I have 2 last names due to my hispanic background. Soon, I will have to think about my very first publication (field: Medicine/Psychology). Could I use only the first last name for my publishing or will I get into legal trouble with that?

My goal is to avoid hassles after marriage, since we are planning to fuse our last names. So, assumed that my maiden name is A. Smith Miller, after marriage I'd be called A. Smith-Johnson, and my publishing name would be A. Smith.

Is that possible, or is it mandatory to use the entire last name for publishing?

  • 3
    See also orcid.org.
    – MSalters
    Commented May 19, 2021 at 7:50
  • Perhaps use both names and stick to them. They should point to you better than Smith only.
    – Alchimista
    Commented May 19, 2021 at 8:43
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    Read: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/78507/… . Get an ORCID account and you get a "researcher ID", hassles avoided. AFAIK you can publish with the name "Sunflower" as far as everyone is concerned. The main point of having a name is for people to know who the author is, and ultimately the author has a say on what name they want to be called, there is no passport check for publishing. Commented May 19, 2021 at 10:55
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    This question is a slightly different situation from the duplicate, but if you look at the accepted answer there I think it's pretty clear that it answers this version of the question as well. Welcome to academia.SE, this is a good question even though I voted to close as duplicate. Commented May 19, 2021 at 20:21

8 Answers 8


You can use any name you like for publishing - even a pseudonym. You are wise to consider the future so that publishing will always be under the same name, simplifying searches and keeping the maintenance of your reputation simple.

In some ways, keeping a birth name as your official "professional name" is the simplest for most people.

And people who are active in more than one field, might want to use different names in those fields, just as novelists often do.


It is perfectly legal and possible. In fact, many people face a dilemma when changing names due to marriage or any other reasons (e.g. some people change names when immigrating). I personally know people still publishing under their maiden name (which is legally not their name anymore), just because they started to publish before getting married and want to maintain their "academic identity".

So go ahead and use only one of your names. The only thing to consider is: maybe there are several other A. Smiths (even in your discipline), but no A. Smith Miller. If that would be the case, you might consider publishing as A. Smith Miller anyway and just keep publishing under your maiden name to avoid confusions.


You can use whatever name you want. If you want to publish papers as Ms Hamster, that's fine too.


I agree with the other answers that it's a good idea to already think about what name you will use in the long term, and to strive for consistency - and that there are no "rules" you could break here.

I would propose yet another possibility: since it sounds like your marriage is already planned for certain, you could already use the name you will legally use afterwards. That way, there will be no confusion between your "publishing" and your "normal" name.

Of course, if the wedding gets canceled, you are stuck with a publication under a name you may not want to be reminded of. You will be the best judge of that.

Alternatively, either push back the publication, or pull forward the wedding. You could also submit under one name and take the decision under what name the final publication appears later in the publishing stage - any editor will understand a late change under these circumstances.

(Fun fact: my wife and I married right before she published her first papers, exactly for name consistency.)

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    Honestly I'd caution against tying your professional name to your future spouse's name. It's great when it works out, but the hassle if it doesn't is thoroughly unnecessary
    – Chris H
    Commented May 19, 2021 at 15:17

As the other answers pointed out, it is good to think what name you will use for your publications. You should try to stick to that name also for presentations and other official uses. People might get confused otherwise. I know a very well known person, how publishes with his first name, but writes emails and gives takes with a kind of nickname. I know several persons who were excited to attend a talk by him, were disappointed that he was a different person as the first name did not match - and they did not realize that it was him using his nickname. It could happen that people don't find your academic page, hesitate to contact you, if they cannot find your "publishing name".


I dont see any legal issues. As an example, Shalosh B. Ekhad has over 10 publications to its name, and Ekhad is a made-up last name. Well, the entire name is made-up.


There are no laws dictating the names you can or cannot publish under. Your choice doesn't even need to have any relationship with any name you have or had in the past. If you want to sign your articles as "The Physcho Boss", you will struggle with your reputation, but not with a court of law.


As someone who has a complicated name by non-French standards, please make sure to use something simple, without à or ñ. Sooner or later they will be rendered as "Maerrorana" and you will cry. Yes, you will get an erratum but it is too late. Been there, done that.

Maybe today there are fancy ways to link an ID to a name but still, I would go for "Anita Manana" instead of "Anitiestrella Mañanà" if you refer to yourself as "Anita" in the everyday life.

And use that version everywhere, insist at the university your full name is "Anita Manana" on papers, publications, email and whatnot.

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