Proper Punctuation for Personalization

Many of our products involve placing a custom message or phrase on the item, whether it be a personalized charcuterie board, custom dish towel, inscribed coaster, or engraved photo frame, for example.

Every now and then, we see customers unsure of exactly how to punctuate their custom message – more specifically, when it comes to pluralizing the family’s name. Is it Jones'? Jones's? Or Joneses? You’d be forgiven for feeling utterly confused!

Correct punctuation can be a tricky thing to grapple with, so we thought we’d put together this handy guide to help you out next time you wish to personalize a gift!


The trick to properly pluralize last names

Thankfully, correctly pluralizing a last name isn’t as difficult as it seems. Unless you want to make your last name possessive, there aren't any circumstances where you would need to add an apostrophe.

Therefore, the basic rule goes like this: If the name ends in s, x, z, ch, or sh, simply add ‘es’ to the end. Walsh becomes Walshes, Malkovich becomes Malkoviches, and Jones becomes Joneses, for example.

For all other last name endings, simply add ‘s’ to the end. Smith becomes Smiths, Singh becomes Singhs, and Lee becomes Lees, for example.

Now, what if you want to make a pluralized last name possessive (i.e. when describing something that belongs to that family)? This is a common scenario when giving custom housewarming gifts, for example, and wish to have something like “The Joneses’ House” engraved on it.

Simply add an apostrophe onto the end of a plural name to make it possessive. As the rule goes: plural first, then possessive.

The Lees’ house, the Malkoviches’ house, and the Walshes’ house, for example.

Now, to fully master how to properly pluralize a last name, there’s just one more rule you’ll need to familiarize yourself with. We learned how to make a pluralized last name possessive (for example, when referring to a family containing multiple people), but what if you want to pluralize just one person?

Let’s say Mr. Paul Smith lives alone. Instead of saying “the Smiths’ house” as you would in the previous example, here we would just say “Mr. Smith’s house”, as we are only referring to one person – not a collection of people with the last name Smith.

You simply take the last name as it is – Walsh, Singh, or Lee, for example – and just add ’s.

Mrs. Walsh’s house, Mr. Singh’s kitchen, and Miss Lee’s graduation.

The same goes for first names too: Melanie’s house, Jim’s kitchen, and Jessica’s graduation. And if that first name ends in an ‘s’? You can add just the apostrophe or an apostrophe and an ‘s’. Here, we would get: James’ or James’s and Jess’ or Jess’s, for example.

Now, that wasn’t so bad! Feel free to refer back to this blog post whenever you need a handy reminder!


Now that you’ve mastered how to correctly punctuate people’s names in your personalized messages, why not check out our wide range of custom gifts to surprise a loved one with? 

If you have any questions about our products or custom messages in general, please reach out to our team – we’d love to help out!