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

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Answers Questions
From On-Line Users
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    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       
Ambassador 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    

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    
    Same Sex

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

First Lieuten
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        
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, 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 August 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.

How to Address a Deputy, Associate, or Assistant
Attorney General?

      What is the proper way to address in writing an Assistant Attorney General?  
      We were recently in a meeting where someone addressed the Assistant AG as Mr. Attorney General.
  What is correct?
              -- Robin M.

Dear Robin M.
      Only The Attorney General is formally addressed as Mr./Madame Attorney General or Attorney General.
      In conversation deputy, associate, and assistant attorneys general are addressed orally as as Mr./Ms. (Name).
      On a letter's envelope you could include Assistant Attor
ney General under his or her name if you want to, but it's probably not necessary to include the precise office he or she holds. What has to be on the envelope is the information necessary for the post office needs to deliver the letter. So, it would be something like:
           The Honorable (Full Name)
           (Full Address)
      Oral forms of address sometimes vary with the circumstance. If an deputy, associate or assistant attorney general is acting as the government's AG in a particular courtroom, he or she might well be addressed as Mr. Attorney General by the judge. But all the other time, only The Attorney General is
Mr./Madame Attorney General or Attorney General. and the Assistant AG is Mr./Ms. (surname).
            -- Robert Hickey

Are Elected Officials The Honorable for Life?
I am the mayor of a municipality - and the question arose: "Is a mayor the honorable for life?"
     --- Cate Wilson in Florida

Is a former state senator or assemblyman still "the Honorable"?
      --- F.P.W. in Albany

Dear Mayor Wilson and F.P.W.:
         The rule for U.S. officials elected to office in a general election is once an Honorable, always an Honorable.
         Mayors: So a current elected mayor of a municipality is formally: The Honorable (Full Name), Mayor of (Name of City) In conversation you are addressed as Mr./Madame Mayor, Mayor (Surname) -or- Your Honor.
         Other former elected-officials: They too continue to be formally addressed as The Honorable (Full Name) when they leave office. If they held a job which only one person can hold it at a time ... then the special honorific ... if there was one ... does not continue.  They revert to whatever conversational form of address to which they were entitled before they took office .... e.g..  Mr./Ms./Dr./etc. (Surname). Their successor gets to be one-and-only while they hold the office.
      E.g., for mayors, in a salutation or conversation, when one leaves office he/she goes back to Mr./Ms./etc. (Surname) -- since it is a job of which there is only one at a time.  A former mayor doesn't continue to be addressed as "Mayor (Name)" once they are out of office.
      But senators and judges, of which there were always many at the same time, may continue to be addressed by the "title" when they are out of office.  If they are fully retired they are more likely to want to use the elevated form of address.  If they are working professionally in some other field, they are much less likely to do so.
           -- Robert Hickey

How to Formally Write a Couple's Name
When He's a Jr. II, III, etc.?

        What is the proper way to write a couple's name when he is a "II".  
        The couple is Wesley P. Ames II and Patricia D. Ames
        Do I write their name as:
                Wesley P. II and Patricia D. Ames
                Wesley P. and Patricia D. Ames II
        Wesley P. Ames II and Patricia D. Ames
                -- K.L.O.

Dear K.L.O.,
         He’s the only one who is a “II" … so the "II" only appears when his name is written alone as a unit.
         When the names are formally presented …. He’s first.
                  (His Full Name) and (Her Full Name)
                  Wesley P. Ames II and Patricia D. Ames
                  Mr. and Mrs. (His Full Name)
         Mr. and Mrs. Wesley P. Ames II
         These formulas work all the time … for couples who are and who are not juniors, II, III etc.
         What you are avoiding is:
                  Patricia D. and Wesley P. Ames II
         Because she is not:
                  Patricia D. Ames II
         When names are combined … combining is informal … his given and family name are last and are kept as a unit. AND .... Since it's not his full name, the Jr., II, III etc. is left off.
                  (Her Given Name) and (His Given and Family Name)
                  Patricia and Wesley Ames
         But one more thing about writing names -- especially if you are including names in a program on in a donor list:  When I look at donor/contributor lists, in programs or carved on founder’s walls in museums  — 95% are like I’ve stated above.  The other 5% are written in other ways.
         The final determination is — to write their name they way the persons submits their name to be presented.  In the end, savvy organizations present names the way the listed person says they want their name presented. It matters less that the editor doesn’t like the style …. It matters more if the contributor likes the style. It’s their name and it’s their money!
                  -- Robert Hickey

First Names Only on a Name Badge?
      How should one address a note of thanks to a medical professional, such as a person ranked MD, RN, or CNA, whose name badge gives only the person's first name and surname initial?
     I know her main physicians' surnames, but most of the medical team revealed only their first names and last name initials, such as Beth M., RN or Bob M., CNA on their name badges. This reminds me of elementary school, when we children were required to head our papers with only our given names and surname initials. That was appropriate for young children with emerging manual dexterity in a small classroom, but I do not understand how it makes sense in a professional setting, unless the personnel involved fear legal retribution, such as malpractice suits, and thus wish to hide their true identities.
     Please advise me on how to address these semi-anonymous professionals, who hold their patients' lives in their hands but will not reveal their full identifies.
     -- Taylor Stuart

Dear Taylor Stuart:
     As for your immediate concern, addressing an envelope and note, follow the lead of the individual ... and address them with the name you have
     The envelope:
             Beth M., RN
             Surgical Recovery Unit
             Wilson County Hospital
             4455 Wilson Road
             Wilsonville, State, ZIP

     The salutation:
             Dear Beth M.,

But to get a more thoughtful answer, I asked an expert on etiquette and professional polish in the medical arena -- Karen Hickman of Professional Courtesy, LLC -- (Karen is a graduate of The Protocol School of Washington®) for her take on it:
    The primary reasons medical personnel list first names only is for security reasons, but also because nurses are authorized to phone in prescriptions for physicians and there is less chance for a clever patient to call in medications using the nurses full name.
    Also, if the patient has an established relationship with the facility there is a chance that a manager or supervisor would share last names.
    Speaking from personal experience, from my nursing days, cards and notes of gratitude are always so appreciated by care givers. Gifts -- like candy or other food items should be sent to the team -- since ethically, nurses and physicians are discouraged from accepting personal gifts.

    Karen: I learned something from you today (no surprise!). Thank you.
                 -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Current Prime Minister in Writing?
     How do I address visiting current prime ministers (heads of government)? 
Specifically the PM of Moldova, the PM/Chairman, Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, The PM of Lithuania, the PM of Haiti and the PM of Cameroon.
           -- KB in Washington

Dear KB:
     Each prime minister may have a specific way they are addressed by their fellow countrymen .... but when the official is traveling internationally, and the common language is English, address each as:
           His/Her Excellency (full name)
           Prime Minister of the (official country name)

    "His Excellency" for men.  "Her Excellency" for women.
    And in the salutation:

           Your Excellency:
    If you have a copy of my book, I include the official names of every country in the country-by-country information
. It is also acceptable to use the form they use 'at home."  I also list those in my book. But for consistency when hosting several prime ministers, use His/Her/Your Excellency for all.
    Why are
Prime Ministers addressed as Your Excellency when traveling? The logic is they are traveling as 'ambassadors of their government"  and as such, they are addressed as accredited diplomats while on international missions.
            -- Robert Hickey

Is a Second Son Named After a "Sr." Dad – the "III"?
          I have a son named him after his Dad.   The Dad already has an older son and he had named "Jr.".  So we named my son "lll" and the Dad is now "Sr."   Did we do this right?
          --  RR

Dear RR:

          You gave your son a unique name and that's a good thing!
          I understand that heavy-weight boxing champion George Foreman named five his sons:
                    George Foreman Jr.
                    George Foreman, III
                    George Foreman, IV
                    George Foreman, V
                    George Foreman, VI

          But, first it is useful to define two kinds of names
          1) Legal names … official names in which the government is interested.
          2) Go-by Names …. names people use informally in social situations.
          Formally …. legally … unless you go to court to change your husband's name to:
                    James Smith, Sr.
          ... his name remains as it is on his birth certificate, which I guess would be:
                    James  Smith
          Not everyone thinks it is necessary to add “Sr.” to the father's name since each has a different name:
                    FATHER: James Smith
                    SON: James Smith, Jr.

          But some families decide to informally add “Sr.” to father’s names:
                    GO-BY FATHER”S NAME: James Smith, Sr.
                    FORMAL SON'S NAME: James Smith, Jr.   

          To me it's not necessary, but who am I to tell them what to do?
          3) IITraditionally “II” was used when a family names a son for someone who was not the father …. like a grandfather or uncle.  The child would not be a “Jr.” since the person for whom he was named was not his “father” — and “Jr." denotes the "child of".  
                    UNCLE or GRANDFATHER, etc.: Thomas Jones
                    FORMAL CHILD’s NAME: Thomas Jones II

          4) III, IV, V, etc.:  “III” and thereafter are traditionally used for the son's of either “II” or “Jr.”
          That is what is traditional. 

           -- Robert Hickey

How to Write an Author's Name on a Book
I am designing the front cover of a book.  What is the proper way to acknowledge the author's name on the cover? In this case the author has a doctorate and is retired military.
          Colonel James G. Campbell, USA, Retired,
          Dr. James G. Campbell (Colonel, USA, Retired)
          James G. Campbell, Ph.D. (Colonel, USA, Retired)

                      -- C.B. in FLA

Dear C.B. in FLA,
Writing one’s name is not a form of address …. It is presenting your name on a work ... it is more like signing your name. And when one presents one’s name … one does not give oneself an honorific, title or rank.  On my book I did not list myself as Mr. Robert Hickey. I simply used Robert Hickey.
         On his book It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership, Colin Powell simply listed his name as Colin Powell.  See below.
        But on the book's cover Colin Powell followed tradition and presents just his name. He lists his rank, retired status, degrees, honors, awards, etc. elsewhere (e.g., in his biography on the dust jacket's back flap).]  There are plenty of places to include everything.
        Of course, you see some with ranks wanting to include their rank on a book's cover.  It would not be my recommendation, but if they insist ... here's what to do:
        Regarding the military: You have seen this form of a retired officer's name: (Rank) (Full Name), (Branch of Service), (Retired) which looks like Colonel James G. Campbell, USA, Retired. “USA” and “Retired” ARE included on official documents — e.g., when the Pentagon writes him/her with regard to his/her service. So unless their book is an official action of a retired officer, then branch of service and retired would not be included.  
        Authors with ranks would more appropriately use the social form of their name which is:
                   (Rank) (Full Name)
                   Colonel John G. Campbell

                   Judge John G. Campbell

                   Pastor John G. Campbell

        For military, no branch of service, no reference to 'retired'.  Dr. is never used with a military rank. It's either/or, never both.
        For those addressed as The Honorable or The Reverend .... these are never used when presenting one's own name ... so neither would be on a book cover.
           -- Robert Hickey

Site updated by Robert Hickey on August 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 

          -- 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 a Book       
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 © 2015 Robert Hickey.     All Rights Reserved.
Book Photo: Marc Goodman.

All information on is copyright © 2015 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®