I really don't know Chinese but I just started to study in China online. I am preparing a report and I need to mention my professor's name. In Chinese it's written as 刘雨欣(liuyuxin), this means 刘(liu) is her surname. Should I write Professor Liu Yuxin or Professor Yuxin Liu?

2 Answers 2


Both 'Professor Liu Yuxin' and 'Professor Yuxin Liu' are acceptable (apply the first name first or the last name first format depend on the audience). To be safe, just highlight the family name with an underline or bold fond.

It is easier just use the last name 刘教授 (Professor Liu)

You can call your professor 刘雨欣教授 or 刘教授 in Chinese but you cannot call her 雨欣.刘 教授 (apply the English first name first format directly into an all Chinese name)

Edit: capitalize the last name also work

  • Unfortunately, her whole name should be underlined and in bold so I can't change it. But if it makes no difference as you said, I will go with Prof. Yuxin Liu.
    – selubamih
    Mar 20, 2021 at 11:25
  1. Just to supplement, you may ask if your professor has a specific preference / or is famously known for her name in the Western or Chinese order. Consider Lee Kwan Yew (李光耀), but Yo Yo Ma (馬友友).

  2. There may also be a good justification to adopt the Western order, especially if your professor's work needs to be cited in her surname. E.g., Yitang Zhang (張益唐) is a mathematician who developed groundbreaking work in the field of number theory, but there were subsequent improvements on his work. The academic field may therefore need to use the Western order for its members to unambiguously and correctly cite his work as Zhang's work.

Wikipedia concludes several rules of thumb which you may find useful.

Besides Tang Ho's suggestion, you may also capitalise the surname, as in 'Yuxin LIU', but that may be unnecessary.

  • For an unknown person like me, it really depends on the audience. I was in Hong Kong, applying for an ID, I wrote my name in English (first name first ) order as Tang Kai Ho. The officer thought my last name was Tang and called me 鄧繼豪先生 which was her educated guess for a typical Hong Kong Chinese who named 'Tang Kai Ho'-- Not a single character was correct
    – Tang Ho
    Mar 20, 2021 at 11:35
  • Thanks for your clear explanation. Actually, before I sent an email with Dear Prof. LIU Yuxin, but in this document, all other names are in initial capital format.
    – selubamih
    Mar 20, 2021 at 11:37
  • @TangHo that is rather unfortunate. That's why I prefer adding a comma after my surname when filling out forms that don't separate first names and surnames.
    – L Parker
    Mar 20, 2021 at 11:42

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