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Corporate Email Address Formats
Choosing an email name format for your business.

 4:23 pm on Jun 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

Corporate Email Address Formats - Business E-mail Names

I've worked in the Advertising and Marketing industries since 1990. During that time I've had the pleasure of working with a wide variety of clients. One of my many client responsibilities is the managing of email. Over the years, I've set up thousands of email addresses for personal, business and corporate use.

While there is no standard for the formatting of email addresses, there are suggested e-mail name formats that are more professional in presentation. I'm going to list a few of those here along with the pros and cons of each one.

Email Address Examples

  1. firstname@example.com (john@example.com)

    This is probably the easiest of email name formats to remember. Unfortunately, you are limited to one unique first name. This may be suitable for smaller businesses with less than 10 employees. Even then, duplication is imminent.

  2. firstnamelastinitial@example.com (johnd@example.com)

    Another easy to remember email name format but, again you run into the issues of duplication at some point.

  3. firstinitiallastname@example.com (jdoe@example.com)

    This format may be somewhat awkward as we tend to remember people by their first name and not their last. While this format is acceptable, it may not be as easy to remember as examples 1, 2 or 4.

  4. firstnamelastname@example.com (johndoe@example.com)

    This option is my suggested email name format. It is easy to remember (in most instances) and provides a level of uniqueness that the first three do not.

Email Address Examples with Separators

In my above examples, I've not used any separators in the names. This is another factor to consider when establishing a business or corporate email address policy. Here are some examples of how separators may be used in email names.


  • john.d@example.com
  • j.doe@example.com
  • john.doe@example.com


  • john_d@example.com
  • j_doe@example.com
  • john_doe@example.com


  • john-d@example.com
  • j-doe@example.com
  • john-doe@example.com

My personal preference is to use johndoe@example.com. My second preference would be john.doe@example.com. Of the four examples provided, these two options are the easiest to remember. I would not suggest using hyphens or underscores in email addresses due to usability issues. It is much easier to say "my email address is johndoe@example.com or john.doe@example.com" than it is to say "my email address is john-doe@example.com or john_doe@example.com".

Note: If you utilize underscores in your email addresses, note that the underscore becomes obscured when the email address is linked (with underline). There are many who may think this is a space instead of an underscore. john_doe@example.com

Choosing Email Address Formats

You should choose one format and utilize that as the standard email name format for your company. There may be times where you have two individuals with the same name. This can be tricky and should be given careful consideration.

Company Representatives - Personal Email Addresses

If you have outside representatives for the company, I strongly suggest that you do not allow them to utilize their own personal email addresses. There are many reasons for this. That individual is representing your company. All communications between the representative and the prospect/client should be done in a professional manner using your corporate identity. Email addresses are part of your corporate identity package.

You can easily set up the business email address (johndoe@example.com) to forward to the individuals personal email address (john@example.com). In fact, most will do this. This is an excellent option as it allows you to retain full control over all business email. If that representative leaves your company, you can then change the forwarding email address so that any existing prospects/clients are redirected to the representative who has filled that position.

I would like to reiterate that as a business or corporation, email address formats are very important in the overall marketing strategy. You want to make them easy to remember and you want to establish a common format for email names. At no time should personal email addresses be utilized during business communications.

Case Sensitive - Case Insensitive

Email addresses are case insensitive. As a standard rule of practice, all email addresses should be presented as lower case although you can mix the case if you like. Believe it or not, many think that email addresses are case sensitive and will therefore utilize upper and lower case as shown in the email address. JohnDoe@Example.com

I've seen many companies utilize the mixed case email formats. There is an added usability feature in this option and that it is that it helps to separate firstnamelastname email formats. When using separators like dots, hyphens or underscores, there would be no need for mixed case, all lower case is suggested. john.doe@example.com




 5:39 am on Jun 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'd like to add a few more comments about using initials in emails. If you are using the format jdoe@example.com or johnd@example.com (without separators), there is a good chance you are going to run into a situation where a word is formed by using this format. Sometimes those words can be inappropriate and embarassing. ;)

I've been managing a site with about 1000 users for a few years now. Every year there is a couple hundred accounts to be created and we automate the process by getting an export from someone else in the organization's database and running some scripts on it. The format we use is (firstinital)(lastname)@(domain). Well sure enough when I developed the script that assigns usernames (first tries the primary format above, and if that is taken it tries about 10 other permuations, and then it gives up and throws an error), somebody had a name of A. Buse. So of course the script wanted to give them abuse@(domain).

That motivated me to add a list of forbidden usernames. Who knows, we might have had a Ronald Oot and a Walter Ebmaster in next year's batch!


 7:54 am on Jun 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

I find firstname.lastname@ is the easiest format to understand. People with unfamiliar names when it is rolled into one such as firstnamelastname@ can be very difficult to read, remember or work out where one name ends and the other ends.

Also, the full stop character is easily accessed by almost every kind of keyboard, where as _ as a seperator often requires additional key controls - CTRL / ALT GR, etc.



 9:12 am on Jun 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

I have my work e-mail set up as both firstname@domain.com and firstname.surname@domain.com This is especially useful to me as most people mis-spell my surname.

I do think that firstname.surname@domain.com looks more professional though.


 9:23 am on Jun 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

I use:

firstname@example.com - for personal emails. More easy for friends to remember

firstname.lastname@example.com - for professional use.

I donīt use _ because some people has difficulty to do it, and could end up using -.
I donīt want to use firstnamelastname@example.com because for my name, it sounds a bit confusing. My firstname ends with an O, and my last name begins with an O too: nunooliveira
I really prefer nuno.oliveira


 10:43 am on Jun 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'd say that firstname.lastname@ is the best option.

Don't forget that spam arrives from robots that harvested the email addresses, probably from the company website, so do try to use protection from that: javascript document.write for the links, coupled with an email contact form option for those without javascript running or who prefer the immediacy of filling in a form and hitting submit.


 1:04 pm on Jun 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

AOL use case sensitive email addresses


 1:09 pm on Jun 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm not sure if this adds any value to the topic, but some companies like IBM use an 8 char system with first initial and then the last name up to 7 chars. Personally, I hate this system. It may be ok inside the company since everyone knows the system, but outside the company it can get confusing. My last name is 8 letters so I have the last letter cut off. People have to remember to leave off the last letter. Maybe it has something to do with DOS and 8 chars. Fortunately, they have also given us first.last@domain.com now. This can just an example of what NOT to do.


 2:58 pm on Jun 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

Sydney Uni gives out usernames in the form jsmiXXXX (first initial and first three letters of surname, and a four digit random number). People who ended up with names like ****2918 were allowed to change them...


 3:26 pm on Jun 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm curious how y'all handle certain cases.

First is the question of nicknames versus legal names. You could require the legal name, Alexander@ but what if all the sales rep's customers know him as "Alex"-- or for that matter, "A.J.," "Big Al," or "Junior"?

How do all of you handle apostrophes (O'Brien, D'Angelo) or hyphens (Ayers-Rashad) or modifier-based names (van der Waal, de Ville) or certain clan names or patronymics (bin Khalifa al-Thani)? If you have employees in countries where the family name comes before the given name, do you impose Tae-Yong.Kim@ or does it make sense to have Kim.Tae-Yong?


 4:13 pm on Jun 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

In schools and universities, for students, they usually incorporate the (last two digits of) year of entry in the username part of the email address.


 4:28 pm on Jun 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

First is the question of nicknames versus legal names. You could require the legal name, Alexander@ but what if all the sales rep's customers know him as "Alex"-- or for that matter, "A.J.," "Big Al," or "Junior"?

What we've been doing in this scenario is setting up aliases for any misspellings or nicknames. For example...

richard.doe@example.com would have an alias set up as rich.doe@example.com.

If the person is known by rich.doe, then that would be the primary email address with richard.doe set up as the alias.

I don't think it would be a good idea to force formal names on users. It's okay to allow them to use their "common name" as that is what everyone knows them by. Forcing a formal name in this instance would create problems.

When establishing the Email Address Formats for your company, this is something to take into consideration. You have to be flexible in allowing for this type of scenario.

P.S. A little OT, I have an acquaintence whose name is Sam Hitt. That makes for an embarassing firstinitiallastname format. ;)


 5:02 pm on Jun 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

Company Representatives - Personal Email Addresses

I'd like to bring this particular subject to the forefront of this discussion.

I don't think I can emphasize enough how important it is to implement a Corporate Email Address Format, especially for those outside representatives.

I have a particular client who has not followed my advice in this manner and they have about 4 or 5 outside representatives using their personal email accounts. Three are AOL accounts and two are MindSpring accounts.

I've sent them a link to this topic to see if I can change their thinking in regards to this issue. They've allowed those representatives to do whatever they want with their business cards. Since I manage all of that, I was at least able to establish standard print formats for the variable information that applies to each person.

It pains me when I have to utilize the personal email addresses. Some of them are downright tacky and not something that should be used in business communications. In my opinion, sending business email from an AOL account is not professional. And of course we all know that AOL accounts are utilized for UCE (Unsolicited Commercial Email).

In addition to all of the above, I think email signatures should be standardized in the organization also. There should be a standard name and address format along with the required legalese. When a new person comes on board, whomever is managing email sets up their signature using the global template and then applies that to the users email.

John Doe
Example Company
1234 Your Street
City, State, Zip
800-555-1212 Fax 800-555-3434
Email: john.doe@example.com
Web: www.example.com

This email message contains confidential information and is intended only for the individual named. If you are...


 6:26 pm on Jun 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

Wonder what the policy is at the George Foreman household?


[edited by: stuntdubl at 10:31 pm (utc) on June 14, 2004]
[edit reason] No urls, thanks. See TOS [webmasterworld.com] [/edit]


 7:24 pm on Jun 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

as far as i can tell, the majority of mid to large european companies uses firstname.lastname@example.com and in my opinion this is by far the most serious one. (name-branding)

abbreviations suggest littleness and are intransparent


 7:42 pm on Jun 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

As far as outside consultants that are known to be consultants, and not inside the company, but do business on behalf of the company, these are formats I consider acceptible.


where example.com is the consultants website, and not an AOL/Yahoo/Other free email account.

I've recently found several email systems that can't handle _ (such as firstname_lastname@company.com) and either ignore the underscore, or bounce emails automatically.

Whenever I see a business person using @AOL.com - it makes me wonder how good they really are.

When I see a web/internet anyting consultant using a @freeemail.com address, I just don't do business with them - I can't imagine they have a clue if thats what their professional address is.


 1:24 am on Jun 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

firstname.lastname@company.com creates way too long email-addresses that attract too many typos. Remember the last time your had to note down an email-address with a foreign name on the phone?

That's why I like the initials jd@company.com much better that serves companies that are not too big quite well. But for historical reasons our company uses the doe@company.com format right now. The last option for bigger companies would be j.doe@company.com as this leaves virtually no possibility for dupes but is still short enough.

role accounts (sales@, hostmaster@, info@, &#8230;) are only used where a never-changing address is needed and are forwarded to the proper person.


 2:09 am on Jun 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

....j.doe@company.com as this leaves virtually no possibility for dupes

Um. Dejā vu: six of John Brown.... or James White.... or John Jones....

Or even 3 of each.


 10:28 am on Jun 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

A good address for a hotel or motel:


 4:48 pm on Jun 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

Isn't it more important to have an email address that a customer can remember and spell than to just follow a standard corporate template for all email addresses?

I'd much rather try to remember ziggy@example.com than have to remember zbigniew.brzezinski@example.com. :)

We don't work with many clients that need more than 30-40 email addresses, and we just ask them to have each employee choose an address that their customers will be able to spell and remember.


 4:56 pm on Jun 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

In my office every employee has a few email address, all going to the same mailbox. Their "primary" is jdoe@domain.com, which is what people see when they SEND a message, but just to make sure that no mail is lost I have aliases configured:

jdoe@company.com (primary)

This way no one ever gets it wrong. If one of the names ends up being weird (for example "Rob Ugay" would be "RUgay") the employee has the option of using it or going with the other two instead.

If one happens to interfere with a name I would like to reserve for admin use, they get the other two. For the majority though having all 3 reduces the number of mistakes from senders.


 8:05 pm on Jun 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

I donīt want to use firstnamelastname@example.com because for my name, it sounds a bit confusing. My firstname ends with an O, and my last name begins with an O too: nunooliveira
I really prefer nuno.oliveira

Excellent point!

Personally I use the j.doe@example.com format. Why? Because it is more formal. But, I guess that depends on the business you're in too...

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