Multiple Surnames

If an author has multiple surnames, which one is he filed under in a library catalog?
According to the Anglo-American Cataloging Rules (AACR2), one should enter a compound surname under the element by which the person prefers to be entered. Sometimes one can tell this by typography or by searching the person’s name in the bibliography of their own book. However, in most cases, a cataloger does not know. If the cataloger cannot determine the author’s wishes, the cataloger should look at how their name is listed in reference source in the person’s language or country of residence or activity. Again, in many cases, the person may not be listed there, and/or the cataloger may not have access to these reference sources. A cataloger would then use the following guidelines from AACR2.

1. If the elements are hyphenated, enter under the first element

  • EX: Day-Lewis, C.

2. For all other compound names, one enters them under the first surname.

  • EX: Gonzalez Fernandez, Jose.

There are two exceptions to this however. One, is for married women whose surname consists of their maiden surname and their husband’s surname. In these cases, you enter under the first surname if the person’s language is Czech, French, Hungarian, Italian, or Spanish. In all other cases, you enter them under the husband’s surname.

  • EX: Garcia Mendez, Maria. (language is Spanish)
  • EX: Stow, Harriet Beecher (language is English)

The second exception is for Portuguese compound surnames. If the person’s language is Portuguese, the name is always entered under the last surname:

  • EX: Silva, Ovidio Saraiva de Carvalho e


There are also surnames which consist of an article or preposition or a combination of the two. Again the cataloger should enter under the element by which the person prefers to be entered, or by how they are listed in reference sources in their country of residence or activity. However, if one cannot determine the author’s preference and does not have access to these reference sources, a cataloger uses a list of guidelines available in AACR2 under Rule 22.5D1. This rule consists of a listing of all the languages in which articles and/or prepositions are frequently used in surnames and tells the cataloger how to index the name in each case.

For example:

Enter under the prefix.

  • De Villiers, Anna Johanna Dorothea


If the surname is Dutch, enter under the part following the prefix unless the prefix is ver. In that case, enter under the prefix.

  • Aa, Pieter van der
  • Ver Boven, Daisy

If the surname is not Dutch, enter the name of a Netherlander under the part following the prefix and the name of a Belgian according to the rules for the language of the name.

  • Faille, Jacob Baart de la


Enter under the prefix.

  • À Beckett, Gilbert Abbott
  • De Morgan, Augustus
  • Du Maurier, Daphne
  • For the entire list, see AACR2, Rule 22.5D1.


Finally, there are the rules for other prefixes, meaning prefixes that are neither an article, nor a preposition, nor a combination of the two. These are always entered under the prefix.

  • EX: Abu Zahrah, Muhammad.

There are other minor rules for rare cases and exceptions, but the basic rules are covered above. Please remember that regardless of what was chosen as the name entry, a cross reference is ALWAYS made from the other parts of a compound name in a name authority record. Therefore, if a book is written by Jose Maria Sanchez Romero the book would be entered under: “Sanchez Romero, Jose Maria” but the name authority record would have a cross reference under “Romero, Jose Maria Sanchez.” This cross reference enables a patron to search under either surname, and access the book in question or be guided to the correct author heading in the index.

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