My previous question about ellipses (三点リーダー) in Japanese got me thinking about the middle dot (中黒) in foreign names.

When I was in college, I learned that if you have a non-Japanese (or, rather, non-kanji) name, you should put a 中黒 in between your first name and last name.

For example:


However, when exchanging e-mails with a native Japanese speaker, I will often see a katakana name typed with a space in between the first and last name:

For example:

リア スミス

Which is technically correct: middle dot (中黒) or space (スペース)? As a non-native Japanese speaker, I prefer a space, but does a space look incorrect/confusing/unaesthetically pleasing to a native Japanese speaker?


2 Answers 2


Also referred to as 中点{なかてん}, I prefer it over a space because it looks and feels better. Traditionally, Japanese was not written with spaces. So style-wise, I think it is more appropriate to use 中点 instead of space. Nowadays with English and global influence, I am seeing spaces used a lot more, especially in digital text.

Secondly, it depends on where the name is located within the text. For example, if you are writing the name at the top of an email, then a space wouldn't be so unnatural. However, if the name is within a newspaper article, then the entire text is broken up by the use of this space. Using a 中点 in this situation would preserve the flow of the text.

To summarize, I don't think there is a 'technically correct' answer. Both are correct and it just depends on which style you prefer, whether personal style or a formally established style.


Using 中黒 seems a little bit wired for me because spaces are always used in English. I always use space when I write a technical report even in Japanese. I know that 中黒s are sometimes used in some contexts, but you can always use spaces either in informal and formal ones. As I am a native Japanese speaker, I recommend you should use space in any context.

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