Monday, May 2, 2016

Monday Mailbox: Do I Specify Periods In Searches

The Ancestry Insider's Monday MailboxDear Insider,

How do FamilySearch and Ancestry "handle" periods following an initial in records searches?

Would I be better off not including the period in my search phrase?

Example:  John J. Smith (for John Jay Smith or John Jones Smith)

Thanks!
Gary Barton

Dear Gary,

As I wrote back on 28 April 2016, FamilySearch ignores periods you specify. FamilySearch instructs indexers to leave periods out and I am guessing when they buy an index from someone else, they strip out any they find—for consistency.

Back on 23 April 2016 when I wrote this, I searched for “A P Raymond” (set to exact) on Ancestry.com. I received matches for both “A. P. Raymond” and “A P Raymond”. I did the same search with periods and got the same result, so apparently it doesn’t matter.

Short answer: it doesn’t matter.

Incidentally, Ancestry also gave matches for “P A Raymond”, and “L A Lyle P Raymond”. Apparently, they use the same rules for exact searches that FamilySearch used to use. Exact search on Ancestry requires the specified names be present, but additional names may be present and the specified names may be present in any order. You’ll recall FamilySearch changed their exact search recently. They changed their exact to be “exact” (ignoring punctuation, …).

Signed,
---The Ancestry Insider

 

Note: This article was corrected on 22 May 2016 as noted in a comment below.

5 comments:

  1. Hi, AI...you didn't say anything about the "look" of using the period within the "official" name of a person on a Family Search profile page: A P Raymond being the preferred form, at least as I was taught.

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  2. Thanks for posting this. After reading your excellent description of the changes to FamilySearch.org's exact search, I looked for a similar description of ancestry.com's exact search. I came back to your site to see if you had written something in the past and voilà, here it is.

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  3. Thanks for posting this. After reading your excellent description of the changes to FamilySearch.org's exact search, I looked for a similar description of ancestry.com's exact search. I came back to your site to see if you had written something in the past and voilà, here it is.

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  4. Please examine the quote from Family Search Indexing below and try your search again.

    "Some punctuation is indexed, and some is not. If punctuation, such as a hyphen (-) or an apostrophe (’), is normally part of a name, type it. If not, do not include it. Do not type a period after an initial or abbreviated name. Do not type commas, parentheses, or semicolons after initials or abbreviations.

    For example, if an individual’s name is listed as “William H. O'Rourke,” you would type the following:

    Given Name: William H

    Surname: O’Rourke

    (Do not type a period after the abbreviation for the middle name, but type the apostrophe (’) as part of the surname.)
    Do include the following.

    Hyphens when they are used in a name, such as “Wilson-Gaston.”
    Apostrophes when they are used in a name, such as “O'Farrell.”
    Equal signs when they are used in a name, such as “wey=ah=doh.”

    ©2009, 2014 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved."

    When I search for a name with given and middle initials only, I find they are the first hit with spelled out names following. Did you mean to say that the search engine ignores periods? That is the general rule for any word search.

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    Replies
    1. The confusion arises from an error in my description. I meant to say, "FamilySearch ignores periods you specify," not "FamilySearch ignores initials you specify."

      Keep in mind, that what the indexer includes in the data and what the search engine software does with it are related, but independent.

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