With 26 letters in the alphabet halfway through is between M and N, right?
Not if you're looking at an alphabetic list by surname frequency.
In our research we often find ourselves looking for a particular name in an alphabetically ordered list where there's no index, just a block of pages or images and you have to guess how far in to go to find the name you want.
Here's a table you may find useful showing the cumulative percent of the way through to go to find the start of an initial surname letter.
It varies depending on nationality. Wales loves Jones and Jenkins, Scotland has a lot of names beginning with Mc. Those distributions are calculated from a table at the Surname Studies website. Ottawa figures are based on the 2009 phone book.
For example, if you're looking for Smith in a Scottish database the table shows that the S surnames start 78% of the way into the database.
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Often you don't have the whole range to work with. Wouldn't it be nice if there was an app where you could enter page numbers and surname from the beginning and end of the range and get an estimate of the page for a particular surname Hey RootsTech, that would be an innovation.