Your email address is an integral part of your online identity that can stick with you for years. Choosing a name that's short, memorable and -- when necessary -- professional helps cut down on mistyped addresses and embarrassing situations. Rather than using just one name, you might want multiple accounts to separate your work from your personal life, allowing you to use your real name for work.
Emails for Home and Work
Before getting into the details of your name, consider the purpose of your email account. With the many free email services on the Web, such as Gmail, Outlook and Yahoo Mail, there's no need to use a single account for both your work and personal emails. For a professional email account, incorporating your real name or your company's name helps convey authority. For personal accounts, feel free to be more creative and create a name from scratch if you prefer.
Building an Address
Unless you're creating an email account on a domain that you or your company owns, someone probably already has the name you want. Some email services provide recommendations that add random words or numbers to your name, but these make your name harder for people to remember, potentially causing lost messages. Instead, try to add something meaningful. For example, if Joe Smith at XYZ Corporation couldn't get the name "joesmith," he could try "joesmithxyz" rather than use a random creation like "joesmith53." For the same reason, try to keep the name brief -- Gmail supports usernames up to 30 characters long, and Outlook up to 64 characters, but you're better off with a short name that's easier to type. On average, email addresses are around 20 to 25 characters long including the domain name.
The question of whether you should use your real name in your email address is mostly one of preference. For a professional address, using your name is unlikely to pose a security risk if your name is already visible on your company's website or if you use the address only for work. Outside of work, using your real name could inadvertently tie your online posts back to your professional life, leading to potentially disastrous consequences. That said, due to rules on sites including Facebook, using real names online has become commonplace.
In either case, avoid using excessive personal information in your email address. Don't include your birth year or other info used in security questions, such as a pet's name.
Coming Up With New Names
If you don't want to use your real name, you'll need to think of a fictitious username instead. A unique name made from scratch can help people remember you better than a generic name like "doglover235386," but if you're looking for anonymity, a generic name might be exactly what you want. One way to start brainstorming names is with a username generator, such as Name Generator, My Username Generator or UsernameNow. These sites offer a few options, such as picking a name that incorporates a particular word or length. There's no need to use their suggestions verbatim, however -- take your favorite generated name and change it to your liking.