The database is part of a system that includes topographic map names and bibliographic references. The names of books and historic maps that confirm the feature or place name are cited. Variant names, alternatives to official federal names for a feature, are also recorded. Each feature receives a permanent, unique feature record identifier, sometimes called the GNIS identifier. The database never removes an entry, "except in cases of obvious duplication."
The GNIS accepts proposals for new or changed names for U.S. geographical features through The National Map Corps. The general public can make proposals at the GNIS web site and can review the justifications and supporters of the proposals.
The United States Census Bureau (USCB) defines Census Designated Places as a subset of locations in the National Geographic Names Database.
United States Postal Service (USPS) Publication 28 gives standards for addressing mail. In this publication, the postal service defines two-letter state abbreviations, street identifiers such as boulevard (BLVD) and street (ST), and secondary identifiers such as suite (STE).
^"United States Census County Based TIGER/Line® 2009 Data Dictionary: Entity, Joins, Attributes and Domains". Archived from the original on 27 June 2014. Retrieved 27 June 2014.
^Cartographic Users Advisory Council (CUAC) (26–27 April 2007). 2007 Agency Presentation Minutes. Reston, VA: United States Geological Survey (USGS). Archived from the original on 11 January 2014.
United States Department of the Interior (DOI), Digital Gazeteer: Users Manual, (Reston, Virginia: United States Geological Survey (USGS), 1994).
Least Heat Moon, William, Blue Highways: A Journey Into America, (Boston: Little Brown and Company, 1982). ISBN 0-316-35329-9
Jouris, David, All Over The Map, (Berkeley, California: Ten Speed Press, 1994.) ISBN 0-89815-649-1
Report: "Countries, Dependencies, Areas of Special Sovereignty and Their Principal Administrative Divisions," Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS), FIPS 10-4. Standard was withdrawn in September 2008, See Federal Register (FR) Notice: Vol. 73, No. 170, page 51276 (September 2, 2008)
Report: "Principles, Policies and Procedures: Domestic Geographic Names," United States Board on Geographic Names (BGN), 1997.
United States Postal Service Publication 28.
United States Board on Geographic Names (BGN) website