Where To Put The Suffix When Listing The Last Name First (Complete Guide)

Today, we’ll explore the correct way to add a suffix to someone’s name.

Where Should I Put The Suffix When Listing The Last Name First?

Usually, the suffix will go at the end of a name and just after a comma (Smith, John, Jr.). This is most likely because someone’s name is more important to most people than any titles they may have. However, this may change depending on the style guide you use.

Where Should I Put The Suffix When Listing The Last Name First?

What Is A Suffix When Talking About A Name?

A suffix is an abbreviated title that is attached to a person.

For example, Jr is short for junior. III is short for “the third”. And PhD is short for “Doctor of Philosophy”.

What you may have noticed about Jr, III, and PhD, is that they are not possessed by everyone. And unlike titles like Mr and Ms, just being a certain gender does not give you that title.

Some suffixes like PhD or MBE need to be earned. But others, you can be born with or inherit, such as Jr. or III.

Does The “Last Name First” Part Make A Difference?

Let’s say there is a man called “John Smith”, whose father is also called “John Smith”. We’ve already established that when his last name is written first, the “Jr” goes at the end.

But, when we write his first name first, does this rule change?


No matter which order we write his name, his suffix will always go at the end. So it doesn’t matter if we say “John Smith, Jr.” or “Smith, John, Jr”.

The only difference is that there is a comma between his last and first name when his last name comes first. This is just to prevent people from thinking that “Smith John” is some kind of double-barrelled surname.

What To Do When Someone Has More Than One Suffix

Now, this is where things get kind of complicated. Things get so complicated that I can’t explain it to you, because not even the scholars would agree. Some of them wouldn’t even agree about whether it matters.

But one rule of thumb that most of them agree on is that suffixes you’re born with come first, and the ones you’ve earned come second.

For example, if John Smith Jr gets a PhD, his full name would be “Smith, John, Jr., PhD”.

Examples Of Common Suffixes

Here are some common suffixes that you may see, either with people you know or in books.

  • Numbers- I, II, III
    Usually given to kings and queens. Someone called “Richard III” is the third Richard to be king of his country.

  • Academic- PhD, BA, MsC
    These are qualifications you can achieve by going to university. PhD is a Doctor of Philosophy. BA is bachelors. And MsC is a masters.

  • British Empire things- MBE, OBE
    MBE is “Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire” and OBE is “Order of the British Empire”. They are achieved by people who do really great things.

8 Examples How Using A Suffix When You Write The Last Name First

  1. “When you go into the room, there should be a sign that says ‘Smith, John, Jr.’. That will be where you appointment will take place”

  2. “The greatest king that England ever had was ‘Paul, John, III’. Because of him, England managed to conquer France, and become leader of Europe for 100 years”

  3. “She’s now changed her name on her CV, she calls herself ‘Johnson, Sally, MBE’. None of us have had the heart to tell her that her MBE wasn’t real, and it was all part of an elaborate prank”.

  4. “The sign on her office will say “Dexter, Meghan, PhD.”. And inside, she’ll have a desk with all of her belongings on it”

  5. “The current monarch of France is ‘Jackson, Debbie IV’. Well, actually, it isn’t but I really think it should be”.

  6. “400 years ago, A man who called himself ‘Schwartz, Arnold, Jr.’ took over the west side of Africa. But, his rule in that area didn’t last very long at all.”

  7. “Dear ‘Gader, Helen, OBE’, thank you for inviting me to the garden party on Saturday.”

  8. “Dear Smith, Jason, PhD. I have a question about the latest paper you have published”.


And now you know where to put the suffix when listing the last name first.

This is a situation that you’re unlikely to come across in your day to day life. However, you never know when you have to write something where writing the last name first is important.

This only applies to super formal documents. However, be sure to check the style guide you need to use. Because not all of them follow the rules laid out in this article.