Names of collectivities and organizations

name organizational names phrase-level encoding
name orgName

Discussion of encoding the names of collectivities and organizations using name and orgName, including distinctions between collectivities and organizations

The TEI provides for the encoding of organizational names using the orgName element. If you are encoding all names on principle, distinguishing between organizational and other types of names can be useful, since it provides a basis for handling them differently (e.g. linking to different databases of contextual information, automated look-ups). If your project’s interest in names is chiefly to identify people, then encoding organizational names may be unnecessary. If you are encoding names in a comprehensive way, then it may be worth distinguishing between the names of organizations and the names of collectivities, as described below.

We recommend encoding the proper names of collectivities, if they are of interest, using name. A collectivity may be defined as the sum of its members; the name of the collectivity refers to the members of the collectivity, rather than to some organization or official body to which they belong (and in fact there may be no such organization). Collectivities may be quite small: for instance, the members of a family (the Guelphs, the Capulets). Or it may be quite large: for instance, the believers in a religion or the members of a political party (the Baptists, the Whigs).

We recommend encoding the names of organizations using the orgName element. An organization may be considered as a persistent, identifiable unit which has some sort of ontological status apart from the existence of any members: an official shell or container.

Note that in some cases there may be collectivities whose names are closely related to the organization which contains them (e.g. the Masons) and there may also be cases where it is hard to make the distinction, depending on the wording of particular cases (e.g. the Masons). However, the cost of being wrong in these cases is low, so encoders should not spend too much time agonizing over minute distinctions.


Example 1. Proper names of collectivities, which should be encoded with name.

Note that these collectivities’ names are often based on a proper name (e.g. the name of a country, leader, family, or organization). Note also that they may be used in the singular to refer to one member of the group, and these should also be encoded with name.

  • the Catholics, a Catholic
  • the Masons, a Mason
  • the Greeks, a Greek
  • the Muggletonians, a Muggletonian
  • the Luddites, a Luddite
  • the Bolsheviks, a Bolshevik
  • the Borgias (in the singular, names of family members should be encoded with persName)

Example 2. Proper names of organizations (which are encoded with orgName)

  • Parliament
  • Nabisco
  • The Court of Star Chamber
  • The Queen’s Bench
  • The Text Encoding Initiative
  • The Order of Free and Accepted Masons