In almost all situations, I prefer to be addressed by my legal middle name. However, in the email signature (what's automatically included at the bottom of the email) of my university email, I must include my legal first name, leading most people in emails to address me by it rather than my middle name. I was wondering how I could indicate in my (professional) email signature that I prefer to be addressed by my middle name. Would I write: FirstName "MiddleName" LastName?

  • It's quite common where paper files are still used for personal records (such as those for residents in care homes) for the preferred name to be capitalised on the label so that you get labels like Elsie JANET Smith for someone who uses their second name and JAMES Arthur Black for someone who prefers their first one. As most email addresses are not case-sensitive you could try that. I think it would be less confusing than the inverted commas which make it look like a nickname. Also you could sign all the emails you send out with your preferred name. That would help too.
    – BoldBen
    Jul 10, 2020 at 1:05
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    If your name is Clarence John Smith, you could easily sign "C. John Smith". This has a number of advantages and is very common. Jul 10, 2020 at 1:09
  • There is a difference between your written signature and the name you sign or indicate in correspondence other than legal papers. Although you might sign your name Clarence Smith (to use the example from the previous comment), you can simply put John Smith in your email signatures. Jul 10, 2020 at 1:47
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    @BoldBen Capitalisation is more often used to indicate surnames, which may not be at either end in some cultures.
    – Lawrence
    Jul 10, 2020 at 1:53
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    @Andrei The email signature must be set by your IT department then and the policy of determining the structure of it must have been set either by them or, more likely, by the university hierarchy. Have you asked to see the rules regarding this structure? There may be a standard option to deal with your issue. I can't imagine that you're the only person on the staff who prefers to use a name other than their first given name.
    – BoldBen
    Jul 12, 2020 at 7:32

1 Answer 1


Personally, I use my first initial and my full middle and full last name, as in E. Gary Gygax. Another option is to use your full first and full last name with your middle initial. Then, add your preferred name just before your last name in quotation marks. An example is Edwin Eugene “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr.

  • By your second suggestion, would suggest something like Marc A "Andrei" Adam?
    – Andrei
    Jul 11, 2020 at 17:34
  • @Andrei Yes, if Adam is your last name.
    – Dean F.
    Jul 11, 2020 at 17:41
  • As Isabel Archer suggests you could easily sign "C. John Smith". As BoldBen said the e-mail signature policy must be set by your IT department or the university hierarchy. In the unlikely event there’s no standard option to deal with your issue, if the policy is worth the paper it’s written on it will contain a procedure for dealing with people sharing the same name… EG, I once worked with five men called Khan, three of whom shared the first name Atif. Should a formal policy demand they used Khan 1, Khan 2, etc, or accommodate their personal choices? Jul 12, 2020 at 16:57

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