Fake names for documentation

30 04 2007

Last week a discussion on one of my tech writing lists focused on using fictitious names in documentation, such as in Name fields in software and websites that are used in training, demonstrations, and screenshots in the manuals. One thing you don’t want to do is use a set of real names from a real client. In fact, I heard of an instance – it may be an apocryphal tale – where a real person’s name was projected on a large screen, and some in the training session got very upset as that person had died very recently.

So this discussion offered some ideas for ‘dummy’ names that you could use. Now, whether you would actually use any of these is not my call – you’d have to make your own decision based on who you work for and who your audience is!

Here’s a sample of some that were offered:

“Punny” names:

  • Patty O’Furniture
  • Ann Chovey
  • Hazel Nutt
  • Chris P. Bacon
  • Marsha Mellow
  • Olive Yew
  • Barb Akew
  • Aida Bugg
  • Maureen Biologist
  • Teri Dactyl
  • Peg Legge
  • Allie Grater
  • Liz Erd
  • A. Mused
  • Constance Noring
  • Lois Di Nominator
  • Minnie Van Ryder
  • Lynn O’Leeum
  • P. Ann O’Recital
  • Ray O’Sun
  • Ray Sin
  • Isabelle Ringing
  • Eileen Sideways
  • Rita Book
  • Paige Turner
  • Rhoda Report
  • Augusta Wind
  • Chris Anthemum
  • Anne Teak
  • U.R. Nice
  • Anita Bath
  • Harriet Upp
  • I.M. Tired
  • I. Missy Ewe
  • Ivana B. Withew
  • Anita Letterback
  • Hope Furaletter
  • B. Homesoon
  • Bea Mine
  • Bess Twishes
  • C. Yasoon
  • Audie Yose
  • Dee End
  • Amanda Hug
  • Frank Furter
  • Ben Dover
  • Eileen Dover
  • Willie Makit
  • Willie Findit
  • Barry Cuda
  • Barry Mundy
  • John Dory
  • Addie Minstra
  • Anne Ortha
  • Dave Allippa
  • Dee Zynah
  • Hugh Mannerizorsa
  • Loco Lyzayta
  • Manny Jah
  • Mark Ateer
  • Reeve Ewer
  • Tex Ryta
  • Theresa Green
Fictional and Biblical characters:

  • Lois Lane
  • Clark Kent
  • Ralph and Alice Kramden
  • Holly Golightly
  • Liza Doolittle
  • Henry Higgins
  • Joseph Arimathea
  • Mary Magdalene
  • Simon Cyrene
  • Dixie Normous (“Austin Powers”)
  • Felicity Shagwell (“Austin Powers”)
  • Ivana Humpalot (“Austin Powers”)
  • Plenty O’Toole (“Bond” movies)
  • Tiffany Case (“Bond” movies)
  • Shady Tree (“Bond” movies)
  • Kissy Suzuki (“Bond” movies)
  • Pussy Galore (“Bond” movies)
  • Honey Ryder (“Bond” movies)
  • Sylvia Trench (“Bond” movies)
  • Lupe Lamora (“Bond” movies)
  • May Day (“Bond” movies)
  • Jenny Flex (“Bond” movies)
  • Penelope Smallbone (“Bond” movies)
  • Holly Goodhead (“Bond” movies)
  • Mary Goodnight (“Bond” movies)
  • Chew Mee (“Bond” movies)
  • Ruby Bartlett (“Bond” movies)
Purely made up:

  • Melody Sunshine
  • Dustin Trailblazer
  • Donald Canard (Donald Duck)
  • Michael J. Reynard (Michael J Fox)
  • Michael Souris (Mickey Mouse)

If you need ‘real’ names, you can always try some of the many random name generators on the internet. You can get some very weird ones (like Klingon names, fantasy names, etc.), but there are ‘real’ names among all that too. One that I particularly like takes the names from the various US census and mixes them up according to popularity, gender, etc. Try it at: http://www.kleimo.com/random/name.cfm (another one I found when looking for this one was:
http://www.behindthename.com/random/)

(Thanks to the contributors on the STC Lone Writers discussion list)


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7 responses

2 05 2007
Craig

I actually used to work for a company that used a client database in a testing environment (with the authorisation of the client), but who also used that same database for screen shots for a National software manual and newsletter.

Pretty frightening when you consider that it was Pharmacy Dispense software and the information used in the screen shots were private details of real patients…

They all looked utterly horrified when I took over the role as Communications Manager and implemented a program of proof reading and multiple sign off. Scary days, and yet, a company that I just don’t miss. Leaving there was like having a piece of bamboo that’s been firmly wedged under your fingernail, removed.

8 05 2007
Paul

These are some great ideas. To be honest, in some of my screen shots I actually use my own name. It is a way of identifying my own work, which I think is nice for portfolio pieces.

My company is pretty laid-back about this sort of thing, so generally I use names that are obviously fictitious, or use my own name in some format. Your list of “punny” names will be great! I particularly liked Cris P. Bacon and Isabelle Ringing.

19 05 2007
Whitney

Former colleagues and I used to mix up names from movies. In one iteration of a manual, all first names were from “Star Trek” (movies and TV shows) and last names were from “Star Wars” movies.

You can tell I worked with a lot of geeks.

14 04 2009
Otto Palindrome

My personal favourite, from a Melbourne mate: Norma Stitts. HA!

29 11 2009
wordsworm

Marvelous. I just came across this post. The TC says her favourite is “Lois Di Nominator”. Me, I like “Tex Ryta”.

2 01 2011
2010 in review « At Random

[…] Fake names for documentation April 2007 5 comments 3 […]

21 02 2013
Krishna

Good idea I usually browse most popular names by country and choose the one that matches with from my client’s country.

I am so happy to know that you love crafting! Me too!

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