Phone Contact list: FN, LN or LN, FN

I had to wipe my phone, but fortunately all my backups resorted properly so no need to re-enter all my contacts. But I realized I had a mix of “First Name, Last Name” and “Last Name, First Name” entries while preparing. Being a stickler for consistency I’m contemplating settling on one and making all the entries conform.

What do you, the Teeming Masses, use in your contacts lists and why?

I don’t save many contacts on my new Android. I used to save all of my contacts on my old phone, but then realized that I had so many numbers, and duplicates of names/numbers from them switching so much. It really becomes a hassle to go in and delete people individually. It’s kind of fun to just answer the phone and figure out who it is half-way into the conversation. If I need to dial out, I likely have a text message with them I can refer to and just press the green phone button.

I like to see the number as much as possible so eventually it becomes memorized… just in case I don’t have my phone one night and I’m in jail and need to call someone to get me out.

Numbers that I save are usually businesses-- Pizza Hut, my bank, doctor’s office.

If I ever need to add contacts, I would probably choose LN, FN.

Firstname Lastname (Arnold J. Rimmer). Reasons:

  • The Lastname, Firstname (Rimmer, Arnold J.) format seems way too formal in a non-business setting.
  • There are people I only know by their first names.
  • Google services seem to like to do things this way (my address book, of course, is on GMail / Android).

My ancient flip-phone stores names alphabetically by first name, last name. It seemed odd to me at first but then I realized I could search for contacts by just starting to key in the first name of whoever I was trying to reach and it popped right up. Now it seems natural. Someday I am going to have to get a new phone. The one I’m using I bought off my son when he was in middle school. He’s 22 now.

I enter and display my contacts as Firstname Lastname (no comma, of course). But they are sorted by LN. And I can search by first-few-letters of either name, or of the title or organization fields, which I also use for non-strictly-personal contacts.


FN LN or else it gets confused by my Outlook contacts.

Another reason is the last names of people you know tend to cluster. Let’s say your last name is Brown. That means you probably have a couple dozen family members, all with the last name Brown, listed among your contacts.


My phone is sorted by first name and its a pain in the ass when I want to send a message to a particular family and have to hunt all over my contacts. I send lots of messages to husband and wife pairs or siblings so it happens enough that I’ve almost gotten to the point of googling how to change the sort mechanism, in other words not that bad.

I use GMails contacts, and it definitely sorts by last name. That includes stuff where I’ve created “Text Mom” (since the stupid thing can’t handle setting a default email). I find that under M.

First name. I have very few contacts listed with last names. Of course, not a lot of people call me, so a first name is all I usually need.

First name, last name.

This is for home use? As long as you’re consistent, it doesn’t really matter. For a business phone, the last name is the more significant.

I looked at my phone and was surprised at the number of weird contacts I have. I mean, “Fat Mike”, “Just Sara”, “Donna (not Kim’s friend Donna)”, “Amy DoNut”.