I am submitting my first paper ever in a couple of months and I was wondering about my family name. The paper is in English and the conference is an international conference.

Assume my name is {Alan} {võn Neumann} {Chúrch}, so {first name} {family name father} and {family name mother} where {family name father has two words}. Note also the special characters (õ and ú) I added there on purpose (as I do have them in my real name).

If I had the choice, I would go with {Alan} {võn Neumann} {Chúrch}, but I don't want to be cited as Chúrch or Võn. A proper citation would be võn Neumann Chúrch, but võn Neumann would be fine as well.

How can I ensure that I would be properly cited? Also, should I keep the special characters? I really would rather keep them.

Best, Not Alan von Neumann Church ;)

  • 1
    Have you considered using a pseudonym?
    – Raphael
    Jun 10, 2015 at 12:30

4 Answers 4


+1 for thinking about this before your first publication. Have you read through the other questions tagged ? They may be helpful.

In your case, I’d go with Alan võn Neumann, or võn Neumann, Alan if your target journal uses this format.

If you include Chúrch, then I’ll guarantee that you will start being referenced as “Chúrch (2015)” - maybe not on this publication, but later. (You do plan on using a consistent name throughout your sciencific career, right?) Bibliographic databases may be smart enough to pick this up, but they will need to rely on journal editors including your correct name in their journal databases, and this is where noise will creep in.

Conversely, I wouldn’t worry too much about the diacritical characters, as long as their mapping to basic characters is straightforward. Search engines understand this, so it won’t make a difference whether your name is listed as võn Neumann or von Neumann. One exception would be German ß, where it is not obvious that this should be transcribed ss. IIRC, people have legally changed their names over this.

  • 2
    +1 for the nice answer and, especially, for mentioning of being consistent - an important point that I missed to note in my answer. Jun 10, 2015 at 7:18
  • 3
    To add to the last point: The biggest problem with the ß is if the author’s list of a paper is given in all-caps or small caps, in which case it usually is converted to SS (and it will take some time for the capital ß to be established). It is impossible for the reader to say from this whether, e.g., somebody whose name is given as MUSSMANN is actually named Mußmann or Mussmann – even native speakers of German won’t be able to do this.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Jun 10, 2015 at 8:15
  • 5
    In another note, while I agree with you that somebody will get the compound surname wrong, the likelihood of this is somewhat lower than with a normal double surname thanks to the surname prefix võn: When I read something like Alan võn Neumann Chúrch, I can be pretty certain that a surname starts at võn. With Alan Neumann Chúrch, it is more difficult to tell whether Neumann is part of the surname or a middle name.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Jun 10, 2015 at 8:24
  • 1
    @excalibur1491: Usually, right upon the initial submission. The paper is anonymous (i.e. does not contain your name and affiliation) toward the reviewers, but all of that metadata usually has to be entered during the initial submission in forms in the submission system and editors can access it all the time. Jun 10, 2015 at 10:22
  • 1
    @Wrzlprmft: I agree with your assessment concerning võn, however capitalization plays into this, and in styles that fully capitalize the surname (which is rare in the paper styleguides I am familiar with, but, in other contexts such as names in e-mails/letters, at least seems to be reasonably commonplace in French and sometimes also Spanish), it might once again be tricky to tell whether VÕN NEUMANN is the prefixed name "võn Neumann", or a name composed of two individual names, "Võn" and "Neumann". Jun 10, 2015 at 10:27

Another option is to write your pen name with a dash: võn Neumann-Chúrch. This could be a reasonable compromise: On the one hand, you can keep both of your actual surnames. On the other hand, the risk of being misquoted is slightly greater than if you drop the second surname (but it is smaller than if you keep both and write them without a dash).

  • 3
    I can confirm that a dash-version would work (i.e. is recognized and cited correctly by automatic programs). Surnames with dashes are quite common at least in some contries.
    – jofel
    Jun 10, 2015 at 10:15
  • @jofel Yes, they are common in certain countries where you can chose to have a double surname (with dash) after marriage. Jun 10, 2015 at 11:27
  • 1
    @Lohoris unlikely, since these would be separated either by a slash (/) or a comma on a paper. (if you are lucky enough to have a law or conjecture etc. named after you, well than you are probably famous enough not to care about the correct citation of your name,) Jun 11, 2015 at 8:19
  • 4
    @Lohoris Sometimes, to avoid confusion, a hyphen is used to separate two names of the same author while an en dash is used to separate the names of two people. This subtlety has become particularly well known in number theory, because of a famous open problem called the Birch–Swinnerton-Dyer conjecture (that's two people, not three). Jun 11, 2015 at 12:46
  • 1
    I use such a compound, hypen-separated surname myself and I've always been cited correctly. As an added benefit, the resulting surname is so rare it makes it extremely easy to find my publications.
    – scozy
    Jun 16, 2015 at 17:44

Despite Stephan's comments on diacritical characters, I would still worry somehow about them. I do not know what the state of the art is today, but I saw in horror once an article of mine being from Mylasterrorame instead of Mylastname, with n being a diacritical character.

And yes, Google still finds the wrong version.

I do not care about that anymore (having left the academics world) but, should I have known, I would have dropped anything which is not ASCII in my name immediately.


Here's my opinion on the topic. Firstly, a proper citation for a paper is more of a function of a particular publishing style (APA, Chicago, etc.) than your naming preferences. Secondly, while I can totally understand your desire to keep the original alphabet's letters with diacritical marks, I see a potential problem with that. What I mean is that citations, including such letters, for some people (audience), might be difficult to reproduce (cite), search for and (for authors) get proper attribution.

Therefore, I guess, this problem requires making a trade-off between desiring to present information most accurately in terms of naming and more pragmatic aspects (convenience for authors and their audience as well as better accuracy in terms of attribution).

  • 1
    @excalibur1491: You're welcome. In regard to compound names, I think that the best advice is to choose one arrangement and use it consistently, as mentioned by Stephan. As for diacritical marks, I would be more careful. My point was not concerned about their handling by Google Scholar and similar systems, but rather potential problems due to people's inability (non- or differently-internationalized keyboards) or impatience for typing those letters as well as potential for accidental omission of citations in a search because of letter similarity in appearance (i.e., García vs. Garcia). Jun 10, 2015 at 7:34
  • 4
    @AleksandrBlekh If people don't cite names with diacritical marks correctly then that reflects badly on the person doing the citation. Why should someone mangle their own name to allow others not to use symbols.... heck, a copy and paste would do. - Search engines are generally fine with those not being in the search term. (I've seen a few papers with names that have diacritical marks and if they are a part of the name they should be printed.)
    – DetlevCM
    Jun 10, 2015 at 9:16
  • 1
    @excalibur1491: Pah, Brazilians, Spaniards, ... Latvian names is where things get interesting ;) Jun 10, 2015 at 10:19
  • 4
    A search for "von Neumann Church" or "Garcia" will almost always now match "võn Neumann Chúrch" or "García". This is part of the Unicode standard, and all big search engines will comply. This might have been an issue some years ago, but I don't think it will be now.
    – MJeffryes
    Jun 10, 2015 at 10:57
  • 2
    I am honestly not too concerned about the diacritical characters. I'm in the computer science field and pretty much all goes through Google Scholar and it finds perfectly, as a matter of fact I happen to cite two brazilian papers where names have ão at the end, and had no problem (even University of São Paolo has it..). Also, my family name is that uncommon that I doubt it will ever be atributed to another person (garcia and garcía could happen, but I guarantee mine wouldn't, no one that I found on Google Scholar has my family name). Jun 10, 2015 at 22:23

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .