I am a graduate student in Korea. I would like to know how to write my name in formal, in particular, in IEEE paper. Almost all names of Korean are with three letters. Each letter can be read with one syllable, that is, Korean name is with three syllables. The first syllable is family name and the rest is first name while English name begins with first name. Moreover, we do not have middle name.

An example of name is ⓐⓑⓒ constructed by three letters. ⓐ is family name (last name) and ⓑⓒ is first name. Let ⓐ sounded by 'Kim' and ⓑⓒ is sounded by 'Shinwoo'. (More precisely, ⓑ is sounded 'Shin', ⓒ is sounded 'Woo')

In that case, the name sounded by "Kim-Shin-Woo" can be written as 'Shinwoo Kim', 'ShinWoo Kim', 'Shin-Woo Kim', 'S. W. Kim', 'S. Kim', 'S. -W. Kim' or 'SW Kim'. It is used up to people.

What is the best usage of name in formal grammatically?

  • The UN writes 'United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon'. un.org/sg/en/biography.shtml
    – Řídící
    Oct 1, 2016 at 17:27
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    I think you should ask the editor of the publication what their policy is. Oct 1, 2016 at 17:33
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    This may be useful: guides.library.yale.edu/c.php?g=296262&p=1974226
    – Řídící
    Oct 1, 2016 at 17:44
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    If you scan recent issues of the publication, you may find other Korean authors and see what they do.
    – ab2
    Oct 1, 2016 at 18:03
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    @michael.hor257k: I can guarantee that, while the publication's policy might be to put the family name last, their policy is also to print the name exactly as the author wants it. All of these alternative ways of writing Korean names are easy to deal with compared with Western names like 't Hooft and Đoković. Oct 1, 2016 at 19:06

3 Answers 3


It seems like a common problem for people with Korean names. The standard seems to be that your family name goes last (while there are exceptions, this is how the IEEE does it). The rest of the name varies due to what I assume is personal preference.

As proof of the many styles, I've found some Koreans with the same name who have published scholarly works.

It's also worth mentioning that I found a Shinwoo (but not a Shinwoo Kim).

Note that what type of abbreviation is used depends on what style of citation is used. For a hyphenated name and APA, for example:

If an author has a hyphen in his or her first name, use initials and maintain the hyphen in your citation.
Example: Larson, J.-P. (for John-Paul Larson)

(For Shin-Woo Kim, that would be Kim, S.-W.)

Consult your style guide (or advisor) for more information.

Given the variability of styles used, even within the IEEE's publications, I suggest that you pick whatever version you want, or ask and see what is recommended.


There is a section in the Wikipedia article on Korean names regarding that problem.

"In English publications, usually Korean names are written in the original order, with the family name first and the given name last. This is the case in Western newspapers. Koreans living and working in Western countries have their names in the Western order, with the given name first and the family name last. The usual presentation of Korean names in English is similar to those of Chinese names and differs from those of Japanese names, where they, in English publications, are usually written in a reversed order with the family name last."

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_name#Korean_names_in_English )

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    In most Western scientific journals I've seen, as opposed to newspapers and magazines, Hungarian, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese family names are put last. I would check whether the journal has a policy about this. Oct 1, 2016 at 18:41
  • I agree with @PeterShor 's comment. However, I need to decide how to write my first name. In my university, about 30% professor use S. Kim, 30% use Shinwoo Kim, 30% use S. -W. Kim and the rest 10% use variants.
    – Danny_Kim
    Oct 1, 2016 at 20:13
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    @Danny_Kim: I recommend that you don't use initials with a common family name. Then how will anybody distinguish you from all the other S. Kims or S.-W. Kims? Googling "physics" and "Kim", it looks like most physicists use one of the styles Shin Woo Kim, Shin-Woo Kim, or Shinwoo Kim, so I'd recommend one of them. I did also find the styles ShinWoo Kim and Shin-woo Kim, but they were much rarer. And the "Woo" may get dropped if you use Shin Woo Kim, so you may want to avoid that style as well. Oct 1, 2016 at 20:17
  • Let me add that journals turn first names into initials in bibliographies, so Shinwoo Kim would become S. Kim, while Shin-Woo Kim would become S.-W. Kim. This may be a reason to use Shin-Woo Kim: there are probably many fewer S.-W. Kims than S. Kims. (Again, this is an issue only because Kim is such a common Korean name.) Oct 5, 2016 at 13:11

Fortunately for you, this is not a rare problem. Almost a third the population of the world writes names surname-first.

Less fortunately, this solution hasn't been resolved in the way you might like. Only very, very prominent people get their names transliterated into English surname first. There is Mao Zedong. The various awful Kims oppressing your cousins to the north are usually referred to in the native fashion. The name of the current UN Secretary General is often given as Ban Ki-moon.

I cannot think of any other examples, so unless you rise to be the autocratic ruler of a country, you are stuck with surname-last.

About the rest, it's something of a matter of taste, but:

  • Camel-case "ShinWoo Kim" is right out. It would look very unprofessional.
  • "Shin Woo Kim" is acceptable, but it would tend to lead people to shorten it to "Shin W. Kim", which makes no sense, or to "Shin Kim", which is even worse.
  • "Shinwoo Kim" is also acceptable, but might lead to mispronunciation.
  • "S.W. Kim" and "S. Kim" are okay, but a little mysterious and liable to cause name-collisions, given how common "Kim" is.
  • "S. -W. Kim" and "SW Kim" are nonsense in English; they don't even look like names.
  • "Shin-woo Kim" and "Shin-Woo Kim" are, I think, your best options. They make it clear that Shin-woo is your given name, and reduces ambiguity to a minimum.
  • -1: This is a very idiosyncratic answer. There is nothing really wrong with camel case — a number of very accomplished Korean mathematicians use camel case. And tell the McKinleys and the DiVincenzos that their names look very unprofessional and see what response you get. Oct 1, 2016 at 18:38
  • Nor is there anything wrong with hyphenated first names (you have introduced a full-stop and space), and "S-W Kim" is fine. Also, some styles are perfectly accepting of conjoined initials with no space, as in the fictitious person "DCStJ Rayson".
    – Andrew Leach
    Oct 1, 2016 at 18:38
  • @PeterShor -- unusual capitalizations and spacings of certain names have been hallowed by time (ask Sir William ffolkes). Creating a new one for your own makes you look pompous or ESL or both. Oct 1, 2016 at 18:45
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    @Malvolio: No it doesn't. At least, not if it's a Chinese or Korean name. Two members of the faculty at my university who I know use the style Shin-Woo Kim, and nobody thinks anything of it. If somebody used WilliAm, we'd think they were weird. Oct 1, 2016 at 18:47
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    Hmm, too hard to express my name in English. So sad TT. I'd better have easy name to express in English like Yuna Kim who is a figure skater.
    – Danny_Kim
    Oct 1, 2016 at 20:23

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