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

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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
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

     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, 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 February 5, 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 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

How to Write the City on an Invitation?
        Everybody I'm inviting knows in which state my ceremony will be. On an invitation should I write “Nashville” or  “City of Nashville?
       -- Vicki Cantrell

Dear Ms. Cantrell,
    Write (city), (state):  Nashville, Tennessee
    You would write “city” if “city” is part of the city's name: New York City
    Some cities don’t have to have a state … like Washington, DC. But for the others, use (city), (state).
    Our events are so special to us -- sometimes there’s an urge to fancy them up. Maybe “City of Nashville” sounds grand? Resist the urge to embellish. Keep it simple.
              -- Robert Hickey

When To Use Dr. (Name)? 
And When To Use (Name), PhD?

My daughter is receiving her PhD and will be teaching.  I would like to give her a name plate for her desk. Should it be Dr. (Full Name) or (Full Name), PhD?
              --  AP

Dear AP,
         (Full Name), PhD is the official form of her name. You will use it on the envelope, or in the address block of a letter, when you write to her with regard to her professional pursuits. This is the form the university will use when she is listed among the faculty. It is used by the degree holder, when specifying the exact degree is pertinent – like on business cards or in a list of academics.
         Dr. (Full Name) is the social form of her name. You will use it when you write her name on a personal letter's envelope, e.g., one sent to her home.  This is the form everyone will use on the envelope when they send her a birthday or holiday card. It is rarely used by the degree holder since one does not correctly give oneself an honorific. The degree holder – in their signature or when introducing him or herself – just uses their name ... no "Dr."   It's up to the other person to add the "Dr."  E.g., I just introduce myself as "Robert Hickey" – never "Mr. Robert Hickey." (Sometimes you will observe a physician in a healthcare setting introducing him or herself as "Dr" – but there it is for the patient's benefit to know that they are the physician in a field of people wearing seemingly identical white coats!)
         Dr. (Surname) is the conversational form of her name.  Use it both officially and socially in a letter's salutation as well as in oral conversation.
         So for a office name plate use the official form of her name -- (Full Name), PhD  
                  -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a County Executive?
          I wonder if you could tell me how I should address a county executive.
          -- JM in Area Code 206

Dear JM,
          Some county executives are elected in a general election. So they are addressed as:
                    The Honorable (Full Name)
                            County Executive, XYZ County

          Others are appointed / hired by the county board. So they are simply:
                     Mr./Ms. (Full Name)
                             County Executive, XYZ County

          So – you will have to find out how your particular county executive got into office!
          You use the same formula (without the address) in an formal introduction.
          In conversation, informal one-on-one introduction, and a salutation both elected and appointed are addressed as Mr./Ms./Dr./etc. (Surname).

(whatever honorific to which they are normally entitled).
         Although someone might say the County Executive will be here in five minutes, that is not a form of direct address.  County executive is not formally used as an honorific as part of the person's name.
          -- Robert Hickey

How to Address the First Lady of a Congregation?
          How do I address the envelope and letter when writing to the First Lady of a local church?
         -- MT

Dear MT,
        While the honorific First Lady is not used as an honorific in formal direct address with the wife of the President of the United States, in some religious congregations it is used as part of the name in direct address with the wife of their pastor.
        Some forms of address are used by people both inside and outside an organization, others are used only by those inside. So whether or not one addresses this person as First Lady (Name) often depends on who you are, the context of the conversation, and where the conversation occurs. 
       At the church, discussing the role and duties of the First Lady: Yes. 
       At professional employment not related to her role as First Lady: No.
      Within such congregations, they use First Lady (Full Name) on the envelope, in the address block of the letter, and in the salutation and conversation they use First Lady (Surname).
      As an outsider would I use it? 
      I think it would be welcome to use First Lady (Name) in communication with regard to the role and duties as First Lady, but I don't think it would be incorrect to simply address her formally on the letter or envelope as Mrs. (Husband's Full Name) or, if I knew if was her preference, as Ms. (Her Full Name) in the salutation or in conversation.
      -- Robert Hickey

How is the Precedence of One's Former Office
Acknowledged in Subsequent Offices?

     We have a display in our office of judges and members of the bar association. For the first time, two of our judges have resigned and rejoined the practicing bar as attorneys. I believe out of respect, we should keep their photos among the judges. But others believe since these judges are again members of the practicing bar, they should appear within the ranks of the membership.  Which is correct?
         -- JWF

Dear JWK,
     The rules of protocol support the rest of the board of your local bar association.
     Precedence is based on current office held — and the office for which the person is included.
     A current photo array should be a reflection of the current hierarchy.
     E.g., when Colin Powell goes to an event, sometimes he is seated as a former general, sometimes as a former secretary of state, and sometime when neither is pertinent … as a guest.  Other former offices held -- not pertinent to the event --are not part of the consideration.
     To elevate a former judge among their current peers in a representation of a current hierarchy, is granting them a courtesy due the 'current' office holder — like the corner office, staff & secretary, parking place, and being addressed as Judge (Name) in the courtroom. 
      (A former judge may be orally addressed as
Judge (Name) in social situations by friends and family … but not in an official situation where anyone could mistakenly think he or she currently wielded the power of the office.)
      At events sometimes former officials are seated with current office holders. E.g.,  when a person holds no current office … say a retired office holder … he or she sometimes is seated at an event with the current office holder as a courtesy to the current office holder — but not because the former office holder has elevated precedence based just on being a "former office holder". 
     But if he or she was there as a member of an officially recognized (participating) group … then he or she would be seated with his or her ‘current’ peers.
          -  Robert Hickey

Use of Councilor for Members of a Council
Our local newspaper, when writing about members of the City Council, always refers to them as councilor.  My husband and I feel that they should be referred to as councilman/woman or council member.  Are we being too nit-picky?
      -- CRH

Dear CRH,
         Are you near the U.S.-Canadian border?  Councilor (and councillor with two "L"s is also a British spelling) is very typical in the U.K. and Commonwealth nations.
         Many people think councilman, councilwoman, and council member are a mouthful!  I suspect the reporter is just trying to find something easy and short.
         -- Robert Hickey

How to Write the Names of Current &
Former Officials to Differentiate Them?

       We have an upcoming event next week at which both of our current U. S. Senators will be attending as will one of our former U. S. Senators – a long-serving senator who retired last year.  What is the proper way to differentiate between the current and retired senators in the program?

              -- North Dakota Chairman

Dear Dear Mr. Chairman:
       The forms of address for current and retired senators is the same ... so in the program you should differentiate between them with a modifying statement after their name:

              The Honorable Full Name
              Senator for North Dakota

              The Honorable Full Name
Senator for North Dakota, 1990-2006

       Precedence of your state's two current senators is the one elected first is first.  Precedence of a former senator with a current senator is that the former is with, but after a current.  Among formers, the earliest elected (earliest serving) is first.
       Former senators .... retired or defeated ... continue to use the same forms of address. Exception is a senator who was removed from office: he or she would no longer be addressed as The Honorable.
       I cover all this in my book if this sort of thing comes up often..
                -- Robert Hickey

Site updated by Robert Hickey on February 5, 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 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 © 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®