Practical International Data Management of Personal Names - Name Order

Table of Contents

The order in which the components of personal names is written varies globally, and assumptions about element order will give processing issues and create data quality problems.

In Anglo-Saxon countries the order is

   first given name[ ]second given name[ ]...[ ]surname or family name

for example

   John Eustace Frederick Bull

This order varies by country, region and culture.


In France, Italy and French-speaking Belgium the name be written with the given names following the surname, sometimes with a comma as seperator, sometimes without:

   Dupont, Pierre
   Dupont Pierre

In Hungary, Japan and Korea names are usually written with the surname first:

   Matura Mihaly
   Kim Il-Sung
   Matsumoto Tada


When a name contains punctuation, this can be used as a clue to the compositional order:


In some cultures there a clear differences between given names and family names which allow them to be identified. In Iceland, for example, a patronymic will end in -sen or -dottír. In some countries only those given names on an apporived list may be given, and they must be unique from surnames in use.

However, in most cases post-processing cannot identifying with certainty which name(s) are given, which are surnames, which are other personal name components. Names such as:

   Christopher Robin
   Cliff Richard
   George Michael

are composed to elements which can be either given names or surnames, or both.

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