This may be to much of a subjective question, but I'm not sure. I'm setting up email for a new business, with a new domain, and a new email server (google apps). Are there any recommended standards for email that are widely followed? At my day job we use [email protected], at my last job we used [firstinitial][lastname]@domain.com... Is there anything that is widely followed, or anything I should take into consideration?

I know this isn't really a server admistration question, but I'm sure it's something that a lot of you deal with.

  • 3
    This absolutally is a server admin question. Unless you work for the most organised company on the planet, chances are it's you who will choose the naming scheme for the emails and usernames! Oct 6, 2009 at 20:25

9 Answers 9


What we did was we generated a username that was 6-8 characters long. If it can it'll use [first-initial][lastname up to 7 chars]. If they had a shorter last name, it'd take more of the first name than the first initial. I believe there was only one or two people whose usernames were below 6 characters due to short names. I really didn't like this system, as it made any sort of emailing without LDAP lookups difficult.

I personally like [email protected]. Simple, easy to remember, and pretty standard throughout the email world. Alternatively, as you said, [first-initial][last name]@place.com is also widely used. It doesn't really matter as long as they're consistent, once someone has seen one they can reasonably send them to the right place with a name.

If you're still worried about it, set up a directory and configure LDAP in their address books.

  • 4
    I simply don't understand the mentality of organisations that use anything other than [email protected] or firstname.InitialMiddleName.surname (in cases of conflict).
    – Izzy
    Oct 6, 2009 at 18:57
  • The reason we used the system we did (implemented before I ever worked there) was to avoid conflicts in almost all situations as the 6-8 character window could simply be shifted to [first-2][last-6] and such. It wasn't friendly but it worked.
    – Xorlev
    Oct 6, 2009 at 19:03
  • @Xorlev - SAMAccountName != emailaddress. We have an 8 character SAMAccountName, but a fully descriptive email address.
    – Izzy
    Oct 6, 2009 at 19:05
  • I didn't mean SAMAccountName. We used the same system for email. It was not under my responsibilities (nor ability) to change to something better.
    – Xorlev
    Oct 6, 2009 at 19:20

We generally provide aliases as [firstinitial][lastname]@, [firstname].[lastname]@, and [firstname][lastname]@. If the username (or login name) was different from all of these, we'd make an alias for that, too. We generally set the [firstname].[lastname]@ as the default from: address for outbound messages.

When it's me, I also try to snag dave@ since it's mean to make people try to spell "Mackintosh", almost nobody gets it right.

  • You could also set up aliases that include your name misspelled.
    – wfaulk
    Oct 6, 2009 at 18:53
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    @wfaulk - That's a bad idea. You are pandering to, and condoning, bad practice and laziness. People should type the correct email address. Can you imagine scaling your suggestion to an organisation with 15k+ users?
    – Izzy
    Oct 6, 2009 at 19:00
  • At certain sizes, it's sometimes easier to move to subdomain'd email addresses. e.g. [email protected].
    – Xorlev
    Oct 6, 2009 at 19:07
  • I can't comment on the size issue -- at some point presumably yes the organization is subdivided and you'd have separate teams overlooking separate subdomains' email service. But I am yet to be with a company that big. Oct 6, 2009 at 19:36
  • @Izzy: I meant it as a joke. I forgot the ;)
    – wfaulk
    Oct 6, 2009 at 21:31

I personally prefer to configure my mail server for both (this may be less fun if you're paying per email address) - but since there's no functional difference between the two, it makes everyone happy. You'll always have people who very strongly like/dislike one method or the other.

  • This is what I did with my setup. I find it more professional to have the full name, but like the option to shorthand the email.
    – Ben S
    Oct 6, 2009 at 18:24

Just don't do [firstname]@domain.com unless there is no chance you'll ever hire another employee. Having 3 Donnas at a company is confusing enough without having one of them be [email protected] and the others being [firstinitial][lastname]@domain.com because you now see why [firstname]@domain.com is a bad idea.

Also fun is families that use the same first initial such as j[lastname]@domain.com. You get a Jack, Joy, jessica, jennifer, Jane chain going and you quickly have to either figure out if you want to do [firstinitial][lastname][email protected] or [firstinitial]2[lastname]@domain.com or break out into [firstname][lastname]@domain.com. Even non related employees with the same first initial + same last name gets into this mess and its common in even small/medium companies.

You may also get Manager's/Executives that are tired of people choosing wrong when the [firstinitial][lastname]@domain.com that might be theirs isn't and demand that you break convention to keep their email in a different part of the alphabetical email list.

  • Also to note that there may be a security risk with only first names and they are easy SPAM targets when only a first name is used.
    – keithosu
    Oct 6, 2009 at 18:56

There's a little-known actual "standard" by the World Electronic Messaging Association for this. It's essentially the firstname.lastname@domain setup.

These kind people have provided a well-thought out set of rules for employing this standard:


  • URL doesn't work anymore. Mar 1, 2018 at 15:40
  • @MathiasConradt Seems like the URL just got fixed.
    – ivanivan
    Nov 23, 2018 at 0:20
  • @ivanivan Yes, can reach it again. Nov 23, 2018 at 10:22

Why not make the default email address the employee number and then throw in some standardised aliases such as first.middle-initial/[email protected] etc. That way each mailbox will have a clear single owner that will 'survive' name changes (weddings/divorces etc.) but still allow the user to 'mess' with the aliases as needed.


My default email address at work is "William.Faulk@…". People frequently send emails to our other William that are intended for me.

You might want to consider a last-name-first approach, since last names are more likely to be unique than first names. You probably want a variety of aliases, too, but for people who are too lazy to read their autocompletes, keying off of last name probably makes more sense.


Don't do [firstname][lastnameinitial]@domain.com - eg. [email protected].

We had this at one place I worked and got lots of spam addressed to "chrisa", "chrisb", "chrisc",... well you get the picture.

I'd go with [firstname].[lastname] personally.

  • 3
    In college we had a "christ" on one of our systems due to the scheme above. Oct 6, 2009 at 19:52

As you can see, while nearly everyone has a recommendation, there is certainly no standard. What I see most commonly, and what I personally prefer, is [email protected]. Most people find this very easy to read and certainly removes any ambiguity about who's email address it is. Where I now work the company "standard" is [email protected]. Hard on the eyes, to say the least. If you don't already know the person's full name some are difficult to decipher. It's on my list of things to change.

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