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




ON-LINE GUIDE TO
FORMS OF ADDRESS
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About the book:
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    
Esquire, Esq.       
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    
     

Ma'am          
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   
Retiree        
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       
Sir       

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        
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)         
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      



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 January 20, 2015

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.


Why Do We Need Fancy Titles
& Special Forms of Address?

          Why, in an age where ideas are what is important, are office holders so dogged about receiving the reverence that comes with their positions? When we are all equals, why do office holders require others use their titles to address them?  Doesn't to insist on being so addressed demonstrate an inferiority complex rather than confidence on the part of the office holder?
      -- BB

Dear BB,
       Since the cavemen humans have addressed with titles those in their group with functional roles.  It lets everyone in the vicinity know who is who.  It also defines the hierarchy
with only sound/words … no need for uniforms or insignia (though those are universal too.)
       Certainly much of what you describe has in it ego and a personal craving for status — both of which are very irritating!
      In democracies, the power of public offices belongs not to the occupants of the offices -- but to the citizens: a current office holder wields the power of the people. Thus, respecting the office — and the current office holder — respects "we the people".  For example, while we may personally disagree with a judge, we behave appropriately in his or her courtroom thus respecting our rule of law. Maybe that's why they call misbehaving in court "contempt of court' not "contempt of the judge"
      I suggest to just ignore it all and remember the current-office-holder is just temporary!
        -- Robert Hickey


 

How To Address Current Officers
If You Are Not on Active Duty Yourself?

 
       I am a retired enlisted Marine and but in my current position I still interact with military officers. Is it proper to address an active-duty officer as Sir or Ma'am as if I was still enlisted?
 
        -- LeRoy Costello

       I am a civilian working for the Department of Defense. Am I required to address the officers as Sir or Ma'am like the enlisted personnel do?  I don't call anyone Sir or Ma'am in my normal life.
 
        -- Linda Bridgeman

Dear Mr. Costello and Ms. Bridgeman:
        It's appropriate to address active-duty personnel by Rank+Name ... first ... then switch over to Sir/ma'am.
        It's the tradition in the military culture and addressing another person with respect is not a sign subservience.
        In the civilian world, Sir and Ma'am often seem excessively formal: when a young person addresses me as Sir ... I know he or she thinks I'm old! 
       So if using
Sir/ma'am seems too deferential, why not address them as Rank+Name the first time and not use anything after the initial greeting?  Then you won't be saying Sir/Ma'am all the time
.
        All this assumes they are addressing you as Mr. Costello or Ms. Bridgeman. Within the privacy of the office everyone might be on a first-name basis, of course.
        -- Robert Hickey

How are Sr., Jr., I, II, & III Assigned
If the Name Changes Just a Tiny Bit?

      My husband's father's name is William O'Shea Baxter.  My husband's name William O'Shea Baxter, Jr.   Our son is William O'Shea Baxter, 3rd.  When he had his son he named him William Shea Baxter, leaving off the O' 
    Is this child the 4th?
             -- MAB

Dear MAB,
     The tradition is (and it is tradition that started way before Social Security Numbers!) when a legal name is passed down exactly, adding the sequence post nominals … Jr., 2nd, 3rd, … make who is who clear for everyone — banks, government tax collectors, recorders of deeds, borrowers & debtors.
     If the legal name is changed in any way … then there's no need to use the sequence post nominals.
     But of course there is no Naming Police out there to enforce tradition or review the logic of the way anyone names their children!  So, to go back to the traditional & legal point of view: When legal name changes, the assignment of sequence post nominals starts again.
            -- 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

I am getting married and finalizing my invitations.  My aunt’s husband recently passed away. How do I address my aunt's invitation now?
       - Laura Fairchild


Dear Ms. Clark and Ms. Fairchild:
    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. Since she could no longer be "Mrs. John Doe" she inserted her given name so everyone would be clear that she was not married anymore. Today, you encounter married women using this form for a variety of reasons.
    Ms. Jane Doe is the contemporary form which does not suggest a marital status. I note that more and more younger women use this form professionally and anytime they think their marital status is not pertinent to the communication/conversation.
   
Simply Jane Doe is an informal form that is perfectly correct too.
 
   However, the real answer is you need to find the preference of the person to whom you are addressing. 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 professionally, who did not know her husband, she might prefer Ms. Jane Doe.
      -- Robert Hickey

Is a Former Secretary of (Department)
Still "The Honorable"?

    Is a former Secretary of Labor still The Honorable?
         --- G. G. Johnson

Dear Ms. Johnson:
  
  Former secretaries of Federal Departments are still addressed as The Honorable. The rule is once an Honorable always and an Honorable.  They are no longer Mr./Madame Secretary or Secretary (Name) since their is another holder of this only-one-person-at-a-time office, but they are still
The Honorable.
      After leaving the office Secretaries formally go back to the highest honorific to which he or she wss entitled before assuming office. That doesn't mean you don't hear it in the media, but it's not correct as a form of address.
           -- Robert Hickey

How to Orally Address a Former Secretary?
     First, if you were working with a former secretary, e.g., former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, would you still address her as Madame Secretary? I think now that she's out of office she would be just Dr. Rice -- the form of address she had before she took office and was on the faculty of Stanford University. Right?
     Second, if I am right, how do you delicately inform an executive who strongly feels she is still "Secretary (last name)"?
         --- Kelly Roberts McLean

Dear Ms. McLean:
  
  You are right. Condoleezza Rice is officially Dr. Rice in direct address and identified as the Secretary of State from 2005-2009
or something similar.
   
There are some positions which come with a rank, and former office holders continue to be addressed with an honorific of their former position: senators, judges, ambassadors, and military generals, for example. 
     But being a Secretary is a ROLE, not a RANK. T
here's only one secretary of (a department) at a time, and only the current office holder is granted the courtesies of the office. Being addressed as "Secretary" is a courtesy of the office.
     While a former official might find receiving the courtesies of the office to be flattering, it is not respectful to the current, singular office holder.

     As to how I would delicately inform an executive who strongly felt she is still "Secretary (Name)" ... I would inform her only if she asked me for my advice.
    I hear a lot of bad grammar too, but that doesn't make me think the rules of grammar have changed. When I hear bad grammar I simply think I am dealing with someone who doesn't know the rules, or doesn't care.
    A former Secretary wanting to be addressed as Secretary (Name) is definitely hanging on to his or her former glory, in hopes some of the prestige and power will hang on too! But, there's no upside for you to get into that argument.

           -- Robert Hickey

Site updated by Robert Hickey on January 20, 2015

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 http://www.formsofaddress.info/Collections.html. 

          -- 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.

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
       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        

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             
Tombstones      




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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 © 2014 Robert Hickey.     All Rights Reserved.
Book Photo: Marc Goodman.





All information on www.formsofaddress.info is copyright © 2014 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®