Non-Chinese names and places are usually transliterated by using similar sounding characters. Assuming that no established Chinese transliteration exists for a certain family or place name, and assuming that the transliteration should be purely phonetic, not drawing on the meaning of the word:
How should I choose from the many characters of the same pronunciation? Is there a predefined (maybe even official) list of characters to choose from?
I'm asking because certain characters will definitely look odd in a place or family name.