Some Guidelines for Writing Articles for this Archive
This archive is intended primarily for people trying to choose names
for their historical characters. These suggestions are things we've
learned over the years trying to help those people.
- Include an introduction to your list. Identify your sources,
with full bibliographical information. Describe your methods: How did
you select names? How did you analyze them? How did you deal with
variant spellings, etc? How are you presenting the data?
- If you've worked from a primary source, describe it: language,
period, location, nature of the documents, identities of the original
authors, etc. Discuss any problems you had reading or interpreting
your source, and any assumptions you made. If you used other sources
along the way, include them in your bibliography. You may want to
give a sample of your source, reproducing the original as closely as
- If you worked from secondary sources, look for a note from the
author describing how names were translated from his medieval
sources. Did he translate them from Latin? Did he modernize or
standardize the spellings of names?
- List given names by frequency, with masculine and feminine names
in separate lists. Group variants and pet forms of names, unless
these seem to be used as independent names in the culture you're
studying. In many articles with long lists of names, we've listed the
common names in a table but the rarer names in a paragraph-formatted
list. This format emphasize the common names by giving them more page
space. Alphabetical lists are also useful, so feel free to provide
them as well; but the frequency list is more important since it gives
people a feel for how names were actually used in the culture.
- List surnames or bynames alphabetically, perhaps broken down by
category of meaning (e.g. patronymic, occupational, locative, etc.).
The distribution of surnames is rarely as skewed as the distribution
of given names, so an alphabetical list usually doesn't obscure
important information. Separate men's and women's bynames and analyze
them separately if there are significant gender differences in your
- Present large lists of data compactly. It isn't necessary to
include details of each citation in your tables of names, like the
page where you found a name. That information is important, but it
can be presented in a secondary listing -- the raw data or an index.
It's more important for the reader to be able to scan the list of
- Include a separate page or pages with your raw data. This has
two benefits: It allows people to see what complete names looked like,
and it lets future researchers use your work as a starting point.
- Don't let any page of the article get much larger than 25K.
The Medieval Names Archive is published by
the Academy of Saint Gabriel and
Sara L. Uckelman. It was historically published by
© 1997-2013. Copyright on individual articles belongs to their