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Why Can't I Determine How My Name Is Spelled?

Why you can write your name any way you want.

By
Mignon Fogarty
1-minute read

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Last week I wrote about omitting the comma before "Jr." in a name, and I got messages from a few juniors who objected to the rule. They said they've always written their names with a comma, and they aren't going to change now. 

My sources for omitting the comma are the Chicago Manual of Style, the Associated Press Stylebook, and Garner's Modern American Usage--I don't just make this stuff up. However, Chicago also states that writers should make a reasonable effort to spell a name the way a person spells it himself or herself, and I presume that also applies to punctuation. In other words, you're free to insist on the comma before "Jr." in your own name.

If you're ever interviewed for a newspaper, magazine, or website, and you're a junior who feels strongly about having the comma in your name, you should probably mention it to the reporter. If the musician Prince can be  O(+>, you can certainly have your comma.

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About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show. Her popular LinkedIn Learning courses help people write better to communicate better.