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      

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 September 19, 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 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

Is a Bishop Addressed as Your Grace?
     Your site says bishops and archbishops are addressed in conversation as Bishop So-and So or Archbishop So-and-So.
      Bishops and Archbishops are NEVER addressed in conversation as
Bishop So-and So or Archbishop So-and-So. They are properly addressed as Your Excellency or simply Excellency. In Ireland, according to their custom, Bishops are addressed as Your Grace; however, even in this case, Bishop is not used in conversation. Your book state only nuncios are referred to and addressed as Excellency. This is not the case. 
                   -- SM in California

Dear SM in California:

     Addressing bishops as Your Grace is a British form of address. In the Church of England bishops are granted the precedence of a Duke ... and dukes – and thus by courtesy ... Anglican bishops – are addressed as
Your Grace. [In the United States, the American branch of the church – the Episcopal Church in the USA – addresses its bishops as the Most Reverend (Full Name) and Bishop (Surname).

       His/Her/Your Excellency is a courtesy title used by accredited diplomats who have presented their credentials to a foreign head of state as the single designated representative from another head of state. So the Papal Nuncio (who would always have the rank of bishop) is addressed as Your Excellency ... but other bishops are not.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops says that U.S. Catholic bishops are correctly addressed as the Most Reverend (Full Name) and Bishop (Surname).
             -- Robert Hickey

How to Write a Bishop's Name on a Document?
          I am preparing a 'keepsake' for a my nephew who is being confirmed - and I am personalizing the piece with my nephew's name, the date of event, and the name of the celebrant: Bishop John J McIntyre.
          Which is the more appropriate written form of address for this purpose?:
                    Bishop John J. MacIntosh
                    The Most Reverend John J. MacIntosh
          ~ D.M. Novak

Dear D.M.N.:
          The formal form of written address is:
                    The Most Reverend John J. MacIntosh
          The formal form to use in conversation --- or in a letter's salutation is:
                    Bishop MacIntosh
          So on the keepsake use the formal written form of his name:
                    The Most Reverend John J. MacIntosh
           -- Robert Hickey

How to Address In Conversation
A Former Speaker of the House?
     There’s a question lingering around the Capitol: What should people call Nancy Pelosi? Is it still Madame Speaker? Or is it Madame Leader, or Ms. Pelosi?
     -- TB

Dear TB:
     Former Speakers are not addressed as Speaker. They go back to whatever form of address to which they were entitled before being the Speaker and are identified, when appropriate, as “a former Speaker of the House.” Only the current office holder is addressed as
    The media refers to the Speaker in stories as Speaker (Name) … but this is in the third person, a shorthand to make it clear to the reader or listener to whom the journalist is referring. In direct address the correct form is Mr. Speaker or Madame Speaker.
    Here are the rules:
    #1 For offices of which there is only one office holder at a time (e.g., Prime Minister, President, Speaker, Governor, Mayor, etc.) only the current office holder is addressed by the same honorific of the office.
    Former office holders go back to whatever their honorific was before they held office. In this case the former Speaker goes back to the highest honorific to which they are entitled before becoming Speaker.  Or, in another example, Colin Powell is no longer addressed as Secretary Powell … he is back to what he was before he became the Secretary of State: General Powell.
    Ms. Pelosi, Congresswoman Pelosi, Representative Pelosi, Chairman Pelosi … whatever is her preference and pertinent to the office you are referring to her as holding, are the completely respectful, and traditional forms of address.
    #2 Offices that are held by more than one person at the same time are different. In those cases, (e.g.,  Admirals, Senators, Judges, Professors, Ambassadors, etc.). former and retired individuals DO continue to use their former honorific. Having two ambassadors or two senators in the room is not confusing.
    #3 The individual is flattered by the honorific inflation, but, when you ask them directly they say "It's not correct." Having been the singular office holder they know what it's like to have all the formers clinging to their past glory!
    -- Robert Hickey

How To Address Married Military Personnel
With the Same Rank?

     How do you address married couples in the military with the same rank.  Is it?
              Captains John and Mary Smith
     or is it?
             Captain John Smith and Captain Mary Smith
    Also what if they are married but have different last names?
         -- Candy J.

Dear PSC:
     I cover how to address two members of the military in Chapter Nine: Joint Forms of Address.
am guessing this is a social form ... such as an invitation? And that both are captains in the same service?  O.K.? if so ...
     Outside envelope: When someone has a special title/rank .. most formally you write out their full name and you don't mix it with the other name:  So both get their rank + full name.
    But ... whose name goes first? His name? Her name? There is a protocol for this decision, and it's neither alphabetical nor ladies first. Military officers of the same rank are always ordered by seniority. One member of the couple has an earlier date of rank ... which gives that person higher precedence / greater seniority.
    I can guarantee you they have discussed this and the couple knows which of them has higher precedence/seniority by date of rank! So you need to contact them if you are determined to do it correctly.
    Since each is getting listed fully ... it does not matter if they have different last names

Captain John Smith
            and Captain Mary Smith  
 (if he has seniority)

        Captain Mary Smith
            and Captain John Smith   
 (if she has seniority)

    Yes, even when personnel have the same 'rank' one has seniority. If you are unsure list the man first, the woman second -- in the order established in "Mr. and Mrs."

Inside envelope:
    Captains Smith (same last name, most formally)
    Captain Smith and Captain Wilson
(different last names, more senior person listed first)
    Mary and William
(less formally if they are very close friends or family and in conversation you would be addressing them by their given names.)

         -- Robert Hickey 

How to Address a Pharmacist?
     Is a pharmacist addressed as Dr.
     Professionally?  Socially?

              -- Anderw

Dear Andrew,
     Usually pharmacists are not addressed as Dr. but it is not a hard and fast rule. While in a social setting I would be sensitive to the preference of the individual, but most don't seek to be addressed as Dr. (Name).
     In health care environments there is a practice that only physicians (medical doctors, vets, dentists, osteopaths, podiatrists) are addressed as
Dr. (Name) for the benefit of patients who actually do want to know which are their doctors. 
eople typically use the word "doctor" and "physician" as synonyms.  So "yes" a pharmacist has a doctorate, but he/she is not a physician.
     I have heard from holders of other doctorates -- in
hospital administration, nursing, physical therapy, etc. -- who would like to be professionally addressed as Dr. (name) at the hospital.  But for the patients (like me), the practice of using Dr. only with physicians makes sense.
     On a letter, business card, or sign one could definitely include the post-nominal abbreviation and list the pharmacist's name as (Full Name), (Appropriate Post-Nominals).
    -- Robert Hickey

Retired: Spelled Out or Abbreviated?
    We have been struggling with setting up consistent prefixes and suffixes in our database for our military grads. For retired service folks should we spell our “retired” or use the “Ret.” abbreviation?  Is there a comma after the branch of service or is it “USN Ret.”

    -- Development Office, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia

Dear Fund Raiser:
For official correspondence DOD guides use the comma ... and either "Ret." or "Retired" is acceptable.
             Brigadier General Arthur Portnoy, USA, Retired
             Brigadier General
Arthur Portnoy, USA, Ret.
    You may want to consider for your database using the service-specific abbreviations for the ranks:
Arthur Portnoy, USA, Ret.
Arthur Portnoy, USA, Retired
    [DoD documents show the form as: (rank) (full name) (USN, USMC, or other branch) (Ret.) but that is not meant to include Ret. in parentheses.]
    DOD people like the service-specific abbreviations because they can tell that a BG is in the Army, and a BGen is a Marine.  All those
service-specific abbreviations ... USA, USN, USMC, USAF and CG .... are in my book.
   Note that the branch of service and retired status may not be necessary for what you are doing: On social correspondence (personal letters, invitations or cards) their status ... active duty, retired ... or branch of service ... is not pertinent ... and is not suggested in DOD guides.
    When "retired" IS PERTINENT is in military environments where "active duty" personnel are present.
    Say a retired officer is working at a defense contractor. It would be potentially confusing to present themselves as a "General" when in fact they are not longer a commanding officer and may be dealing with an active duty "General".   That's the logic, and in that case "Retired' is always noted.

                           -- Robert Hickey

Retired: In Parentheses or Not?
Dear Mr. Hickey,
      Regarding your advice to write one’s name when retired.
                MSgt Trevor Ross USAF (Ret.) 
      With the parentheses as shown above is the correct way to signify for retirees -- not as you advised.
                   -- T.R.

Dear TR:
       Thanks for your note, but I disagree. Either of these forms is correct:
            MSgt Trevor Ross, USAF, Retired
            MSgt Trevor Ross, USAF, Ret.
      Here’s why: the DoD stylebook suggests:
           (Rank) (Name), (Branch of Service), (Ret.)
      Every protocol officer I’ve polled (and that is a large number including the offices of the Secretary of Defense, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Secretary of the Army) all say the DoD stylebook is not suggesting to include parentheses around
Ret. anymore than it is suggesting to put parentheses around the (Rank) or (Name).
       So while I agree you do see people using the parentheses around Ret.… I follow the lead of those at the protocol officers at the top of the Pentagon .... and they all say "no parentheses."
               -- Robert Hickey

Site updated by Robert Hickey on September 19, 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®