Your Professional Name for English-Language Use

by Alexandra BENHAM

As a professional, you want yourself and your work to be easily identifiable across the world. In English-language databases of papers, applications, citations, your work will often be separated into components, stored in separate files, and sorted alphabetically by your surname.

How can you ensure that others will easily find you and identify all your work
as yours - over space, across databases, through time?

1. Select your professional name carefully
2. Always use the same version of your name
3. Indicate your SURNAME
4. Put your name on all components of your work
5. Obtain a user-friendly email address
6. Indicate your gender identity
7. Help others pronounce your name correctly

1. Select your professional name carefully
Select one complete professional name for yourself in English. Choose it carefully.
Your name has one moment to make a good first impression.

If transliterating your name into Roman letters, choose one standard version.
Avoid using diacritical marks whenever possible.
If you have a long set of names, try selecting a subset to constitute your
professional name.

Do distinguish yourself from others with the same surname. You want your applications, publications, and citations (on search engines and in science citation indices) to be linked correctly and uniquely to you. Use Google to discover who else with your surname works in your subject area, and who else in the whole world uses the full professional name you are planning to use. If many other individuals are already using it, design a less common version for yourself.

2. Always use the same exact version of your name
Use your professional name as an unchanging barcode on everything you write.
Others can then identify you across contexts, over time.

If you change your name in private life, decide carefully what to do about your professional name. Remember that your earlier work and the citations to it will be identified by your earlier name.

If you add a nickname, for example George or Anna to a Chinese name, decide when you’ll use it and do that consistently. Avoid being “Anna Chen” in some places, “Chen Mei-Ying” in others. It’s very hard to keep track of someone who uses different names on emails, CVs, and papers.

3. Indicate your surname - unambiguously
Foreigners trying to decide which is your surname (also called family name) will often rely on clues: the usual order of names in your country, the properties of your name such as number of syllables, the context (form of signature, etc.), and rules for selecting among multiple surnames. These clues frequently mislead.

Avoid problems. Put your surname – and only your surname - in CAPS.
Start the CAPS at the name to be used when filing alphabetically.

so file under S
Gili WANG (The indication is clear even if written WANG Gili)

4. Then – identify all your work
Whenever journal editors, department chairs, conference organizers are looking though a set of documents and come upon yours, you want them to know immediately

who wrote this? your name
what is it? your work’s title or category
(maybe the venue or organization too)
which version? date/time

Of course you must obey journal and conference rules concerning identification of material you submit to them. Unless it's prohibited, include your name, the title, and the date prominently. Consider including your name (perhaps unobtrusively in the footer) on every page that might get printed out separately.

Work sent by email is often sorted by these elements:

your email address
your “sender name”
subject line of your email
your text
filenames of attached files
contents of attached files

In each of these elements, include specific identifiers.

For emails, use a brief specific subject line. Then months later you and the recipient will still know what the message was about.

Rename your attached files for your recipient’s use. One good format is your surname, the type of contents, and the date:
"smith abstract 2019-08-29.doc"

5. Obtain a user-friendly email address
Your email address should be easy to type, easy to associate with you, and easy to remember. Use your name as your email address whenever possible: or
Use the same version of your professional name for your "sender name" as you do everywhere else.

6. Indicate your gender identity
People who wish to address you or otherwise deal with you correctly will try to infer your gender identity and will worry about making a mistake. They will appreciate it if you indicate this for them. Many languages signal this by the endings of given names or surnames. But these clues can mislead and are often absent.

If your name does not give an unambiguous signal to people across the world, offer help. Put Mr or Miss/Mrs/Ms by your name, or include a photo, or refer to yourself in writing with designating pronoun, e.g., “he” or “she”.

7. Give clues to pronunciation
People looking at your written name will try to imagine how it sounds. Pronouncing an unfamiliar name can be challenging, especially if there are diacritical marks or unfamiliar letter combinations. Help people who have trouble pronouncing your name.
Write it out phonetically for them in the style of their language,
or tell them what it rhymes with (Coase - it rhymes with "rose"),
or give them other ways to remember it.

When you first meet someone, tell them your name slowly and clearly.
Later on, work it again into the conversation.

May your good name be known far and wide!