Expressing Yourself Online: Choosing An Instant Messenger Screen Name Or Email Address

A guide on choosing a unique and creative Internet screen name and email address for long-term use.

Choosing a screen name or email address for yourself can be a difficult process, especially if you intend to use the name for years to come. You must invent something unique that you are proud to wear. How does one create an identity that will truly reflect themselves?

The Base:

All names have to start somewhere, and your first concern is probably going to be what noun to use as a base. You could use a name or an object, a title, an activity, a place, a color, a word from a different language, a time or anything else that you like. Make a list of these things to choose from. It's important to choose something you enjoy, and even if it is not unique, you can add on to make it so. You could even use your own name, but if you are trying to stay anonymous (this is especially important if you are young) using your real name may be giving too much information away. Making up a word or a name is the best way to have a unique login, but many people prefer to name themselves after characters in books, television, movies and games, so this guide will assist those people who cannot make up one they like.

Some example of name bases that we will build on in the next section:

john amy chrono rose lady baseball breaker kansas emerald sakura midnight pink


If your initial name choice is not unique enough for you to actually register it anywhere (remember how many people there are on the Internet; even a simple and silly name like "yogurt" is going to be taken in some places), compounding a word is a good way to come up with something new and fresh. You could compound your first and middle names together (again, something more anonymous is probably best) or two character names, or just two things you like and think would reflect your personality. Based on the above bases, here are some suggestions of compound word combinations you can try:

john_j amy_rose kansas_baseball chrono_breaker emerald_midnight sakura_rose pink_lady

Most websites will accept the underscore, or you can omit it completely. You could also try adding hyphens or other characters depending on what the website will allow.


Don't want to combine words, but the name you want is already taken? Or is your combination itself taken as well? This is more than possible, considering Internet traffic these days. Adding numbers (but not too many numbers!) is one quick and easy way to separate yourself from the other users. Email providers have been using this method for years. Simply choose a random or significant number or a combination of numbers (it depends on how popular your name choice is) and add it to your name. You could use your age, the year you were born, the current year, a favorite date, the number of a sports player, a repeating number, or just a number you like. Here are some examples:

johnj_1977 amy99 amyrose8 kansas_baseball_42 emerald_midnight16 2004sakurarose

You can change the name in other ways, such are rearranging underscores or hyphens, keeping in mind the punctuation restrictions set by the websites. Try omitting letters or changing the spelling in your name (example: kansas_baseball becomes kansbasball or emerald_midnight becomes emrld_midnite) to make it unique. Substituting letters works as well: "phish" for fish, "enxan" for Enzan or "arison" for Alison. Anything is possible!

Once you have chosen a name that suits you, test it out! Register for an instant messaging program, sign up for an email address, or join an online forum. Ensure that you have a one-of-a-kind name, and let people get to know the new you!

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