Archive FAQ > Pseuds

What is a pseud?

Pseud is short for pseudonym, or pen name. On Archive of Our Own (AO3), a pseud is any name associated with your account in addition to your username.

Some creators have posted works under multiple names. Pseuds allow them to gather their works under one account while keeping the names that were originally associated with those works. A pseud can also connect your AO3 work(s) to any name you may be known by on other sites, such as your Tumblr URL, Discord username, or Weibo username.

For example: pat_smith_1996 has been posting podfic to AO3 for a few months. They now want to import their work from their 14th_doctor_lover LiveJournal, and even post some of their works posted under high_school_drawer_fic on FanFiction.net. Instead of creating two or more accounts to contain their works, they can make separate pseuds that all are connected to the pat_smith_1996 account. After creating the 14th_doctor_lover and high_school_drawer_fic pseuds, this user can set each work to display the name the work was originally associated with. If someone decides they'd like to search for a work by 14th_doctor_lover on AO3, they can find it even though it's not pat_smith_1996's username.

Unlike usernames, pseuds don't have to be unique. You can go by any name you like, even if your pseud is the same as another AO3 user's username or pseud. You can choose which pseud will appear on your works, series, bookmarks, and comments. These names will be publicly connected—all of your pseuds will be visible on your profile page. In addition, your username will always be displayed next to a pseud in the following format:

Pseud (Username)

For more information on how your pseud is displayed, refer to Why does my username display in parenthesis next to my pseud?

How do I add a new pseud?

To add a new pseud:

  1. Log in and go to your dashboard by selecting the greeting "Hi, [username]!" and choosing "My Dashboard" from the menu, or by selecting your profile image.
  2. Go to your Pseuds page. There are two different ways to find the Pseuds page, depending on if you've previously created a pseud before:
    • If this is your first pseud, select "Profile" from the menu found at the side of the page or at the top on a mobile device. Then select "Manage My Pseuds" found below your profile information.
    • If you've already created a pseud before this, you can also access the Pseuds page by selecting "Pseuds" from the menu found at the side of the page, or at the top on a mobile device. This will cause a list to appear. Select "All Pseuds (#)" from the list.
  3. Select the "New Pseud" button, found at the top right of the page on desktop or below the "Pseuds for [your username]" heading on mobile. This will take you to the New Pseud form.
  4. Fill in the form to create your new pseud:
    1. On the New Pseud form, the only mandatory field is "Name", where you will need to enter the name of your new pseud. A pseud can be anywhere between 1-40 characters. For more information on what characters are allowed in pseuds, refer to What characters can I use in my pseud?
    2. You have the option to select the "Make this name default" checkbox if you want to make the pseud you are currently creating your default pseud (refer to What is a default pseud? for more information).
    3. Next, under "Description", you can add a pseud description for your new pseud.
    4. Lastly, you can add an icon for this pseud under "Upload a new icon". Further information on icons can be found in the Profile FAQ, including What is an icon?, What restrictions are there on icons?, and How do I upload or change an icon?
  5. Select the "Create" button once you enter all desired information on the form.

What characters can I use in my pseud?

Pseuds can contain a majority of letters and characters in any language script, numbers, underscores, spaces, or dashes. Letters and characters may include any diacritics, such as å, ç, ñ, ȑ, ώ, ӵ. These are just examples; any type of diacritic can be used. Pseuds must contain at least one letter, character, or number.

What is a default pseud?

Your default pseud is the one automatically associated with your works, comments, and bookmarks, unless you choose otherwise during the posting process. When you first create an account, your username is your default pseud, but you can choose to make any of your pseuds the default. Refer to How do I set a default pseud? for instructions.

Any pseud that isn't your username will display on works, comments, or bookmarks in the following format:

Pseud (Username)

For more information on how your pseud is displayed, refer to Why does my username display in parenthesis next to my pseud?

How do I set a default pseud?

When you first create an account, your username is your default pseud, but you can choose to make any of your pseuds the default. You can do so either when you create a new pseud (refer to How do I add a new pseud? for more information) or at any time after you have created pseuds.

If you've already created a pseud that you'd like to make your default pseud, follow these steps:

  1. Log in and go to your dashboard by selecting the greeting "Hi, [username]!" and choosing "My Dashboard" from the menu, or by selecting your profile image.
  2. Select "Pseuds" from the menu found at the side of the page, or at the top on a mobile device. This will cause a list to appear. Select "All Pseuds (#)" from the list.This will provide you with a list of all the pseuds you've created on Archive of Our Own (AO3).
  3. Select the "Edit" button for the pseud you want to be the default option. This will take you to the same form you filled out to create the pseud.
  4. The second option on the form will be a checkbox labeled "Make this name default". Check the box and then select "Update" at the bottom of the page.

All works, comments, and bookmarks posted under the previous default pseud will remain under that name unless you go back and change the pseud by manually editing the work, editing the comment, or editing the bookmark.

How do I choose which pseud to post under?

You have to create one or more pseuds before you can choose which pseud to post under. If you haven't yet created a pseud but want to post under one, refer to How do I add a new pseud? before continuing. If you only have your username, all your works will automatically post under it.

When you post or edit a work, you'll have an option to choose "Creator/Pseud(s)" in the Preface section of the Post or Edit Work pages. Select the pseud you want to use and post as usual. You can also select multiple pseuds as the creators of the work by holding the "Ctrl" or "control" button on your keyboard down while selecting the pseuds. On mobile, select the menu beside "Creator/Pseud(s)" box to choose more than one pseud. For more information on how to post a work on Archive of Our Own (AO3), refer to Posting and Editing FAQ and the tutorial Posting a Work on AO3.

How do I choose which pseud to use to leave a comment or bookmark a work?

When you leave a comment or bookmark a work, you'll have an option to choose a pseud. Select the menu displaying your default pseud, choose the alternate pseud you wish to use from the list, and post as usual. You can't bookmark the same work under multiple pseuds. You can however edit a comment or bookmark to change the pseud it's posted under by selecting a different pseud from the list. For more information, refer to Can I edit or delete my comment? or How do I edit a bookmark? For more information on leaving a comment or bookmarking a work on AO3 , refer to the Comments and Kudos FAQ or the Bookmarks FAQ.

Unlike comments and bookmarks, kudos are always posted under your username, and cannot be associated with a specific pseud. For more information, refer to What are kudos?

How do I edit a pseud?

When you edit a pseud, you have the ability to update the pseud's description or icon, as well as make that pseud your default pseud. To edit a pseud:

  1. Log in and go to your dashboard by selecting the greeting "Hi, [username]!" and choosing "My Dashboard" from the menu, or by selecting your profile image.
  2. Select "Pseuds" from the menu found at the side of the page, or at the top on a mobile device. This will cause a list to appear. Select "All Pseuds (#)" from the list. This will provide you with a list of all the pseuds you've created on Archive of Our Own (AO3).
  3. Select the "Edit" button for the pseud you want to change. This will take you to the same form you filled out to create the pseud.
  4. Make any edits you need, such as changing the pseud's icon. The options on this form are the same as on the New Pseuds page, so for more information, refer to How do I add a new pseud? Please note that you can't change the name of the pseud matching your username.
  5. Once you have completed edits, select "Update" at the bottom of the page.

By following these steps, you can edit the name of any of your pseuds with the exception of your username. For help on doing that, refer to How can I change my username? in the Account FAQ.

Please note that changing a pseud will change all existing uses of that pseud on already published works, comments, and bookmarks.

Someone else has the same pseud as me! How did this happen?

Unlike usernames, pseuds aren't unique. Instead, pseuds allow you to connect your fandom identities to your works on Archive of Our Own (AO3), even if someone else has used or currently uses the same name(s). For an example on how you can use pseuds, refer to What is a pseud?

For more information on how your pseud is displayed, refer to Why does my username display in parenthesis next to my pseud?

Why does my user name display in parentheses next to my pseud?

Unlike usernames, pseuds aren't unique. To ensure that users won't be mistaken for other users with the same pseud, usernames are displayed in parentheses alongside pseuds.

In the case of an orphaned fanwork, users can choose to either leave their pseud attached to the work or have it removed. For more information, go to How do I orphan my work(s)? in the Orphaning FAQ.

How do I delete a pseud?

To delete a pseud:

  1. Log in and go to your dashboard by selecting the greeting "Hi, [username]!" and choosing "My Dashboard" from the menu, or by selecting your profile image.
  2. Select "Pseuds" from the menu found at the side of the page, or at the top on a mobile device. This will cause a list to appear. Select "All Pseuds (#)" from the list.This will provide you with a list of all the pseuds you've created on Archive of Our Own (AO3).
  3. Select the "Delete" button for the pseud you want to remove.
  4. A pop-up will appear that asks "Are you sure?" Select "OK" to continue. This pseud will then be deleted from your account and Archive of Our Own (AO3). For more information on what will happen to your works, comments and bookmarks, refer to What happens if I delete a pseud?

If you want to delete your default pseud, you'll first need to choose another pseud to be your default. Go to How do I set a default pseud? for instructions.

Additionally, you can't delete the pseud that's identical to your username, but you can change it. For more information, refer to How do I change my username? If you want to delete your account and not just a pseud, refer to How do I delete my account?

What happens if I delete a pseud?

If you delete a pseud, then all works and comments posted under that pseud will be automatically moved to your default pseud. You'll also have the choice to either delete any bookmarks you created under the pseud you're deleting or transfer them to your default pseud.

If you want to delete your default pseud, you will first need to choose another pseud to be your default. Go to How do I set a default pseud? for instructions.

You can't delete the pseud that's identical to your username, but you can change it. For more information, refer to How do I change my username? If you want to delete your account and not just a pseud, refer to How do I delete my account?

What is a pseud description?

A pseud description is a short explanation about your pseud. For example, you may want to note the sites or fandoms where you've used that pseud. This description is searchable by anyone accessing the site through People Search. If you'd like to give more details about yourself, you can put these under your profile (refer to the Profile FAQ for more information). You can add or edit your pseud description at any time by following the steps under How do I edit a pseud?

Can I make an anonymous pseud?

Pseuds currently can't be made anonymous. To help differentiate between identical pseuds, Archive of Our Own (AO3) has to connect them to a username. However, there are several ways you can post a work without associating it with your Archive account:

  • You can add your work to an unofficial anonymous collection, like Fanfic Anonymous. To learn how to add a work to a collection, refer to How do I add a work to a collection? Please note that anonymous collections weren't designed to offer perfect and permanent anonymity. Your username or pseud will be available to the mod, who will also be able to reveal your work at any time.
  • You can set up a second Archive account using a different email address (refer to How do I create an account? for more information). Post works that you wish to be separate from your original account using that second account. This option is the most secure.

Where can I get more information if my question isn’t answered here?

Some frequently asked questions about the Archive are answered in other sections of the Archive FAQ, and some common terminology is defined in our Glossary. Questions and answers about our Terms of Service can be found in the Terms of Service FAQ. You may also like to check out our Known Issues. If you need more help, please submit a Support request.