Apostrophes on Signs

We frequently design and make custom house signs that include a family name.  Sometimes customers are unsure whether or not an apostrophe is needed, so we'd like to help with that! On signs, apostrophes (') are used to show possession. For example, The Smiths' House: the house belonging to the Smith family. However, if you are writing the Smiths meaning the people who live here are named Smith then it would be plural: The Smiths.  You would not use an apostrophe in this case.

The Smiths:
a family called Smith lives here.

The Smiths' House: the house belonging to the Smith Family.

Alternatives that also work include

    • The Smith House
    • The Smith Family
    • Smith Family
    • Smith House
    • Smith

One case that does justify the possessive apostrophe would be if you want the sign to denote ownership, for example Welcome to the Smith's.  In this statement, you are welcoming a visitor to your home not to the group of people called the Smiths, and so the apostrophe is appropriate as you are actually saying: Welcome to the Smith's house.

If you are not sure, reach out to us and we will be happy to help.