Adding Names in Family Tree Maker

Name Editing Window in Family Tree Maker for Mac 2Storing names in genealogy software seems simple enough at first glance, right? While Family Tree Maker makes it comparatively simple, it’s still a bit tricky when adding name variations, AKAs, suffixes, titles, and multi-word surnames.

Learning how to enter names will speed your evidence capture so you can focus on the fun family history activities: research, analysis, and storytelling. Those fun bits will be easier too! All the information and evidence will be organized.

Names, AKAs, Titles, Suffixes, and Multi-word Surnames

There are two types of information I’m going to show you how to enter: fact types and name parts. Alternate names, also known as (AKA), and titles are all fact types in Family Tree Maker. Suffixes are one of the three name parts (surname, given names, and suffix). Finally, I’ll show you how to enter another of those name parts, the surname, when it consists of multiple words. I made videos for Family Tree Maker 2012 and Family Tree Maker for Mac 2. You’ll find them at the end of this tutorial. Between here and there I’ve included basic, written instructions for you.

Alternate Names

Normally person records have a name when you create them. That’s a name fact. Every time you encounter another name for the person you can capture that in an alternate name which is just another name fact.

One of the name facts for each person is marked preferred. That’s the one that is displayed when only one of each fact type is included like the pedigree view and index.

Add alternate names by:

  1. Clicking the Add Fact button on the Person Tab
  2. Select Name from the list of fact types
  3. Type in the name
  4. Press return
  5. Change the preferred name if desired

Also Known As

AKAs are made to store nicknames. They let you display them appropriately onscreen and in charts and reports.

There are a couple ways to enter nicknames. One is to type the nickname, surrounded by quotation marks, when you enter the name (e.g. Echo “Peggy” Terry). It works, but it isn’t the best way. You see, FTM considers quoted words in a name to be an error. Oh, it knows what you are trying to do though. It proudly tells you it detected your error and offers to make it right by moving the quoted text to an AKA fact.

Let’s just do it that way in the first place, shall we? Here are the steps:

  1. Click the Add Fact button on the Person Tab
  2. Select the Also Known As fact type from the list
  3. Type the nickname (without quotes!)
  4. Press return
  5. Change the preferred AKA if desired

Now that you’ve got shiny new (or maybe they’re crusty old) nicknames entered what do you do with them? Well, display them! You can include them in the index for instance. Here’s how to turn on that option:

  1. Open Preferences… on the Mac or Options on Windows
  2. Select the dates and names
  3. Check the option box labeled Use AKA if available after middle name
  4. Close the options/preferences window

If you would like to have AKAs appear as additional entries in the index be sure to include an surname in the AKA value and turn on the option (as above) labeled Use AKA if available as an additional entry.


Titles are the last of the name fact types covered in this tutorial. Like AKAs, FTM detects titles in names if you enter one (e.g. Reverend Thorsten Thomas Roan) and offers to “fix” the error by moving the offending title text to a new title fact. Here’s how to create the title fact:

  1. Click the Add Fact button on the Person Tab
  2. Select the Title fact type from the list
  3. Type the title
  4. Press return
  5. Change the preferred title if desired

Just like with the AKA, you can tell FTM to display titles. Here’s how:

  1. Open Preferences… on the Mac or Options on Windows
  2. Select the dates and names
  3. Check the option box labeled Use titles if available
  4. Close the options/preferences window


Now let’s move on to the name parts starting with suffixes. These are easy! You can enter them at the end of the name field (it’s a suffix after all). Just remember: don’t put a comma between the name and suffix.

Oh, and don’t put a suffix in a title fact. If you do, you’ll get funny looking entries like “Jr. John Sholdebrand.”

Multi-word Surnames

This one’s a bit more complicated than the rest. Watch the video for the details and variations (backslashes and non-breaking spaces). I’ll give you the steps for the easiest way to enter multi-part surnames in a name fact:

  1. Click the Edit Name Parts button in the name fact value field
  2. Enter the multi-word surname in the Surname field
  3. Click Ok

Make it Stick!

Wow! That’s a lot for seemingly simple topic like names, huh? This is a great topic to go through on your own family tree while watching this video for GenealogyTools Members. That’s the best way to get the steps to take hold in your memory.

Family Tree Maker 2012 Video

Family Tree Maker for Mac 2 Video


  1. says

    I wish you had given more examples. I’m kind of stuck on William the Conqueror. I think I should just put his name as William and then put William the Conqueror in the AKA field, but I’m not sure.

    • Ben says

      William the Conqueror’s name is a tough one because it includes a byname. It can be recorded different ways which will affect how and where it is displayed. Assuming you want it to display in it’s entirety anywhere the name appears I would enter William as the given name, leave the surname blank, and enter “the Conqueror” as a suffix.

  2. Christine Czarnecki says

    Shouldn’t he be listed instead as “William I, King of England and Duke of Normandy?”

    “The Conqueror” is most certainly a nickname, and it is not his surname. Royals don’t actually have surnames. This is why Prince William, son of Charles, Prince of Wales, is listed as “William Wales,” not William Windsor or William Windsor-Mountbatten, or William Mountbatten-Windsor.

  3. Andy Michaels says

    Suppose you have two alternate spellings for a name (eg, Michael and Micheal); you’ve got Michael checked as the preferred name, but now it appears that Micheal is more likely the correct spelling. The only way you can change this, apparently, is to delete the one that is NOT preferred, but that you want to make preferred, then re-enter it and check Preferred.

    • Ben Sayer says

      You can right-click (control-click on the Mac) the name fact (or any other) and select “Set As Preferred” to accomplish this.

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