What is the word for how something is written?

I create the program for a local roller derby team, and when I went to ask one of the players how her name is written, I ended up just asking how it was spelled, but what I was really asking was:

Is it one word or two?

Are there any capital letters?

Are there any special characters?

And other questions to that effect.

Knowing one or two words that encompass all of these elements so that I could more efficiently ask people about their names would be really useful and appreciated!

  • 4
    A request for the spelling of a name should get an answer that includes all this information, if any of it applies. Jul 11, 2017 at 15:24
  • 2
    If I asked someone How do you spell your name? and it so happened the written form of the name included unpredictable capitalisation, special characters, etc., I'd expect them to include that information in their response. But if you're worried you might have to be dealing with uncooperative / anal types, perhaps you could preempt their evasive punctiliousness by asking How do you write that? Jul 11, 2017 at 15:25
  • 'Formatting' (though in practice, I'd get them to write it themself). Jul 11, 2017 at 15:57
  • 1
    I suppose you could ask someone how their name is formatted, but that's likely to just earn you a strange look. EDIT: Ah crapbasket, @Edwin Ashworth beat me to the answer Jul 11, 2017 at 15:58
  • 1
    I think you have answered your own question, really. The only concise and natural way of asking how it is spelled and formatted would be how is that written? Aug 11, 2017 at 5:54

4 Answers 4


People whose names can be written in different ways will know what you mean, however, you ask the question. There are lots of versions of my name, Ann-Marie, and I know when someone says "How do you spell that?", she or he is asking about capitalization as well as spelling.

Another approach could be to specifically ask what you're not sure about - "Is that Nikolas with a 'k' or 'ch'?". Nine times out of ten, the other person will spell out their full name in response.


Another option, especially for something moderately informal like a program would be:

How would you like your name to appear [in the program]?

For example, a relative's full name is Ann Susan Surname, but she would only ever use that form on official documents. In everyday life, or in something like a team program, she would use Sue Surname. Similarly, someone whose first name is Nicholas might prefer Nick.

Asking "How do you spell your name" or "How would you write your name" may trigger the "official" response; asking how they want it to appear will allow them to use their preferred form (when appropriate).


The best way to address it is to ask them:

"How do you spell your name, and could you please provide the specific formatting, including any capitalization, punctuation, etc...?".

There is really no single word to encompass every aspect.

The best one is probably Edwin's suggestion of "formatting". But you still really need to use it in a sentence explaining what you want, however that is the fundamental meaning you are asking about: "formatting".


Orthography - "An orthography is a set of conventions for writing a language, including norms of spelling, hyphenation, capitalisation, word boundaries, emphasis, and punctuation."—Wikipedia

Coca-cola, CocaCola Coca Cola etc

  • Given the example from the question, would you ask people for the orthography of their name? Jan 5 at 11:32
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