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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VIDEO of Robert Hickey
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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 the U.S.
   from a foreign country      
Ambassador of the U.S.        
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 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 April 17, 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 Write a Name On An Award
Plaque or Certificate?

       How would I engrave a name on a plaque for someone who was a governor? Governor Joe Smith?
               -- Norma @ Midway

      We are giving our mayor a certificate.  How should we would write his name on the certificate? Do we use Mayor Joe Smith?
               -- Tim, Vienna, VA

       A  District Court judge will be the speaker at our graduation ceremony and we will present him with an award we give annually.  I was wondering whether to put J.D. after his name on the award? Is it Joe A. Smith?  Or is it Joe A. Smith, JD?
               -- Roger M. in Arkansas

Dear Norma, Tim & Roger,
     It's done different ways.

     1) The basic way to do it is just to list their full name:
                (Full Name)
     When you inscribe a plaque, award or certificate to just their name it emphasizes that the award is for them without reference to any office or position they might hold or have held. The honor is to them as a person without regard to how their name is written at a particular time in their life.

     2) But, I've seen more than just the name included. When you use the official form of their name and include other information -- honors, academic post-nominal abbreviations, courtesy titles/honorifics, or military ranks -- it shifts the emphasis to their role / professional activities as reflected in the way their name appears.
               Vincent Esposito, MD
               The Reverend John Magisano
               The Honorable Albert Arnold Gore, Jr.
               Major Jeffrey Buchanan

     If you want to use the official form of his or her name, go to the On-Line Guide page on this site (if you don't have a copy of my book) and choose the office the person holds.

      -- Robert Hickey

How to Address Former President Bill Clinton,
Former Secretary of State
(and Senator) Hillary Clinton,
Chelsea & Her Husband?

     Hi, Robert!  As you know, I sing with Lionheart – and we sang at the Metropolitan Museum of Art last night. We were surprised by some special audience members – Bill and Hillary Clinton, Chelsea and Chelsea's husband, Mark Mezvinsky.
    Lionheart would like to send them a note thanking them for coming to come hear us.  To whom should it be addressed? and what would be the proper salutation?  I know it's “Mr. Clinton” and not “President Clinton”, but I'm not sure how to handle a mix of current office-holder, past President, daughter and daughter's fiancé all at once: “Dear Clintons,”?

           -- Kurt-Owen Richards, The bass-baritone in Lionheart

Hi Kurt:
    It’s great that the Clintons came to hear you. I enjoyed seeing you perform at the Lionheart concert at The Cloisters in December. 
    This is probably the most frequently asked question I get, though you are the FIRST PERSON who wasn't asking as a rhetorical question!
     It's a bit odd to address a letter to a group of people who don't live or work together (as you would a family or colleagues at the same office.)  But that said I will go with it, and tell you how to do it correctly if you are sending just one note.
    The Clintons et. al.: For a social envelope could be ....
       The Honorable William Clinton
       The Honorable Hillary Clinton
       and Mr. and Mrs. Mark Mezvinsky
    You could add "Jefferson" -- his middle name ... and "Rodham" to hers if you want to.
    [And I decided to address Chelsea and her husband in the traditional way for couple.  It's possible they would be Mr. Mark Mezvinsky and Ms. Chelsea Clinton if she never uses Mezvinsky.]
     The salutation would be
        Dear Mr. Clinton, Senator Clinton, Mr. and Mrs. Mezvinsky,
    Bill is first and Hillary is second because former Presidents are #5 on the White House Precedence List.  A former Secretary of State is #19.  A former Senator is not even on the list.
     I include a version of a White House Precedence List in my book so you can look this sort of order up.
    Hillary Clinton doesn't go by Secretary Clinton after leaving office. Being a secretary, like many jobs, does not come with a personal rank that continues forever. She goes back to the last form of address to which she was entitled – and that was Senator.  Former Senators (unlike Secretaries) do continue to be addressed as Senator after they leave office.

            -- Robert Hickey

How to Write an Official's Name on a Place Card?
       Can you tell me how to write mayor's name on a formal place card?
Do I refer to him as:
              The Honorable Mayor Darr
       or is it:
              Mayor Mark A. Darr
       -- Nicole in Little Rock

       I am hosting a dinner for a U.S. Senator. How should her place card be written? Is it  Senator Dianne Feinstein? – or – Diane Feinstein, U.S. Senator ?
       -- Debbie in Corporate Affairs

      Can you help me with the proper form to use on a place card for the following person?:  H.E. Sheikh Khalid Bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani, Minister of Foreign Affairs in Qatar.
       --  William at the Statehouse 

Dear Nicole, Debbie & William:
       I provide complete details on how to write place cards in book if these sorts of things comes up often.

       A formal place card simply identifies a person's seat. The name is written on one side of the card: the side facing the guest.  You write his or her's name as he or she is addressed in conversation:
                     Mr. HIckey
                     Mayor Darr
                     Senator Feinstein
                     Sheikh Mohammed
       When the person holds a high office, another option is to write just title of the office the official holds.  E.g.,:
                     The President
                     The Chief Justice
                     The Mayor of (City)
                     The Minister of Foreign Affairs
       At not 'purely' social events, larger double-sided tent cards or placards (text on both sides, so others at the table can see who is who and network) can have whatever information the host decides is useful:
              The Honorable Mark A. Darr
              Mayor of (Name of City)
              The Honorable Diane Feinstein
              Senator for California
              H.E. Sheikh Khalid bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani
              Minister of Foreign Affairs
              H.E. Sheikh Khalid bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani
              Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar
But these latter forms are not actually formal place cards.
        -- Robert Hickey

When Someone is The Honorable + Something Else
When someone is both a Dr. (PhD) and The Honorable would you use both titles when addressing them i.e. The Honorable Dr. John Smith?
          -- Chris
I am the current mayor of our fair city and also pastor of a local church. What would my proper title be?  I'm a second term as the Honorable mayor and long time the Reverend.  I am writing a letter of recommendation as the mayor and a pastor.  Do I sign it as the pastor and/or mayor?  Either way? Or both?
          -- IC in California

Dear C & IC,
The US Style is to put one thing before your name … or one thing after … it's either/or ... never both. The one to use is the form of address pertinent to the communication.
          Chris can be:
               The Honorable (Full Name), Dr. (Full Name) or (Full Name), PhD
          IC can be:
               The Honorable (Full Name) or The Reverend (Full Name)
          But never:
               The Honorable Reverend (Full Name)
               The Honorable Dr. (Full Name)
               The Honorable (Full Name), PhD
          In a salutation or conversation others would switch to something else. As mayor, people will address Chris in conversation or in a salutation as: Mayor (Surname). 

          This same pattern happens with Judges and Senators who are on a letter The Honorable (Full Name) … In conversation or a salutation one switchs to something else, in their cases: Judge (Surname) or Senator (Surname).
IC asks "Do I sign it as the pastor and/or mayor?"
          There is a rule: One never gives oneself an honorific or title.
          So, I do not sign myself (write my own name) or list myself in the signature block or anywhere else as Mr. Robert Hickey.
          Even the President of the United States simply signs his name:
                    (Full Name)
                    President of the United States

          So you should sign letter simply as:
                    (Full Name)
          And after your name you list the office(s) which is/are pertinent to the letter:
                    Mayor of (City), California
                    Pastor of the (Name of Church)

FYI …  Using MORE than one title at a time.

          The British DO combine every title they ever acquired. In the UK you see names like His Excellency The Right Honourable General Dr. Sir (Full Name), OBE.
          In the US you see some clergy using The Reverend Dr. (Full Name).  I see it typically with Protestant clergy … especially Episcopal clergy.  I think they are following the style of their related Church of England whose tradition it is to include every honor, degree and title … all at one time.  The Brits have a culture with a permanent hierarchy. For them, listing every personal rank is a tradition.
          In the US the style is simplified and a bit more egalitarian. We address others in the role that is pertinent to the communication. So the classic US style is for Chris to be The Honorable (Full Name) or The Reverend (Full Name) and then in conversation others switch to Dr. (Surname), Mayor (Surname), etc.
          I cover all this, and give the formulas for every office in my book should this sort of thing come up often.

          -- Robert Hickey

How to Address Retired Enlisted Personnel?
      How to I address someone who was enlisted and is now retired? 
     -- Ricky

Dear Ricky,
      All U.S. fully retired armed services personnel are addressed using the same two formulae:
                  (Rank) (Full Name), (Branch of Service), (Retired)
                  (Rank) (Full Name), (Branch of Service), (Ret.)
            So if you are addressing, for example, a USAF Chief Master Sergeant, it will look like:
                  Chief Master Sergeant William Smith, USAF, Retired
                  Chief Master Sergeant William Smith, USAF, Ret.
                  CMSgt William Smith, USAF, Retired
                  CMSgt William Smith, USAF, Ret.
      The first two are with the rank fully spelled out. The second two use the U.S. Air Force's service-specific abbreviation for the rank. All the services have service-specific abbreviations. Either is O.K. I give all the service-specific abbreviations in my book should you need to look them up on a regular basis.
      There is no difference between addressing retired officers and enlisted: Use of rank by fully retired personnel is at the preference of the bearer (most frequently it's 0-6 and above.) with certain limitations (established by the U.S. Department of Defense) as to how the rank is used in other than purely social situations.
      I guess the only caveat here is to know if they are fully retired or a veteran.

            -- Robert Hickey

Can I Create a Company Business Card for Myself
If My Company Does Not Provide One?

          I'm a college student, I graduate in May and have an internship lined up. I want to print some business cards to use for networking and my long-term job search.
          The internship is unpaid and only for 2 months so I'm not sure if I want the company name on the cards.
          My question is, could I put my degree, BA International Business, under my name instead of the company name? Or should I stick with the standard Company Name - Intern? It's a small company and I feel like it'd be more beneficial to put my degree for job hunting purposes.
          -- A.S.

Dear A.S.,
          It would be inappropriate to create a company business card for yourself to be used for other than company business.
          If you want to create a networking card for your job search … that's a great idea.
          I've seen them with a name, degree, cell phone and e-mail -- not even a mailing address.  I even saw one with a link to their on-line resume.
          -- Robert Hickey

Site updated by Robert Hickey on April 17, 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             

     Back to Main Page of the Robert Hickey's BLOG 

Robert Hickey is the author of Honor & Respect:
The Official Guide to Names, Titles, and Forms of Address
Published by The Protocol School of Washington®
Foreword by Pamela Eyring

Copyright © 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®