How to Address Private Citizens



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HONOR & RESPECT

Abbess,
    Christian Orthodox       
Abbot,
    Christian Orthodox        
Accountant        
Acting Official       
Adjutant General     
Admiral
        

Admiral, Texas Navy   
Adventist Minister       
Alderman
        

Archbishop, Catholic        
Archbishop,
   Christian Orthodox        
Archdeacon, Episcopal        
Archimandrite        
Architect
Archpriest        
Ambassador, Goodwill
Ambassador to your country
   from a foreign country      
Ambassador of the U.S.
   by a U.S. Citizen       
American Indian Chief        
Assemblyman
   U.S., State / or           

   Assemblywoman            
Associate Justice,
   U.S. Supreme Court          
Associate Justice of a
   State Supreme Court
Astronaut      
Attorney
         
Attorney General           
Attorney General,
       Assistant   
Attorney, U.S.         
Australian Officials    

Baron, Baroness           
British Officials,
   Royalty, Nobility     
Brother, Catholic
         
Brother,
   Christian Orthodox          
Bishop, Catholic            
Bishop,
   Christian Orthodox         
Bishop, Episcopal        
Board Member     
Boy        
Brigadier General       
Business Cards      

Canadian Officials    
Candidate    
Captain,
   USA, USAF, USMC     
Cardinal
             
Chairman
    Federal Reserve      
Chairwoman      
Chancellor      
Chaplain in the
    Armed Services        
Chaplain of Congress          

Chargé d’Affaires         
Chief Executive Officer 
Chief Judge          
Chief Justice,
      U.S. Supreme Court 
Chief Justice, of a State
      Supreme Court             

Chief of Police          
Chief of Staff     

Chief Operating
   Officer          
Child
           
Chiropractor     
City Manager
   
Clergy & Religious
    Officials     
Club Official          
Colonel, Kentucky      
Colonel, USA, USAF,
    or USMC     
Commandant       
Commissioner, Court     
Commissioner
         
Commodore of a         
      Yacht Club         
Congressman, U.S.               
Congresswoman, U.S.   
Consul and or
   Consul General   
 
Consultant      
Corporate Executive         
Councilman
    Councilwoman      
Counselor (Diplomat)      
Countess     
County Officials       
Couples     
    U.S. Military
    U.S. Officials
    Private Citizens  
Curator        

Dalai Lama          
Deacon         
Dean, academic            
Dean, clergy            
Deceased Persons        
Degree, honorary      
Delegate, U.S., State
            

Dentist             
Deputy Chief of Mission      
Deputy Marshal          
Designate,
Elect,
    Pro Tempore      
Diplomats      

District Attorney           
Doctor, Chiropractor     
Doctor of Dentistry
          
Doctor of Medicine              
Doctor, Military           
Doctor of
   Veterinary Medicine          
Doctor, Optometrist   
Doctor of Osteopathy            
Doctor, Other Disciplines     
Doctorate        
Doctorate, honorary      

Earl            
Elect, Designate
  
Pro Tempore      
Emeritus/emerita
     
Eminence     
Emperor    
Engineer    
Etiquette    
Excellency           

Family     
Fiancee      
Firefighter    
First, Second,
   Third, etc.        
First Lady, Spouse
   of the President of
   the United States 
First Lady, Member
    of Her   
    White House Staff      
First Lady, Spouse
   of a Governor
   or Lt. Gov.    
First Lieutenant
   
Flag Protocol     
Former Officials    
Freeholder       

Gay Couple      
Geshe

General
    USA, USAF, USMC
Girl       

Goodwill Ambassador      
Governor General         
Governor, Lieuten
ant
 
Governor, Lt., Spouse   

Governor, Tribal Council          
Governor, U.S. State       
Governor, Former    
Governor
    Spouse of     
Governor's Staff,
    Member of
     
Governors, Board of 

High Commissioner    
Honorable, The
          
Honorary Ambassador       
Honorary degrees
Honorary doctorate
   
Honourable, The
   
 
   

Indian Chief         
Inspector General    
Interim Official   
Introductions       
Invitations
  
   Writing &  
   Addressing  
Invitations
   
Military:
    Writing &
    Addressing

Judge, former     
Judge of US City or

        US Count     
Judge, US Federal            
Junior, Senior,
    I, II, III, etc.       

Justice, Associate

     Federal
     Supreme Court

Justice, Associate

     State
     Supreme Court

King     
Knight      

Late, The
   (deceased persons)
       
Lawyer      
Lesbian Couple    
Lieutenant      
Lieutenant Colonel,     
   USA, USAF, USMC      
    
Lieutenant General,
   USA, USAF, USMC      

Lieutenant Governor    
     

Major
   USA, USAF, USMC  
Major General,
   USA, USAF, USMC   
Man, business
          
Man, social
         
Marquess / Marchioness
 
 
Married Women       
Marshal for a
   Judicial District, U.S. 
Mayor, U.S. City   
Mayor, Canadian City    
Mayor Pro Tempore
     
Mayor, Vice    
Medic      
Minister,
   Protestant Clergy       
Miss      
Monk,
   Christian Orthodox     
Monsignor       
Most Reverend, The        
Mother Superior
    
Mr. (Social)      
Mr. (Business)      
Mrs., Ms. (Use, Social Forms)      
Mrs. vs. Ms.     
Mr. & Mrs. / Couples   
   

Name Badges or Tags     
Nobility, British
       
Nobility, Other     
Nun, Catholic
  
Nun, Orthodox
Nurse           

Officer, Police     
Optometrist     

Pastor, Christian Clergy  
Patriarch,
   Christian Orthodox  
Patriarch,
   Ecumenical Patriarch
   of Constantinople  
People with Two Titles      
Permanent
     Representative        
Petty Officer
      
Pharmacist     
Physician
        
PhD     
Place Cards            
Police Chief
Police Officer                     
Pope, Catholic
  
Pope, Coptic
      
Postmaster General         
Post-Nominal
    Abbreviations    
Presbyter, Orthodox
   
President, corporate
President of
    College or
    University   
President of a
    Secondary
    School      
President of a
    US State Assembly 
President (current)
   of the U.S.A.          
President (former)
   of the U.S.A.     
     
President of the
    U.S.A., spouse of  
President-elect
    of the U.S.   
Priest, Catholic          
Priest,
    Christian Orthodox 
Priest, Episcopal        
Prime Minister
       
Principal      
Professionals
   & Academics         
Professor
     
Pro Tempore,
   Elect, Designate    
Psychologist      

Queen

Rabbi               
Ranger, Texas        
Representative,
   U.S., Federal           
Representative,
   U.S., State            
Reservist, Military      
Resident
    Commissioner 
Retired Military
   1. Formula For
       How to Address     
   2. Q&A / Blog On
       Use of Rank by
       Retired Military    
 

   3. Q&A / Blog on
       How to Address
       Retired Military   
Reverend, The
      
Right Reverend, The         

Same Sex Couple      
Salvation Army    
School Board Member
     
Second
Lieutenant        
Secretary,
   U.S. Department,
   Member of the Cabinet
Secretary
   of Defense, U.S.       
Secretary, Assistant       
Secretary General
   of the U.N.            
Senator, U.S., Federal       
Senator, U.S., State         
Senator, Canadian       
Senior, Junior,
     I, II, III, etc.         
Senior Judge 
      
Sergeant       
Sergeant at Arms
          
Seventh Day
     Adventist Minister       
Sheriff       
Sister, Catholic       
Solicitor General      
Speaker of the U.S.
   House of
   Representatives.           
Specialist       
Spouse of the
    President of the U.S.       
Spouse of the
    Vice President
    of the U.S.           
Spouse of an
    Elected Official            
State Attorney     
Surgeon General          

Texas Ranger        
Town Justice      
Town Manager       
The Honorable     
Tribal Officials     
Two Titles,
    Person With

Under Secretary    
US Attorney
       
US Federal Officials
     
US State Officials     
US Municipal Officials

Venerable, The        
Veteran (not Retired)         
Veterinarian
           
Very Reverend, The         
VFW Officer/Official    
Vice Mayor       
Vice President
    of the U.S.
Spouse of the
    Vice President
   
of the U.S.
Vice President-elect
    of the U.S.      
 
Viscount and/or
   Viscountess        

Warrant Officer       
Widow
     
White House Staff    
Woman, business        
Woman, social        

Yacht Club Officer      


 

How to Address
Private Citizens

Questions & Answers, Frequently Asked Questions, and Blog


Site updated by Robert Hickey on September 1, 2014

Mrs. vs. Ms.      
Is Anyone a Miss Anymore?
      

How To Address a Widow?       

How To Address a Divorced Woman?        

How Should Jr., II, III, IV, and V Be Used After After A Man's Name?      
How to Address a Woman Whose Husband is a Jr., II, III, IV, or V?      

Whose Name if First? His or Hers?      
   

Whose Name is First? His? or Hers?
    In an salutation for a married couple using just first names .... whose name is first?  His? Or hers? Dear Anne and Steve or Dear Steve and Anne?

 
         -- Anne Robinson

    On a wedding program should I list my parents as:
        1) Michael and Linda Swaggerty   OR
        2) Linda and Michael Swaggerty
    We didn’t use Mr. and Mrs. for this, as we prefer all the guests know the parent's first names.
 
         -- Linda Swaggerty

    On shared stationery – how should we list our names? His name first? My name first?  We will be married soon and I have chosen to retain my maiden name.
    My fiancé honestly doesn't care whose name is first. I think it seems like I am secondary to him if his name comes first on everything (which I agree is rather ridiculous but I cannot seem to get past the feeling). What is the "proper" way to do it?

 
         -- Laura T


Dear Anne, Linda, and Laura:
      In my book I include the following: When writing two names (typically when addressing invitations, but the rules work for other situations, too), there are two ways.
      1) Social etiquette says, when the guests are a couple with different surnames, women are listed first, men are listed second:
            Ms. Laura Thompson and Mr. Henry Smith
            Laura Thompson and Henry Smith
            Laura and Henry

       It is this way in "social etiquette" because gender is a consideration in traditional social forms of address.
      2) This contrasts with business and official etiquette (and the rules of protocol), in which gender is not a consideration.
       In the business and official arenas, if both halves of the couple are of equal precedence, they always are listed alphabetically by surname:
            Mr. Henry Smith and Ms. Laura Thompson
 
          Henry Smith and Laura Thompson
            Henry and Laura
    This rule is the one you follow for same sex couples:
            Mr. Frank Baker and Mr. Thomas Wilson
            Frank Baker and Thomas Wilson
            Frank and Thomas
            Ms. Amy Clifton and Ms. Maria Yeonas

            Amy Clifton and Maria Yeonas

            Amy and Maria

      -- Robert Hickey

Whose Name Is First If One of Them Is a Date?
      Whose name is first if I am inviting to a business event a couple, who use different surnames? She is the one we are really inviting, he's being invited as a courtesy to her.  Alphabetically he is first, but it seems funny to list him first since he is coming as the date?
              -- Mary Harrison


Dear Ms. Harrison:
    1) If a person is the guest to an official event (e.g., the woman is the reason the invitation is being extended) and her spouse is attending as her guest ... her name goes first:
             Ms. Mary Harrison
                  and Mr. Albert Baker

     His name would be listed first if he is the intended guest.
   2) When they are both invited, so neither is the 'invited guest' then the person with higher precedence is listed first regardless of gender.  E.g., if the woman holds a higher office, higher rank, or has a special honorific -- she outranks her husband who has a lower office, lower rank or has no special honorific -- a protocol officer sending out official invitations would always list the woman first in a married couple. E.g.:
        The Honorable Mary Harrison
            and Mr. Albert
Baker
        The Reverend Mary Harrison
            and Mr. Albert Baker
        Her Excellency Mary Harrison
            and Mr. Albert Baker
        General Mary Harrison
            and Major Albert Baker
        Major Mary Harrison
            and Mr. Albert Baker
        Dr. Mary Harrison
            and Mr. Albert Baker

     I cover all this and more in the chapters in my book on Joint Forms of Address and Precedence.
   -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Divorcee?
    You state Mrs. Jane Doe is the traditional form for a divorced woman.
    A divorcee (how rarely we use that now!) is most formally Mrs. [Maiden Surname] [Married Surname]:
    Upon her divorce from the governor, Mary Todhunter Clark Rockefeller became Mrs. Clark Rockefeller unless and until she remarried.
               -- TMM

Dear TMM:
    How we create names is the domain of etiquette ... and by definition etiquette is specific to a group, varies from group to group, and changes over time. Flags and precedence at the White House are fixed by protocol: names are a bit of a free-for-all where everyone invents as they think is appropriate.
    When I see the form you suggest, my reaction is that is logical and must have been / must be the tradition within a group. But, I have not encountered anyone using the Mrs. (Maiden Surname) (Married Surname) form. Then again, I am not hanging out with the Rockefellers. 
   In my book, while most if covers officials form, I have a chapter on Social Forms of Address, and I include all the traditional and contemporary forms.
   Currently the Mrs. (Given Name) (Married Surname) is the
most frequently suggested form from today's etiquette diva's [Amy Vanderbilt, Emily Post, Cranes, Letitia Baldrige, etc.] for a divorced woman.  Not that that makes it the law ... but it tells me that among that influential group ... they all think it's clear.
          -- Robert Hickey

How Do I Address A Widow?
How do you address an envelope to a widow? My mother says to put Mrs. John Doe. I think that it should be Mrs. Jane Doe, since her husband is no longer alive, why use his name? Is either way correct?
       - Blanche Clark

Dear Ms. Clark:
    Mrs. John Doe is the traditional form for a widow. Just because her husband has died, a widow continues to Mrs. (Husband's Name) ... if she chooses to.
    For example my mother continued to use Mrs. Thomas Hickey after my father died. She had Margaret Hickey on her checks, but never Mrs. Margaret Hickey.  She disliked Ms. but I think (in her case) it was a generational thing.
    Mrs. Jane Doe is the traditional form for a divorced woman.
    Ms. Jane Doe is the contemporary form which does not suggest a marital status.
 
   However, the real answer is you need to find the preference of the person to whom you are addressing. You don't state the nature of the correspondence. She may prefer different forms of her name in different situations. For a wedding invitation from a bride who knew her husband she might prefer Mrs. John Doe but from someone she knows but did not know her husband, she might prefer Ms. Jane Doe.
      -- Robert Hickey

How Do I Address A Widow,
If Her Husband Was a (fill in the blank)?

       Is there a particular way to address mail to the widow of a deceased pastor?  I look forward to your response.
              - Lois and Dave

Dear Lois and Dave:
       Wives, or husbands, of pastors, rabbis, doctors, professors, elected officials, military personnel, diplomats ... or any kind of official ... do not receive any form of address based on their spouse's rank, office or position.
       Widows continue to be addressed as they preferred to be addressed when their husband was living. So, for example, most traditionally ... and formally ... the widow of a pastor was and continues to be: Mrs. (Husband's full name).
       I include all the traditional social forms of address on pages 155-158. Most of my book is on officials, but many wedding and event planners use my book, so having all the social forms in there too is convenient.
        -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Widow,
Who Never Used Her Husband's Family Name?

      How do you address a new widow who kept her maiden name?
      For example: If her name is Jane Smith and her husband’s name was John Taylor?
           -- Sausalito, CA

Dear Sausalito:
    If she kept her maiden name ... then she never used Mrs. John Taylor
    That's the form the etiquette books would say was the traditional form for a married woman. But of course many women keep their maiden names, and in much of the world it's the norm for women to keep their name. I've taught classes in the Middle East, and while some American may think the Arabic women are oppressed there ... Arab women think it's barbaric that a woman would give up her birth name when she marries!
    So you should address her as a widow by the name she has always used:
            Ms. Jane Smith
    Not using her spouse's name made her no less married -- than his not using her name made him any less married.

           -- Robert Hickey

How Should Jr., II, III, IV, and V Be Used
After A Man's Name?

Dear Mr. Hickey:
I am not sure of the name sequence in the following situation. My son is Walter C. Wentz IV.  His father and grandfathers are deceased.  What is the proper designation for him now?  What is the proper designation for the son he is expecting next month? I would very much appreciate your guidance and expert advice.

         --- Audrey Parker

Dear Ms. Parker:
    The name one uses is up to the person: So Mom, you won't be deciding anything here, you can only advise!
    Continued use is often a matter of clarity for those one encounters.
    1) Some men drop the sequence post-nominals ... Jr., II, or III ... when their father dies and they think it unlikely there will be social or professional confusion.
    2) Some men keep the sequence post-nominals if their father was well-known ... or if they work in the same law firm ... or same company ... and they think the friends/clients/customers will find the designation useful and interesting.
    3) One might keep
the sequence post-nominals because his mother is Mrs. Walter C. Wentz III and his wife is Mrs. Walter C. Wentz IV and socially that differentiation matters to the family. However since you are using "Audrey Parker" (rather than Mrs. (name)) it won't be confusing.
    One situation is seen with Microsoft's Bill Gates, who is really William H. Gates, Jr., but never used the "Jr."  Now his father, born William H. Gates uses William H. Gates, Sr.  He added the Sr. to clarify that he is not his much more famous son.  He probably did not officially change is name in court ... it's just a informal and unofficial change.
    So, if your son names his son Walter C. Wentz V, he's probably going to keep using Walter C. Wentz IV. If he names his son Zachery ... his IV
becomes less necessary.
 
          -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Wife Whose Husband
Is a
Jr., II, III, IV or V ?
      I am looking for an answer to a question that you brushed against but didn’t quite answer in a previous post, which I repeat below;
      One might keep the sequence post nominals because his mother is Mrs. Walter C. Wentz III and his wife is Mrs. Walter C. Wentz IV and socially that differentiation matters to the family.
      My question is, what if she prefers to go by Mrs. Blanche DuBoise Wentz? Would she receive the III at the end or would she not?
     Thank you so much for your expertise. I’ve been curious about this for some time now.

             -- Donna Terry

Dear Ms. Terry:
     A woman who uses ...
  
              Mrs. (Woman's Name)
 
               Mrs. Blanche DuBoise Wentz
    ... would not have the post nominal that would be attached to ...
   
            Mrs. (Husband's Name)
   
            Mrs. Walter C. Wentz III
 
  
     -- Robert Hickey

Is Anyone a "Miss" Anymore?
     When should I use "Ms." and "Mrs." today?
     Is anyone a "Miss" anymore?
                     - AKWP, Storm Lake, Iowa

Dear AKWP in Iowa:
    Ms. is an honorific for a woman that does not specify marital status. It is now almost always used in the United States the business arena regardless of what the woman chooses to call herself in her private life. Mrs. is sometimes used in business environments, but only when it is known to be the preference of the bearer.
    Miss in the United States is less frequently used among professional women. It is certainly used in address for young girls, say, under 12 years of age. Once girls reach, say 13, most people today are addressing envelopes to young women as Ms. (name).
    In professional environments outside the United States
Ms. is not so ubiquitous: Mrs. (woman’s name) and Miss (name) are common, especially in Commonwealth countries. In many countries Mrs. (woman’s name) is used by working women without any implication of their marital status.
                     -- Robert Hickey

Dear Robert,
   Having read a post I couldn't help but send you an email to let you know that you do indeed know several women who prefer Miss over Ms!  I am one but also you may remember Bunny Murdock who was Deputy Chief of Protocol at the end of the Reagan administration.  Though there are certainly many more, I thought you might appreciate being aware of at least two from your acquaintance.  Also, for what it is worth mine is the voice that encouraged Ambassador Mary Mel French to include
Miss when she was addressing the issue in her book. Like you, she was not aware of that still being a preference for some.
                     - L.L., Washington, DC

Dear L.L.:
    You are absolutely right. Since I've been speaking on the topic I had two women come up to say they also prefer
Miss: One was a young attorney here in New York and the other was a fairly young (younger than I am at least) school principal in Ohio.
    Of course, there were certainly others prefer who Miss who didn't bother to come up and tell me. I don't observe it to be the preference of a huge percentage of the adult professional population, but I am careful to include
Miss now since a basic courtesy when addressing someone is to follow their preference.
                     -- Robert Hickey

Dear Robert,
   I suspect there may be some regional differences as well as I suspect Miss might be common -- even among teenagers -- down South.  As long as beauty pageants continue to anoint Miss Virginia, Southern families refer to certain relatives as Miss Julie, and children call their unmarried teachers Miss Smith, it is very likely that some little girls will grow up to wear the title quite comfortably.
                     - L.L., Washington, DC


Not Finding Your Question Answered?
Below are other topics covered in my blog and at right is a list of officials, Between the two I probably have what you are looking for.
     After hunting around a bit, if you don't see your question answered send me an e-mail. I am pretty fast at sending a reply: usually the next day (unless I am traveling.)
      If I think your question is of interest to others, I will post the question & answer – with your name and any personal specifics changed.
      -- Robert Hickey

USE OF NAMES & HONORIFICS   
Mr., Miss, Jr., III, & Names        
Married Women       
Deceased Persons         
People with Two Titles
Post-Nominal Abbreviations and Initials         
 
Couples: Private Citizens / Joint Forms of Address 
Couples: U.S. Military / Joint Forms of Address     
Couples: U.S. Officials / Joint Forms of Address      

USE OF SPECIFIC OFFICIAL TITLES        
Former Officials            
Professionals and Academics        

United States Federal Officials, Currently In Office             
United States State Officials, Currently In Office              
United States Municipal Officials, Currently In Office             
       All About The Honorable with U.S. Officials         
       Former United States Officials of all types             
United States Armed Services, Active Duty             
       Addressing Retired Personnel      
       Use of Rank by Retired Personnel      
       Use of Rank by Veterans      

Tribal Officials 
           
Clergy and Religious Officials           
Canadian Officials         
Australian Officials          
British Officials, Royalty, and Nobility        
Diplomats and International Representatives
           
Foreign National Officials and Nobility        

SPECIFIC SITUATIONS
Business Cards       
Couples        
Etiquette
            
Flags and Anthem Protocol             
Introductions
            
Invitations: Writing & Addressing
        
Invitations: Just Armed Service Personnel        
Name Badges & Tags            
Names on Programs, Signs, & Lists            
Naming a Building or Road            
Place Cards            

Plaques, Awards, Diplomas, Certificates    
Precedence: Ordering Officials 
         
Thank You Notes             


Site updated by Robert Hickey on September 1, 2014


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Robert Hickey is the author of Honor & Respect:
The Official Guide to Names, Titles, and Forms of Address
Published by The Protocol School of Washington®
Foreword by Pamela Eyring

Copyright © 2013 Robert Hickey.     All Rights Reserved.
Book Photo: Marc Goodman.





All information on www.formsofaddress.info is copyright © 2013 by Robert Hickey.
The Protocol School of Washington® is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
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