6 Names

6.1 References to people

6.1.1 General principles

Use the form of name individuals are most commonly known by, or known to prefer:

J. K. Rowling (not Joanne Rowling)
k. d. lang (all lower-case)
George Orwell (not Eric Arthur Blair)
Tom Hanks (not Thomas Hanks)

When mentioned in passing, a person’s name usually need appear only in the form by which the bearer is best known. For example, a writer’s married name or hereditary title is important only if the person wrote or was known by it (e.g. Alfred, Lord Tennyson). In text, authors need clarify titles and names altered by marriage or by any other means only to avoid confusion or to make a point:

Michael (later Sir Michael) Tippett
Laurence (later Lord) Olivier
George Orwell (born Eric Arthur Blair)
George Eliot (pseudonym of Mary Ann, later Marian, Evans)

Initials before a surname are separated by full points, with a space after each:

J. S. Bach

E. H. Shepard

Hunter S. Thompson

although some designs, particularly those of newspapers and scientific publications, omit the full points and spaces:

JRR Tolkien

PJ Harvey

George W Bush

Normally, names given entirely in initials have points but no spaces (J.A.S., E.H.S., J.R.R.T.). When people are commonly known by their free-standing initials, these forms have neither points nor spaces (FDR, JFK).

6.1.2 Alternative names

Distinguish between adopted names, pseudonyms, nicknames, and aliases.

  • • The owner of an adopted name uses it for all purposes, and may have adopted it legally. In this case, ‘born’, ‘né(e)’, ‘formerly’, or the like may be used:

    Marilyn Monroe, born Norma Jean Mortensen
    Joseph Conrad (formerly Teodor Józef Konrad Korzeniowski)

  • (feminine form née), meaning ‘born’ in French, is used to indicate a previous forename or surname. In English it is most commonly applied to indicate a married woman’s maiden name, after her adopted surname. It is not italicized:

    Susan Wilkinson (née Brown)
    Frances (Fanny) d’Arblay, née Burney
    Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven, née Margaret Roberts

    Do not use ‘née’ in conjunction with pseudonyms, aliases, or nicknames, but only where the new name is adopted. Some writers differentiate between using ‘née’ for a married woman’s maiden name and ‘born’ for a person’s previous name changed by a process other than marriage. This distinction is acceptable, and should not be changed when consistently applied.

  • • A pseudonym is a name adopted for a specific purpose, such as a pen name or stage name. It can be derived from the bearer’s true name, or be wholly distinct from it:

    Boz (Charles Dickens)
    Q (Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch)
    Alain-Fournier (Henri-Alban Fournier)

  • • A nickname (more formally, soubriquet) can supplement or supplant the owner’s original name

    the Sun King (Louis XIV of France)
    the Fat Controller (Sir Topham Hatt)
    Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker

    Through use it can eventually replace the owner’s name, either occasionally (Ol’ Blue Eyes, Il Duce), partially (Fats Waller, Capability Brown, Grandma Moses), or entirely (Muddy Waters, Twiggy, Banksy). While no rules govern whether a nickname is put in quotation marks, the tendency is for quotation marks to be used when the nickname is inserted within or precedes another name (Eldrick ‘Tiger’ Woods), and not when used alone.

Nicknames and other familiar terms of address are capitalized:

the Admirable Crichton

Capability Brown

the Famous Five

the Iron Duke

Al ‘Scarface’ Capone

Uncle Sam

6.1.3 Identifiers

Junior and senior are added to differentiate a son and father with the same name. Each has several abbreviations (Jun., Jnr, Jr; Sen., Senr, Snr, Sr). Use the abbreviation Jr (with a point in US use) for Americans, prefaced by a comma unless it is known that the bearer of the name did not use one. In British usage Jun. is more common, although rarely used, and the comma is not usual. In both cases the identifier precedes any abbreviations indicating degrees, honours, or scholarly affiliations.

Unlike junior, senior never forms part of the bearer’s name and is therefore used only as an ad hoc designation for purposes of clarifying identities. Although abbreviated forms exist (see above), the spelled-out form, with a lower-case initial, is normally used.

In French ‘fils’ is an ad hoc designation added after a surname to distinguish a son from a father, as ‘Dumas fils’; ‘père’ does the same to distinguish a father from a son, as ‘Dumas père’. Both are italic in English.

6.1.4 Titles

Titles that follow a name are separated from it by a comma. Abbreviated titles of honour, such as MBE and FRS, are usually in capitals, with a comma preceding the first and separating each subsequent title; occasionally the first comma is dropped. As with other such abbreviations (see Chapter 10), abbreviated titles composed of all-capital letters have no full points in modern style (e.g. DFC, FRA); those with a combination of upper- and lower-case letters traditionally do (e.g. B.Sc., D.Phil., Ph.D.), but today are usually rendered without the points (BSc, DPhil, PhD), as are Mr, Mrs, Dr (see 21.4.4 for US usage).

Mr Joseph Andrews
Joseph Andrews, Esq.
Mrs Abigail Andrews
Dr John Andrews
Mary Andrews, DPhil
Admiral of the Fleet Viscount Jellicoe, GCB, OM, GCVO, SGM

Do not combine Mr, Mrs, Miss, Ms, Dr, etc. with any other title. Note that Esq. is now rarely used but, if present, should not be combined with Mr and comes before all other titles that follow a name. (Formerly Mr was used for manual workers or those without a university degree, and Esq. for professional men or those with a degree.) For titles of judges see 13.8.

There is no comma in some combinations of titles:

His Grace the Archbishop of Armagh

His Honour Judge Perkins

Orders, decorations, degrees, or fellowships are not usually included in title pages, although some academic books use them, excluding first degrees if the author has a postgraduate qualification. They are also not normally used in text except at first mention—and then only in the proportion required by the subject matter. For example, HRH The Prince of Wales, KG, KT, GCB, OM, AK, CD, QSO, PC is more simply styled Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, or just the Prince.

6.1.5 Peers and courtesy titles

The peerage of the United Kingdom has five grades—for men: duke, marquess (not marquis), earl, viscount, and baron; for women (either in their own right or as the wife, widow, or former wife of a peer): duchess, marchioness, countess, viscountess, and baroness. Note that count is not a British title.

Dame is the equivalent of a knight of the Orders of Chivalry, and is always used with a forename with or without the surname, depending on context.

Downing Street announced MacArthur would now be known as Dame Ellen
Dame Vera Lynn, widely known as “The Forces’ Sweetheart”

The title Lady is used in reference to female peers, the female relatives of peers, and the wives and widows of knights. It is used with or without a forename and surname, depending on her title.

Lord is a title given formally to a baron, and is used less formally to refer to a marquess, earl, or viscount, prefixed to a family or territorial name (Lord Derby). It is also used, prefixed to a forename, as a courtesy title for a younger son of a duke or marquess (Lord John Russell). Dukes are not referred to as Lord —, but as the Duke of —. Baronets (and knights) are entitled to the prefix Sir. The Hon. is a courtesy title used by a younger son of an earl, and all sons and daughters of a viscount or baron.

The courtesy title Master (or Mistress) is used by heirs of Scottish peerages.

Debrett’s website or Correct Form (Debrett’s, 2010) are useful sources of guidance on forms of address.

6.1.6 Saints’ names

Saints’ names can be problematic, as they exist as titles for individuals, as place names, and as surnames.

  • • In British usage, English ‘saint’ is abbreviated as St (St. for ‘street’ is conventionally distinguished by having a full point). US usage retains the full point (see 21.4.4). It is not hyphenated except in some personal names such as St-John. It is always capitalized in names.

  • • In French a capital S and hyphen are used if the name refers to the name of a place, institution, or saint’s day, or is a family name or title: for example, Saint-Étienne, Sainte-Beuve, Saint-Christophe-en-Brionnais, la Saint-Barthélemy. A lower-case s with no hyphen is used if the reference is to the person of a saint, for example saint Jean, sainte Jeanne d’Arc. Abbreviations are S., feminine Ste, for the persons of saints, in other contexts St-, feminine Ste-.

  • • In German use Sankt, abbreviated St.; for the saints themselves hl. (heilig).

  • • In Italian ‘saint’ before a consonant in the masculine form is San (for example San Filippo); before impure S (that is, an s followed by another consonant), the form is Santo: Santo Stefano. The feminine form before a consonant is Santa, as in Santa Maria. In both genders before a vowel the form is Sant’ and the words are elided: Sant’Agostino, Sant’Agnese.

  • • In Portuguese ‘saint’ is masculine São, sometimes Santo before a vowel; feminine Santa.

  • • In Spanish ‘saint’ is masculine San (before Do-, To- it is Santo); the feminine is Santa.

Abbreviations of names derived from saints’ names are generally alphabetized under the full form (that is, St Andrews would be found under Saint rather than under St or A).

6.1.7 Welsh, Scottish, and Irish names

Welsh names

Surnames were not used in Welsh culture until the Tudor period and became standard practice only from the seventeenth century. Before that both men and women took their names from their fathers. The male patronymic particles are ap (preceding a consonant) and ab (preceding a vowel), both meaning ‘son of’. The female patronymic particle is ferch, meaning ‘daughter of’. All are lower case. Sometimes the patronymic is doubled, naming the person’s father and grandfather in the form ‘son/daughter of X son of Y’:

Gruffudd ap Madog
Llywelyn ab Owain
Hywel Fychan ap Gruffydd ap Hywel
Angharad ferch Morgan

Alphabetizing such names can be complex but general guidance is to organize them in the first instance on the personal (first) name. Alternatively use the particle (the system used in Welsh phone books, for example) but not on the capitalized ‘surname’, which is actually the antecedent’s name.

Irish and Scottish names

The Irish prefix O’ means ‘grandson of’. In the English form use a closing quotation mark (apostrophe) with no space, as O’Brien, O’Neill. In Irish one alternative to this is the capital O and full space; another is the more authentic Gaelic Ó, followed by a full space: Ó Cathasaigh, Ó Flannagáin. Women’s surnames begin with Ní or Nic. Follow the bearer’s preference, if known.

Mac means ‘son of’. Styling names with Mac can lead to problems, depending on whether they are rendered in Gaelic or English forms, or somewhere in between. Spelling rests on the custom of the person bearing the name, and variations in English spelling (MacDonald, Macdonald, McDonald, M’Donald, etc.) must be followed, even though they do not reflect any variation in the Gaelic forms. In Irish, names with Mac are written as two words, for example Michéal Mac Mathúna (or Mac Mathghamhna) ‘Michael MacMahon’. As a general rule, leave alone spelling variants found within a text unless you have good reason to believe that the same person’s name is being spelled in different ways. However spelled, any name so prefixed is treated as Mac in alphabetical arrangement.

6.1.8 Names containing prefixes

With prefixes to proper names such as de, du, van den, or von, follow the bearer’s preference, if known. Within an alphabetical listing supply cross-references where necessary.


In accordance with French practice de should not have an initial capital (de Candolle, de Talleyrand-Périgord), except when anglicized (De Quincey) or at the beginning of a sentence. Before a vowel d’ is used (d’Alembert). When the surname is used by itself, without given name, initials, or title, d’ should be retained (d’Alembert), but de only if the following element is monosyllabic (de Thou) or disyllabic ending in a syllable with mute e (de Gaulle); otherwise omit (Toqueville not de Toqueville). Names prefixed with a lower-case de or d’ should be alphabetized under the surname:

Alembert, Jean le Rond d’

Mairan, Jean-Jacques de

Chazelles, Jean-François, comte de

Anglicized names of this form are alphabetized on the prefix.

In Netherlands Dutch, de (which is the definite article) is capitalized when the bare name is used alone, to distinguish it from its ordinary use. In English that is not necessary, though not wrong if followed consistently. The prefix does not form the basis for alphabetization, as Groot, Geert de. In Belgium the reverse is true, with De Bruyne, Jan.

Prefixes in Italian names are capitalized and are the basis for alphabetization:

De Sanctis, Gaetano

Della Casa, Adriana

Del Corno, Francesco

Di Benedetti, Vittorio

An exception is made for aristocratic names beginning de’, or degli: Medici, Lorenzo de’; these are capitalized under the main name rather than the prefix. This also applies to De, which is sometimes a dialectal form of di (De Simone), or sometimes a Latinism (De Sanctis).

In Spanish names de is lower case and omitted in bare surname references, and does not form the basis for alphabetization. For example Luis Barahona de Soto (alphabetized under B), Diego de Hurtado de Mendoza (under H), Lope de Vega Carpio (under V). The prefix del, as in del Castillo, is a contracted form of de el.

de la

In modern French the compound particle de La has only one capital (de La Fontaine). The de is dropped in the absence of a forename: La Fontaine said … When anglicized the prefix may deviate from this practice (de la Mare, De La Warr); follow established convention or the bearer’s preference. Names prefixed with de La are alphabetized under La: La Fontaine, Jean de.

In Spanish de la is lower case: Claudio de la Torre but the short form is La Torre (alphabetized under T). Similarly Bartolomé de las Casas is shortened to Las Casas.


Du normally has an initial capital, and names are alphabetized under D accordingly: Du Deffand, Marie, marquise. Variations exist with lower-case du, with the name alphabetized according to the surname; this is also the case where the surname is actually formed from a title: Maine, Louise de Bourbon, duchesse du.

le, la

The definite article is capitalized when it occurs at the beginning of a French surname: Le Pen. (Note, however, that it is lower case in place names except at the beginning of a sentence.) In both cases the names are alphabetized on the article.

van, van de, van den, van der

In the Netherlands, van, van de, van den, and van der, prefixed to a surname, are not capitalized except when there is no given name, initial, or title before Van, to distinguish it from the ordinary preposition meaning ‘of’ or ‘from’. In Belgium the reverse is usually true, with a capital V used in alphabetizing; Afrikaans employs both conventions. In Britain and the US well-known names of Dutch origin, such as Vincent Van Gogh, are usually alphabetized on the prefix: Van Gogh, Vincent.

von, von dem, von den, von der, vom

As a Germanic prefix to a proper name von usually has no initial capital, except at the beginning of a sentence. In some Swiss names the Von is capitalized (Peter Von der Mühll). Where the surname stands alone von is omitted (Liebig, not von Liebig), and the name is not alphabetized on the prefix (Liebig, Gertrud von). The related forms von dem, von den, von der, and vom are usually retained, however, and form the basis for alphabetization.

6.1.9 Foreign names


Names beginning with the definite article al (or variants such as el, ul, or an) should always be hyphenated: al-Islām, al-kitāb. The a is capitalized at the start of a sentence but is otherwise lower case. In alphabetizing, the article is ignored and the person is listed under the capital letter of their last name. Thus Aḥmad al-Jundī would be listed as al-Jundī, Aḥmad, and alphabetized under J; the article is not inverted, and can even be deleted if the style is imposed consistently. Compound place names of the type Shajar al-Durr would be listed thus, however, not transposed as al-Durr, Shajar.

Familial prefix elements such as abū (father of), umm (mother of), and ibn or bin (son of) may appear as part of ordinary names. They are then in lower case and do not determine alphabetical position: Muḥammad bin Aḥmad would be listed as Aḥmad, Muḥammad bin. The prefix elements are not connected to the following name by hyphens. Ibn or bin is often abbreviated to b. in indexes and bibliographical references, and bint (daughter) may be abbreviated to b. or bt. On the other hand, such constructs may appear in established surnames, in which case the prefix should be capitalized and should determine alphabetical position: for example, the medieval author Muḥammad Ibn Saʿd would be listed as Ibn Saʿd, Muḥammad.

Transliterated modern Arabic names often employ established westernized spellings that may not follow normal rules of transliteration: Hussein rather than Husayn, Nasser rather than Nāṣir, Naguib rather than Najīb. In each case the most commonly occurring spelling of the bearer’s name is acceptable, except in specialist contexts. Sometimes Ibn is used to indicate that the following name is not the father’s (but e.g. the grandfather’s) or is a nickname; this attempts to reproduce a distinction made in Arabic script, where lower-case ibn corresponds to bn without the initial alif.


Chinese personal names normally consist of a single-syllable family name or surname, followed by a two-syllable personal name (Ai Weiwei). In formal contexts the family name should be used (Ai or Mr Ai). In romanization capitals are used for the first letter, both of the family and of the personal name. In the Wade–Giles transliteration system the two elements of the personal name are separated by a hyphen (for example Mao Tse-tung), whereas in the Pinyin system they are run together as a single word (Mao Zedong). When a form of name has a long-established history, for example Sun Yat-sen or Chiang Kai-shek, this should be preferred. Names are not inverted for alphabetization.

In pre-modern times two-syllable names were frequently found, for example Wang Wei. More recent figures may use a westernized form of surname, giving the initials for the personal name first and placing the family name last, for example T. V. Soong, H. H. Kung. In indexing and alphabetizing such names the order should be inverted in Western fashion.


The definite article (le, la) is capitalized when it occurs at the beginning of a French surname, and the name is alphabetized under L. Do not confuse this with the use of an article to refer to a person whose name itself does not incorporate it:

le Guerchin (Guercino)

la Delaporte (Marguerite Delaporte)

Note that the article only accompanies the surname, not the forename. See also de, de la, du at 6.1.8.

When a first name is abbreviated in a French text, if the second letter of the name is an h, the h is retained:

Th. Gautier (Théophile Gautier)

Ch. Mauron (Charles Mauron)

The honorifics Monsieur (Mr), Madame (Mrs), and Mademoiselle (Miss) can be used alone or in conjunction with a surname. They are abbreviated as M, Mme, and Mlle (no point). Mademoiselle as a form of address for adult women has now largely given way to Madame in everyday contexts.


Honorifics are Herr (Mr), Frau (Mrs), and Fräulein (Miss): these are abbreviated as Hr., Fr., and Frl. Unmarried women are now also usually called Frau; usage may differ regionally and according to the age of the speaker.

Whether individuals include the Eszett (ß) in their names is a matter of personal style in German or Austrian names, though it is rare in Swiss names. See also von, von dem, von den, von der, vom at 6.1.8.


Traditional practice is to write ancient Greek names in a Latinized form (for example Hercules rather than Herakles), although the Greek form is often used when discussing Greek literature, art, religion, etc. One would discuss the twelve labours of Herakles in Greek art and poetry, but in a general context one would refer to the labours of Hercules. A further rule is to give familiar names in their traditional English—that is, Latinized—form, but retain the Greek spelling for less familiar ones. It is difficult to give guidance as to which names are familiar and which are not, but in nonspecialist contexts, avoid Greek spelling when the Latinized name is a household name.

Some scholars differentiate separate bearers of the same name through Latinizing and Hellenizing alone, using Thucydides for the historian but Thoukydides for his uncle the politician; Callimachus for the poet but Kallimachos for the Athenian general. Probably no one would call the philosopher Platon; on the other hand, a lesser light by that name would normally be called Platon by modern scholars. No one would call the philosopher Aristotle anything else, though another man of the same name would be Aristoteles; similarly with Homer and Hesiod (Homeros and Hesiodos).

The following is a basic guide to Latinized forms of Greek names:










i or ei











Some examples:



Achilleus, Akhilleus



Aiax, (English) Ajax

Kallimachos, Kallimakhos


Lusandros, Lysandros



Ulixes, (English) Ulysses





For transliteration see 12.7.

Hebrew and Jewish

A Hebrew name may be rendered in English in a variety of ways: Jacob, for example, may also be Ya‘acov or Ya‘akov; similarly Haim, Hayyim, Chaim, and Chayim are all variants. Beyond ensuring that the same person is always referred to in the same way, one cannot standardize automatically throughout a text because any variant may represent the personal preference of the individual concerned or an established convention regarding how their name is spelled.

The ben that occurs in many Hebrew names means ‘son of’; this is the traditional Jewish way of naming Jewish males. The female form is bat ‘daughter of’. In pre-modern times a man would usually be known simply as the son of his father: Avraham ben David (Avraham the son of David). In scholarly works this is often abbreviated to Avraham b. David; for works aimed at a more general readership, the full form is probably clearer. The Ben that often figures in modern Israeli names represents a different usage: now part of the surname, it should be hyphenated to it and capitalized, as in David Ben-Gurion, and alphabetized under B. The unhyphenated David Ben Gurion is wrong, as it suggests that Ben is a middle name.


The forms of address are Signor (Mr), Signora (Mrs), and Signorina (Miss), abbreviated as Sig., Sig.ra, and Sig.na. Signor adds an -e when it is not followed by a name. Adult women may be addressed as Signora, regardless of marital status, particularly in formal contexts. Dottor (‘Doctor’, though used also of any graduate) adds an -e in similar circumstances; the feminine form is Dottoressa. Those with higher degrees are Professore or Professoressa. Titles followed by a surname are lower case: la signora Cappelletti, il dottor Ferro. See also de at 6.1.8.


Japanese names usually take the form of a single surname, followed by a personal name: Itō Hirobumi, Omura Mizuki. The surname forms the basis for alphabetization. The suffixes -san (gender-neutral), -sama (polite form), -chan (affectionate diminutive), and -kun (for addressing an inferior; also used by boys in addressing one another) are used only in speech, or transcriptions of speech.

In Western contexts it is conventional, especially in translations, to transpose the names—Mizuki Omura. (The writer known in the West as Kazuo Ishiguro would be Ishiguro Kazuo in Japan.) Well-known artists are often identified only by the personal name element, leaving out any reference to family, for example Hokusai rather than Katsushika Hokusai. Similarly, writers who are well known by their personal name may be so identified: Bashō rather than Matsuo Bashō.

Historically, it is common for two elements of a name to be separated by no, indicating the subordination of the second element to the first: Ki no Tsurayuki. Here, too, the name should appear in direct order.


In Korean names the surname precedes the personal name, unless a particular individual’s name has become westernized. There are five predominant surnames in Korea—Kim, Yi, Pak, Chŏng, and Ch’oe— and more than a third of people will use one of the first three. Note that Anglicizations sometimes introduce variants, e.g. Lee or Rhee for Yi, Park for Pak, Cheung for Chŏng. Personal names usually consist of two elements separated from one another by a hyphen: Kim Jong-Un.


As in Spanish practice, the surname is normally composed of two elements: the mother’s maiden name and the father’s surname, the latter forming the basis for alphabetization. Unlike Spanish, however, the mother’s maiden name comes before the father’s surname. Alphabetization is according to the last element in the surname: Manuel Braga da Cruz is ordered under Cruz, Manuel Braga da.

Standard forms of address are Senhor (Mr), Senhora (Mrs or Miss), Minha Senhora (a more polite form of Mrs), or Dona (Mrs or any older woman). Menina (Miss) is used only before a given name. Professional or conferred titles normally come after the Senhor, Senhora, etc.: Senhor Professor, Senhora Doutora. In Brazilian usage Senhorita is used for ‘Miss’, and it is considered more polite to use Senhor and Senhora in conjunction with the first name rather than surname.


The gender-neutral honorific tovarishch (Comrade) is now rarely used; it has been supplanted by the pre-Revolution forms gospodin (Mr) and gospozha (Mrs or Miss), which are used mostly in writing, and then only with the surname following. Russian names follow the patronymic pattern of given name, father’s name with the suffix -ovich (son of) or -ovna (daughter of), and surname. While the surname is inherited, it is rarely used in speech. Correctly, transliterated abbreviated names with initials composed of two letters, one capital and one lower-case, should not be further reduced, as they are derived from a single Cyrillic letter, for example Ya. for Yakov, Yu. for Yuri, and Zh. for Zhores. For transliteration see 12.15.


The ancient Scandinavian traditions of conferring patronymic names from one generation to the next—whereby, for example, Magnus Pálsson (Magnus, son of Pál) names his son Pál Magnusson and his daughter Björk Magnúsdóttir—are still found in Iceland, although they have not been used consistently elsewhere for the past one or two centuries; since 1923 only existing surnames have been allowed to be used in Iceland. Icelandic alphabetization is still by given name rather than surname, with Finnur Jónsson under F and Vígdís Finnbogadóttir under V. After using a person’s full Icelandic patronymic name, it is customary to use their personal name in subsequent references, even in formal contexts. Other Scandinavian names follow the usual pattern; Danish and Norwegian surnames often end in -sen but Swedish in -sson, where the first s is the genitive ending (Pettersson, Peter’s son).


Standard forms of address are Señor (Mr), Señora (Mrs), Señorita (Miss), abbreviated as Sr, Sra, and Srta. Señorita as a form of address has now largely given way to Señora in everyday contexts.

Surnames are usually composed of two elements, the father’s family surname followed by the mother’s family surname (derived from her father’s family name). So if, for example, Señor Roberto Caballero Díaz marries Señorita Isabel Fuentes López, their son might be Jaime Caballero Fuentes. The wife’s surnames normally do not alter with marriage. In unofficial contexts the second half of a married woman’s compound surname may be replaced by the husband’s first surname and joined to her first surname by the conjunction de, although this is becoming rare: in the case above, Isabel Fuentes López could be Isabel Fuentes de Caballero, or Señora de Caballero.

Compound surnames may be joined with a y, or in Catalan surnames i:

José Ortega y Gasset

Josep Lluís Pons i Gallarza

The second element may be dropped in everyday use; Cervantes’s full name was Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, and prominent figures in Spanish public life may be referred to with only one surname:

Mariano Rajoy

Javier Bardem

In journalistic shorthand they would be referred to as Rajoy and Bardem.

Conversely, a person may become known by the second element of their surname, particularly if the expected one is very common: the poet Federico García Lorca is generally known as Lorca, the politician José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero is referred to as Zapatero, or Rodríguez Zapatero (but never just Rodríguez), and Pablo Ruiz Picasso, son of José Ruiz Blasco and María Picasso, is known universally as Picasso.

Where two elements are used, alphabetization is normally according to the first element in the surname.

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