I'm designing a table in which names are stored. How to best call the columns that store full names in different order? The term "Full Name" seems ambiguous to me.

First Name Last Name Display Name Canonical Name
Sting Sting Sting
Madonna Madonna Madonna
Whitney Houston Whitney Houston Houston, Whitney
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    "Name for filing (or indexing) purposes"? Commented Mar 10, 2023 at 8:59
  • "Catalogue entry"? Commented Mar 10, 2023 at 16:26

1 Answer 1


Sortable name or sort name is sometimes used.

"Sortable name" is to be the standard term used in Canvas LMS, a popular software application for managing schools, colleges and other educational institutions - for instance here's documentation from Rutgers U. Music/recording database MusicBrainz, one of the most common systems for tagging audio files, uses the similar term "sort name" (see this example record).

Some systems prefer name for collation, e.g. documentation for the Emacs Multimedia System. Collation is the process of sorting things, e.g. names, in alphabetical order. Note that "collation name" is often used in databases for the specific rules describing how text is sorted (i.e. the rules describing how sets of collation rules are named), so there is a risk of confusion.

Having said that, many systems only store names in the form "surname, forenames" or similar, as in the Library of Congress name authority file used for US libraries. So they just call it a "name" and don't have a distinct term for this format. FAST calls it a label; the French system IDRef calls it a "Point d'accès autorisé". You could use this along with "display name".

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    I think that it's better to work with a vocabulary that one can, just, recall, instead of endlessly looking the words back up on the internet. People on the internet a lot are losing their ability to recall stuff because they keep looking all of it up again. In jest, there should be one word for all of the ridiculous stuff that people (unsuccessfully) try to cram into one word. A regular tower of Babel within the same language. Commented Mar 10, 2023 at 14:52
  • Anyway, don't people from say, Peru, have more than two names? Commented Mar 10, 2023 at 14:59

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