name parts

When importing NAME and the name parts GIVN , NICK , NPFX , NSFX , SPFX , SURN , _RUFNAME they must be taken in the appropriate fields unchanged, if the program supports these name fields. If name parts are missing in the file to be imported, the content of NAME may be interpreted and distributed to the name parts.

I4 Import to a program without explicite fields for name parts

During import the contents of NAME must be taken.

The information of name parts must be stored suitable , e.g. in comments.

I5 Import of multiple names

When importing into programs supporting multiple names, the data of TYPE

  • aka, birth , immigrant, maiden , married

may be changed only by the user himself prior to a subsequent export. A name without a declaration of the type ( by TYPE or other means) a type may not be assigned by a program.

I6 Import of multiple names, part 2

When importing multiple names in programs that do not support these multiple names, the first occured NAME construct ( according standard the most important one ) in the individual record must be used. The other names can be stored suitably, e.g. as comment.

Agreement for "Rufnamen"

1. Remark: This chapter describes the data transfer of the Rufname. Rufname is a part of official German documents (i.e. birth records), and describes a selected given name by underlining it in the document. By this the Rufname is always one of the official given names of a person. This nickname of a person is a very different information (tag: NICK), the nickname is used by family members or friends to call a person, and in most cases this nick is not one of the officially documented given names.

2. Remark: The data transfer for the Rufname is not explicitly described in the GEDCOM-Standard 5.5.1. Because of this it was necessary to introduce an user-defined tag to implement the data transfer of the Rufname

Ruf.B2 Data transfer for "Rufname" by the user-defined tag _RUFNAME

The data transfer for the Rufname will be done by using the user-defined tag _RUFNAME, which is located as n+1 _RUFNAME under the tag n NAME. The exporting program has to make shure, that the content of the tag _RUFNAME is one of the given names of the content of NAME resp. GIVN.

Example: Name in official document: Maria Elisabeth Johanna Alt

    1 NAME Maria Elisabeth Johanna /Alt/
    2 _RUFNAME Elisabeth
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