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When writing a name in reverse order (following the commonly used [Last Name], [First Name] [Middle Name(s)] format) where is the most appropriate place to put the title?

For example, is it Mr. Smith, John or Smith, Mr. John?

I'm particularly confused about this since I know that a title like "Mr." or "Ms." is appropriate for both the first and last name. For example, both "Mr. John" and "Mr. Smith" are correct.

Edit: For context, this is for a list of teacher names at a high school. It will be included in various publications such as newsletters and timetables.

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    Mr. is pretty much the default for men and usually doesn't need to be included when using the "lastname, firstname" format. But when the title is "Dr." it's "lastname, firstname, Dr." and so if I were being forced to include "Mr." I'd put it at the end as well. – Jim Aug 29 '18 at 3:37
  • Whilst you aren't developing code I would suggest you read this page as too many people assume names are simple. google.co.uk/amp/s/shinesolutions.com/2018/01/08/… – Neil Aug 31 '18 at 10:17
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It depends on the particular style guide you are using—and where exactly these names are appearing.

For example, the MLA Handbook (8th ed.), says:

1.1.2 TITLES OF AUTHORS

If the name of the author of a source you consulted is given in the source with a title—such as Dr., Saint, or Sir—generally omit the title in the works-cited list. Similarly, a title should usually not be included when the name is mentioned in the text discussion.

      Augustine (not Saint Augustine)
      Samuel Johnson (not Dr. Johnson)
      Philip Sidney (not Sir Philip Sidney)

Social titles are not used.


The Chicago Manual of Style (17th ed.), 16.40, also says to drop titles from names in indexes:

Academic titles such as Prof. and Dr., used before a name, are not retained in indexing, nor are abbreviations of degrees such as PhD or MD.

Similarly, social titles are not used.

However, Chicago does say this in 16.41:

Abbreviations such as Jr. are retained in indexing but are placed after the given name and preceded by a comma . . .

      King, Martin Luther, Jr.
      Stevenson, Adlai E., III


So, no titles of any kind are suggested by these style guides (Aside from Jr. and so on.) Other style guides may give other guidance.

If using these titles in a different context, and without a using a particular style guide, then the style would be up to you.

Should you decide to use a title, I expect common usage would put it at the end of the name, after a comma: Last, First, Title. (It would be particularly confusing for the presentation of sorted lists if the title were put first.)

  • Thanks for your answer Jason, I would up-vote it but I don't have the rep. Anyway the context in my particular case is for a list of teachers (some are doctors). The main reason the school wants to include titles is because most students address their teachers as "Mr/Ms. [Surname]." So in this situation I'm not sure if simply dropping the title is the best option, however using the Last, First, Title format might be an idea – protango Aug 29 '18 at 5:19
  • I upvoted Jason Bassford's clear Answer yet I suggest Last, Title First trumps Last, First, Title… though the second comma makes a big difference. Webster's Dictionary and Debrett's Correct Form are great references for such questions. – Robbie Goodwin Sep 16 '18 at 17:54

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