How to Name Files that Contain a Misspelled Name

Misspelled names are common in genealogy. Fortunately it’s easy to deal with if you follow a consistent, well thought out approach. What approach ought to be taken when the the name of a person in a file is wrong?

Ignoring the error by naming the file with only the correct spelling will make finding the reference in the content more difficult. On the other hand, naming the file with only the misspelled name will also make finding files about that person harder. Family history research is challenging enough without those complications. There is a simple solution.

The best way to deal with this is to include both. As I wrote in a previous article about citing sources with misspelled names in Reunion 9:

  • The misspelling should be used
  • The correct spelling should immediately follow the misspelling
  • The correct spelling should be surrounded by square brackets

For example, the file name for a census page image file containing an entry with a misspelled surname might look like the one above.

Yes, those square brackets are perfectly acceptable to your Macintosh. Have I mentioned that I love working on a Mac? Anyway, using this approach ensures:

  • You’ll know what name to look for in the file (“Shouldbran” in the example)
  • Your file will be included in a Spotlight search for the correctly spelled name (“Sholdebrand” in the example)

Here’s what the Spotlight search returns:

Spotlight Example

And the good news doesn’t stop there. The approach works when a name is misspelled more than once in the same file (e.g. when the given and surnames are incorrect). Include as many corrections as needed, each surrounded by square brackets.

There you go—a simple, easy to remember way to correct those pesky enumerator errors. Give it a try now.

Leave a Reply