First name, last name and junior

Q:

Dear Grammer Cop,

We have some disagreement in our office on how to correctly write a name suffix such as "Jr." or "IV" when the last name gets listed first (i.e., Doe, John). If John Doe is a Jr., should the correct listing be "Doe, John Jr. or Doe, Jr., John?

Thank you for your assistance!

Jean

A:

Dear Jean,

Your first example is correct, "Doe, John Jr." About the only thing further I can say is that "junior" refers to the given name, not the family name. It is used to distinguish the junior from the senior, not one family from another—the family name achieves that goal. On a practical note, you'll often hear, "John Junior" referring to John Doe, Jr., but you'll never hear "Doe Junior" because that's too impersonal, and it's not specific enough to have much meaning.

"Junior" simply means "young" in Middle and Old English, and we still use the expressions interchangeably—you'll often hear people refer to a "junior" as "Young John" or "Little John".

Hope this helps!