I'm having a horrible time with individual contact suffixes, Struggling with input, display and reports having to do with suffixes. I'm about to create a new custom text field for suffix(2) and abandon the original suffix field. Whether I can modify the standard displays to accommodate change field change, I don't know. In the old days there would quickly be a discussion about something like this on this board, frequently ending up with discovering the system was just fine and I needed to look at the issue a different way.

Relevant previous thread - found others with this unresolved issue on this forum, but could not post a general reply, seems to be blocked: https://forum.civicrm.org/index.php?topic=10948.msg47111#msg47111

My specific issue is that for activists that they may have multiple suffixes. John Smith II may be an RN and also MSW. So there are many many possible combinations. In our case a text field may work better. However, I entered all the combinations we've run across so far, afraid of the data coming in from spreadsheets, so changed the values to the same as the dropdown display. The Suffix appears OK on the view / edit, but on reports just shows up as a 0.

Have others run into this issue - suggestions?

2 Answers 2


I consider things like RN and MSW to be qualifications that should be dealt with in some other way rather than adding them to the suffix field.

A contact is always Charles Montague III but he is only a RN whilst he maintains his regisitration as an RN which will involve a certain number of hours of professional development and practical work each year.

If you need to be able to search for people with a particular qualification then a custom multiselect field to deal with them would be the best option I suspect. The final option could be Other, and you would have an associated free text field so they can specify exactly what you have left off your extensive list.

Alternatively, if you just want to be able to tack these on after the formal name, then a free form text field may be easier.


As JoAnne notes, all name suffixes are not created equal. For one client, we define no fewer than six (!) different text fields in addition to the generational suffix to handle various types:

  • Academic degrees and qualifications (e.g. Ph.D., MD, PgDip, MFA)
  • Professional licenses/certifications/charters (CFA, PE, PMP, CBBA)
  • Professional admissions (FACS, FACC)
  • Professional associations/affiliations (AIA, AICPA)
  • Religious order or institute (S.J., O.P.)
  • Military branch (USMC, USAAF)

The rules are even more complicated in the UK and some other countries.

The great majority of organizations will not need this level of granularity. It can be useful, however, to segregate the types to some degree to allow them to be reordered or selectively included. For example, most style guides will say it is incorrect to name someone as Dr. John Doe, MD — it is either Dr. John Doe or John Doe, MD — and that is difficult if you've got the MD mixed up with MD, MHSA, FAAP.

At a minimum, where the values are only needed for formal addresses and lists, we provide a free-form post-nominal initials field and allow the end user to populate it as they please. The built-in "individual suffix" field is reserved purely for generational suffixes.

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