Fields for names

I have a separate table for contacts, name, email, tel, address, etc.

In the primary field, I enter the person’s name, eg. John Smith.

Having read somewhere useful for the base design to have separate fields for a person’s name, I have added two fields immediately to the right of the primary, field name FN (for first name) and SN (for surname). Each field option Single Select. Which means that whenever I add a record in the primary field I also have to add the person’s first and surname separately to the respective fields.

I sort on primary field and that suits my needs, as in the event not finding instantly does a filter or simple search. But unless there is some benefit to the database set-up evolution in having two separate fields for FN and SN I can’t see any advantage. Is there? and if so then what is it?


Hi @Michael_Lever - I tend to have these as separate fields so that in certain scenarios, I can use just the first name without having to extract it from the full name. For example, let’s say I want to send an email to my contacts and personalise the email. If the name fields are separate, I can do an email merge and address the email “Dear John” instead of “Dear John Smith” which feels a bit more personal, less automated. But it does depend upon your use case and future uses of the data.

To make the process more efficient, you can set your primary field to be a formula, something like:

{First name} & ' ' & {Last name}

You then just need to complete the first and last name fields and the full name field will be generated for you.

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Noted, thank you.

I never personalise emails with the recipient’s name, as if writing a letter. I launch straight in with either Good morning. or Good afternoon. or Good evening (depending upon the time the email will be sent). And if it’s going to a different time zone I put Good morning (UK or my whereabouts) etc.

When replying to an email, I would start with Good morning (or such like(, followed by Noted, thank you.

I don’t end a message with ‘yours sincerely’ or ‘yours faithfully’ or ‘kind regards’ or such like either.

Simply my first name. or first and surname, or initials, depending upon the recipient,

My approach to a bit more personal :smiley:

If you will never need to access just the first name or just the surname, you do not really need separate fields for them. However, it can be hard to be sure that one will never need the individual names, so people often setup the bases with multiple fields just in case.

Combining a first name and a surname together is very simply with a formula field. It is much more difficult to split a name in a single field into the first name and surname.

Here are some reasons for different fields for first names versus surnames.

  • You can tell if a name is a surname or a first name. If you have only field for a name, for some names, it can be difficult to tell if the name is a surname or a first name.

  • You want to be sure to capture both a first name and surname and flag any situations where one is missing.

  • You might want to be able to sort/group based on surname.

  • You want to be able to accommodate situations where the surname is written before the first name (e.g. surname, first name)

  • You might want to be able to quickly see if different contacts have the same surname.


Very useful, thank you

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