When citing a paper that you coauthored on a slide it is common to abbreviate your name to just the first letter of your last name, or your initials. So John Doe would become D or JD.

My last name consists of multiple words like 'van der Broek'. Should I then abbreviate it to 'vdB' or just 'B'?

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    Is it common? Really? Which field? I've never seen this practice in mine. – Massimo Ortolano Jun 2 '18 at 14:39
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    @MassimoOrtolano Yes, it's common at least in my field (applied maths). – Federico Poloni Jun 2 '18 at 16:11
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    @MassimoOrtolano In pure math too. – user9646 Jun 2 '18 at 16:40
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    @MassimoOrtolano And theoretical computer science. – David Richerby Jun 2 '18 at 20:05
  • My Master's supervisor's surname was almost exactly what you use as your example. He uses the abbreviation CvdB (C for his first name, vdB for the surname). – astronat Jun 3 '18 at 15:52

It's an informal convention, so I think the answer is as much a matter of personal style as anything else. I would most expect "vdB", but if someone used "B", I wouldn't be confused by that.

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  • As a person with the Dutch last name of VanderWoude (which has also been spelled as "Vanderwoude"), and who coincidentally moved near and interacted with a large Dutch community, I've learned that many Dutch last names start with "van der " followed by a capital letter. If I saw "B", I would wonder, "What?!? Is "van der" being treated like a middle name tha tmay just get dropped? But "vdB" would be understood, as would "v" (if the full name was shown earlier), especially if it comes right after the first name (or, probably more preferable for consistency, just the first initial) – TOOGAM Jun 2 '18 at 22:26
  • @TOOGAM: I think the fact that the convention that only the speaker's name gets abbreviated covers for a lot of otherwise potential ambiguity - if I see a single letter abbreviation for a name, I'm going to assume it's the speaker's name. If I saw just "B", I'd have the same thoughts as you, but I don't think it would take long, or be too distracting, to figure out that the "van der" part was being dropped. – Henry Jun 3 '18 at 0:57

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