Guide to Use of Names, Titles, & Forms of Address

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BLOG: Robert HIckey
Answers Questions
From On-Line Users
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About the book:

    Christian Orthodox       
    Christian Orthodox        
Acting Official       
Adjutant General     

Admiral, Texas Navy   
Adventist Minister       

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

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

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

Canadian Officials    
   USA, USAF, USMC     
    Federal Reserve      
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
City Manager
Clergy & Religious
Club Official          
Colonel, Kentucky      
Colonel, USA, USAF,
    or USMC     
Commissioner, Court     
Commodore of a         
      Yacht Club         
Congressman, U.S.               
Congresswoman, U.S.   
Consul and or
   Consul General   
Corporate Executive         
Counselor (Diplomat)      
County Officials       
    U.S. Military
    U.S. Officials
    Private Citizens  

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

Deputy Chief of Mission      
Deputy Marshal          
    Pro Tempore      

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, honorary      

Elect, Designate
Pro Tempore      
Esquire, Esq.       

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    

Gay Couple      


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

Governor, Tribal Council          
Governor, U.S. State       
Governor, Former    
    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   
   Writing &  
    Writing &

Judge, former     
Judge of US City or

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

Justice, Associate

     Supreme Court

Justice, Associate

     Supreme Court


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

Lieutenant Governor    

Major General,
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    
   Protestant Clergy       
   Christian Orthodox     
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

Officer, Police     

Pastor, Christian Clergy  
   Christian Orthodox  
   Ecumenical Patriarch
   of Constantinople  
People with Two Titles      
Petty Officer
Place Cards            
Police Chief
Police Officer                     
Pope, Catholic
Pope, Coptic
Postmaster General         
Presbyter, Orthodox
President, corporate
President of
    College or
President of a
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  
    of the U.S.   
Priest, Catholic          
    Christian Orthodox 
Priest, Episcopal        
Prime Minister
   & Academics         
Pro Tempore,
   Elect, Designate    


Ranger, Texas        
   U.S., Federal           
   U.S., State            
Reservist, Military      
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
   U.S. Department,
   Member of the Cabinet
   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 at Arms
Seventh Day
     Adventist Minister       
Sister, Catholic       
Solicitor General      
Speaker of the U.S.
   House of
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)         
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

Warrant Officer       
White House Staff    
Woman, business        
Woman, social        

Yacht Club Officer      

Robert Hickey's Blog on
Names, Titles & Forms of Address
Invitations, Introductions, Precedence, Flags, etc.

Answers to Questions From On-Line Users (like you)

Robert Hickey is Deputy Director of The Protocol School
of Washington®
and has been conducting protocol
trainings since 1988.

Site updated by Robert Hickey on October 8, 2014

Welcome To My Website.
     I’ve been teaching at The Protocol School of Washington® for 25 years and spent a decade collecting what I've learned on names, titles and forms of address into my book that has become the standard reference on the topic.
     Since the book was published in 2008, thousands of people and organizations have acquired and use it. Browse around this site, learn how to flawlessly interact with those who are high on the pecking order, and you too can become an ambassador of honor and respect.

      -- Robert Hickey

Something You Are Looking For?
   If you have a question on how to address a particular office/official more than 150 are listed below and to the right and on the On-Line Guide To Forms Of Address,
   You can also browse all the previously asked questions. They are saved by category, with a list of those categories at the bottom of this page. I've answered hundreds of questions, so your question may be covered there.

Here Are The Six Most Recently Asked Questions
After they've been here, I move them to a page with related questions
A list of those topics appears at the bottom of this page.

How Do I Use "Esquire"
with the name of an Attorney?

    I am not sure if I should show my name followed by Esq., J.D. or Esq., Dr. or Dr., Esq. or just Esq. or J.D.  Any help would be appreciated.

         -- Kenneth Millard

   I am an attorney and I do not use Esq. following my surname.  Although I am a practicing attorney (with many professional accolades from my peers), it strikes me that to insert the Esq. would project an aura of self-importance I do not feel.
         -- Robert Simpson

Dear Mr. Millard:
     In the much of the public's mind used after a name to identify a lawyer in exactly the same way M.D. after a name identifies a doctor. But in fact they are not equivalent.
    The most traditional form of address for others to use when
writing to a practicing attorney (e.g., on a letter) in his or her role as counsel in litigation is:
Kenneth Millard, Esq.
Use of Esq. is important among the ethics rules of the legal profession which require communications from an attorney (on one side) be with the opposing side's attorney rather than directly with the opposing side. By addressing the other side's attorney as Esq., the person initiating the communication is being clear that he or she is following correct procedure.
     However, traditionally
Esq. is not used reflexively ... that is, one does not call oneself an Esq.  Thus on a business card or letterhead names of the principals, partners, associates, are be presented without post nominals:
          Kenneth Millard
          Attorney at Law
     J.D. is most often used in academic contexts. If you are the author of a article that's published in an academic journal or teach at a university and are listed in the catalog, then using your specific academic degree is pertinent and traditional:
          Kenneth Millard, J.D.
     And finally:
Esq. and J.D. are not used in combination.
          I'd say that it is very, very, very rare for a person holding a J.D. to want to be addressed as Dr. (name).
          Dr. is not used before or after an attorney's name in any circumstance.
                   -- Robert Hickey

How to Address an Someone Addressed as
"The Honorable (Full Name)" and His Wife?
   How does one address the envelope of an invitation to the mayor of a city and his wife?
        -- Susan Hensley

   I need to address our elected sheriff and his wife. On the envelope, would it be The Honorable and Mrs. James Smith?
        -- Agnes Harrington

   How do I address a governor and his wife?
        -- J.K. in Virginia

Dear S.H, A.H. and J.K.:
I cover how to every type of elected official and spouse in Chapter Nine: Joint Forms of Address.
What all these U.S. officials have in common is that they are addressed as "The Honorable." You didn't tell me the names ... so depending those ... there are several options.
    If she uses "Mrs."  and uses the same last name ... then traditionally her first name does not appear:
       The Honorable William Stanton
        and Mrs. Stanton
    This is the form the White House would use for a married couple using the same last name. The rule is not to break up "The Honorable" from "(name)"
    What you want to avoid is:
       The Honorable and Mrs. William Stanton
    If she uses a different last name, then her first name does appear, e.g.:
       The Honorable Alan Greenspan
       and Ms. Andrea Mitchell
    If she has her own rank, courtesy title, or some special honorific, then her first name does appear:
        The Honorable William Stanton
        and Lieutenant Linda Stanton
       The Honorable William Stanton
       and Dr. Linda Stanton
        The Honorable William Stanton
        and the Reverend Linda Stanton
    Probably more answer than you wanted ... but I hope that is useful.

         -- Robert Hickey

Should I Include Post-Nominal Abbreviations
On a Name Badge?

       I'm working on name badges for speakers at our college's conference and I've never been sure how to include degrees on name badges?
                Heidi Miller PhD, MA, BA
                Heidi Miller, PhD
                      -- LR

        I am making name badges for an open house for our board members. The majority of our board members are either a MD, OD, or have a PhD.
       Given the situation of an open house do I include the MD, OD and PhD?

                       -- WRJ

Dear LR:
       In my book's chapter on name badges and place cards I explain that most often name badges are written to provide information to facilitate networking and conversation -- they aren't complete biographies, resumes or CVs.
Thus, generally a name badge provides the person's call-by name.  Sometimes it also includes where they are from or work, or their title. 
       If you are giving the call-by name
, then you will use Dr. for the PhDs.  Then you might also give everyone else an honorific .. Mr./Ms./etc. ... to keep them consistent.:
                Mr. Robert Hickey
                Dr. Heidi Miller
        or provide some extra information:
              Dr. Heidi Miller
Department of Biology
        Name tags are also written as Dr. Miller or even Heidi when the situation makes those forms appropriate.
        You also see name tags written as Heidi Miller, MD which is the official form of the -- name used when one writes to the person at their office. That might be appropriate when you need to specifiy which kind of doctor the person is! 
         So there's no one right way. The question is: what function do you need the name tags to serve?

      -- Robert Hickey

How to Use Emeritus?
How should I address/write my former Pastor's name on an envelope?  Is he the Reverend (Full Name), Emeritus Pastor? Or is it Pastor Emeritus?
          -- C.F.

I work for a company and I want to want to create a list of former executives when they retire who would become emeritus. How do you write their names? Who gets included on such a list? Are they still emeritus when they pass away?
         -- R.K.

Dear C.F. & R.K.,
When someone is emeritus, the form to use is (Full Name), (Office) Emeritus. It is normally used on a list published by or on a document used by an organization.  Emeritus is not used as part of a name on a letter's address, as part of a salutation, or as part of the person's name in conversation. It is only used with the names of the living.
  1) Emeritus implies a continuing relationship with an organization. So, the person who would be described as emeritus is not be the one deciding to use the title of emeritus with their name. E.g., if someone is the pastor emeritus a congregation, the congregation grants the title. If a retired professor is a professor emeritus, it is the university/college that grants the title.
   2) Retired & emeritus are not the same. Typically it's a board of some type that grants the title and it is not automatically granted to everyone who retires.

          -- Robert Hickey

How to Address an (Official) Pro Tem
      In my city there is serious controversy on how to address the mayor pro tem. A little background information:
      1. Our city elects a seven-member city council. Members are addressed as councilman / councilwoman.
      2. The city council elects a mayor for a one-year term. He is addressed as Mr./Madam Mayor.
      3. The council choose a mayor pro tem who is assumed will become mayor in the following year and acts as the mayor in the mayor's absence.
      4. Our question is -- what do we call the mayor pro tem?
      Is it traditional for a mayor pro tem to be addressed as Mayor Pro Tem (Surname)?
            -- AH in California

Dear A.H.
      Form of address are the way a group identifies among its members -- and to the public -- the hierarchy in the room and in the city.
      If the council elects the mayor pro tem … then it's is a functionary role within the council … not an elected office comparable to being mayor or councilman.
      So technically …. it's a role … and not an office.
      There could be times when it would be clear to address the mayor pro tem orally as such when during a meeting to be clear you are not addressing the person as a councilman.
      A newspaper writer might describe the person as Mayor Pro Tem (Surname) in a story to be clear that quotes attributed to the person at the council meeting were spoken by the mayor pro tem … not by the person in his or her role as simply a member of the council.  That's a matter of clarity — not a formal form of address.
      So, the person might be addressed as Mayor Pro Tem (Surname) during a meeting for clarity, you'd describe the person when acting as the mayor pro tem in the minutes (Using lower case letters: job title are not capitalized … but names are) ... but not formally address him in writing as Mayor Pro Tem (Full Name).
     -- Robert Hickey

Site updated by Robert Hickey on October 8, 2014

And finally, from a rather challenging internet surfer:

What Authority Do You Have?
Dear Mr. Hickey:
What authority do you have for your answers
         --- Mary Louise Timmons

Dear Ms. Timmons:
    I'm not sure "what authority I have" but I've been teaching at The Protocol School of Washington® since 1988.
    After researching with the hierarchies of the officials, and answering questions on forms of address for so long, I guess I've gotten good at it!  What I've learned I've put in my book -- which I am pleased to say is used at lots of serious places: See 

          -- Robert Hickey

Cartoon by Michael Diffee.
From The New Yorker, Volume LXXXV, Number 28, September 14, 2009.
Copyright c. 2009 Conde Nast Publications. All rights reserved.

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      

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        

Business Cards       
Flags and Anthem Protocol             
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             

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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 is copyright © 2013 by Robert Hickey.
The Protocol School of Washington® is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Honor & Respect is dedicated to Dorothea Johnson, Founder of The Protocol School of Washington®