In a list of classmates, how is the name of a married female and spouse listed? Is the female given name or her husband's given name written first? How is the maiden name shown?

  • 4
    Umm... wouldn't you just give the name that they actually use? From the point of view of a class register, who cares what the husband's name is unless they have actually adopted it? – Neil Coffey Mar 20 '11 at 3:45
  • To clarify - this is a list of older graduates. Most are married and the female graduates normally use their married name. However, in a distribution list of graduates, they would more likely be known by their maiden name. So, what is the proper way to show the maiden name? – user6308 Mar 20 '11 at 4:11
  • Just saying Mrs. X Y ? – n0nChun Mar 20 '11 at 4:23
  • 3
    Well, you can put e.g. "Mary Smith (née Sanderson)". – Neil Coffey Mar 20 '11 at 5:52
  • 2
    There may be no "proper" way to do this, as you might irritate a few people with any scheme, but I've seen it done with the maiden name listed in parentheses before the adopted, married name. This seems reasonable to me. – jbelacqua Mar 20 '11 at 7:26

One term sometimes used is the French word 'née' (meaning 'born', literally, but referring to the maiden name in this context). Hence:

Mrs Jane Smith (née Jones)
Mrs Cynthia Corning (née Stratton-Longbottom)


I'm not sure whether 'Mrs' or 'Ms' is preferred when the context clearly shows that the lady is married. I'm old-fashioned enough to think it should be 'Mrs', but modern style might use 'Ms'. The referenced URL did not place brackets around the maiden name.

Also, in a list of classmates, the spouses would not not normally be given - the spouses were not, in general, part of the class. However, if you are listing the people invited to an event, you can decide how to display both the names of those invited and the names that would have been known when they were in the class. For example, you might have two columns, for example, the first listing one the 'Emily Post' approved forms, and the second listing the name that would have been used in class. That might be too arid for the context in which the list is to be used, though. You might list the class member's name, and then their spouse's name, if applicable:

Mrs Jane Smith (née Jones) and Mr John Smith
Mr Adam O'Hare and Mrs Susan O'Hare

This isn't the normal presentation, but the important information here is presumably the person who was in the class, and this shows that Jane Jones and Adam O'Hare were in the class but both are married. It is self-consistent as presented, but you might omit the first "O'Hare", I suppose.

  • This is correct, though unless the list needed to be very formal, personally I wouldn't use "Mr", 'Mrs", or "Ms" at all - just *Jane Smith (née Jones)". – psmears Mar 20 '11 at 7:49

The Emily Post Institute recognizes the following forms:

Ms. Jane Smith and Mr. John Smith
Jane and John Smith (informal)
Ms. Jane Johnson and Mr. John Smith
Drs. Jane and John Smith

Note that there is no informal form if the female uses her maiden name and that you should always use Ms. unless you know that Mrs. is preferred.

Also, the Emily Post Institute gives no formal guidance on whether or not to use the maiden name—however, it seems from various examples on their site that the husband's last name is preferred unless the wife has indicated otherwise.


What my school tends to do is include the woman's name, name she went by in school, graduation year (just to make sure the reader understands which one is the former student), and then the spouse's name. Eg:

Ms. Jane Smith (née Jones, '85) and Mr John Smith.

Another form I see them use is to insert the "Maiden name" right before the current last name. Eg:

Ms. Jane Jones Smith ('85) and Mr. John Smith

Here's some entries from my alma-mater's actual yearly report:

James ’76 & Jill Jones ’76 Deck

Michael & Cara Shimkus ’84 Hall

In the first instance, it appears both husband and wife were students (probably a really sweet story there...), and in the second, just the wife.


Some same-sex couples are opting to change names these days. If this causes a confusion, the (nee [birth name]) formulation is still apprpriate, but if the couple are male, you need to change the gender of the French: (ne [birth name) (omitting accents here).