I'm buying a desk nameplate for a full professor (in USA) who is female and of German origin. I'd like to have this nameplate follow the conventional salutation someone would use in Germany for a female at the highest academic rank.

Please note it is not important if using desk nameplates in Germany is customary or not. But if you're in Germany and have seen these in academia, I'd be interested in knowing how they're formatted. This answer is helpful but does not directly address how I should print this on a nameplate.

Assume the individual is called Joan A. Smith, Ph.D.

  • Prof. J. A. Smith, Ph.D.
  • Professor Smith
  • Joan A. Smith, Ph.D. (with "professor" written underneath)
  • etc?

What would be the most appropriate (German) way of engraving this item?

enter image description here

  • 11
    The abbreviated form "Prof. Dr. Joan A. Smith" is very common. Also, it is never "Doctor Professor" as @HEITZ says - the professor always comes first. An advantage of the abbreviation is that you don't have to worry about writing "Professorin" and/or "Doktorin".
    – Dirk
    Jan 11, 2018 at 5:43
  • 5
    The standard format in Germany is: [Prof. Dr. FirstName LastName]. In some formal situation, they mention the type of their PhD like: [Prof. Dr.-Ing. FirstName LastName] or [Prof. Dr. rer. nat. FirstName LastName]. I think this distinction does not make sense out of Germany.
    – Yacine
    Jan 11, 2018 at 6:15
  • 3
    The proper answer depends on a few details which you haven't specified. Is this a (novelty) gift, or are you asked to obtain one for actual use? Has she actually obtained her PhD (and possibly higher academic degrees and/or titles) in Germany or is she simply of German extraction? (For what it's worth, I have never seen a nameplate in a German office, and having one would certainly raise a few eyebrows -- and not in a good way.) Jan 11, 2018 at 7:55
  • 3
    If this person obtained her doctorate outside of Germany (i.e. it's an actual PhD, not a Dr.-Ing. or Dr. rer. nat.), it is illegal by German law to write "Prof. Dr. X". It has to be "Prof. X, PhD" instead. Since you're in the US it wouldn't apply, but she might care...
    – nengel
    Jan 11, 2018 at 8:02
  • 3
    @nengel: That law has been relaxed somewhat; the title "Dr." can now be used by holders of PhDs granted in the EU and a few other countries. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctor_(title)#Germany. Jan 11, 2018 at 19:05

1 Answer 1


The closest to the picture you are showing is

"Professorin Dr. Johanna Schmidt"

where the "Dr." needs to be replaced by the correct specification, e.g. Dr.-Ing., Dr. rer nat, ...

If you are having less space, you can use "Prof." instead of "Professorin" (note that "Professorin" is the female form of "Professor")

If the real title is a PhD and not a "Dr.", you should write

"Professorin Johanna Schmidt, PhD"

In all cases, the first name might be abbreviated. In Germany it is relatively uncommon to use the second name - you should check how she uses it and follow the style she prefers.

I would not write "Professorin" underneath the name - it looks strange to me.

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