Domain TLD and "Style" Questions

  1. I have an educational site. Can I register in the .edu domain?
  2. Should I register my domain name as a .com, .net or .org?
  3. The domain name I want consists of many words. Should I register it with hyphens or without?
  4. My domain name could contain a number - should I use a digit or spell the number out?
  5. I've tried every possible combination I can think of and every domain name that I want is taken. What can I do?
  6. What can you tell me about the new generic TLD domains?


I have an educational site. Can I register in the .edu domain?

Probably not. In order to qualify for a .edu domain, you must be an accredited, four-year, degree-granting institution of higher learning (in other words, a 4-year college or university). And each institution may only register one .edu domain name. If you do meet these qualifications, you may register your .edu domain name directly with . back to top

Should I register my domain name as a .com, .net or .org?

When domain names were introduces, the gTLDs com, net and org were defined as follows:

  • com for commercial business
  • net for network, or Internet companies
  • org for not-for profit organizations
However, these guidelines were never closely followed, so now anyone can register a domain name under any of these three gTLDs. This happened for many reasons. Families posting private web sites, for example, don't fit into any of the above categories. And if we go "by the book" America OnLine is an internet service provider and *should* be aol.net, not aol.com; however, they are also a for-profit commercial business. See where the lines get fuzzy?

From a marketing standpoint, securing a .com domain name over either of the other two (net or org) does seem preferable, if for no other reason than that people tend to think of "dot com" when they think web site. back to top

The domain name I want consists of many words. Should I register it with hyphens or without?

If possible, get them both! Typing hyphens isn't instinctive for most fingers, and when you're giving your web address verbally to potential visitors it can get awfully tiring to keep mentioning the "hyphen" or "dash." On the other hand, hyphens separate the words, making the web address easier to read on printed material. If you can only get one, we suggest registering without the hyphens, as most people have come to expect domain names to be all in one word. back to top

My domain name could contain a number - should I use a digit or spell the number out?

Once again, if possible, register both! It increases the number of ways that your visitors can find you. However, if you can't register both, then we propose the following guidelines. If your company is "1st National Corporation" or "Thousand Acre Wood" then registering your domain name with the digits instead of spelling out the numbers is fine. If your company is "Accountants for Honeybears" or "East to West Marketing" then it's probably better to spell out "for" and "to" rather than substituting "2" for "to." back to top

I've tried every possible combination I can think of and every domain name that I want is taken. What can I do?

Try playing around with different second level domains (the "mydomain" in mydomain.com") and see if you can't find something good in the com TLD. Some hints to keep in mind:

  • avoid cleverly misspelling words so that they would sound like the real word when spoken aloud but are spelled with certain letters omitted - these aren't very memorable, so you may not get very many repeat visitors
  • try throwing hyphens into your domain name, for example, if you wanted nellieelephant.com but it's unavailable you might look up nellie-elephant.com
  • add another descriptive word to the domain name, for example, you might try nelliethegreyelephant.com or nellie-the-grey-elephant.com

There are also a good number of domain name tools that will allow you to enter some major keywords for your site and will generate a number of possible domains based on your entry. Please see our Domain Tools section for more information.back to top

What can you tell me about the new generic TLD domains?

ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) has chosen ".biz," ".aero," ".name," ".coop", ".info", ".pro" and ".museum." as the new tlds. They announced this earlier in November. The new domains approved by the ICANN board are still subject to approval by the Department of Commerce. In all likelihood, the new domains won't be usable with any kind of web space until November of 2001 at the earliest. Please also see our recent article regarding the pre-registration of these new domains.back to top