Personal Information in UW Records

Preferred Name

Change your preferred name in student records

You can identify yourself within the university, including in some official records, with a preferred first and/or middle name (not last name) that differs from your legal name. This is completely optional. Examples of when students might choose to use a preferred name include:

  • You prefer to be called by a nickname instead of your legal name (e.g., “Jackie” instead of “Jacqueline”)
  • You would rather not have your middle name display as part of your commonly used campus name;
  • You have chosen a name that reflects your gender identity
  • You are an International student who prefers to use a specific name while studying in the United States.

As long as your preferred name is not used for misrepresentation, it will appear instead of your legal name in many university systems and documents—except where your legal name is required for a business or legal need.

View a step-by-step guide to viewing and editing your preferred name.

This campus policy is managed by the UW Division of Student Life. If you need help getting your preferred name recognized by others, please contact preferredname@studentlife.wisc.edu.

Limits on preferred name choices

It is a violation of the UW–Madison Preferred Name Policy to indicate a preferred name for the purposes of misrepresentation or fraud. Fraud and misrepresentation may also violate UW System Student Nonacademic Disciplinary Procedures, chapters 17.09.09, 17.09.10, and/or 17.09.11.

Any preferred name that would be generally considered to be an attempt at misrepresentation or fraud, or interpreted as offensive, will be removed by the Office of the Registrar. The student’s legal name will revert to the default legal name displayed on campus systems. The Wiscard office will also be notified of the removed name.

If a Wiscard has already been issued with the removed preferred name:

  • Wiscard services connected to the Wiscard with the removed preferred name will be suspended and the card invalidated.
  • The cardholder will be asked to surrender the invalid Wiscard.
  • A new Wiscard will be issued to the cardholder at their own cost (replacement Wiscards cost $25).
  • For students, refusal to surrender the invalid card may be violation of UW System Student Nonacademic Disciplinary Procedures, chapter 17. Cases may be forwarded to the Dean of Students Office.
  • Cases of misuse and refusal to surrender invalid Wiscards by UW employees will be forwarded to the appropriate human resources representative.

Where your legal name will still appear

Your legal name is required to appear on transcripts, diplomas, financial aid, payroll, residence for tuition and federal immigration documents.

In some cases, it may be necessary to clarify that your preferred name is different than your legal name, such as verification of medical records or official interactions with law enforcement.

If you are worried about where your legal name appears and/or to hide your legal name in the directory, please contact preferredname@studentlife.wisc.edu.

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

UW directory

Your preferred name will appear as the main name in the wisc.edu people directory, followed with “Also known as:” and your legal name. To hide your legal name in the directory, please contact preferredname@studentlife.wisc.edu.

Wiscard

If your preferred name has been properly entered via MyUW, you can request a Wiscard with your preferred name on the front face. Your legal name will appear on the back side for identity verification. Replacement Wiscards are free as long as you surrender your old Wiscard.

NetID and wisc.edu email address

Your NetID is based on your legal name and won’t change if you set a preferred name. You can request a change in your NetID after you complete a legal name change in your student record. Read about changing your NetID here.

F-1 or J-1 student visas

If you are an international student, you will use your legal name (the name on your passport) on forms like the I-20 and DS-2019.

Residence for tuition

If you are a residence for tuition status appellant, your legal name will appear on official hearing notices and hearing results letters.

Transcript and diploma

Your UW–Madison transcript and diploma will always be printed with your full legal name. If you follow the steps to change your legal name in academic records, you can order new transcripts and a duplicate diploma. You can choose to have your preferred name appear in the official commencement ceremony program and related communications when you graduate.

Name display in the campus directory

The information that the Office of the Registrar has on record may not be the same as that which is displayed in the online directory because there is a delay between the time you make a change to your name and when the updated information appears in the directory. If your listing is inaccurate a week after you have initiated a name change with our office and your employing department, if applicable, consult the directory updates information, the help documents related to making directory corrections, or contact the DoIT Help Desk at 264-HELP (264-4357).

FAQs

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

My name is appearing in all capital letters, how do I change this?

You can change the capitalization of your name by completing a legal name change in your student center. 

Follow the instructions.

I have multiple last names/a hyphenated last name. I only want one of those to appear, how can I change this?

The preferred name application does not allow for changes to last name. The only way to change your last name is to complete a legal name change request.  

Follow the instructions.

I changed my legal name, but my former name(s) are still appearing, why is this happening?

 If you have previously set a preferred name under a different first or last name. This name will continue to appear, even if you have changed your legal name.  

You can change or delete your previously set preferred name by following the instructions.

I don’t want my last name listed; how do I get this removed?

The preferred name application can only be used for changes to first and middle name. Changes to or removal of last names are not supported by this application.  

Is it possible to pick and choose which platforms will show my legal name versus my preferred name?

The preferred name application is designed for the preferred name to appear across all platforms and cannot be used selectively across different platforms. 

I set my preferred name, but my legal name is still appearing in places like the directory. What do I need to do to make sure my legal name is no longer visible?

Changes to preferred name do not automatically hide your legal name. However, if you wish to hide your legal name and only have your preferred name visible, you can contact preferredname@studentlife.wisc.edu and request for your legal name to be hidden. This means your legal name will only appear on official documents, such as billing statements and transcripts. 

I no longer use the preferred name I had previously set-is it possible to change this?

Yes! Your preferred name can be changed at any time by following the instructions.

Please note changes to preferred name take a minimum of 24 hours to be reflected across all platforms. 

My name contains diacritical marks (accents/“special characters”), how can I have this reflected in my name?

While special diacritical (accent) marks cannot be used in the student record’s primary or preferred name, they can be included for purposes of the diploma and commencement program. To have diacritical marks included with your diploma, please email registrar@em.wisc.edu any time prior to the end of the semester in which you plan to graduate. To have diacritical marks included on the commencement program, please email commence@chancellor.wisc.eduafter you’ve applied to graduate. In both scenarios, please write from your wisc.edu email account with information about what accents marks are needed and where they should be placed.