When listing content in an application (think of a list of documents) we show the name of the document and the name of the author.

What should be shown for the author's name when the person reading it is in fact the author?

Do we show the author as you, me, or Joe Soap (assuming it is Joe Soap reading the list)?


4 Answers 4


It should show "Joe Soap."

  • Showing a pronoun instead of a name breaks up the flow of the list.
  • It's possible that someone other than "me" will end up reading the list. For example, maybe it will be printed out and distributed to others.
  • Using a pronoun draws attention to the software ("Look how clever I am, I recognize you!") rather than the user's goals. (More from Kathy Sierra.)
  • There are other ways to call out documents authored by the current user, such as making the font bold, changing the background, or adding a graphical element.
  • While I don't necessarily disagree with your answer, I do want to note that Google Docs uses "me". It has one nice benefit of being tiny, which makes other people's name more obvious. This lets me, at a glance, scan a list for docs I own vs. docs owned by others. You could accomplish the same thing by using "Joe Soap" but styling it slightly differently. Commented Sep 28, 2011 at 16:23
  • 2
    +1 for mentioning modifying the appearance instead of the text; much better IMO.
    – casperOne
    Commented Sep 28, 2011 at 17:12
  • Great comments Patrick, especially in your second point that notes people other than the reader may view the document.
    – rlsaj
    Commented Sep 29, 2011 at 6:26
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    @MichaelHaren Indeed. I've actually always hated that in Google Docs. I find when scanning I'll find my own name much faster than "me". Then again, there are only like 14k people with my name... James, Mary, Mohammed and Emma might have a different experience. :) Commented Oct 27, 2011 at 8:43

Certainly not "me"! See "Your" vs "My" in user interfaces

The choice between "you" and "Joe Soep" is more debatable. I would not mind to see my own name on it. I recognize my own name immediately and I don't mind the computer not recognizing me. I think it would be a nice touch to use "you", but certainly not necessary. If the same person can use multiple log-ins I think it would even be pereferable not to show "you" but just use the name.

  • 5
    On social sites I've seen a noticeable trend to show that "You" posted/shared/ect X content at Y time. However in a professional setting I would much rather see my name in print than "You" wrote this thesis...
    – Zelda
    Commented Sep 28, 2011 at 13:17
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    @Ben I wonder if it really has more to do with the context of where it's displayed than social vs. business. What's analogous to a list of documents in a social app? A news stream? Commented Sep 28, 2011 at 13:53

My preference is to use the name. Seeing "You" (or other pronouns) in the list causes that slight cognitive jar that I don't care for. I'm looking through a list of names, I'm anticipating seeing a list of names, so just show me names. I think there are other and better ways to get some personalization into the user interface.


I follow other people opinion. We want to see the name and the first reason that comes to my mind is simple: if your name is written then you know who is logged in.

A casual example of this is a Facebook page. When you go on the Facebook home page, you can see your name on top the page. Most people opt for automatic login on websites and everybody has already lended its computer to a friend for some minutes so he can check its Facebook page. Now imagine he forgot to log out. You will get on what you think is your page and realise that the content looks suspicious. What will you do first? Check the name in the top right corner of course. If it is written "Me" or "You", it won't be that obvious what the problem is.

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