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3. Editorial rules, continued







Included in this chapter





Term ID (required default)



Number identifying a name in TGN.



Numbers are system-generated in the following range: 1000000000 - 1999999999.




  • Term IDs may not be edited by the editors.

  • The system assigns unique, consecutive numbers to names as names are created or loaded in TGN. Numbers of deleted names are not re-used.

  • Each name in each subject record has a different Term ID. Homographs do not share the same Term ID.





Name (required)



Proper names, appellations, or other identifying phrases used to refer to a geographic or administrative location.

      • Examples




Pate Island


Aztec Empire


Hawaiian Islands

Rancho San Diego

Achaemenid Empire

Abbe-Brennan Site

Rashidun Caliphate

Big Apple

Michigan, Lake




Middle East


Spor$00adhes department

al-Mamlakah al-Urdunn$01iyah al-H$01ashim$01iyah

Crat$02ere du Nouveau-Qu$00ebec



Names is a free-text field; values are in Unicode. Legacy data may contain diacritics expressed according to the codes in Appendix A.



Sources are discussed in a separate section, Sources for Names below.



The Name in TGN is analogous to the Name in ULAN and the Term in AAT.

  • A preferred name is sometimes the only name in the record. The preferred name is the vernacular (local) name used most often in standard general reference sources. It is the place name that is displayed in the default hierarchy display, thus it is sometimes called the "default record-preferred name." The preferred English name (if any) must be flagged to allow the construction of the English hierarchy. Additional alternate and variant names for the place should be included as well.






Minimum requirements
Record at least one name, the preferred name.

  • List as many variant or alternate names as have at least one legitimate source. Consult sources to gather alternate names as time and editorial priorities allow.



World, continents, and nations
Do not edit, merge, or move the records for the top levels of the TGN hierarchy, including the World, the continents, and the current nations, or the official administrative subdivisions of the current nations without the permission of your supervisor.

   » Continents, nations, subdivisions of a nation

The names for continents, nations, and the administrative divisions of a nation should have already been assigned and editors should not edit them, unless asked to do so by your supervisor during a special project. However, you should be aware of the rules regarding names for continents, nations, and subdivisions of nations so that you recognize problems and do not mistakenly alter the records incorrectly. If you feel a name should be edited, ask your supervisor.

  • You may create and edit historical nations if you are doing a special project for historical nations.



Alphabet and diacritics

   » Roman alphabet

Record all names in the Roman alphabet.

  • Transliterations
    For names in a language that is not written in the Roman alphabet, record the vernacular name that has been transliterated into the Roman alphabet.
    • For the preferred name, you should ideally use the transliteration derived by applying ISO standards. However, you must often choose between variant transliterations without knowing which transliteration method was employed. In such cases, use the transliteration as found in the most authoritative of available possible sources. For consistency, within a single nation, try to use preferred names derived by the same transliteration method or same source if possible.

    • If, at the direction of your supervisor, you are doing a special project that requires using a source in another alphabet, use the appropriate ISO standard for transliterating the names into the Roman alphabet.

    • For variant names, include names derived by alternate transliteration schemes. However, remember that you must have a source for the name - do not try to translate one transliterated name into another form (unless you are an expert in that language and have consulted with your supervisor).



   » Diacritics

Do not include diacritics or special characters in the Name field. Indicate diacritical marks by using the diacritical codes in Appendix A.

      • Example



  • If you are cutting and pasting names from an online source, to avoid accidentally pasting special characters and html codes in the Name field, do the following: Paste the name into Notepad text editor, delete diacritics and replace them with the codes from Appendix A, then copy the name and paste it into VCS. (Notepad will automatically remove many special characters, but you will have to manually replace the diacritics.)


Capitalize proper names for places.

      • Examples
      • Siena
      • Beijing
      • Flanders
      • Nile River
      • Northern Sporades Islands

  • For the preferred name, if the name includes an article or preposition (e.g. of, the, a, los, il, la, l', de, des, della), generally use lower case. If an article or preposition is the first element in the name, generally spell it with an initial capital letter. Consult standard reference sources for guidance (see Sources for Names below).

      • Examples
        [for an Olmec site]
      • Laguna de los Cerros

        [for a city]
      • Los Angeles


   » Mixed case

Names and other information should be expressed in mixed case (i.e., not in all-upper or all-lower case). If your source lists the name in all caps, translate it to mixed case.

  • Exception: Exceptions occur when the "name" is a code or abbreviation that is properly written in all capitals (e.g., USA).

  • Exception: Another exception is when the name is a Display Name that has been constructed by an editor (e.g., the word county in Los Angeles county). The descriptive word added to the name in such cases should be lower case.



  • For the preferred name, avoid abbreviations (e.g., Saint, not St.).

  • For variant names, include commonly used abbreviations and initials (e.g., Mt. Etna, St. Louis, or USA). For nations and national subdivisions, include standard codes such as ISO codes, US Postal Codes, etc.

      • Examples
      • Saint Vincent (preferred)
        St. Vincent

      • United Kingdom (preferred)
        GBR (ISO 3-letter code)

      • California (preferred)
        CA (US Postal code)


Only one name per field
Caveat: A single name field should not contain multiple names, as is sometimes found in names contributed from other databases and in LC Subject Headings.

  • Second name: Do not include a second name in parentheses. For example, rather than expressing a preferred name with a second name imbedded with parentheses as New York City (Big Apple), record these two name forms as two different names. You would choose New York City as the preferred name, and the nickname Big Apple as a variant name (flagged as Other Flag = Pseudonym).

  • Broader context: Do not include a broader context in the name field, unless it is truly part of the name. For example, Washington, DC is not the name of the city; rather, Washington is the name of the city, and District of Columbia is the name of the state-level broader context for Washington (the US Postal Code DC is a variant name for the district). On the other hand, Ungava-Quebec Crater is the proper name for the crater, even though Ungava and Quebec are also the names of broader contexts for the crater.


Preferred Name (vernacular)
For the preferred name, choose the commonly used vernacular name. See Vernacular Name below.

  • Flag the preferred name. See Preferred Flag below.

  • To determine which name is most commonly used, consult standard atlases, gazetteers, geographic dictionaries and encyclopedia, and web sites. See Sources for Names for a list of standard sources.

  • Constructing names: For names that are not found in standard sources, consult maps and other published sources. In the rare cases where it is necessary to create a name (as described in specific rules below), construct a preferred name based the rules in this manual (e.g., rules for constructing a Display Name). If no specific TGN rule is applicable for the name at hand, use the Anglo American Cataloguing Rules: 23 Geographic Names or the Chicago Manual of Style: 7.34 Place Names, and report the omission to your supervisor.


   » Consistency

Be consistent regarding transliteration method, syntax, punctuation, capitalization, and style for the preferred names of the administrative subdivisions and other preferred names in the hierarchy of a given nation. If possible, use the same source that was used for constructing the hierarchy for the determining the preferred names for the subdivisions. See also 3.1 Hierarchical Relationships.


Preferred English Name
It is required to record a preferred English name for the place, if the place has an English name (most places do not have an English name).

  • Use the language field and the preferred language flag to mark the preferred English name. See the section on Languages below.

      • Examples
      • Ell$00as (Preferred, Vernacular)
        Greece (Variant, Other language, English-Preferred)

      • Ciudad de M$00exico (Preferred, Vernacular)
        Mexico City (Variant, Other language, English-Preferred)


  • The preferred English name should be the name used most often in standard authoritative sources in American English (e.g., the English name Florence should be the preferred English name, while the Italian Firenze is the preferred vernacular name).

  • The preferred English name should be the short version of the name. as commonly used in published sources in American English (e.g., while both Egypt and Arab Republic of Egypt are English names for that nation, only Egypt should be flagged as the preferred English name).

  • Caveat: If the British English spelling differs from the American English spelling, flag the British English name as appropriate (British English, Code 70053). However, note that the preferred English name must be flagged with English Code 70051 because this specific flag is used to build the English hierarchy. See further discussion at Language for Names below.


Variant Names
Variant names are flagged as Non-preferred names. See discussion at Preferred Flag below.

  • At minimum, endeavor to include important alternate and variant names that appear in major published sources and represent significant differences from the preferred name in form or spelling. As time and editorial priorities allow, check additional standard atlases, gazetteers, geographic dictionaries, online government databases, and LC Subject Headings (for LC Subject Headings, see AACR2 Flag below); include additional alternate and variant names, even if the differences in spelling and punctuation are minor. Names loaded from NGA/NIMA will be flagged and the unique NGA identifier included.

      • Examples
      • Lisbon (preferred)
        Felicitas Julia (historical)

      • Tokyo (preferred)

      • Philadelphia (preferred)
        City of Brotherly Love

      • Carthage (preferred)
        Colonia Julia Carthargo


Names in various languages
Include names in various languages, if known (e.g., Firenze, Florence, Florenz). Flag the language, if known. See Language for Name below.

      • Examples
      • Strasbourg (preferred, French-preferred)
        Strassburg (German-preferred)
        Estrasburgo (Spanish-preferred)

      • Mi$15sr (preferred, Arabic-preferred)
        Egypt (English-preferred)
        Jumhuriyah Misr al-`Arabiyah (Arabic)
        Arab Republic of Egypt (English)
        $00Egypte (French-preferred)
        $04Agypten (German-preferred)

  • The language designation may refer to a transliterated language (e.g., given that all names are in the Roman alphabet, labeling a name "Chinese" means that the Chinese name has been transliterated). If you know the transliteration method, label it with the appropriate language, as in Chinese (transliterated Wade-Giles).


Variant transliterations
Include variant transliterations (e.g. Beijing and Peking). See Roman alphabet: Transliterations above.


Alternate spelling, punctuation
Include variants that differ in spelling, diacritics, capitalization or punctuation.

      • Example
      • Alger (preferred, French-Preferred)
        Al-Jaz$01a'ir (Arabic-Preferred)
        Al Jaza'ir
        El Djazaïr
        Algiers (English-Preferred)


Fullness of the name
Include significant differences in the fullness of the name (e.g., Kenya, and Jamhuri ya Kenya). This is particularly important when the fuller names help to distinguish between two places that could be confused (as in the examples for the two nations called Congo below). Note that the preferred name is not necessarily the fullest form of the name (it is the most commonly used form of the name).

      • Examples
        [for the former Zaire]
      • Congo (preferred)
        Democratic Republic of the Congo
        Zaire (historical)

        [for the former Congo Brazzaville]
      • Congo Republic (preferred)
        Republic of the Congo
        Congo Brazzaville (historical)


Natural order and inverted names
Generally, record preferred names for administrative places, such as cities and nations, in natural order (e.g., Los Angeles, not Angeles, Los).

  • However, the preferred names for physical features and some other places should be in inverted order (e.g., McLaughlin, Mount, for indexing and alphabetical lists); include the natural order form of the name as an alternate name (e.g., Mount McLaughlin, for displays). Use the indexes of standard sources to determine when names should be inverted.

   » Syntax

For the natural order form of the name, record the name in natural word order (e.g., United States of America).

  • For any inverted order form of the name, record the trunk or core of the name first, comma, and the word or words describing its place type (which will be in the language of the name).

      • Examples
        [for a lake]
      • La-Croix, Lake (preferred, inverted)
        Lake La-Croix (display name)

        [for a creek, "arroyo" means "small river" or "creek"]
      • Abuelos, Arroyo de los (preferred, inverted)
        Arroyo de los Abuelos (display name)

  • Administrative places: For the preferred name for administrative places, such as cities and nations, generally use natural order. There are rare exceptions (e.g., Hague, The).

  • Physical features: Preferred names for physical features and some other places should be inverted. Attempt to find the inverted form in a standard source; if you cannot find the name in a source, invert the name by recording the trunk or core of the name first, followed by a comma and the word or words describing its place type (e.g., McLaughlin, Mount). Use commas consistently.

  • If you are not familiar with the language of the name and thus cannot determine which word is the trunk of the name, do not invert the name.

  • If the preferred name is inverted, include the natural order form of the preferred name (e.g., Mount McLaughlin) in position #2, and flag it as the Display Name (see Display Name below). It is not required to include natural order forms for non-preferred variants.

      • Examples
        [example from VCS]




[for a lake]

      • La-Croix, Lake (preferred)
        Lake La-Croix (display name)

        [for a creek]
      • Abuelos, Arroyo de los (preferred)
        Arroyo de los Abuelos (display name)

  • Caveat: Note that the preferred name of inhabited places, administrative units, and nations should be in natural order, even if at first sight it looks like the name of a physical feature (e.g., for the city in Florida Lake Wales, for the province in Canada, Prince Edward Island).


Historical Names

   » Preferred names for historical places

For cities, towns, and other settlements, if the place is still inhabited, follow the rules detailed above for establishing its current preferred name in the vernacular and the preferred English name, if any. In such cases, historical names should be variant names, arranged in reverse chronological order.

  • For deserted settlements, lost settlements, former nations or states, and other administrative entities that do not exist in the current world, the preferred name should be the name currently most often used to refer to the place in scholarly literature in the English language (do not prefer the vernacular language in such cases because it is an impractical editorial challenge to determine the historical vernacular names). For instruction regarding flagging these names Current or Historical, see Historical Flag for Name below.

    • When two names seem to be used equally often, for example anglicized versions of a Greek name and a Latin name for the same place, for the preferred name choose the name most often found in the most authoritative current literature. Keep in mind that the same preferred name may appear in historical hierarchies of both ancient Greece and ancient Rome, so choosing one form over another based on the parent at hand is not the only criterion. If you are building a historical hierarchy (see chapter 3.1 Hierarchical Relationships), try to use the same source for all the names so that the hierarchy appears consistent. If possible, use a general source, not one that deals with only one period or one historical nation.


   » Historical Names : Extant inhabited places and physical features

For places that are still inhabited today and for physical features that are still extant today, include historical names as appropriate. The spelling of names may change due to changes in the language (e.g., Florentia and Fiorenza for Florence, Italy). Places may officially change their names over time (e.g., when North Tarrytown, New York changed its name to Sleepy Hollow). The name of a nation may change with a change in government (e.g., Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and Islamic State of Afghanistan).

  • Label such names Historical; see Historical Flag for Name below. Order historical names in reverse chronological order below the Current names. Add Dates for historical names, if known (see Dates for Names below).

      • Example
        [from an end-user display; the flags "C" and "H" after the name indicate Current and Historical]



  • Caveat: If the boundaries of a nation or region have changed, note that this is a historical place, and should have its own record, separate from its modern counterpart. See below.

   » Historical Names: Deserted settlements and lost settlements

For, deserted settlements, include the name by which the site is known today, as well as historical names. Label such names Current or Historical, as appropriate; it may be difficult to distinguish between historical names and current names for deserted settlements. See Historical Flag for Name below.

      • Example
        [for the deserted settlement, Arpi, Apulia, Italy]
      • Arpi (preferred, C,V,N)
        Argos Hippion (H,V,N)
        Argyrippa (H,V,N)
        Argyripta (H,V,N)

  • Does the historical name refer to a modern site?
    If scholarship holds that it is uncertain if a place name known from literary sources corresponds to a modern site, you may do one of two things. If scholars believe that it is very likely that a historic site was the same as the modern place, add the historical name to the record for the modern site, with an explanation in the Display Date (and Descriptive Note, if necessary).
      • Example
        [for Araq El-Emir, Jordan]
      • Araq El-Emir (preferred, C,V,N)
        Tyrus (H,V,N) ............ based on inscriptions at a tomb here, it is believed that Tyrus possibly was on this site
        Tyros (H,V,N)
  • If scholars are divided or the association between the known site and the historical site is tentative, do not include the historical names in the name for the modern site. Instead, make separate records for the known site and the lost settlement and link them as related places. See 3.6 Associative Relationships.


   » Historical Names: Neighborhoods and suburbs

If a city has grown over time and encompassed formerly independent towns, you may do one of two things. If the former town is now considered a neighborhood of the modern city, include the name of the former town in a record for a neighborhood or suburb under the city. This is the preferred method for cities that have subsumed several smaller towns as they grew.

      • Example
        [names for the neighborhood of Washington, DC]
      • Georgetown (preferred, C,V,N)
        George-Town (H,V,N)
        Saw Pit Landing (H,V,N)
        Town of George (H,V,N)
        West Washington (H,V,N)

        [hierarchy for Washington DC and its neighborhood, Georgetown]
        .... North and Central America (continent)
        ...... United States (nation)
        ........ District of Columbia (national district)
        .......... Washington (inhabited place)
        ................ Anacostia (neighborhood)
        ................ Anacostia Park (park)
        ................ Benning (neighborhood)
        ................ Brightwood (neighborhood)
        ................ Brookland (neighborhood)
        ................ Capitol Hill (neighborhood)
        ................ Cleveland Park (neighborhood)
        ................ East Potomac Park (park)
        ................ Fort Dupont Park (park)
        ................ Fort Totten Park (park)
        ................ Garfield Heights (neighborhood)
        ................ Georgetown (neighborhood)
        ................ [etc.]

  • If the city has grown up from a central core, and the name has changed but surrounding communities have not been subsumed, include the former names as variant names. The former names must be included somewhere in association with the modern place, either as a neighborhood or suburb, or as a former name for the place. A large modern city may include both 1) historical names in the record for the city and 2) suburbs or neighborhoods that preserve the names of formerly independent surrounding communities.

      • Example
        [for Vienna, Austria, which also has suburbs that were formerly independent communities]
      • Wien (preferred) ............ used by 1st cen. BCE
        Vienna (English-preferred)
        Beç (Magyar (Hungarian))
        Viden (Czech)
        Wienis............ name recorded in 1030
        Wenia............ name recorded in 881
        Vindobona (Celtic language).. Celtic for "white field"


Nicknames and pseudonyms
Include pseudonyms and nicknames (e.g., Big Apple). Nicknames are restricted to names found in published sources and should be labeled with Other Flag = Pseudonym (see Other Flags below).


ISO, FIPS, and Postal codes
Special codes are used for the nations of the world and their subdivisions. These codes will be added or edited only in special projects at the direction of your supervisor. See Other Codes below for further discussion.


Variant names may occasionally include an apparent misspelling, if the name is found in a major published source (e.g., if a major atlas published the name Brood Mountain instead of the correct spelling Broad Mountain). If you are absolutely certain that the name is a misspelling (and not a historical name or other valid variant), note this in the Display Date for that name (because Display Date is a free-text field; in order to use this field, you must also have dates in mind for Start and End Dates; see Dates for Names below).

Misspellings may also be found in archival sources or local sources, and labeled as Historical = Local Use.

      • Example

  • Historical names may appear to be "misspellings," because they date from a time before the spelling of a place was firmly established or for other reasons. Do not refer to them as "misspellings" in the Display Date. Be sure to flag them as Historical.


Constructed names
A constructed name is a name created by the editor, rather than being transcribed from a source.

  • For the preferred name, do not construct a name if you can avoid it. Transcribe the name as found in the source, even if the name seems incomplete to you. For instance, if the name of a physical feature or administrative unit is listed in your source without a descriptive phrase indicating the place type, do not add it without literary warrant. For example, if your source lists the name of the river as Mississippi, do not make a constructed name Mississippi River as the preferred name. (You may construct such a name as a variant name - labeled as a Display Name - as described below.)

    • Exception: If you need to find a particular form of the name in order to be consistent with other preferred names in the same hierarchy, try consulting another source to find the correct form. Only if you absolutely cannot find warrant should you construct a preferred name.

  • For variant names, editors must occasionally devise a place name that is not found in published sources. Do so only in the situations described below. If you feel that another situation warrants the construction of a name, consult with your supervisor before doing so.

   » Display names

A Display Name is used in horizontal displays (e.g., in results lists on the Web and in the Place fields of ULAN). Construct a Display Name if the following is true: 1) the preferred name or the preferred English name would be confusing or ambiguous in a parent string, either because it has the same name as its child, it is a historical nation with the same name as a modern nation, or its name is otherwise misleading, and 2) there is no other name in the record that could serve as a Display Name. Construct a Display Name by adding the place type to the trunk name; the part that you have added should be in lower case (to distinguish it from proper names found in sources).

  • For example, the immediate parent of the city of Siena, Italy has the same name as the city, so Siena province is a variant name for that parent in horizontal displays: e.g., Siena (Siena province, Toscana, Italia). In another example, a river in Lancashire, England is named Island, which is confusing; thus the Display Name should be Island river.

  • Flag the Display Name by setting the flag to Yes. See a discussion of the flag at Display Name Flag below.

      • Example

  • The source for the Display Name is the following:

    Brief Citation: Getty Vocabulary Program
    Full Citation: Getty Vocabulary Program. Term warranted by consensus of editorial staff.


Vernacular names
Flag names as Vernacular, Other, or Undetermined as recommended at Vernacular Flag below. Note that Undetermined is typically used only for data being batch loaded; editors should avoid using it.

  • If you are unfamiliar with a particular vernacular language, in order to determine which name is the vernacular name, consult a reference source that also prefers the vernacular, or a source in the vernacular language.

  • Official language: For the preferred name, choose the vernacular name that is in the official vernacular language. See the descriptive note for the nation to determine which are the vernacular languages for that nation.

  • Most commonly used: For the preferred name, choose the local or vernacular name most commonly used in the language spoken and written in the place itself. For example, Firenze would be the preferred vernacular name for the Italian city, while the Italian Florence would be a variant name.

  • When "vernacular" does not apply: For the preferred name, the vernacular is not preferred only in specifically defined cases where the vernacular does not apply or is difficult to determine. In such cases, record the English name should be the preferred name (English being the language of the rest of the TGN record), as in the following examples:

    • The preferred names of continents, oceans, and other such features should be in English (e.g., Europe) because these entities encompass so much territory and so many languages.

    • The preferred name of historical entities (e.g., Ottoman Empire)sould be in English because the historical vernacular would be confusing and the current vernacular does not apply.

    • Of course, the preferred name for places in English-speaking nations will generally be in English.

  • If you cannot find the vernacular name: For the preferred name, if the preferred name should be the vernacular but you cannot find the vernacular name, use the English name and note the problem in editor's note.

  • Include variants: For variant names, include alternate forms and variations on the vernacular name.

  • Caveat: Note that the vernacular name may be derived from a foreign language. For example, in the US where the official language is English, Los Angeles is the vernacular name for that city, but it is truly a Spanish phrase; likewise, Mississippi is the vernacular name for that river, but the name is derived from a native American language; the city in Kentucky is called Louisville, which is truly a French word, etc.


   » Multiple vernacular languages

Take care in choosing which language is considered "vernacular" for a particular place. There are often multiple vernacular languages in a single nation.

  • For a nation, like Belgium, where there are multiple vernacular languages, generally spoken in different regions of the country, use the vernacular language appropriate for the specific region, if possible. For example, the city in a French-speaking region has the French preferred name Tournai, and the Flemish Doornik is a variant name. The city in a Flemish-speaking region has the Flemish preferred name Sint-Niklaas, and the French Saint-Nicolas is a variant name.

      • Example
        [Flemish name is preferred, but the French name is the variant in position #2, also marked Vernacular]
  • When the specific place itself has multiple vernacular languages, or when you are choosing the name for a broader region where multiple languages apply, use the vernacular name as found in standard reference works that also prefer the vernacular.

  • Be sure to list all variants in other vernacular languages and flag them as vernacular too (as in the example above).


Official name
For the preferred name, do not use a long name simply because it is the official name for the place. Prefer the short, commonly used version of the vernacular name, where possible. For instance, the preferred name for the nation is Italia, not Repubblica italiana. Include the longer name as a variant name and flag it as Other Flag = Official Name, if appropriate. See Other Flags below.

      • Example


Flag the language of the name, if known, by choosing a language from the controlled list of languages. See Language for Names below.


Order of the names
The names must be organized according to a set of rules. Number the names as instructed in Sequence Number below.


Editing contributed names
Editors should not edit contributed names, except for minor punctuation typos. If you add a date or a source to the name, add the initials VP as a contributor for the name.

  • If directed to do so by your supervisor, you may occasionally delete contributed names that are inappropriate to TGN.




Preferred Flag (required-default)


Flag indicating whether or not the name is the preferred name for its subject record.


The flags are controlled by a pick list in VCS: P - Preferred, V - Variant


For a discussion of how to determine which name should be the preferred name, see Name above.


Every record must have a preferred name to use as a default in displays. For further discussion of preferred names, see Name above.



  • The name in sequence number 1 is automatically flagged "preferred" by the system. If this is not correct, change the Preferred Flag and sequence numbers accordingly.






Word or phrase used primarily to distinguish between homographs.


Not applicable.     Discussion
A qualifier is a word or phrase used to distinguish between homographs or other confusing names. In the TGN data files, the Qualifier is stored in a separate field, associated with the Language designation for the name. Currently, qualifiers are used in the TGN only when the Label string is not enough to disambiguate places with similar or identical names.



  • Do not add qualifiers unless directed to do so by your supervisor. Qualifiers may be used when the parent string and place type are not sufficient to distinguish homographs.




Sequence Number (required-default)


The Display Order number (or Sort Order number), indicating the sequence of the name in relation to the other names of a subject record.


System generated, but the numbers may be changed by the editor. Values begin with 1 and are numbered sequentially; there is no upper limit imposed by the system.


Most records have only 1 to 5 names. It would be highly unusual to require more than 25 names for a place. If you need to add more than that, consult your supervisor.



  • Number the names in sequence. Do not skip numbers.

  • The name in sequence number 1 must be the subject default Preferred name.

  • Arrange the names in reverse chronological order, with Current names placed before Historical ones.

  • Within the subset of current names or historical names that date to the same period, arrange the names with vernacular names first, then other language variants in order of importance, keeping variants in the same language together when possible.

  • Position adjectival name forms at the bottom of the list, below Historical names.

  • Position codes, such as ISO or US Postal codes, at the bottom of the Current names.

        • Examples

[as displayed in VCS]


[another display in VCS]





Historical Flag (required-default)


Flag indicating the historical status of the name.


Values are derived from a controlled list: B - Both, C - Current, H - Historical, NA - Not Applicable, U - Unknown, LU - Local Use.


Editors should use standard, authoritative sources in determining whether or not a name is historical.



  • Current: The default flag is Current. If the name is currently in use, the flag should be set to Current. Names found in atlases and national geographic databases are almost always Current, unless otherwise indicated.

    • Sources often do not indicate if the name is current and historical, so you must make a decision based on the nature of the source and the context of the name in that source. In major sources of current geographical terms, such as atlases, geographic dictionaries, travel guides, gazetteers, NIMA, or USGS, consider the name to be Current unless otherwise indicated.

    • If using a source specifically dedicated to historical names, such as Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites, you must analyze each entry to determine which names are Current and which are Historical.

  • Historical: If the name was used in the past but is not used currently, set the flag to Historical.

  • Both: It is highly unusual for a name to be Both historical and current. Saint Petersburg, Russia is a rare example: the name was used in the past, it was changed under the Soviets, and was changed back to its former name after the Soviets.

  • Not Applicable: This is used only for facets or temp.parents and other non-published records. Do not use it in any other situation.

  • Unknown: This is used primarily for data loaded from contributors. Editors should avoid using it if possible.

  • Local Use: Special flag for names derived from archival sources or inscriptions; intended for local use, not for general retrieval.




Term Type (required-default)


Indicates the type of name or term, described with specialized terminology used in thesauri. At this time, not used in TGN.[2]


At this time, always set to N/A in TGN.



  • Do not use this flag in TGN.




Part of Speech (required-default)


Indicates the category into which the name would be placed relative to its normal function in a grammatical context, either a proper noun or an adjectival form in TGN.


Values are derived from a controlled list: N - Noun, A - Adjectival, B – Both; U – Undetermined; N/A – Not Applicable.



  • Noun: The default flag is Noun. Most names in TGN are nouns. If the name is an adjectival form, change the flag accordingly.
  • Adjectival form: The adjectival form is the name that would be used to describe characteristics of the place or its people (e.g., Japanese). In TGN, it is used primarily for nations and for important regions or cities that are used as Nationalities for artists in ULAN.

    • Names in most sources are noun forms. You must do special research to find the adjectival forms, often in a language dictionary, United Nations publications, CIA World Fact Book, in texts of art history books, scholarly articles, etc.

    • In English, adjectival forms can be recognized in a source because they typically (but not always) end in -ine, -ian, -an, -ese, etc. Other languages have other methods of forming adjectival forms. Use special caution if you are trying to identify an adjectival form in a language with which you are unfamiliar.

  • Both: It is very rare that a name would be both a noun and adjectival form. This typically occurs when no adjectival form exists, and the noun form is used for both. Consult with your supervisor before setting the flag to Both.




Vernacular Flag (required-default)


Flag indicating whether or not the name is the "vernacular" name for a certain place, "vernacular" referring to the term in the local language(s).


Values are derived from a controlled list: V - Vernacular, O - Other, U ? Undetermined.


Vernacular refers to the name in the local language or the name used in the place. Note that a name may be in a language that is not the official language or in a language not spoken in the place, but may still be flagged "Vernacular" because it is the local name. For example, Los Angeles is a Spanish name, but the official language of the United States is English. None-the-less, Los Angeles is the name used locally and thus is the so-called "Vernacular" name.

  • If a local language uses a non-Roman alphabet or method of writing, the name may still be called Vernacular if it is transliterated names into the Roman alphabet. For example, in TGN, Bosna i Hercegovina is the vernacular name for that nation, even though it is transliterated from Serbo-Croatian's Cyrillic alphabet into the Roman alphabet.



  • Vernacular: The default flag is Vernacular. This is the correct flag for all names in the official local language or languages otherwise used in the place.

  • Other: If the name is not used by the local population or if the language of the name is not one of the one of the languages spoken in the place, set the flag to Other.

  • Undetermined: Do not use. Undetermined is typically used for data loaded into the system where the language of the names in the load is unknown.




Language for Names (required-default)


The language of the name. Names in different languages may be spelled differently, but refer to the same place. A single name may be spelled the same in multiple languages.


At the time of this writing, links are made to the controlled list in TGN, as described below. Languages in this list are mapped to the language hierarchy of AAT.

  • 1. Language: Term referring to the language of the name.
  • 2. Language Code: Unique code for the language in VCS. Related languages have codes within a given range, to allow retrieval of related languages.
  • 3. Language Preferred Flag: Indicates whether or not this name is the preferred way to refer to the place in that language.

      • Examples
        [in VCS]




[in an end-user display]
Firenze (preferred, C,V,N,Italian-P)
Florence (C,O,N,English-P)
Florencia (C,O,N,Spanish)
Florenz (C,O,N)
Fiorenza (H,V,N)
Florentia (H,V,N)
Florentine (C,O,A,English)


Controlled by the Languages file (see example below), mapped to AAT.

      • Example


New languages may be added to the controlled list only as absolutely necessary. Be certain that the language you need is not already entered in a synonymous form in the controlled list. If you still feel you need to add a language, consult with your supervisor.

  • The primary source for language names in TGN is the following:

      • Brief Citation: Ethnologue (2017)
        Full Citation: Ethnologue: Languages of the World. 14th edition. Barbara F. Grimes, ed. Dallas, Texas: SIL International, 2017.

  • If you wish to add a language found in another source, consult with your supervisor.

  • Sources providing information regarding which language the name represents are the following:

    • Standard general sources for geographic names, as described in Names above.
    • Encyclopedia Britannica or another authoritative, general information resources.
    • Language dictionaries, including Cassell's.



  • Flag the appropriate language for every name as your expertise, time, and editorial priorities allow.


Label a language only if your source indicates it. Do not guess.

  • If you are uncertain regarding a specific language, use the broader designation. For example, if your source does not specify if the name is Ancient Latin, Medieval Latin, or Liturgical Latin, use the more general designation Latin.


Preferred English name
It is required to flag the preferred English name for the place, if applicable. Note that most places do not have an English version of the name, but when one exists, it must be flagged in order to build the English view of the hierarchies in displays. For the preferred English name, link to "English, Code 70051."

  • For the preferred English name, choose the name most commonly used in American English sources (but flag it "English, Code 70051", not American English Code 70052).

  • Exception: It is optional to flag the preferred English name for places in nations where English is the vernacular name.

    • American vs. British English: If the name in question is spelled the same in both American and British English, simply label it English. In the rare event that there are differences in spelling between names in American English and British English, label the British spelling with the language British English. It is not necessary to label the American English spelling with language = American English, although you may do so to avoid end-user confusion (they will be told that names with language flag = English are presumed to be appropriate for American English unless otherwise indicated).

      • Example
        [for a town in Massachusetts, USA; the British English spelling is flagged; the preferred name is simply labeled English Code 70051- Preferred (not American English)]
    • Caveat: Note that the languages American English and British English are not used to build the English hierarchy, but it is required to flag the name needed to build the English hierarchy (if not the record-preferred name). Therefore, if you use either American English or British English designations, you must also link the American English name to English, Code 70051. In other words, it is possible that the American English name could have two language designations English Code 70051 and American English Code 70052.


Transliterated names
Flag the name as representing a particular language, even if the name has been transliterated into the Roman alphabet but the local language is written in another alphabet or writing method.

   » Chinese

For Chinese, there are special language designations for the two most common transliteration methods: Pinyin and Wade-Giles. Pinyin is the transliteration method preferred for preferred names in TGN. If your source indicates which was used for the name, flag the language appropriately. Other transliterations in the record should be labeled simply Chinese (if you are sure that the name is Chinese).

      • Example
        [from VCS, showing the pick list of languages, with "Chinese (transliterated Pinyin)" having been chosen for Beijing]





Preferred Flag for Language (required-default)


Flag designating whether or not the name is preferred in that language.


Controlled by a pick list: N - Non Preferred, P - Preferred, U - Undetermined



  • The default for this field is Non-preferred. Change the flag to Preferred if name is the short, commonly used form of the name in a particular language.

  • There may be only one preferred name per language.




Language Status (required-default)


Indicates if the term is a loan term from another language. Given that most place names are represented in the vernacular language, this flag is currently not being used in TGN.



  • Language Status: Flag indicating the status of the term as a loan term.



  • Controlled values: Undetermined, N/A, Loan term, Literal translation, Translation N/A. In TGN, the default for this field is Undetermined.



  • Use as necessary. Given that most geographic names are not translated into other langauges, this flag is rarely used in TGN. An example of use would be the following example: the English name Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of Porciuncula is a literal translation of the original Spanish name for Los Angeles, California.





Contributor for Name (required-default)


A reference to the institution or project that contributed the term/name.



  • Brief Name: An acronym, initials, or abbreviated name of the institution.

  • Full Name: A full version of the name of the contributing institution or project.


Controlled by a link to a file of controlled terminology; the list changes as new contributors are added. The current values are visible in the image below (as of June 2004).

      • Example


Use correspondence with an official representative of the institution or current, official publications of the contributing institution, including the official Web site of the institution.

  • If the institution does not have an official acronym, consult with your supervisor when creating a Brief Name.

  • Make sure that the contributor's names are the same in all three vocabularies. Make the contributor ID the same if possible.


The Brief Name (acronym, initials, or abbreviated name of the institution) appears in the place record. The Full Name is linked to the Brief Name in displays for the end-users.



  • The following are rules for assigning a contributor to a name (not for adding contributors' names to the controlled list).

  • The default Contributor is VP (Vocabulary Program). Editors may change contributors' initials only in very rare cases. If you feel it is necessary to change a link from one contributor to another, consult with your supervisor.

  • If you are adding data by hand, even if the data was given to you in a printout or other form by an institution or project that is a contributor, the contributor should be VP because the Vocabulary Program is actually entering the data (and thus some amount of interpretation is going on). The Source of the name would refer to the institution or project, but they are NOT the Contributor.

      • Example
        [Contributor is VP, not GCI because VP editors entered the name by hand into VCS; the data was not loaded]
  • Contributors' names other than VP will be linked to the name and other data in the record at the time when the data is loaded into VCS, and it very rarely needs to be changed.




Preferred Flag for Contributor (required-default)


Flag indicating whether the name is the one preferred by the contributor or a non-preferred term from the contributor.


The values are derived from a controlled list: P - Preferred, N - Non-preferred.


The legacy data (i.e., the data ported from the old TGN "TAP" system) does not record the preferred name of the contributor, because the previous system did not record this information; consequently, all names from the old system are flagged Non-preferred unless they have been changed by hand in the meantime.



  • Flag one VP-preferred name for each record. Each contributor may have only one preferred name per subject record.

  • The VP-preferred name should be the same name as the overall Preferred Name (descriptor) for the record.

  • The default flag for a new variant name in VCS is Non-preferred for VP (or any other contributor). If you are adding a preferred name for VP, change the flag to Preferred (which swaps the name to the Preferred position, sequence no. 1).

  • For contributed data, the flag is set when the data is loaded. Editors rarely have to change this flag on data loaded from contributors. If you feel you should do so, please consult with your supervisor. Note that there may be one and only one name preferred by each contributor per record.




Sources for Names (required)


A reference to the source used as warrant for the name, typically a published source.



  • Brief Citation: A brief reference to the source. See Appendix C: Citations.

  • Full Citation: A full citation for the source, including the author's name, title, and place and date of publication. See Appendix C: Citations.


Sources for the citations are title pages of the works.

  • Values are controlled by the Sources file in VCS. A source must be added to the Source file in order to be used in (linked to) the Subject (place) record. For a discussion of how to add sources to the Sources file, see Appendix C: Citations.

  • For a discussion of which sources are considered authoritative as warrant for specific types of place names, see Names above.

      • Examples


The source file is linked to Names, the Descriptive Note, and the Subject (refers to "subject as a whole," meaning for any information in the record other than Name or Descriptive Note).

  • Sources for place names include authoritative publications or statements from reliable parties that use the name(s) to refer to places. These include published and unpublished sources in any and all media. Two big US government databases, NGA/NIMA, and USGS are sources of many names and can be linked to those resources through IDs.

    Other sources include books on the history of art and architecture, journal articles, newspaper articles, newsletters from ISO and the United Nations, letters and telephone calls to embassies, inscriptions on art objects, and catalog records of repositories of art objects.



  • It is required to cite the sources used for the Name. In the Page Field, it is required to cite the volume, page number, date of accessing a Web site, or other appropriate indication of the specific location where the name was found in the source.

  • If there are multiple editions or multiple publication dates for a source, link to the specific source that you are using.

  • Link to the source only if the name has been transcribed exactly as found in that source, including punctuation and capitalization.

    • Exception: In specific rare cases, as when the name in the source contradicts TGN editorial rules (e.g., in the source, the name is in an index represented in all caps, or the source lists a heading instead of a name per se), the source may be linked even though the name entered in TGN does not match it exactly See instructions at Names above.

  • For rules for constructing Brief and Full Citations, see Appendix C: Citations. The Brief Citation should be a short reference to the source. The Full Citation is full reference to the published or unpublished work.


Preferred sources
Some commonly used specific sources include the following:

    • National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). GEOnet Names Server (GNS) [online database; formerly NIMA].

    • United States Geological Survey (USGS). Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) [online database].

    • Times Atlas of the World.

    • Oxford Atlas of the World.

    • National Geographic Atlas of the World.

    • Rand McNally New International Atlas.

    • Merriam-Webster's Geographical Dictionary.

    • Columbia Gazetteer of the World.

    • Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites.

    • Library of Congress Subject Headings.


   » How to choose the preferred source

Typically, sources for names in TGN should be chosen in the following general order of preference:

  • Standard general reference sources
    • government Web sites, including NGA/NIMA and USGS
    • atlases, loose maps, gazetteers
    • geographic dictionaries, encyclopedias, guidebooks
    • LC Name Authority Headings
  • Other official sources
    • newsletters from ISO and United Nations
    • communication with embassies
  • Other material on topics of geography or current events
    • books, journal articles, and newspaper articles
    • archives, historical documents, and other original sources
  • Other sources
    • books on history of art and architecture
    • inscriptions on art objects, coins, or other artifacts
    • catalog records of repositories of art objects

  • For the preferred name and other information, prefer the most current and authoritative source in a given situation.

    • Judging the most authoritative source may have more to do with the currency, author, or publisher of the material than with the type of material as prioritized above. For example, a National Geographic atlas may state that the name of a nation's subdivision is one thing, but an article in the New York Times reports that the name has been changed. In this case, the newspaper article has the most current information, even though in general the atlas would be a source preferred over a newspaper.


   » Unpublished source

If there is no published source, you may cite an unpublished source, such as correspondence with an embassy (e.g., Embassy of Turkey (2015)).

   » Constructed names

Occasionally, names are constructed by the Vocabulary Program in order to create names that conform to certain editorial rules (e.g., for creating display names, such as "Florence province"). The linked source for such names should be the following:

Brief Citation: Getty Vocabulary Program.
Full Citation: Getty Vocabulary Program. Term warranted by consensus of editorial staff.

   » Names from a database

If names are taken out of a contributor's database, special citations are used to refer to the database. Generally, these citations are attached when the records are loaded, thus the editors need not be concerned with them. However, if you are doing a special project, entering names by hand that have been derived from a contributors' data base, consult with your supervisor regarding which citation to use to refer to the database. (Note that the Contributor in this situation will be VP, not the contributing project's acronym. See Contributor above.)

      • Example
      • Brief Citation: BHA, Authority file (2003-)
        Full Citation: J. Paul Getty Trust. Bibliography of the History of Art. Authority file. [unpublished database] Los Angeles, 2003-.


Citing Sources
Brief rules for citing sources appear below. For detailed instructions for creating citations, see Appendix C: Citations.

      • Examples
      • Brief Citation: Swank, Pennsylvania Germans (1983)
        Full Citation: Swank, Scott T. Arts of the Pennsylvania Germans. 1st ed. New York: Published for the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum by W. W. Norton and Company, 1983.

      • Brief Citation: USBGN Bulletin, no. 22 (2000)
        Full Citation: United States Board on Geographic Names. Foreign Names Information Bulletin: 22. Washington, DC: National Imagery and Mapping Agency, 2000.


   » Full Citations

For the Full Citations, follow Chicago Manual of Style, 13th edition citation style for the humanities and social sciences. Consult the style sheet in Appendix C.2 for more detailed information.

   » Brief Citations

A brief citation is a shortened form of the full citation, used for display in the name record. (e.g. Times Atlas of the World (1994); NIMA, GEOnet Names Server (1996)). It must be unique so as to accurately identify and distinguish one particular source from all others, including different works having the same title and different editions of the same work. A brief citation generally consists of the author(s)'/editor(s)' last name(s) (if any), a shortened form of the title that includes enough keywords to indicate what the source is about, and the year of publication in parentheses.

   » No author or editor

If there is no author or editor, record the title as the first element in the Full Citation and Brief Citation.

      • Examples
      • Brief Citation: Anatolian Studies (1951-)
        Full Citation: Anatolian Studies. London: British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara, 1951-.


   » Citing periodical articles

The order of citation elements for articles is the following: author, article title, periodical title, volume, issue number (if any), page number range, and date. Volume and number are expressed in Arabic numerals, even if Roman numerals are used on the work. Since the volume, number and pages are given in the full citation in the source file, the Page field generally should be left blank.

  • Punctuation
    Volume and issue number are separated by a forward slash (/). Pages are preceded by a colon (:).
      • Examples
      • Brief Citation: O'Fahey, Tunjur. Sudan Notes (1980)
        Full Citation: O'Fahey. "The Tunjur: A central Sudanic mystery." Sudan Notes and Records 61:47-52 (Spring 1980).

      • Brief Citation: Lloyd-Jones, Stately homes of Wales. Architectural Planning Research (1993)
        Full Citation: Lloyd-Jones, Emlyn. "Stately homes of Wales: Their architects and landscapists." Journal of Architectural Planning Research 34/3:18-21 (Fall 1993).


   » Multi-volume works

For citing articles from multi-volume works, such as encyclopedias, the brief citation consists of a condensed version of the title of the complete work, followed by the date of publication of the complete work, and no URL.

  • In VCS, cite the individual essay or article title, volume and page number in the Page field (see below).

      • Example
      • Brief Citation: Wilkes and Packard, Encyclopedia of Architecture (1989-1990)
        Full Citation: Wilkes, Joseph A. and Robert T. Packard, eds. Encyclopedia of Architecture: Design, Engineering, and Construction. 5 vols. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1989-1990.
        Page: "Apartment buildings, high-rise," 1:219

  • For online encyclopedias, include the URL followed by the date of first access in parentheses at the end of the full citation. Note the article and date of access in the Page Number field (see below).

      • Example
      • Brief Citation: Encyclopedia Britannica Online (1997-2002)
        Full Citation: Encyclopedia Britannica Online (1997-2002). (4 March 2002).




Page Number for Name Source (required)

      • Examples



title page

276 ff.




7:89 ff.

folio 21, verso

fiche 2


accessed 24 April 1998

map 17

23, note 2

"Roman Republic and Empire," accessed 9 July 2002

plate 88


sh 85079403; LCCN Permalink:


A reference to the volume (if applicable) and page number where the name was found in the source. It may also include other information describing the precise place in the source where the name was found (e.g., a URL for an online source).


A free-text field; values are in Unicode. Legacy data may contain diacritics expressed according to the codes in Appendix A


Page Numbers are also discussed under Page Number for Subject Source and Page Number for Descriptive Note Source.



  • Although VCS will allow you to save a record without page numbers, it is required to record them when known.


For pages, do not state "page" or "p." before the numbers. Use the following formats: e.g., 532, 45-53, 12 ff. List the entire number for both numbers in spans of pages (e.g., 691-693, NOT 691-3).

      • Example
      • Brief Citation: Cambridge World Gazetteer (1988)
        Full Citation: Cambridge World Gazetteer: A Geographical Dictionary. David Munro, ed. Cambridge, England; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988.
        Page: 850-852


Maps, plates, etc.
"Page" is assumed unless otherwise stated. Therefore, in printed sources, for any reference to a location other than page, clearly indicate the area of the book, using the syntax in the following examples: title page, index, table of contents, inscription, map 23, plate 9, note 132.

      • Example
      • Brief Citation: Lobley, Mount Vesuvius (1889)
        Full Citation: Lobley, J. Logan. Mount Vesuvius: A Descriptive, Historical, and Geological Account of the Volcano and Its Surroundings. London: Roper and Drowley, 1889.
        Page: title


LC names (AACR)
For names taken from the Library of Congress Subject Headings and flagged with the LC flag (formerly called AACR2 flag) set to Yes (see LC Flag below), include the full heading in the Page field and the date on which the site was accessed.

      • Example
      • Brief Citation: Library of Congress Subject Headings
        Full Citation: Library of Congress Authorities. Subject Headings (LCSH). (13 March 2003)
        Page: New York (N.Y.), accessed 8 June 2004


Multiple pagination schemes
If a source uses multiple schemes of pagination within the same volume, use the numbering convention of the source, even if this means using Roman numerals or other idiosyncratic pagination systems. For example, the Times Atlas of the World includes a section with significant introductory material, charts, and maps on pages numbered by lower case Roman numerals, a second section marked by plate numbers, and a third index section marked by pagination in Arabic numerals.

      • Example
      • Brief Citation: Times Atlas of the World (1999)
        Full Citation: Times Atlas of the World. 10th comprehensive ed. New York: Times Books, 1999.
        Page: xvi


In the rare case when the source has folio numbers instead of pages, include recto or verso (e.g., folio 2, verso).


If a work is published in volumes, include the volume number and page number. Use Arabic numerals, even if the cited volume actually bears Roman numerals. Note that volumes are listed using the following format: volume number, forward slash, page numbers (e.g., for volume 2, page 311, it would be 2:311).

      • Example
      • Brief Citation: Canby, Historic Places (1984)
        Full Citation: Canby, Courtlandt. Encyclopedia of Historic Places. New York: Facts on File Publications, 1984.
        Page: 2:311


For newspaper and journal articles, the page number should appear in the citation and need not be repeated in the Page field (e.g., in the example below, the Full Citation includes page number "A3," so the Page Number field is empty).

      • Example
      • Brief Citation: Cotter, Buddhas of Bamiyan, New York Times (2001)
        Full Citation: Cotter, Holland. "Buddhas of Bamiyan: Keys to Asian History." New York Times (3 March 2001), A3.


Online sources and databases
Record the date when you consulted the web site in the Page Number field (e.g., accessed 30 March 2001, illustrated below). For newspapers on the web, cite the date of publication in the Full Citation ("4 April 2002" in the example below), not the Page Number field. In the Full Citation, include the designation [online], [online database], [online edition], or a similar phrase if the word online does not appear in the title of the document. You generally do not need to include [online] in the Brief Citation, unless necessary to distinguish between two otherwise identical citations.

    • Examples
    • Brief Citation: Seized towns, New York Times (2002)
      Full Citation: Agence France-Presse. "Seized Towns: Nablus Makes 8." New York Times [online] (4 April 2002). (10 April 2002).
      Page: accessed 2 May 2002

    • Brief Citation: Jones, Anzick Site (1997)
      Full Citation: Jones, J. Scott. " Anzick Site: Analysis of a Clovis Burial Assemblage." Corvallis, Oregon: Oregon State University, Department of Anthropology, 1997. [online]. (1 July 1999).
      Page: accessed 30 March 2001


Encyclopedia and dictionaries
If the name was the entry form name in the encyclopedia or dictionary do the following: for hard-copy books cite the volume (if applicable) and page number; for online sources, note the access date.

      • Examples
        [for a hard copy source, volume and page number ]
      • Brief Citation: New Encyclopaedia Britannica (1988)
        Full Citation: New Encyclopaedia Britannica. 15th ed. 1988 printing. 29 vols. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica Inc., 1988.
        Page: 5:303

        [for an online source]
      • Brief Citation: Encyclopedia Britannica Online (2002-)
        Full Citation: Encyclop$70aedia Britannica. Britannica Online. Chicago: Encyclop$70aedia Britannica, Inc., 2002-. (1 July 2002)
        Page: accessed 2 May 2004

  • If the place name you are sourcing is not the entry-form name in the source, in order to unambiguously refer to the entry, do the following: clearly indicate the area of the book, using the syntax in the following examples:

    • For hard-copy sources (e.g., books), include the entry form name, heading, or title of the entry or article, volume number (if applicable), and page number.

    • For online sources, include the entry form name, heading, or title of the entry or article, and access date.

      • Examples
        [for a hard copy source]
      • Brief Citation: Oxford Companion to Art (1996)
        Full Citation: Oxford Companion to Art. Harold Osborne, ed. Melbourne; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996.
        Page: "Villes Neuves," 1192

        [for an online source]
      • Brief Citation: Grove Dictionary of Art online (1999-2002)
        Full Citation: Grove Dictionary of Art (online edition). Jane Turner, ed. New York: Macmillan Publishing Ltd., 1999-2002. (3 December 1999).
        Page: "Laurens, Jean-Paul," accessed 5 August 2002


When the page number field may be left empty
The Page Number field may be left empty when an article and page are fully cited in the full citation, when the entry-form name in a hard-copy encyclopedia or dictionary entry is the same as the preferred name in a TGN record, and for references to contributors' databases (unless an access date is applicable) or to the Vocabulary Program's "Term warranted…" reference (below):

      • Brief Citation: Getty Vocabulary Program
        Full Citation: Getty Vocabulary Program. Term warranted by consensus of editorial staff.




Preferred Flag for Source (required-default)


Flag indicating whether or not this name is the preferred form of the name for this place in the source.


Controlled by a pick list: P - Preferred, N - Non-preferred, A - Alternate Preferred, U - Unknown



  • The non-preferred setting is the default for new names created in VCS. Change this flag if necessary, as described below.

  • Preferred: If the name is preferred by the source, mark the name Preferred for that source. There may be only one name preferred by the source per record. A name is preferred by the source when one of the following is true: it is the primary entry in an index, title, or table of contents; it is an entry-form name or title name for an entry or article in a dictionary or encyclopedia; it is the name predominantly used in a text; it is the primary form indicated on a map.

  • Non-Preferred: Flag the name as a non-preferred Name if it is a variant or alternate form of the name for the place in that source. Sources may indicate this in various ways, including placing the variant name in parentheses after the preferred name, using a phrase such as "also called" or "also spelled" or the like, or noted with a "see" reference back to the preferred term.

  • Alternate Preferred: Flag the name as an Alternate Preferred name if it is apparently preferred equally by the source, for example, if a source is bilingual and both French and English name forms are treated with equal preference.

  • Unknown: Editors typically should not use this flag, because they should be able to make a judgment regarding the name preferred in the source at hand. This flag is primarily used for data loaded from contributors' systems in which the preference was not captured. The legacy data from the old TGN system was loaded with Source preference as "Unknown" because this information was not tracked in the old system.




Dates for Names


Dates delimiting the time period when the name was or is still used.



  • 1. Display Date: A free-text field to express nuances of the date to the user; it is indexed by the two indexing fields representing the Start and End Dates implied in the free-text date.
  • 2. Start Date: The exact or estimated earliest year implied in the Display Date.
  • 3. End Date: The exact of estimated latest year implied in the Display Date.

      • Example
        [from the VCS Subject Edit window for Florence, Italy]


Display Date is a free-text field; values are in Unicode (including numbers). Legacy data may contain diacritics expressed according to the codes in Appendix A

  • Start Date and End Date must contain valid years, as controlled by VCS.


The dates should be determined using the same standard reference works that supply other information about the name.


There may be a Display Date associated with the name. Although it usually refers to a period or date, the Display Date field may contain notes that do not reference dates per se.

  • Display Dates are indexed with Start Date and End Date. Start and End Dates are controlled by special formatting; dates BCE are represented by negative numbers.



  • In the free-text Display Date field, record a phrase referring to a year, a span of years, or period that describes the specific or approximate date in the proleptic Gregorian calendar. Index this free-text date with Start and End Dates delimiting the appropriate span.

  • Dates are not required. However, if you enter data in any of the three fields, you must enter data in ALL three of the fields.

  • A short set of rules appears below. For further discussion of Dates, see Appendix B.


Display Date

   » State only what is known

Precise date spans for place names are rarely known. Where ambiguity exists, use natural word order to clearly state what is known (and only what is known; do not surmise). Follow the style of existing Display Dates.

      • Examples
        [for the name Ciudad de Guayana]
      • Display Date: from 1961
        Start Date: 1961 End Date: 9999

        [for the name República Dominicana]
      • Display Date: name used after 1844
        Start Date: 1844 End Date: 9999

        [for the name Belgica]
      • Display Date: Roman
        Start Date: -100 End Date: 500

        [for the name Sivas]
      • Display Date: renamed by Turkmen Danishmend dynasty after the capture of the city, ca. 1080-1090
        Start Date: 1070 End Date: 9999

        [for the name Île-de-France]
      • Display Date: name documented in 1429, perhaps in use as early as 1387; medieval "île" meaning an area bounded by rivers
        Start Date: 1387 End Date: 9999


   » Punctuation

Do not use full sentences; do not end the display date with a period or any other punctuation. If the Display Date could be ambiguous because it contains more than one phrase, separate phrases with a semi-colon for clarity.

      • Example
        [for the name Vallum]
      • Display Date: Roman name referring to the wall; today the name generally refers to the rear ditch of the wall
        Start Date: 100 End Date: 500

        [for the name Ha Noi]
      • Display Date: renamed by Nguyen Dynasty in 1831; means "City Between Two Rivers"
        Start Date: 1831 End Date: 9999


   » Capitalization and abbreviation

Do not capitalize words other than proper nouns or period names. Avoid abbreviations, except with the word circa (ca.), the numbers in century or dynasty designations (e.g., 17th century), and BCE and CE.

   » Calendar in Display Date

Display Dates should generally be listed by reference to years in the proleptic Gregorian calendar, which is the calendar produced by extending the Gregorian calendar to dates preceding its official introduction. If indicated in a source, dates may be expressed according to systems other than the proleptic Gregorian calendar (e.g., Julian, Napoleonic, Islamic, or other calendars). This should be clearly designated, also noting the year in the proleptic Gregorian calendar to avoid end-user confusion (e.g., 946 anno Hegirae (1540 CE)). All dates should be indexed in the Start and End Dates using the proleptic Gregorian calendar for consistency in retrieval.

      • Example
        [for the name Waymothe]
      • Display Date: early spelling; name changed from "Wessaguscus" on 2 September 1635 (old style calendar)
        Start Date: 1635 End Date: 1900


   » Span of years

If a precisely delimited span of dates is applicable, list the beginning year of the span first, followed by the end of the span, with the years separated by a hyphen. Include all digits for both years in a span; for example, with four-digit years, do not abbreviate the second year (e.g., 1921-1924, not 1921-24).

      • Example
        [for the name Estados Unidos do Brasil]
      • Display Date: 1891-1967
        Start Date: 1891 End Date: 1967

    • Caveat: In TGN it is unusual for such specific dates to be known. Do not state specific dates in the Display Date if there is broadly defined information, ambiguity, or uncertainty. For example, instead of 1500-1599, use 16th century if that is what is meant.


   » BCE in Display Dates

Dates before the year 1 in the proleptic Gregorian calendar should be indicated as Before Common Era, which should be abbreviated BCE. For dates after the year 1, it is generally not necessary to include the designation CE (Current Era) except where confusion may occur. For example, for very early years CE, especially if a span of dates begins BCE and ends CE, include both BCE and CE in the free-text date (e.g., 75 BCE-10 CE). Avoid using BC (Before Christ) or AD (Anno Domini). Dates BCE should be indexed with negative numbers in Start and End Dates (see below).

   » Uncertain dates

If a date is uncertain, use a broad or vague designation (e.g., ancient in the example below) or words such as documented, ca., and probably. Note that the first year when a name was documented is not necessarily the year when the name was first used; therefore, you must create a sufficiently early Start Date.

      • Example
        [for the name Bodincomagus]
      • Display Date: ancient name, from an old name for the Po river
        Start Date: -400 End Date: 900

        [for the name Clipperton Island]
      • Display Date: named after English mutineer and pirate, John Clipperton, ca. 1705
        Start Date: 1700 End Date: 9999


   » Periods and dynasties

For the names of dynasties and other precisely defined periods, include the dates for the period, when known, in parentheses. In the example below, the dates of the Dynasty are the broadest possible dates for the name; parentheses in the Display Date indicate that the dates refer to the dynasty, not specifically, precisely to the name.

      • Example
        [for the name Ch'i]
        Display Date:
        under the Chou Dynasty (1122-255 BCE)
        Start Date: -1122 End Date: -255

        [for the name Horst an der Delme]

      • Display Date: meaning "hill on the Delme river," used in World War II (1939-1945) to refer to the site
        Start Date: 1930 End Date: 1950

  • For general, broadly defined periods, do not include the span dates in the Display Date, because it will be misleading to the user, implying knowledge of greater specificity than is truly known.

      • Example
        [for the name Wilios]
      • Display Date: Late Bronze Age Greek name for the place
        Start Date: -3000 End Date: -1200


   » Acceptable scope of information in the Display Date

Ideally, the display date should refer, explicitly or implicitly, to a time period or date. However, the Display Date may be used to record unusual or important information about the name, often referring to the derivation of the name (see the examples above and below); occasionally, it may not even refer to a date per se (e.g., in example for Saule below). However, given that Start and End dates are required for Display Dates, you should have a period or date in mind when you write the Display Date.

      • Example
        [for the name Spanish Netherlands, refers to a span of time]
      • Display Date: from late 15th century to 1713
        Start Date: 1477 End Date: 1713

        [for the name Aigyptos, mentions reference to the name in a literary work]
      • Display Date: name used by Homer (Odyssey, 7th century BCE) to refer to both the river and the land through which it flowed
        Start Date: -800 End Date: 300

        [for the name Saule, in the record for Siaulia, Lithuania, refers very generally to the historicity of the name]
      • Display Date: historic Saule was probably on this site
        Start Date: 1000 End Date: 1400


   » Dates refer to the name, not to the site

Caveat: Note the dates refer to the name itself, not the date of the site (which would be recorded with Place Type Date, not Name Date). For historical names, do not mistakenly record the date of the site if the name was not in use when the site was occupied. In the example below, the name refers to a Neolithic site, but the name is modern. Names used in very ancient times are often unknown, and more recent names are used.

      • Example
        [for the name Kalavasos-Tenta, on Cyprus]
      • Display Date: Neolithic site name
        Start Date: 1900 End Date: 9999


Start Date and End Date

   » Delimiting the span

Record years that delimit the span of time when the name was in use, as referenced in the Display Date. It is better to delimit the span too broadly than too narrowly.

  • Start Date must represent some year earlier than or equal to End Date.


   » Do not use punctuation

Express years without commas or other punctuation. An exception is the hyphen, which is used to express negative numbers (dates BCE).

   » Gregorian calendar

Dates must be expressed in the proleptic Gregorian calendar, which is the Gregorian calendar projected back in time before it came into existence.

   » Current names

For a name currently in use, use the End Date 9999.

      • Example
        [for the name Cayman Islands]
      • Display Date: name changed from Las Tortugas, ca. 1527
        Start Date: 1525 End Date: 9999


   » Month and day

If a specific month and day are referenced in the Display Date, index with the year. For the display date, the preferred syntax is day, month, year with no punctuation. The alternative syntax - month, day, comma, year - is found in many legacy records. Do not bother editing records that already contain this syntax, except in order to make the record consistent when you are editing the record.

      • Example
        [for the name Republic of Ireland]
      • Display Date: since 18 April 1949
        Start Date: 1949 End Date: 9999

   » Dates BCE

Express dates BCE by negative numbers, using a hyphen before the number. Do not use commas or any other punctuation.

      • Example
        [for Felicitas Julia, a historical name for Lisbon, Portugal]
      • Display Date: Roman
        Start Date: -49 End Date: 500


   » Estimating Start and End Dates

Use available information to estimate Start and End Dates. In many cases, the years will be approximate years. When in doubt, it is better to estimate too broad a span rather than too narrow a span. See the Date Authority in Appendix B for approximate dates of historic events and entities; you should also consult other, related records in TGN to establish dates.

  • If a display date is qualified by ca., early in a century, probably, etc., estimate Start and End Dates accordingly. In the example below, the Start Date for "ca. 50 BCE" is estimated to be 25-years earlier, which is an educated guess based on available information.

      • Example
        [for the name Lauriacum]
      • Display Date: Roman, ca. 50 BCE to 5th century CE
        Start Date: -75 End Date: 499

  • For a broad designation in the Display Date (e.g., medieval, ancient, or Roman), estimate Start and End Dates based on available information or by referring to Appendix B: Date Authority.

      • Examples
        [for the name Larich]
      • Display Date: medieval
        Start Date: 700 End Date: 1100

        [for the name Flavia Solva]
      • Display Date: ca. 69 CE-early 5th century
        Start Date: 60 End Date: 425

  • It is rare that the exact date is known for when a name came into use. Use information gathered from related documentation to estimate Start and End Dates (e.g., the life dates of a historical figure or dates in censuses or other records). In the examples below, in the one case the Start Date is estimated based on the life dates of the person for whom the place is named; in the other case, the place name was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, but there is no reason to believe the name was not used before that date, thus an earlier Start Date was estimated.

      • Examples
        [for the name Alforde, the name was recorded in 1086, but was undoubtedly in use earlier]
      • Display Date: name recorded in 1086; probably from Old English "alder ford," thus meaning "old ford"
        Start Date: 800 End Date: 1700

        [using biographical information for life of Solon]
      • Display Date: named for Solon, Athenian statesman, ca. 600 BCE
        Start Date: -620 End Date: 1300




Display Name Flag (required-default)


Flag designating whether or not the name is to be used in natural order displays or in an alphabetical list.


Controlled by a pick list: I - Index, N - No, NA - Not Applicable, Y - Yes



  • Not Applicable: The default value for this flag is Not Applicable. Change it if any of the following apply.

  • Yes: If the name is a display name, that is a name constructed in order to be used in horizontal displays (e.g., Siena province), use the Yes flag. Also set this flag to yes for the natural order form of the preferred name, if the preferred name is inverted and flagged as an Index name. There may be only one name marked Yes per record. See also Constructed Names: Display Name above.

  • Index: If the name is the form that should appear in alphabetical lists and indexes, flag it as Index.

  • No: Do not use this flag unless instructed to do so by your supervisor.




LC Flag (formerly AACR flag)


Flag indicating if the name is the authorized heading in the Library of Congress Subject Headings.


Controlled by a pick list: Y - Yes, NA - Not Applicable


Library of Congress Authorities.


TGN names and LC Subject Headings are not identical things, so interpretation is required by TGN editors. Library of Congress subject headings are headings, not names; they contain a name or names, but are formed as a heading, not fielded names per se. In contrast, TGN fields names in distinct fields (and builds headings by stringing parents together using algorithms). Therefore, when the AACR2 flag is used, it simply means that the name is the form found in an LC heading, not that the name is the LC heading.

  • When you search the LC Subject Headings, you will typically retrieve many headings that are not place names at all. You must figure out which is the place heading you are trying to verify.

    • For example, the heading Springfield (Bucks County, Pa.) indicates that the LC Authorities preferred name for this city (in this heading) is Springfield, and that it is the Springfield in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. In TGN the county and state are the parent and grandparent of Springfield, NOT part of the name or heading.



  • It is not required to look up the name in LC Authorities. However, for famous places known by various names, and otherwise as time and editorial priorities allow, it is highly recommended to search LC Authorities and set this flag to Yes for the appropriate name.

  • Not Applicable: The default value for this flag is Not Applicable. Change it if the name is the authorized LC heading.

  • Yes: Flag the name as the AACR2 form if the heading in which you found it is noted as an "authorized heading" on the LC Authorities Web site (note that the AACR2 flag indicates the authorized heading, not simply a name formulated using AACR). There should be one and only one name with the AACR2 flag in each record.

  • In the Page field, put the full heading in which you found the name (see Page for Name Source above) and the date when you accessed the information (e.g., New York (N.Y.), accessed 1 December 2004). Be sure that you are citing the heading for the place itself, not a heading for some other topic that contains the place name (e.g., the heading for the place is New York (N.Y.), NOT New York observer (New York, N.Y.), even though the latter heading happens to contain the place name in addition to a corporate body name.

  • If you find other variant names in the full LC Authority Record (in the 451 field), and those names are not already in TGN, add them to TGN, citing the source as Library of Congress Subject Headings, but do not flag the name as the AACR2 form.




Other Flags


Flags designating various special characteristics of the name.


Controlled by an extensible list: Not Applicable, Official Name, Pseudonym, Site name, Provisional Name, Abbreviation, Code, ISO 3-letter, ISO 2-letter, ISO 3-number, ISO 2-number, US Postal Service, FIPS, Misspelling, Deprecated term, Avoid use, Pejorative term



  • For ISO codes, use the ISO-3166 standard.

  • For FIPS codes, use Geographic Names and FIPS Digraph Codes:Countries, Dependencies, and Areas of Special Sovereignty.

  • For the official names of nations, use official publications in this order of preference: ISO-3166 standard, the United Nations Country Names and other bulletins, the CIA World Fact Book online, Encyclopedia Britannica Book of the Year, official national Web sites of the individual nations, and geographic dictionaries or other authoritative reference sources.

  • For the US Postal Service 2-letter codes, use an official postal publication.

  • Pseudonyms may be found in various sources, including general reference works for geographic names listed under Names.



    If warranted, use an Other Flag based on the following criteria.

    Values in this field are not repeatable, even though the values are not mutually exclusive. Therefore, indexers must use a decision tree. In brief, if multiple values could apply, choose the value that is most important. For examaple, if an official code applies, such as an ISO code, this flag would supersede most others in importance. If a name is determined to be Avoid use or Pejorative, either of these flags is supersedes all other possible flags in importance. (We hope that in a future data model, the flag will be repeatable.)

  • Not Applicable: The default value for this field is Not Applicable. Retain this value unless any of the following criteria applies to the name.

  • Official name: For the official name for the place, typically used for the long version of the name of a nation (e.g., United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland).

  • Pseudonym: For an unofficial nickname for the place (e.g., City of Brotherly Love).

  • Site name: For the name or other designation of a historical or archaeological site, such as that officially assigned by a governmental body (e.g., 36AD0001 for an archaeological site in Adams County, Pennsylvania). See also Code. Also for when a site exists within another city that has a modern name (e.g., Templo Mayor) is a Site name, as it exists within the larger Mexico City); in addition Templo Mayor could be linked a location site for a built work of the same name in CONA).

  • Provisional name: For a name that has been temporarily assigned, as when a nation undergoes an adiministrative change.

  • Abbreviation: For initials and abbreviations for names (e.g., NYC for New York City or NOLA for New Orleans, Lousiana). See also official codes below that could apply instead.

  • Code: For geographic location codes used by national or other agencies to identify geographic locations, but not included in the specific set of codes for ISO, FIPS, etc. flagged here. Examples could be census codes for areas or postal codes for various nations. You can name the code in the Display Date Note (e.g., for Navajo Nation Reservation code 2430, Note could be "American Indian Area code: US 2010 National Census Codes").

  • ISO 3-letter: For the 3-letter ISO 3166 standard country code for a given nation (e.g., ITA). ISO codes are already assigned to nations.

  • ISO 2-letter: For the 2-letter ISO 3166 standard country code for a given nation (e.g., IT). ISO codes are already assigned to nations.

  • ISO 3-number: For the 3-letter ISO 3166 standard country code for a given nation; precede the number with the initials ISO (e.g., ISO380). ISO codes are already assigned to nations.

  • ISO 2-number: For the 2-letter ISO country code for a given nation. ISO codes are already assigned to nations.

  • US Postal Service: For the 2-letter code for the US Postal Service codes for states (e.g., CA). USPS codes are already assigned to US states.

  • FIPS: For the alphanumeric code from the US Federal Information Processing Standard No. 10 referring to nations and their administrative entities (e.g., IT00). FIPS codes are already assigned to many nations and their administrative subdivisions.

  • Misspelling: For a name that is found in published sources or commonly in archival documents, where the name is clearly misspelled by the author. Note that standard spellings for a geographic name may have changed over time; do not use this flag for historical spellings or variant transliterations of names.

  • Deprecated term: For a name that was formerly a Preferred name, but that is now no longer preferred. Commonly applied to recently changed spellings; do not apply to historical names.

  • Avoid use: Choose this designation for a name that should not be used in indexing, but that may be used for retrieval in research and discovery because the name is found in certain historical materials. Some Avoid use names are also Pejorative terms, however all Pejorative terms are Avoid use.

  • Pejorative term: For a name that is included for access, research, and discovery, but that is considered pejorative, derogatory, or offensive and thus should always be avoided in new indexing. That is, neither Pejorative term or Avoid use names should be used for indexing, but may be used for retrieval. An example of a place name now considered derogatory is Squaw Creek Spring, for which Alder Spring is now preferred in TGN.





Assigned To


Indication of the person assigned to research this name. (Currently not used.)


Free text.


Editor logins.



  • Do not use this field unless otherwise instructed by your supervisor.

  • See also Assigned To flag for the entire subject record: Chapter 3-8.



[1]"Required-default" indicates that a default is automatically set, but should be changed by the editor as necessary. Some required-default values are system-generated and may not be edited.


[2]Note: This field was formerly used to record the flag indicating if the name was a noun or adjective. As of 2010, this information is recorded in the new field, Part of Speech.


Last updated 31 March 2022
Document is subject to frequent revisions


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