This is a question from a user perspective.

When a website asks for my name, how can I know whether they want me to enter my given name in the box called "First Name" and my family name in "Last Name", or enter my name in the order I use it (which in Hungary is family name followed by given name).

The labeling of the fields with "First/Last" suggests the second, but these websites often go on to call me "Dear X" in emails where X is my family name.


3 Answers 3


In many Western cultures "last name" is the same as your family name. In these cases "John Doe" would enter "John" as his first name and "Doe" (his family name) in the last name field.

It has become poor practice to ask for a "first" and a "last" name, for exactly the reason you describe. Here are a few posts on UX.SE that talk more about better formatting of name entry fields.

Merging firstname/last name into one field

Is it better to ask for 'full name' or 'first name' and 'last name' in a registration form?

  • 2
    Us Americans say firstname/lastname because that's how we operate. Most of the rest of the world uses name/surname. That's a safe alternate that people understand. Firstname/Familyname works just as well.
    – Jamezrp
    Oct 27, 2014 at 23:09

According to the W3C article on names there are a few variations on how names are designated around the world:

Given name and patronymic

The first part of the name is the given name while the second part of the name is more of a description than a family name in the Western sense, usually used to indicate that this person is the son or daughter of someone.

Cultures where a person has one given name followed by a patronymic include Iceland, parts of Southern India, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Different order of parts

Family name followed by given name, which is the opposite to English/American convention.

Cultures such as China, Japan, Korea, and Hungary, also order names as family name followed by given name(s).

Multiple family names

More than one family name which can be a combination of parental family names, or even include names of ancestors.

Cultures that adopt this convention include Spain and Brazil.


  • Kerala names from Southern India, usually written V. S. Achuthanandan which follows the order familyName-fathersName-givenName.

  • the Indian name Kogaddu Birappa Timappa Nair follows the order villageName-fathersName-givenName-lastName.

  • the Rajasthani name Aditya Pratap Singh Chauhan is composed of givenName-fathersName-surname-casteName.


Kind of reminds me of when I was watching an international football game a little while ago and the commentator mentioned something about the 'Christian names' of the IRANIAN team....

To be fair though, here we are talking about a site written in English. In British, American, Irish, Canadian, etc.... culture first name-last name is the common format. Surely most Hungarians would know about the standard western order that is the norm in all of their neighbours and the English speaking world- hence when using an English language site they can expect this first name, last name format to apply.

I remember when I was in Japan and had to fill out some paperwork, the lady helping me out even directly translated the Japanese word for 'family name' into 'last name' for me, despite everything being the other way around in Japan. Its just one of the most common terms in English and should be looked at somewhat separately from its literal meaning.

If you use 'family name' instead of 'last name'....well even that isn't an innocent and culturally neutral term. Look to Iceland for instance where Bjorn Magnuson's son is Tor Bjornson.

Another thing I have wondered about here - what about Indonesians and other cultures where people just go by one name? There they can't just do a bit of logical translating and use some basic cultural awareness to enter their name properly....

I guess the answer is you just have to consider your target audience and try to cover for every eventuality there. If you expect things to be very international and it is very important you get someone's name right then perhaps including a little example with a famous name or two could help.

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