Fewer people use hyphenated last names in the 2000s than in previous decades, as reported by Sharon Jayson of USA Today, perhaps due to many people's desire to have the same last name as their children. In addition to parental concerns, Jayson says that the confusion of hyphenated last names might cause people to cast off these hybrids and use spouse's names instead. Those people who choose to use a hyphenated last name tend to do so for philosophical purposes, so using the name correctly respects their views on their own life.
Search for the first of the hyphenated names, if trying to find records. Many organizations, such as Alaska's Department of Natural Resources, only list the first of the two or more last names. If you can't find the public records you need, search for the following: the first name in the hyphenated name, the last name in the hyphenated name then the hyphenated name with the hyphen omitted.
Address a person with a hyphenated last name by both last names, as the situation dictates. For example, for a person with the last name "Smith-Jones," do not call her "Ms. Smith" or "Ms. Jones." Instead, refer to her as "Ms. Smith-Jones."
Combine the last names into one word when using a filing system. For example, for the hyphenated last name "Smith-Jones," enter the name as "Smithjones" into computer filing systems that do not allow for hyphens. Do not enter the first name in the hyphenated name into the middle name section.
- "USA Today"; Hyphenated Names Less-And-Less Used; Sharon Jayson; May, 2005
- University of Idaho Business Management and Technology Guide: The 12 Filing Rules
- Alaska Department of Natural Resources: Finding the Record You Need
- Social Security Administration Online: Social Security Number Verification Service (SSNVS)
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