What All Reunion 9 for Mac Users Must Know About Surname Prefix Sorting

Surely somewhere in your genealogy there’s at least one ancestor with a surname prefix. You know, those names that start with “Mc,” “von,” and so on? If you do, you need to know that Reunion has special rules for sorting names with these prefixes. If you don’t set it to sort the way you want, your index may not be sorted as you think it is. This can make finding a person in a list difficult including the index that is included on some reports.

Have no fear! I’ve dug into all the intricacies to figure it out and simplify it for you. In this video from the MacGenealogist Archives, Surname Prefix Sorting in the Reunion for Macintosh Genealogy Software, I point out the pitfalls and show you what your options are, including one you may not know about even if you are familiar with the prefix words preference options.


  1. Ann says

    Dear Ben,
    Showing us how to index the surname prefixes is a great video. Your explanation is so precise and easy to follow. I checked in my index and discovered that any “Mc's” in my list do not have a space between the “c” and the next word, so I don't have to worry about fixing anything. It is great to know how to make the changes if necessary. Thanks for your video.

  2. says

    Dear Ann,

    Thank you for the feedback. I'm glad you found it informative if not necessary in your case (yet). I'm hoping that even when you aren't in immediate need of a tip or topic I cover, something will stick. That way, when you do need it you'll remember you saw it here and come back or check your CDs.

  3. says

    My initial reaction on watching this was “there shouldn't be a space between Mc and Lellan, or Mc and Kinley – they're generally regarded as one word surnames I thought.

    Here's a couple of webpages from those who should know about such matters



    Other matters for consideration would be the ability to find such names online – a search for “Mc Lellan” produces an entirely different set of results than does the search for McLellan. A search for Mc Lellan without the quotes produces very similar results as the search for mclellan it seems.

    Now here in West Michigan I get quite confused when working with names like

    van der Woude
    vander Woude

    There are some names with “prefix issues” <g>


  4. Laurie says

    This has been very helpful to me since 1/4 of my genealogy is Scottish … thanks ever so much.

  5. says

    You're right, they're generally regarded as one word surnames and one of the things you've undoubtedly learned about names is that people do funny things with them. I personally know people who treat the “Mc” as a prefix (let's call them Mc-spacers) and many more who do not. A quick scan of my local phone book bears this out. Among 6 pages of names that begin with Mc, I found 29 Mc-spacers.

    Your experience with the “vans” in your area support this reality as well. People's names are what they say they are at a given point in time. Whether it's “right” or not in the opinion of an esteemed expert is irrelevant from the perspective of documenting facts about a person.

    All of this is tangential to the point of the video of course. Had my test family file contained no Mc-spacers and included people with the “von” prefix I would have used them as the example. I hope that the Mc-space issue didn't distract you so much that you missed the tips in the video. <g>

  6. V. Thomas Wakula says

    I have one record (my Father’s) in Reunion 9 that takes at least 5 or more seconds to become the active record. Any of the family cards associated with his record act normally. Any ideas as to why just this one record acts this way? I kind of do not want to recreate the record because of the amount of data associated with it. Thanks.

    • Ben says

      It sounds like something the support team at Leister Productions ought to be made aware of. They’ll be able to sort it out if you send them the family file to look at. —-Ben >@<

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