How to Fill Names: Surname, First, Last, Middle & Maiden -

How to Fill Names: Surname, First, Last, Middle & Maiden

Arrangement of names while filling out forms online can be confusing. In this part of the world or anywhere else, forms are different, and so also are the details to be filled in them.

Things may be the same for the major parts of some forms compared to others. However, areas such as names have ever remained confusing. 

For example, while filling out a school's post-UTME form, admission form, or scholarship form, you may see a newer arrangement than you're used to. 

Whereas, serious problems had been witnessed in the past regards this dilemma. Candidates and admitted students had been screened out or disqualified based on the wrong arrangement of names.

This is why it's important to learn this and be sure we do our fillings correctly if we have to submit error-free applications.

What's a Surname?

Also called last, patronymic, or family name, a surname is a hereditary name common to all members of a family.

What's a First Name?

Also called the forename, Christian name, given name, or baptismal name, the first name is a personal name given to someone at birth or baptism and used before a family name.

What's a Middle Name?

Also called the other name, middle names are persons' names placed after the first name and (sometimes) before the surname.

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The "Surname" is British, the "Last Name" is American

When filling out forms online or offline, expect two standards. The form template may take the American standard of arranging names or the British standard.

In the past, it was easy to predict the form type you'll potentially be given. For example, in Nigeria, you expect the British while in Canada you expect the American.

But lately, forms are being given without much reference to countries especially while filling out online forms.

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Irrespective of the form given to you, where its states "Surname" it means the same as "Last Name". However, where a form states surname or last name, other options can still be the "first name" and/or middle name or the other name.

Let's see the example below.

Name: Surname, First Name, and Middle Name

Above is the British standard. 

Surname refers to your family name, the first name is your primary/main name and the middle name is your second name.

For instance, my name is Tijani Mutiu Tolani

In the case of the British standard above, Tijani is the surname, Mutiu is the first name and Tolani is the middle name.

Don't confuse the Middle name to mean a name in the middle. No!

However, that's for the British. 

The American standard won't usually use the middle name option instead they use the other name.

Using my name again, for the American standard, Tijani is the last name (the surname in the case of British),. Mutiu is the first name (the same as British). Tolani is the other name (usually called the middle name in British).

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Where a Form Doesn't Differentiate The Names

With all the examples above, it's obvious certain forms want you to be specific about your family and personal names. However, there are cases where such will not happen. 

The form will only say "Name".

In this case, you're free to arrange your names as exactly as it's on your academic (e.g. result) and personal (e.g. ID card) credentials.

For instance, if your names are arranged on your result or certificate as Tijani Mutiu Tolani, it will be wise to strictly arrange them as such. Don't arrange it as Tijani Tolani Mutiu.

Most bodies, especially schools, won't take any arrangement from you. You just have to follow the instructions in the forms and where you're not instructed, follow the arrangement on any required or accompanying credentials.

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Maiden Name Is Strictly For The Married Women

There are forms that make provisions for Maiden Names. This option is for married women only.

While you may be asked to fill in your maiden name as a married woman, men may be required, in some forms, to fill in their mothers' maiden names. The reason for the latter is not always clear, we have them anyway.

The maiden name refers to the surname a married woman was bearing before marriage. As always, when a woman marries, she henceforth bears the surname/last name of the husband. That is, the groom's family is dropped from her name and the husband's family name will replace it.

Until divorce, unless decided to retain it, such a woman will be using her husband's surname as hers. And officially, if she is asked to fill in her maiden name, that will be her own former surname.

In the case of the mother's maiden name, for men, you're to fill in the surname of your mother before she was married to your father.

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  1. What should I do my last name on my neco is different from the one on my birth certificate and there said the name on my birthday certificate is the name am going to use for my jamb registration pls what should I do

    1. It is that date on your National ID card that will be used for JAMB.

  2. What if I have surname, middle name and last name .How will I fill it

    1. That's not usual. You can just write the three as your name appears on your result

    2. In cases where by a person is using three name's (first name,middle name &last name.And maybe he's applying for a job or something and in the application process, he's ask to put his first name and his last name.
      Does that mean he will not put his middle name at all on the application ?

    3. Yes. You should only fill what you're asked to fill.

  3. My name on my waec is ariyo OREOFE Elizabeth but on my jamb it is ariyo Elizabeth oreofe
    I told my dad but he said it is correct that my first name is my Christian name and my middle name is the name I’m usually called
    What do I do pls

    1. If you want to correct names, the posts below will help you out.

  4. Good day Sir, thank you for this write up it has shed massive light on some grey areas. But can you help me. We want to play the US Dv Lottery, on my wives ID Card is written my names on it for example. Her maiden names are MONDAY Ember Today, my name is Nyuh.. On her ID is written Nyuh spouse Monday, Ember Today. How then do we fil the form. Thank you in anticipation.

    1. Kindly read the updated section in the post. Thanks

  5. Good day! The format I used in my passport and credentials is: surname, first name and middle name. Applying for admission in canada now, their form requested for first name first, middle name and last name(surname). Won't this be a problem to me at the embassy??
    Thank you!

  6. Hammed Muritala Kolawole1 May 2023 at 01:46

    Good day sir, My Surname is Hammed, My Firstname is Muritala while my middlename is Kolawole. But on my academic degree certificate the names are written as Hammed Kolawole Muritala but it was written differently on all my identification cards as Hammed Muritala Kolawole. All my names are written completed and well spelt on my documents but only the issue of the arrangement of My middlename and firstname on my certificate. Please, I hope i won’t have a future problem with this because i am being skeptical since, want to apply for my Msc in USA.

  7. Thanks alot. That really helped.


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