Your Alexa Dashboards Settings

Choose the Invocation Name for a Custom Skill

Users say a skill’s invocation name to begin an interaction with a particular custom skill. For example, if the invocation name is “Daily Horoscopes”, users can say:

User: Alexa, ask Daily Horoscopes for the horoscope for Gemini

You can change your invocation name at any time while developing a skill. You cannot change the invocation name after a skill is certified and published.

Note that the invocation name is only needed for custom skills. If you are using the Smart Home Skill API, users do not need to use an invocation name for the skill. For more about the different types of skills you can create, see Understanding the Different Types of Skills.

Invoking Custom Skills

There are three ways in which users may say your invocation name to start using your custom skill. A good invocation name works well in all three of these contexts:

  1. Invoking the skill with a particular request. There are several different ways users can combine your invocation name with their specific request. For example (this is not a complete list):
    • “Alexa, Ask Daily Horoscopes for Gemini
    • “Alexa, Talk to Daily Horoscopes and give me the horoscope for Taurus
    • “Alexa, give me my Taurus horoscope using Daily Horoscopes
  2. Invoking the skill without a particular request, using a defined phrase such as “open” or “start”. For example (this is not a complete list):
    • “Alexa, open Daily Horoscopes
    • “Alexa, start Daily Horoscopes
    • “Alexa, ask Daily Horoscopes
  3. Invoking the skill using just the invocation name and nothing else: “Alexa, Daily Horoscopes”.

For a complete list of all launch phrases, see Understanding How Users Invoke Custom Skills.

Invocation Name Requirements

An invocation name must meet the following requirements:

  1. The skill invocation name must not infringe upon the intellectual property rights of an entity or person.

  2. One-word invocation names are not allowed, unless:
    • The invocation name is unique to your brand/intellectual property, or
    • The invocation name is a compound of two or more words. In this case, the word must form an actual word in the skill’s language to ensure that Alexa can recognize it.
  3. Invocation names which are names of people or places (for example, “molly”, “seattle”) are not allowed, unless they contain other words in addition to the name (for example, “molly’s horoscope”).

  4. Two-word invocation names are not allowed if one of the words is a definite article (“the”), indefinite article (“a”, “an”) or preposition (“for”, “to”, “of”). For example, “a bicycle”, “an espresso”, “to amuse”, “for fun”.

  5. The invocation name must not contain any of the Alexa skill launch phrases and connecting words. Launch phrase examples include “launch”, “ask”, “tell”, “load”, “begin”, and “enable”. Connecting word examples include “to”, “from”, “by”, “if”, “and”, “whether”. See Understanding How Users Invoke Custom Skills for a complete list of skill launch phrases and connecting words.

  6. The invocation name must not contain the wake words “Alexa”, “Amazon”, “Echo”, “Computer”, or the words “skill” or “app”.

  7. The invocation name must contain only lower-case alphabetic characters, spaces between words, possessive apostrophes (for example, “sam’s science trivia”), or periods used in abbreviations (for example, “a. b. c.”). Other characters like numbers must be spelled out. For example, “twenty one”. The name must be easy to pronounce correctly and be phonetically distinct to avoid being misinterpreted as other similar sounding words. 

  8. Note: For acronyms, the invocation name must contain single letters, each followed by a period and a space. The invocation name cannot spell out phonemes. For example, a skill titled “USC Trivia” would need “USC” represented as “u. s. c. “ and NOT “you ess see”.

  9. The invocation name must not create confusion with existing Alexa features. If your skill invocations overlap with common Alexa commands, users may get confused by Alexa’s response and not enable your skill. For example, if your invocation name is too similar to the built-in “weather” command, Alexa may sometimes respond with your skill and sometimes respond with the built-in weather feature, providing an inconsistent user experience.

  10. The invocation name must be written in each language you choose to support. For example, the German version of your skill must have an invocation name written in German (although including English words is acceptable), while the English (US) version must have an invocation name written in English. Note that this requirement does not apply to proper nouns like names and places in other languages.

Additional Recommendations

The following recommendations are not required, but will provide users with a better experience:

  1. The skill invocation name should be specific to the functionality of the skill, unless the invocation name is unique to your brand or intellectual property (for example, “uber”, “dominos”). One way to achieve relevance is to qualify the invocation name with something that describes the skill’s functionality or something relevant to your company or developer name. For example, “boston transit”, “cricket trivia”, “math tutor”, “magic eight ball”, “baby stats”, “tim’s jokes”.

  2. The invocation name should also fit smoothly with at least one of the Alexa skill launch phrases (for example, “launch”, “ask”, “tell”, “load”, “begin”) to allow customers to naturally invoke the skill.

Testing Your Invocation Name

Plan on spending some time testing your invocation name once you have an initial version of your service up and running. When testing with an Alexa-enabled device, you can see how Alexa interpreted your invocation name by reviewing the history in the Amazon Alexa App (in the app, navigate to Settings and then History).