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

* * *
BLOG: Robert Hickey
Answers Questions
From On-Line Users
* * *
VIDEO of Robert Hickey
* * *
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 of one country
   to another country      
Ambassador of the U.S.
   to another country
   by a U.S. citizen       
Ambassador of the U.S.
   to the U.K.  
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    
Awards, Name on an

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     
Certificate, Name on a 
    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    
    Same Sex

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

Deputy Chief of Mission      
Deputy Marshal          
    Pro Tempore      
Diploma, Name on a   

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 U.S. Governor
   or Lt. Gov.    
First Lady, Spouse
   of a U.S. Mayor    

First Lady
   of a Church      

First Lieuten
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

     County or State     
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, UK/British
Nobility, Other & Former     
Nun, Catholic
Nun, Orthodox

Officer, Police     

Pastor, Christian Clergy  
   Christian Orthodox  
   Ecumenical Patriarch
   of Constantinople  
People with Two Titles      
Petty Officer
Place Cards            
Plaque, Name on a    
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. Use of Rank by
       Retired Military    

   3. Q&A 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        
Titles & Forms of
    Address, Useless?        
Tombstones, Names on
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, 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 June 13, 2016

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 to List a Couple's Name When He is a Jr. or Sr.?
       When writing a couple's name would you write Charles Henry, Sr. and Daisy Ellis Rivers. Or would it be Charles Henry and Daisy Ellis Rivers, Sr.

            -- Betsy Mizner @

      I am preparing programs for my wedding. We are listing our grandparents who have passed. My grandfather was a junior.  However, my grandmother, his wife, is also deceased.  Where do we put the junior as to not confuse him with the other men with those names?
      Example:  Jane and Thomas Smith, Jr. (?) or Thomas and Jane Smith, Jr.
            -- Kristen Smith

Dear Ms. Mizner & Ms. Smith:
       When one combines names ... as in ... Jane and Thomas Smith or
Charles Henry and Daisy Rivers ... these are casual, informal forms.
       The casual forms are sort of a free style ... there are no rules.  But with casual forms, the names can't be done as elegantly and consistently as they can when using formal forms. That's what the formal forms were developed to do ... to be consistent and elegant.
       #1 The traditional form for a married couple is:
              Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Smith Jr.
Mr. and Mrs. Charles Rivers, Sr.
       #2 When you want to include both given names ... both her name and his ... write each name fully and do not combine them:
              Thomas Smith, Jr. and Jane Smith
Charles Henry Rivers, Sr. and Daisy Ellis Rivers
In such a listing, the and between their names indicates they are married/are a couple because individuals who are not married/are a couple are listed separately / not listed together.
              -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a State Secretary of a Department?
      I am addressing an invitation to the secretary of our state's Dept. of Agriculture, trade and Consumer Protection. How do I address a state-level official? Is he The Honorable?  Do I start the letter with Dear Hon. (Surname)?  Thank you.
           -- PD

Dear PD:
       On the envelope or the letter's address block use The Honorable. 
"The Honorable" is a courtesy title, and it always precedes a full name.  In the USA, officials elected in a general election are entitled to be addressed as The Honorable (Full Name).
      {It’s consistently done at the federal level & state level, though here and there smaller municipalities sometimes by local tradition, dispense with it.
      So a secretary of a cabinet-level department -- federal or state -- is addressed on the outside envelope as:
             The Honorable (Full Name)
               (Complete Address)
     In the salutation, Dear Hon. (Surname) is not correct.
     Hon. is not used as an honorific before a name as is Mr., Dr., Senator, Commissioner, General, etc.

      The traditional and formal salutation to a federal secretary would be:
               Dear Mr./Madame Secretary:
      A slightly less formal form is:
               Dear Secretary (Surname):
      When I was researching my book I polled a number of state secretaries ... and they unanimously preferred "Secretary (Surname)" rather than "Mr./Madame Secretary".  One state secretary expressed it this way: there is only one US Secretary of our discipline in the cabinet in Washington ... but there are 50 of us at the state level ... so the singular title makes less sense.
         -- Robert Hickey

How Do I Write a Name on a Headstone?
      Daughters of a deceased United States Air Force Colonel have asked for my help for the wording on a headstone/gravestone. I am thinking of:.
                                     Col. John Patrick Delaney
                                            USAF, Retired

            -- Betty

        I want to purchase a paver (a personalized brick) in a local veterans memorial for my grandfather.  He retired from the United States Army as a CW4.  His name is Harold E Copper.  Any ideas?
            -- JB

       Is it O.K. to put Esq. after my father's name on his headstone? He was very proud of being an attorney.
            -- Katie Dorset

        My father was a physician. On his grave marker should I put Dr. before his name? Or MD after his name?
            -- Bruce

Dear Betty, JB, Katie, and Bruce:
    Deceased persons just have their their NAME on grave markers. 
    Honorifics (Mr., Mrs., Dr., etc.), ranks (captain, major, etc.), courtesy titles (excellency. honorable or reverend), and academic and other post-nominal abbreviations (MD, PhD, RN, etc.) – which are parts of a person's name at various times during their lives –  are not included. The marker is for their whole life and their name was what they had the entire time.
     I'm not saying you don't see these elements included every now and then, but it's not what's traditional.
     When there is a desire to note roles and ranks they held during their lives – these are listed afterward their name.
     Military tombstones are a good model.   In military cemeteries stones bear just the deceased NAME and other information, such as rank and branch of service, follows.
     "Retired" is never included. It was pertinent when the person was living and necessary to note that the person was not on active duty.
     So, if the family wants ranks or roles noted, the traditional style would be:
         (Full Name)
          Rank, Branch of Service

          John Patrick Delaney
          Colonel USAF

          Harold E Copper
          CW4 USA
          John J Pershing
          General of the Armies of the United States

          Theodore Isen
          Husband, Father and Friend
See the photos below.
          -- Robert Hickey

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

I want to want to create a an "emeritus list" of our retired executives. 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/a.
       This form of address is used on a list published by, or on a document used by, the organization to note that there is a continuing relationship with the individual. 
  or (Office) Emeritus are used after the name for identification. They are not used in writing before the name (as an honorific), as part of the name in a salutation, or orally in conversation.
      Emeritus is only used with the names of the living.  When they are deceased it's better to list them as
(Full Name), (Office) Year-Year  e.g., (Full Name), Professor of French 1980-2010
      1) Emeritus implies a continuing relationship with an organization. At universities while a Professor Emeritus/a might not have same teaching schedule ….. he or she would keep a ID card, faculty discounts, continue to be seated and be recognized at graduations, be listed as a member of the faculty in the catalog, still use the faculty dining room, have access to the university clinic, library, & athletic facilities, even have an office and serve on committees. In a religious community, if someone is the pastor emeritus a congregation, it is the congregation which grants the title
     2) Retired & emeritus are not the same. The organization specifically grants the title. It is not automatically granted to everyone who retires.

          -- Robert Hickey

Should I Use USMC, Retired or USMCR, Retired:
       Should I list myself as Major, USMCR (retired) or Major, USMC (retired)?
             -- Paul

Dear Paul,
  Before you retired noting your reserve status was pertinent.  But now that you are retired, you are simply retired from the "service".  Your question is about the U.S. Marines, but the pattern is the same in all the U.S. armed services.
    The direct forms of address suggested by the DOD manuals are as follows, without parentheses:
         Major Paul J. Dexter, USMC, Retired
         Major Paul J. Dexter, USMC, Ret.
    Sometimes you see in a list of names:
         Paul J. Dexter (Major, USMC, Retired)
    ... but that's not a direct form of address. It would be an editorial style if other names appeared without honorifics and somehow your retired status was pertinent.

     I don't know of a U.S. Marine Corps directive/regulation, but the U.S. Army has one. It says that all Army reservists assigned who retire will use “USA, Retired.”
       -- Robert Hickey

What DoD Directive Forbids Use of Ranks by Retired or Reserve Personnel in Commercial Enterprises? 
Can a Retired Officer Use His/Her Rank at a Commercial Enterprise?

    I am working on an informal publication that will be published by the Defense Department and I need to list members who participated in some of the work. The members include retired military, retired government civilians, persons with academic degrees (PhDs), etc.
      I just looked at you website and I have a question .You reference a directive “the DoD directive you refer to forbids the use by retired personnel of a military rank in any sort of commercial enterprise.”  Do you know the exact citation for the directive?

         -- Writing Away @ the Institute for Defense Analyses

    Note: JER is the Joint Ethics Regulations.
    JER, para. 2-304 concerns use of ranks
"Use of Military Title by Retirees or Reserves. Retired military members and members of Reserve Components, not on active duty, may use military titles in connection with commercial enterprises, provided they clearly indicate their retired or inactive Reserve status. However, any use of military titles is prohibited if it in any way casts discredit on DoD or gives the appearance of sponsorship, sanction, endorsement, or approval by DoD."
     "In addition, in overseas areas, commanders may further restrict the use of titles by retired military members and members of Reserve Components."

   Here is an U.S. Army regulations that is related. Army Regulation 25-50, paragraph 6-6, paragraph d. The regulation refers to retired personnel in a post-retirement job among active-duty personnel but in which they are not on active-duty "Army retirees serving as DA (Department of the Army) civilians will not use or refer to their military grade or rank except when referring to their personal retirement actions."
    DODI 5410.20
concerns use of uniforms or insignia
    Paragraph 7 lists criteria to determine whether the best interests of the Government and DoD are enhanced by use of DoD materials, uniforms and insignia by anyone other than the Government and DoD.  Any use of identifiably DoD material outside a a DoD environment is limited.
    DODI 1334.01 concerns wearing of uniforms:
    "It is DoD policy that:
        3.1. The wearing of the uniform by members of the Armed Forces (including retired members and members of Reserve components) is prohibited under any of the following circumstances:
            3.1.2. During or in connection with furthering political activities, private employment or commercial interests, when an inference of official sponsorship for the activity or interest may be drawn."
                 -- Robert Hickey

Here is the formula for any spouse of The President from my book:

How to Address the First Lady, or
How to Address the Spouse of
The President of the United States

Traditionally the wife of a President of the United States (POTUS), who uses the same surname as the POTUS, is addressed in writing as Mrs. (surname only).  So, that's the format I suggest below. 
     If she were to have as elevated form of address (honorific or courtesy title), e.g. Dr. or The Honorable, she would be addressed in writing as Dr. (her given name + surname)
or The Honorable (her given name + surname).
     A husband of a POTUS would be addressed in writing using the same pattern, except – if he used the same surname he would be Mr. (full name)
If he had some elevated form of address, e.g. Dr. or The Honorable, he would be addressed in writing using the same pattern as noted in the paragraph above ––  Dr. (his given name + surname) or The Honorable (his given name + surname). I have more detailed information in my book if this sort of question comes up often.

Envelope, official:  (See note above)
    Mrs. (surname)
The White House
            1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
                   Washington, DC 20500

    Mr. (full name)
The White House
            1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
                   Washington, DC 20500

Letter salutation: (See note above)
    Dear Mrs./Mr. (surname):

How Do I Address an Acting Governor?
How do you introduce a Lt. Governor when he or she is -- at that moment -- the Acting Governor?
     Is he or she addressed in conversation or orally introduced as Acting Governor (Name)?
             -- FG

Hi FG:
    It could be important to identify the person as the acting governor, but the term is not used in oral address as in
Acting Governor (Surname).
    An a
cting governor is not formally addressed orally as
Governor (Name)
: He or she is not actually The Governor.
    Orally address an acting governor with the honorific to which her or she is entitled – based on the office he or she actually holds. E.g.,
Mr./Ms. is the typical honorific used with addressing a lieutenant governor.
    While he or she is not directly addressed in conversation as
Acting Governor (Surname) one might refer to him or her as that in the third person, such as: ...the Acting Governor (name) will be arriving in 20 minutes.
    AND when formally introducing an acting governor say: May I present the Honorable (Full Name), Acting Governor of (Official Name of State).
            -- Robert Hickey

Site updated by Robert Hickey on June 13, 2016

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         
Sequence Post-Nominal Abbreviations: Sr., Jr., etc.    
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
       Addressing Active Duty Personnel              
       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        

Author's Name on His/Her Book       
Business Cards, Names on
Introductions, Names in
Invitations: Names on
Invitations: Names of Armed Service Personnel on        
Name Badges & Tags            
Names on Programs, Signs, & Lists            
Naming a Building or Road            
Place Cards            

Plaques, Awards, Diplomas, Certificates, Names on    
Precedence: Ordering Officials 
Tombstones, Names on      

     Back to Main Page of the Robert Hickey's BLOG 

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 © 2016 Robert Hickey.     All Rights Reserved.
Book Photo: Marc Goodman.

All information on is copyright © 2016 by Robert Hickey. All rights reserved.
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®