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 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. 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, 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 May 19, 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 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

How to Address a "Reverend"?
      Frequently I hear TV journalists address clergymen as 'Reverend Smith" or simply as 'Reverend'.  I think that these are incorrect in informal conversation.  Am I wrong?
       -- BH in Maryland

Dear BH,
      In formal communications in writing use:
            The Reverend (Full Name)
            The Reverend Bennett Smith
The conversational form (and what you use in a salutation) is:
            Pastor/Father/Dr./etc. (Surname)
            Pastor Smith | Father Smith | Dr. Smith | etc.
But not all communication is formal. The familiar, informal, version is often:
            Pastor/Father/Dr. (Given name)

            Pastor Bennett | Father Bennett | Dr. Bennett | etc.
      This last one is the equivalent of being on a first-name basis.
      What about
Rev. (Name)?

"Rev." is a shorthand version of "The Reverend".  And indeed Rev. (Name) is the preference of some, but not all, clergy. Therefore use it when you know it is their preference.  If you don't know  their preference asking is always appropriate.
Rev. is used rather than Pastor/Father/Dr./etc., use it conversation or in a salutation. But in writing use the Reverend (Full Name).
      -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Person with a PhD
How to Address a Person holding a Doctorate

     1) Holders of doctorates who work in academia or research institutions are addressed as Dr. (Name) professionally and socially in a salutation or conversation.  Thus a PhD professor at a college, a PhD in biology doing scientific research, and a PhD principal at an elementary school all use Dr. and everybody thinks it is normal.

    2) Protestant clergy with doctorates are typically addressed as Dr. (Name) in a salutation or conversation too. I specify Protestant here because not all clergy is.  For example, neither priests (addressed as Father[Name]) nor rabbis (addressed as Rabbi [Name]) holding doctorates are ever addressed as Dr. [Name]. They stick with Father[Name]) and as Rabbi [Name].

    3) Holders of doctorates who work outside academia or research don't always prefer to be addressed as
Dr. (Name). in a salutation or conversation. 
     In the USA
"Dr." may be used depending on the work environment and/or when the degree isn't pertinent to the conversation.  E.g., a PhD in finance working at a bank or a PhD in American history working in software development are not likely to insist on being addressed as Dr. (Name).   But always ask for their preference. Use of, or omitting, the honorific can be a sensitive issue to some individuals! 
     And, outside the USA I observe people holding a PhD do want to be addressed as
Dr. (Name).

    4) In hospitals and some other healthcare environments as well there is often a practice no one holding a doctoral degree except the physicians (medical doctors, dentists, osteopaths,
podiatrists, veterinarians ... ) is addressed as Dr. (Name). This is out of consideration for the patients who want to know who are the doctors and who are nurses, support staff and allied professionals. It can be confusing with so many people walking around in white! 
     This makes for some unhappy professionals who earned doctorates in hospital administration, pharmacy, physical therapy and nursing, etc. who might prefer to be addressed as
Dr. (Name)
too.  It's my understanding that all of these professionals might well be addressed as Dr. (Name) in other situations (teaching or consulting, for example). But for patients in the doctor's office, clinic, or hospital the practice of reserving Dr. (Name) for the physicians makes sense.

    5) All that said, ultimately how one is addressed by others is up to the individual and usually everyone goes along.  For example, if you and I meet a woman who identifies herself as Monsignor Alice ... I think it is unlikely she's a Roman Catholic Monsignor.  And, it's unusual she has only one name, like Pink, Rhianna, Sting, Cher, or Madonna. But we should directly address her in conversation as Monsignor Alice, it's nice to meet you  ... because that's what she says her name is.  But, when she's out of range, we will all be talking about her.

     -- Robert Hickey

How Do I Use "Esquire"
An Attorney's Name in Writing?

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

         -- Kenneth Millard

   I am an attorney and I do not use Esq. following my surname.  Although I am a practicing attorney, it strikes me that to insert the Esq. would project a self-importance I do not feel. What's the traditional way to use Esq.?
         -- Robert Simpson

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

How to Address a Former Elected State Official?
How do you address in writing a former state senator?
          -- R.W.

How do I address a letter to a former member of our state assembly?
          -- Roy O.

Dear R.W. and Roy O.,
A state official elected in a general election is addressed as "the Honorable".  The rule is for former and retired officials: once one is "the Honorable" one is "the Honorable" for life.
Retired/Former senators, since they are not one-officeholder-at-a-time officials, they continue to be addressed as Senator (Surname).
          Former members of other assemblies
are formally addressed in a salutation or conversation as Mr./Ms./etc. (Surname) while in office, but as a practice many use Delegate/Representative/Delegate (Surname) in a salutation or conversation. It's not formal and traditional, but it's a common practice and useful when one wants to make sure everyone knows who the member is an current elected official and not just another Mr./Ms./etc.
        If you are addressing a letter relating to his/her public service, or it is social correspondence (a letter to a neighbor, a holiday note, or get-well card) -- address the envelope and use in the letter's address block:
                  The Honorable (Full Name)

          If you are writing to someone who served as a state senator, but is now working
in some commercial/professional role --  e.g., they are now your insurance agent, attorney, or stock broker -- and you are writing to them in the context of this commercial/professional endeavor -- address him/her as:
                  Mr./Ms./Dr./etc. (Full Name)
In the salutation or in conversation use:
Mr./Ms./Dr./etc. (Surname)
In the US we address people as pertinent to the situation. Each of us has many names and each is correct in a specific time and place. E.g., a woman named "Ann Robinson" might be addressed as "Mrs. Robinson", "Ann", "Sweetheart" or "Mom".  Each name is an appropriate form of address in a certain situation. How one is addressed relates to (1) who is addressing the person? and (2) in which role is the person being addressed?
n the US our tradition is that we address people as pertinent to the situation.
-- Robert Hickey

Which of My Post Nominals Should I Use?
     I have a Doctor of Medicine degree, Master of Science in Technical Management, Master of Science in Chemistry, and BS in Biochemistry.  I have only ever used MY NAME, MD.  I see other physicians using THEIR NAME, MD, MS to include the fact that they have a master’s degree.  Which is correct?
          -- KTW

     I am a holistic health practitioner (HHP), certified aromatherapist (cert aroma), registered aromatherapist (RA), master herbalist (MH), licensed massage therapist (LMT) and esthetician (LE).
      Should my name on my business card be (Full Name), HHP, cert aroma, MH, LMT, LE, RA?

          -- HHP

Dear KTW & HHP:
     Two issues here:
     (1) What is pertinent to your clients? 
     On their business card individuals use just the highest and most pertinent post nominals when presenting their name to the public (clients, peers, licensing agencies, etc.).
     E.g., physicians include MD and professional affiliations to define their type of schooling and specialty. Both clarify to the public their credentials to offer their service. They could include another degree/certification such as a Masters in Science in Chemistry when related. But a
Masters in Ancient Latin might not be. Both degrees would be on their CV/resume but whether they are used with the name on a business card would depend on the service offered.
     (2) Which post-nominals will the public recognize
     When they are yours you are very proud of every one. 
But a business card is not your CV/resume.
     So, when deciding which post nominals to include, you should also ask: are what the post nominals stand for common knowledge?
     If they are not, it may be better just to list the services you offer e.g, “Holistic Health Practitioner” “Master Herbalist”  "Aromatherapy” and “Licensed Massage Therapist” on your card -- and the detailed information on the on your CV/resume.

            -- Robert Hickey

How to Address an a Former Speaker of the
U.S. House of Representatives and His/Her Spouse?

      What is the proper way to address the outer and inner envelopes of a invitation to a former Speaker of the United States House of  Representatives?
      -- B. Pitt

Dear B. Pitt:
     In the media commentators address former speakers, e.g., Newt Gingrich as Speaker Gingrich, but it not correct. Former speakers are not formally addressed as Speaker since there is only one speaker at a time: being speaker is a role in which a person serves. not a rank given and keeps forever.
    Formally, a former speaker is addressed just like any former member of the House of Representatives. When they use the same family name, address the outside envelope to them as:
        The Honorable (His Full Name)

               and Mrs. (Shared Family Name)

        The Honorable (Her Full Name)
               and Mr. (Full Name)

    On the inside envelope use the form of address used in conversation.  The conversational form is always used on the inside envelope.:
         Mr. and Mrs. (Shared Family Name)
    Note: I have "Mr./Mrs." in the formula above, but you should use the honorific to which the guest is entitled ... Mr./Dr./etc. ... whatever.  
   In an introduction, mention their service as speaker when appropriate. For example:
        The Honorable (Full Name), Member of the U.S. House of Representative from 1979 to 1999, and Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 1999.
    For more on the history of this tradition see this post.     
                     -- Robert Hickey

How to Write the Names of Deceased
Military Personnel?

    What is the correct written form for the name of a deceased retired US Army Lieutenant Colonel?
             -- James Costello

Dear Mr. Costello,
      In this case you are not addressing a person ... since he or she is deceased.
      Thus the rules of 'how to address' don't apply.
      I don't know anything about the context of where you are writing this name ... but ... here is a precedent: when the US military writes the name of a deceased person on a tombstone they write their name and then list the rank held and branch of service after their name. 
     The deceased don't hold ranks anymore (those holding a rank have their rank before their name) and they are not correctly identified as being in the retired service.
     So this would suggest to list their name, followed by the rank they achieved and then the branch of service in which the person served -- not as part of his or her name.

          -- Robert Hickey

How to Write the Name of a Person Who
Had One or More Titles During His/Her Life?

        How do you write the name of a deceased person who had a title?  What about a person who ahd  multiple titles?
        -- J. K. H. 

Dear J.K.H.:
      Deceased people are listed simply by name, typically the form of their name they had when they died -- without a courtesy title, honorific, ranks or post nominal. 
     Other forms of a deceased person's name -- which they might have used at one time or another during their life: Mr., Ms., Mrs., or Dr.; Excellency, Honorable or Reverend; Senator, Judge, Admiral, General, Captain, or Commissioner; and B.A., M.A. or Ph.D. -- might be mentioned in the text of a biography. But the text would be focusing on their actions as office holders -- rather than choosing one version of their name from a particular time in their life.

      -- Robert Hickey

Site updated by Robert Hickey on May 19, 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      

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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 © 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®