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       
Ambassador to the U.K.  
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    
    Same Sex
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      

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

First Lieuten
ant
   
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 March 29, 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 Retired US Ambassador?
    How do I address (in a letter) an retired American Ambassador?
           -- Carol Bentley

Dear Ms. Bentley:
     A retired US ambassador is addressed by US citizens on the envelope and in the address block of the letter in the standard style used for high US officials:
            The Honorable (Full Name)
            (Address)

     If he (or she) was a career diplomat – someone who spent their career as a diplomat and is now retired, in the salutation or conversation he/she would be addressed as:
            Dear Ambassador (Surname),
     Traditionally only career ambassadors … retired career foreign service officers
are Ambassador (surname) in a salutation or conversation in retirement.  Political appointees -- those appointed to a post and go immediately back to private life after their service – revert to whatever honorific to which they were entitled before serving as an ambassador.  I am not saying you don't encounter individuals who briefly served as an ambassador seeking to be addressed as "Ambassador" – you do.  But that's not the tradition.
     So if he/she was a political appointee who served once as ambassador, traditionally you would use the honorific which the individual used for the bulk of their career:
            Dear Mr./Ms./Dr./Senator/etc. (Surname),
        -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Former State Senator?
How do you address in writing a former state senator?
          -- RW in Florida

Dear RW,
         
A state senator is addressed as "the Honorable" -- and once one is "the Honorable" one is "the Honorable" for life. Retired senators, since they are not one-officeholder-at-a-time officials continue to be addressed as "Senator".
          But, you say former state senator.
          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)
                  (Address)
.        
Use in the salutation or in conversation:
                  Senator (Surname)

          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)
                  (Address)
.        
Use in the salutation or in conversation:
                 
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? As I started out saying – in the US our tradition is that we address people as pertinent to the situation.
        
-- Robert Hickey

 

Is a Former Judge Still Addressed as
The Honorable If Now Working as Something Else?

Dear Robert,
     I have a question regarding a former judge who by his own choice returned to private practice. When he was a judge he was the Honorable. Is he still addressed "The Honorable (Full Name)," and as "Judge (Name)", or would that be inappropriate now that he is a lawyer in private practice?
             --- Mark

Hi Mark,
    Two part answer:
    1) The general rule is "once The Honorable, always The Honorable."  So addressing a social envelope to a retired judge would be as follows:
            The Honorable (full name)
            Address

        Retired judges are socially addressed in conversation as Judge (surname). 
In a social salutation you would address a retired judge as Dear Judge (surname). 
    2) However if a retired or former official who has assumed another form of employment (for pay) is not necessarily accorded the courtesies of a current or fully-retired official when acting in a subsequent professional context.  A judge who has assumed another position -- e.g., returned to private practice and is acting as counsel in litigation – he/she is addressed & identified on a business envelope in the style of an attorney.
     He or she would traditionally be addressed
in a purely social context as Judge (Name)  – by friends at parties, by neighbors on the street, or when issuing a wedding invitation for his daughter, but he would not be addressed as Judge (surname) when acting as legal counsel in another judge's courtroom.
           -- Robert Hickey

Dear Mr. Hickey
     t could be argued that the title of "Judge" has supplanted the title of "Mister" and that it would be a discourtesy (both to the retired judge and to the court that he or she served) to strip the retired judge of the title he or she earned.  In court the judge is referred to as "Your Honor," or "The Court," so the parties involved in the proceeding will not be confused.
    I should add it is the practice in our legal community to continue to refer to a retired judge who has returned to private practice as "Judge (surname)," at least outside of the courtroom.
             --- JAL & GW

Hi JAL & GW,
         If by "outside the courtroom" you mean in social situations, I'd say O.K.
         The pattern in forms of address is when one leaves an office which has a special form of address -- use of the courtesies of the forms of address related to the office extend to social use only.
        E.g., when USAF General who retires but subsequently works for a defense contractor and is selling a product or service to the U.S. government -- he is addressed as Mr. (Name) while working as a commercial representative

        Through interviews with attorney's and jurists they have confirmed the same pattern.
 
      The former judge might still be addressed socially as
Judge (Name) and could send out wedding invitations for his daughter's wedding as Judge (Name) because there is no possibility that anyone would think his actions have the force of the government behind them.
        Thus addressing a retired judge as Judge (Name) socially makes sense. But addressing a practicing attorney as Judge (Name) is misleading to his role in the current circumstance.
        When you observe formers being addressed as currents ... it has more to do with the person addressing the former office holder wanting to flatter the former office holder, or the former office holder wishing to continue to receive a courtesy accorded a current office holder.
           -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Sheriff?
    I am addressing a letter and envelope to the Sheriff of the Civil Parish which is an elected position. How would I go about doing this correctly?

 
         -- Andrew Marlay

Dear Mr. Marlay:

    Sheriffs who areare elected in a general election are entitled to be addressed as "The Honorable"
    The formula is:
  
          The Honorable (Full Name
       
    Sheriff of (Name of Civil Parish/City/Town/Jurisdiction)
            (Address)

    And the salutation would be:
  
          Dear Sheriff (Surname):
   
One note: At the Federal level, use of "the Honorable" is consistent, and at a state level it is typically consistent with some variation from state to state. Local governments are a patchwork of traditions. Some very traditional, others, less so. While what I've written above is probably correct 90% of the time, a call to your local government office will confirm what is your local tradition.
      -- Robert Hickey

Site updated by Robert Hickey on March 29, 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 © 2015 Robert Hickey.     All Rights Reserved.
Book Photo: Marc Goodman.





All information on www.formsofaddress.info 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®