2018 Update: We still think this is a great discussion on hyphenated names and email addresses, and links have been updated below.
What IS the convention on hyphenated names and email addresses? Does it matter if you have a long, unwieldy email address? We’ve talked about how to choose a last name (as well as name change after divorce), but never about email addresses and names, and Reader E wonders…
I was wondering if you have any advice on professional email addresses for people with hyphenated last names.
My law firm used to have a convention of using three initials (first, middle, last) for everyone’s email addresses. Last week, the firm announced a new email convention of first initial, full last name. We can have more than one active email address.
The three initials created a problem for me because I never use my middle name, and everyone assumed my email address was first initial, first last initial, second last initial. Now, if I follow the new convention, my email address will be a messy 13 letters long, and there’s the additional question of whether to use a hyphen. I assume a hyphen would look even worse because there will not be any separation between my first initial and first last name.
I want to ask IT for a completely new email address. Is there a convention for people with hyphenated last names? Any tips?
I’m curious to hear from the readers here — what have you and your friends done? (Pictured: Stencil.) I do have a few thoughts… for the purposes of discussion, let’s say her name is Jane (Marie) Smith-Doe:
- Go with the initials you’re comfortable with. If [email protected] is not something you like, go with [email protected] It’s easy to convey to people over the phone, and less likely to be confused.
- Consider going with first name only if you work in a creative industry or small, customer-service related company. I kind of hate this idea for any male-dominated field (law, banking, etc) — it reminds me of that bit in You’ve Got Mail where Meg Ryan goes on and on about how people who only use first names are like a generation of cocktail waitresses. (Yes, I’m a huge dork.) I think this is far more appropriate for creative fields, or very small companies where everyone is like family.
- Go with the whole, long, unwieldy name, and make no apologies. It could be a pain for someone to type in if they’re emailing you anew (or for you to give to someone verbally) but that’s OK — how many times do you need to give your email address over the phone anyway? (And: you can always use a secondary email address for that purpose, like [email protected], and make sure that the email gets to you properly.) I went with this option when I changed my maiden name to my middle name after marriage — my personal email address is long and unwieldy, so I use a different one for newsletters/random forms/phone conversations.
Readers, what conventions do you follow (or think exist) for email addresses and long names? Would you be put off if you met someone at a networking event who only had a long email address on her card?