How to Use Your Post-Nominal Abbreviations



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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       
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  
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      

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    
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 Governor
   or Lt. Gov.    
First Lieutenant
   
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    
     

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   
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       
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        
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      


 

How to Use
Post-Nominal Abbreviations

Questions & Answers, Frequently Asked Questions, and Blog


Site updated by Robert Hickey on September 19, 2014

How to Use or Note Honorary Degrees?        

Which of My Post Nominals Should I Use?        

How to Note Honors/Honours Degree?          

When to Use Post Nominals for an Asssociates Degree?
When to Use Post Nominals for a Bachelors Degree?
       
When to Use Post Nominals for a Masters Degree?
           
When to Start Using My Degree's Post-Nominals?           
When to Use a On-Line Free Degree's Post Nominals?          

What Is the Correct Post Nominal for My Doctorate?            
What Is the Correct Post Nominal for My Masters?     
What Is the Correct Post Nominal for My Diploma/Certificate?     

What Is the Correct ORDER for My Post Nominals?            

How to Include "Fellow" Among Post Nominals?            
How to Punctuate Multiple Post Nominals?            
How Many Post Nominals to Use?            
How Many Post Nominals to Use on my E-Mail Signature Block?            
May I use Dr. After My Name As a Post Nominal?            

May I Use My Post Nominals on my Checks?             
May I Use My Post Nominals in my E-mail Address Block?           
May I Use My Post Nominals on a Business Card?           

What is the Post Nominal for an Attorney? Esq.? J.D.?            
How to Use I, II, III, etc            

Where Can I Get a Complete List of All Post-Nominals?


What is the Correct Order of Post-Nominals?


What is The Order of Post-Nominals?
      I am doing a presentation on the many post nominals in the medical and nursing fields and what they stand for. There are several and for our nursing convention I am conducting a focus session on which post nominals to use and the correct order to present post nominals. Would you happen to have that information?
    -- Monica, RN, BSN

      I have been an RN for 15 years, and work in the healthcare industry as a home health regional preceptor.  I completed my BS in Health Sciences with a minor in Business Management in 2009, and have just received my Master’s in Healthcare Administration degree. I also hold certifications as an OASIS specialist and Homecare Coding Specialist, both required for my job.
      I have read that the educational degrees should be listed first, followed by licensure credentials since these may not be permanent, followed by any certifications. Following this, I would list my name and post nominals as Tina Atkins, MHA, BS, RN, COS-C, HCS-D.  I have observed many of my colleagues with multiple post nominals still putting their RN designation first, followed by the educational achievements.  In that case, mine would be listed as Tina Atkins, RN, MHA, BS, COS-C, HCS-D.
       Are either of those correct, or should it be listed in another format?

 
  -- Tina

Dear Monica & Tina,
    When I started my book I thought I would include a list
of every post-nominal abbreviation in the world and what each one meant. I soon realized there are so many post nominals in so many fields any list would always be incomplete. Plus, I found that if you put any mysterious post-nominal abbreviation into any search engine ... the answer was instantly there.
    Thus I decided to focus on how they are used ... not what could be used.
    On page 100 of my book I cover how to correctly sequence all types of post nominals (academic degrees, decorations, honorary degrees, professional associations & affiliations, religious orders, theological degrees, etc., etc., etc.).  In your case here's the pertinent sequence that I often see with nurses:
            First Academic Degrees
            Then Professional Licenses -- RN is a professional license.
            Then Professional Certifications
            Then Professional Associations & Affiliations
      If you have more than one in a category place them high to low, and you feel they are equal put them in alphabetical order.
      I see you both use or consider to list RN first then your academic degree. It's not the order typically see, so if you have a source that suggests that order -- I would love to see it. 
      And finally, there is a frequently cited 'rule' you should not include more than three post nominals after your name. That's a good guideline.  But, often people ultimately decide on what to include depending on what is directly pertinent to the service they are offering.

               -- Robert Hickey

What is the Correct Order of Post-Nominal Abbreviations?
    I have recently earned my PhD.  I have a professional engineering registration designated as PE. I am also a fellow of an engineering organization F-SWE.
     What is the correct order for these different types of identifiers?  Also, what are the circumstances to use any or all of them?  If you are not the appropriate source for this information, can you suggest where or how I might find the answers.  I have asked all three institutions and none of them have a clue, but all would like for their initials to be most prominent of the set!
             --- PE, PhD, F-SWE

Dear PE, PhD, F-SWE:
    I cover this on page 100 in my book. The standard order for post-nominals is:
        1) Religious orders
        2) Theological degrees
 
       3) Academic degrees
        4) Honorary degrees, honors, decorations
 
       5) Professional licenses, certifications & affiliations
    Lastly ... If you have multiple post-nominals within one or more of those categories, list them in alphabetical order.
    So taking those points into consideration ... PhD, PE, F-SWE .... seems the best to me.
The guidelines on use of post-nominals are:
    * Only used with a full name
    * PhD is used in professionally in academia and research. It is used less often outside those areas.
    * Affiliations are used when appropriate and pertinent, like in official correspondence, on your business card, or in an professional publication.
    * None are used socially.
                               -- Robert Hickey

What is the Correct Order
for My Academic Degree & License?

       I will soon be a Registered Paralegal and able to use the post nominals RP with my name. Which post nominals come first?  I earned my MS in 1989, and the RP is a national test a la the CPA exam.

       -- RK Gill

Dear RK Gill:
      The order is: first academic post nominals; then license post nominals.
      So if you are going to use both, that would be: (Full Name), MS, RP
      This is the same order a Register Nurse would use: (Full Name), MS, RN

                 -- 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 identify the fact that they have a master’s degree.  Which is correct?
          -- KTW

Dear KTW:
     Individuals use just the highest and most pertinent post nominals when presenting their name to the general public.
     Medical professionals in practice include MD and professional affiliations to define their specialty. They also include anything else that clarifies to the public their credentials to offer their service.
     So a Masters in Science in Chemistry definitely seems related ... and
might be pertinent ... as might your other Masters degree. Both would definitely be on your CV/resume but whether they are used with your name on a business card would depend what service you are providing.
     Use the pertinent
post-nominal credentials to explain to a person reading your name ... what credentials you have ... that are useful to them ... to establish your credibility to be their expert.
            -- Robert Hickey


What is the Correct
Post-Nominal for My Degree?


What is the Correct Post-Nominal for My Doctorate?
    I have searched and searched without success as to how to abbreviate: (1) Doctorate in Education Administration which I have just recently completed and have been awarded this Post Graduate Degree. I greatly appreciate your assistance in this matter.

         -- JEB, NC, USN, Kensington, Maryland

Dear JEB:
    I don't know the preferred post-nominal abbreviation for a Doctorate in Educational Administration. I could guess ... but suggest you call a secretary in the Dean of the Department of Education's office at the University and ask. The most critical eyes on whether a particular post nominal is the best/preferred one .... won't be those of us who don't have that degree ... but those that do.

                   -- Robert Hickey

What is the Correct Post-Nominal for My Masters?
      I completed an Executive MBA in Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing, and hold a RMC certification as a Registered Medical Coder.  I do not want to come across to formal on my business card, however find that it may be something that can differentiate me from others as I am with a biotech company.
      Should it be abbreviated as EMBA or just MBA?  Second, should I list it as EMBA or MBA, RMC?  Or, do you have a better suggestion all together?

              - Tim M.

         What is the appropriate way to abbreviate the masters degree granted by Air University?  It is titled, Master of Military Operational Art and Science.  At first I thought it would truly be a Masters of Science, but even the accrediting institution refer to it as titled.  Therefore, the most common MS will not do.  Would it be a MMOAS?  
        -- Jason S.

         My Master's Degree in Conflict Analysis and Resolution was recently conferred and also have been certified as a Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediator. What would be the proper way to list both after my name?
        -- Marie M.

Dear Tim, Jason & Marie:
      What to post-nominal to use? The post-nominal abbreviations for degrees vary by the tradition of the granting institution. For example, if certain institution offers both MBA and Executive MBA they might make the distinction between an MBA and an EMBA. Call the Dean's office and ask. Someone there will know what most graduates use ... or will know how to find out.
      When you want to include more information? On your resume you can include every detail. But sometimes people want to be more specific [on a business card or e-mail signature block] when a degree/certification qualifies them to offer a particular professional service. Whether they abbreviate it or spell it out depends on for whom the post nominal is included?  Other professionals might know the abbreviation.  But will the public know the meaning of the string of initials and it would be better to list it fully? 
      What should I include and what should I leave off? What you use on your card or e-mail signature block should be about clarifying to the reader who you are to them / how you may be of service to them. It is not a presentation of your complete resume.
      Who will notice what you do? It will be your peers (those holding the same degree) and the granting institution's faculty and staff who will be your harshest critics if you use something they don't like. I truth, the rest of us don't care so much precisely the letters you use for your earned degrees. We're too focused on our own post-nominals!
                     -- Robert Hickey

What is the Correct Post-Nominal for
My Certificate/Diploma?

       How do I include a MBA certificate behind my name?  I cannot find out how to write the post-nominal abbreviation for an MBA Certificate.  CMBA?  MBAC?

            -- Ray Harris

      Should one include any post nominal abbreviations for a BTEC National Diploma in Computer Software? I was wondering whether or not a level 3 qualification merits an abbreviation as well so I can show I am qualified in two different areas.  What should I include?  BTEC?  NDip ?
            -- Matthew Charisis

Dear Mr. Harris and Mr. Charisis:
      Call the dean's office of the granting institution and ask what is the typical post-nominal abbreviation for your certificate.  Ultimately no one will be very critical of exactly the post-nominal abbreviation you use ... except others with the same or similar certification.

             -- Robert Hickey

Is There a Comprehensive List of Post-Nominals?
       Where can I find a comprehensive list of all official post-nominal letters for the U.S.?
       I am working on behalf of data governance for the amusement park operator I work for, and want to make sure we present a comprehensive and accurate list to our guests making reservations online.
        -- William Maryse

Dear Mr. Maryse:
        I think such a list is impossible to develop and keep current.
        I started to develop one for my book, but found that universities, societies, and certifying organizations vary on the post-nominals they use for degrees, honors, and certificates.  Further there is no recognizing agency to decide who can invent a new post-nominal and who gets to use it.
        But you say this is for guest registering on-line for reservations at your amusement part properties: I think you should consider that post-nominals are not used in social situations .... only in official situations.
        So a broad list of honorifics like ...
                Mr., Ms., Mrs., Dr., Senator, General, Father, Pastor, .... etc.
                        ... would be appropriate
                                ... and skip the post-nominals.
        In my book I have the forms of address for every hierarchy I could identify in the US and 194 countries ... which would include every honorific commonly used in direct address.
        -- Robert Hickey


How to Use My Post-Nominal?


I Have Two Degrees With The Same Post-Nominal
Can I Use Both on My Business Card?

     After May, I will have two master's degrees, both MS.  When I create a business card, do I just write MS once after my name?  How would I indicate both?

 
      -- Dan

        I see in my copy of your book that you cover academic forms of address on pages 162-164. But, I have a friend that has two Bachelor of Arts Degrees.  What post-nominals would be appropriate on her card?  Would you use simply a B.A. once, or would you use B.A., B.A.?
 
      -- Justin

Dear Dan & Justin,

     SHOULD I INCLUDE TWO POST-NOMINALS?
     In academia and research .... you see people listing every degree and honor the have ever earned ... since all their degrees are central to the academic environment.
    Outside academia include only degrees that are directly pertinent to the service you offer / job you hold (see below).
    So MS, MS would not be wrong -- you might get some questions, but if they come it's an opportunity to tell them about your education. Regarding BA, BA .... in an academic journal it would be pertinent but outside of academia It is not often you see a BA included with a person's name.

     ACADEMIC POST-NOMIALS ON A BUSINESS CARD?
     Clearly getting those degrees are great accomplishments. Whether you include degrees on your business card ... or don't ... may just depend on several things.
    #1 A business card is not a resume/CV.  A card is what you give to another person so you can keep in touch.  What's important are addresses and numbers.
    #2 On business cards what's always included is your job title ... which defines what your role and the functions or services you offer .... rather than degrees that are your qualifications to hold the job.
    #3 Following up on #2, you should include the pertinent post-nominals [degrees, licenses, certifications] for the professional service you are rendering. This type of post-nominal is included to establish the professional certifications required to provide the service ...  MD, DDS, OD, RN, CPA, MSW, MBA .... etc.
      E.g., a CPA might list only
CPA after his name since it's pertinent to his/her professional practice ... even though he/she might have a BA and a MA as well ... a business consultant and holder of an MBA might list MBA ... but not other, less pertinent, degrees.

    Ultimately it will be your peers who are the most critical ... so see what others are doing and follow their lead!

         -- Robert Hickey

Can I Use My Post-Nominals on E-Mail Address Block?
      Is it considered correct to use one´s post nominal letters in a business e-mail address block?
             -- L-M-N-V

Dear L-M-N-V:
    Your question is answered in my book in Chapter Four: Abbreviations and Post-Nominals.
    Post-nominals can be used in official situations ... especially in academia .... on business correspondence. They are not used in social situation or on social correspondence.  So if that describes you, then the answer is yes with the following caveats:
    #1 Generally only the pertinent post-nominals for the interaction at hand are included. 
        For example in the US:
            A military honor would be skipped on a civilian card. 
            Rudolf Giuliani, who is was knighted by Her Majesty the Queen after 09/11, might include OBE at a somehow British-related event, but probably not on his business card.
    #2  BA and MA are traditionally not included outside academia or research unless they are directly pertinent to the job is one is performing. So a therapist/counselor would include a masters in counseling after their name... a business consultant would include MBA. But a person with an MFA working in administration at city hall would not.
        Even doctorates are frequently omitted it they are not related to the professional service being rendered ... a person with an PhD in a history typically does not present him or herself as a "Dr." when offering yoga lessons.
        -- Robert Hickey

How Many Post Nominals To Use on My E-mail Signature? 
 
       I currently have a two certifications that I include on my e-mail signature block. I will be adding a number of additional certifications over the next 6-12 months, and eventually a Master’s degree in Homeland Security as well. Do I use them all in professional email correspondence if they are relevant to my profession on the whole, or should I tailor them on an email-to-email basis?
 
       -- Justin Dwight, CHLS, PCP

Dear Mr. Dwight:

        A signature block is not your resume where you would list everything.
        The real gauge will be what is the typical use ... the practice of your colleagues and peers ... what's right to present your self as qualified to hold your position.
        Your peers are the ones who will have an opinion on whether you have too much alphabet soup after your name -- or if you are being pertinent & appropriate.
       -- Robert Hickey


Post-Nominal for Lawyers?


How Do I Write My Name as an Attorney?
    I am not sure if I should show 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 (with many professional accolades from my peers), it strikes me that to insert the Esq. would project an aura of self-importance I do not feel.
         -- Robert Simpson

Dear Mr. Millard:
     In the much of the public's mind
Esq.is 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 most traditional form of address for others to use when
writing to a practicing attorney (e.g., on a letter) is:
         
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.  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 before or after an attorney's name in any circumstance.
                   -- Robert Hickey

May I Use Esq. with Academic Degrees?
      I live in the U.S., am a registered pharmacist (R.Ph.). I also have a master of science in molecular biology (MS) unrelated to my work in pharmacy and obtained after may pharmacy degree/registration. And I have a Juris Doctor I obtained last: I am a member of my State Bar Association so I believe I may use Esq.
       I work at a Federal Agency in a medical/science/regulatory role. 
      Can I use  Esquire with my other degrees?

              -- RD

Dear RD:
  
      In business and commerce (areas outside formal academia), people use whatever post nominals are pertinent to the position they hold / or the services they offer .... so the public will know what credentials the bearer has to offer the expertise / provide the service they present themselves to provide.
 
       So one's name on a business card or e-mail signature isn't presented in the same form one might put it on one's resume or paper in an academic journal.
  
      1) If any of the degrees/certifications show you to be more able to regulate medicine/science ... then they are pertinent
  
      2) Find out what your colleagues are doing. Use of post-nominals is more "etiquette" (unofficial, and changes from place to place and situation to situation) than "protocol" (official, written, and more fixed over time)  and it will be your peers who would offer the harshest criticism if you do it 'wrong'.
       3) I suggest you use JD rather than Esq.
       
    Esq. is a courtesy title used by others when addressing you, but like all courtesy titles is not used reflexively .... not used by the attorney with his or her own name.
               -- Robert Hickey

How to Use "Esq." With Other Post Nominals?
Dear Mr. Hickey
      What is the correct order of professional post-nominal abbreviations if one of the identifiers is Esq.?
      The others are as follows: CFS, CHS-III
, CIG, CPM.
            -- Melena Brodsky

Dear Ms. Brodsky
    In the US, an attorney will have a post-graduate legal degree ... and academic degrees outrank and precede honors, decorations, and certifications.
    But Esq. is not an abbreviation for an academic degree, so it doesn't fit in with the other post nominals.
    Use just
Esq. when listing the name in reference to activities related to the practice of law ... and use JD when listing the name in reference to academic situations.
            -- Robert Hickey

May I Use a Post-Nominal with My Name
If the Degree is from a Free & On-Line School?

       A couple of years ago I completed a lateral thinking course through theschoolofthinking.org. I found it very thought provoking and useful. Recently that site has advertised a Masters and a Doctorate in Lateral Thinking. It’s an on-line free training. It’s a lot of work, probably similar to the amount required in a university-level Masters.
      They state that graduates would be able to use the post nominals MLT or DLT, for Master of Lateral Thinking and Doctor of Lateral Thinking. Bear in mind that this is not an accredited college or a university. I realize that there is no post-nominal police hunting people down, but what is the accepted practice for Masters and Doctorates? Does an organization like that have the ‘right’ to offer such post nominals, given they are usually bestowed upon graduates of universities?

            -- Ross Robinson

Dear Mr. Robinson:
       1. Can you use it? People can present their name however they wish to present their name. So, yes, you could use MLT or DLT.
       2. When can you use it? Degrees are typically credentials pertinent to providing a service.
  Post nominals are only included on the official/professional form of your name -- not the social form. So if you are including them on your resume the question is for what job, for what service, are these degrees pertinent? What field recognizes these degrees to be of value?
       3. Where can you use it? Degrees have the most value where they are issued -- or in places which recognize the certification.  E.g., medical degrees granted by many international schools of medicine are not necessarily recognized in the USA. Some are, some are not. Accredited institutions of higher learning pretty much accept one another's credits, but for anyone who has tried to have credits transferred knows it is not automatic.
       So, an on-line, free
degree may be principally of value for personal growth and of the most pertinence in cyberspace.
              -- Robert Hickey

When to Use Post Nominals for a Master's Degree?
     Are people who have earned Masters degrees in post-graduate school 'entitled' to put that designation behind their names?  I am used to seeing PhD, but when I see MBA it makes me wonder?
     -- Marcia Milburn,
Beltsville, Maryland

Dear Ms. Milburn:
    Holders of a master degree working in academia or research use their post-nominal abbreviations for their  degrees because the degrees are part of the fabric of the institution’s hierarchy.
    Holders of a master degree that is essential to their professional practice do too.    
    Some examples include:
    * On an academic paper, an author would put the post nominals for his or her degree after their name, e.g. B.A., B.S., or M.A.
   
* An administrator at a scientific research facility with a Masters might include those post nominals on his or her card: degrees are pertinent at the institution.
   
* A psychotherapist will include the post nominals for their degree (e.g., MSW for Master of Social Work) since it defines their credentials to be a counselor, their eligibility for insurance reimbursement, and clarifies their training from those with a "Master of Counseling" or a "Doctorate in Psychology."
    Other than those circumstances, noting one’s masters (or bachelors) is infrequent. A degree that does not certify you to a specific profession is rarely used.
     Contrast that to including the post nominal JD (a degree) ... or CPA (a professional certification) – which both are used all the time and denote one’s qualifications to do a certain task.
                     -- Robert Hickey

When to Use a Bachelors or Associates Degree?
          I will be receiving my Associates Degree in Applied Science and intend to receive a Bachelors Degree in the same field. I am unsure if I can use A.A.S. in a professional context, or if the degree is not considered honorable enough to include. I realize an associate’s degree is thought to be a minor accomplishment by some, but I have worked hard for it and I would like to incorporate it into my name.
          -- M.H.

Dear M.H.,
          Congratulations on your degree.
          Since you say you want to use it professionally, the question is where and how?
          Masters and doctorates are the ones that are most frequently included since they often have a professional focus. On a business card or e-mail signature, post nominals are included if the public needs to see what qualifies you to offer the service.
Usually bachelors and associates degrees do not specifically do that.
           Absolutely it will be in
cluded on you resume … but perhaps not on a business card or e-mail signature block.
          -- Robert Hickey

 


Post-Nominals: Matters of Style


How to Denote a Degree with Honours on Business Cards?
     In British and Canadian universities, a B.A. is awarded after completion of a three year program, while an Honours B.A. are awarded to graduates that complete another year.
     If someone holds a Honours Bachelor of Arts degree, what would be the proper post-nominal style? 
     Would it be B.A., B.A. Hons. or H.B.A.?

 
      -- Justin, Again

Dear Justin,
    I polled a number of Canadian universities as well as some graduates of The Protocol School of Washington and here's what I found.
     The honours is reflected on the certificate, in an academic publications or on a C.V. (resume). It is not used on personal correspondence or on business cards. Actually bachelors degrees wouldn't be include anywhere except in an academic publication or a C.V. anyway.

    When it is used, an Honours B.A. does not warrant a unique post nominal: Use
B.A.

    Thanks Protocol School graduates --
Jan Cottle, London, Ontario; Jay Remer, St. Andrews, New Bruswick; and Nancy Kosik, Outremont, Quebec .
         -- Robert Hickey

Dear Mr. Hickey,
      As a graduate of a British university (University of Hull, 1974) I can say that, at least when I graduated, an Honours degree was based on grades obtained on university exams, and had nothing to do with completing an additional year.  I graduated from a three-year psychology B.A./B.S. program (depending on whether the individual graduated high school with an arts emphasis, or sciences). My Upper Second Class Honours degree was based on examination marks—individual marks or grades were not disclosed to students but classified by how well they performed in these final exams. An upper second was required for admission to graduate school, while first class honours were awarded to maybe 1-3 students per discipline each year. My year in psychology was exceptional in producing three students who graduated with first class honours. Naturally, this might have changed in the intervening years, but I would be surprised if the honours degree system would have completely changed. A student who did not achieve high enough grades to attain an honours degree were given a “Pass”.
       The correct style for this would be B.A. (Hons.)—used anywhere that someone might care that the student attained an honors degree.
     --- Claire W.

Dear Claire W.:
      Thanks  for your note.
      What you describe is the way I experiences 'honors' at the US university I attended (University of Virginia).
      1) I do observe at various institutions, degrees which have the same name, vary in the preferred post-nominal abbreviation. The precise requirements vary, although the broad requirements (probably established by the accrediting institutions) are similar. 
      2) Regarding the parentheses: based on styles around the world, it would be odd to me to use parentheses as you note:
                  (Full Name), B.A. (Hons.)
            Usually the style manuals present forms something like:
 
                  (Full Name), B.A. (Hons.)
            But what is intended is that the words in inside the parentheses be is included when appropriate ... not that the word inside the parentheses is to have parentheses around it. I see it in military names all the time. In the style manuals it is shown as:
                  (Full Name), USN, (Retired)
            Meaning that either of these is correct:
                  (Full Name), USN
                  (Full Name), USN, Retired

            So to me the while parentheses ... (Hons.) ... might be commonly seen, it would be not the best style.
                     -- Robert Hickey

How Do I Use My Post-Nominals With My Own Name?
      How should my name appear on my checks "Dr. Cynthia Brodart" or "Cynthia Brodart, M.D." ?
            --- Cynthia Brodart

      How do I list my name on my daughter's wedding invitation?  As Kevin Millard, M.D. or Dr. Kevin Millard?
            --- K.M.

Dear Doctors:
      The form of your name you use at work and in official correspondence is with the post-nominals for your degree: (Full Name), M.D. Use this on checks, signage at our office, in listings as a physician -- anything relating to your practice of medicine.  This is also the form others use when they write to you at the office or write your name when they make out a check to you.
     The form of your name you use on social correspondence -- e.g., when you are listed as the host, bride or groom on a wedding invitation or others use when they send you a holiday card -- is
Dr. (Full Name). 
 
           -- Robert Hickey

How to Present Post Nominals Typographically?
       I tend to use a smaller font for the post-nominal letters than I use for my name.
            John Smith, MBA
       Is this O.K.? Or do they need to be the same size?

   
           -- Sebastian V. CPP

Dear SV:
    I have seen post-nominals set in a smaller type size or in small caps .... for example on a business card ... I would say it is a typographic style used a graphic designer .... and is more decorative than meaningful.
    Formally, post-nominal abbreviations are part of the complete name and should be treated the same as the rest name. Like the honorific ... Mr./Dr./Captain ... or a courtesy title ... The Honorable/The Reverend ... the post-nominal abbreviations are part of complete name.
    So when writing your name on a letter, or including someone else's post nominals on correspondence, keep them the same size as the name.  
              -- Robert Hickey

How to Punctuate Multiple Post Nominals?
     I've come across your interesting "Forms of Address" web site and it shed light on some questions I've been wondering about post nominals. However, I'm unsure of the punctuation to be used in multiple post nominals. Could you please explain how I would use punctuation when citing a MBA and a Master of Project Management (MPM)?

   
           -- Neil in Brisbane

Dear Neil:
    Do you mean punctuation between serial post nominals?
  
          Neil Henderson, PhD, MBA, BA
    Use of periods within post nominals is a matter of style, so just be consistent.
  
          Neil Henderson, Ph.D., M.P.M., B.A.
  
       
  Neil Henderson, PhD, MPM, BA
    There are rules for ordering post nominals .... 'high' to 'low' within a category ... and if they are equal, I'd do them in alphabetical order.
  
            -- Robert Hickey

Thanks for the reply; I was interested in the punctuation between serial post nominals and you've answered my question perfectly! Also helpful is your recommendation for ordering them alphabetically. I will observe this structure when using post nominals in the future.
   
           -- Neil in Brisbane

How to Include "Fellow" with Post-Nominal Abbreviations?
    We’d like to present a retired corporate officer some corporate business cards. The person has a Ph.D., is a Fellow of a prestigious professional organization e.g., ABC Fellow, and has retired as Managing Director, International Division.
What is the most appropriate designation on his business card now that he has no formal corporate responsibilities?
            Dr. James Doe, ABC Fellow
                      Managing Director, International Division, Ret.
            James Doe, Ph.D., ABC Fellow
                      Managing Director, International Division, Ret.
            Dr. James Doe, Ph.D., ABC Fellow
                      Managing Director, International Division, Ret.
     Dr. and Ph.D. sound redundant. Is it appropriate to use both? What is the best format in this case?

 
         -- Ike E.

Dear Ike E.:
    Yes ... Dr. and Ph.D. are redundant ... Ph.D. is used professionally in writing ... Dr. in conversation and socially ... so use James Doe, Ph.D.  on the card.
    I have a chapter in my book just on abbreviations and post-nominals. What most frequently appears
as a post-nominal abbreviation (in the US) is an advanced academic degree ... M.B.A., M.D., D.D. ... or a professional certification ... A.I.A., A.S.I.D., C.P.A.  Those are initials, not words. I am not familiar with seeing a word like "fellow" included in a post-nominal abbreviation. I would think that the word fellow would be more appropriately included in an introduction or in a bio rather than as a post nominal.
    But, there are many traditions. Call the organization in question and find out how they see other members using the designation.  Usually I call the public relations department where editors will be knowledgeable -- OR a secretary in the president's office will know. It will be in James Doe's interactions with the other fellows he'll encounter that will provide the most critical eyes as to whether it's "right" or not.
    Either Ret. or Retired is fine:
Your form for Managing Director, International Division, Ret. seems good.
             -- Robert Hickey

May I use Dr. as a Post-Nominal?
    As a graduate of a law school, is it proper for me to use "Dr."  after my name in addition to J.D.?
    Is the order:
            Kevin Greenhutt, J.D., Dr.
    Or should I use:
           Kevin Greenhutt, Esq., Dr.
   Thank you for your assistance.

         -- Kevin Greenhutt

Dear Mr. Greenhutt:
     Attorneys who wish to include academic post-nominals with their name use. ... Kevin Greenhutt, J.D. ... This is a form parallel to how academics present post-nominals with their names ... (Full Name) Ph.D., (Full Name) D.M., (Full Name) D.Div. etc.
     See the other posting on the site on use of Esq.
     By the traditions of the profession, an attorney is not addressed as
Dr. (Name).
    
In no circumstance would Dr. appear as a post-nominal.
     FYI, your question is answered in my book in the chapter on forms of address for professionals.
                   -- Robert Hickey


Sequence Post-Nominal: Jr., 2nd, Third?


How Should Jr., II, III, IV, and V Be Used
After A Man's Name?

Dear Mr. Hickey:
I am not sure of the name sequence in the following situation. My son is Walter C. Wentz IV.  His father and grandfathers are deceased.  What is the proper designation for him now?  What is the proper designation for the son he is expecting next month? I would very much appreciate your guidance and expert advice.

         --- Audrey Parker

Dear Ms. Parker:
    The name one uses is up to the person: So Mom, you won't be deciding anything here, you can only advise!
    Continued use is often a matter of clarity for those one encounters.
    1) Some men drop the sequence post-nominals ... Jr., II, or III ... when their father dies and they think it unlikely there will be social or professional confusion.
    2) Some men keep the sequence post-nominals if their father was well-known ... or if they work in the same law firm ... or same company ... and they think the friends/clients/customers will find the designation useful and interesting.
    3) One might keep
the sequence post-nominals because his mother is Mrs. Walter C. Wentz III and his wife is Mrs. Walter C. Wentz IV and socially that differentiation matters to the family. However since you are using "Audrey Parker" (rather than Mrs. (name)) it won't be confusing.
    One situation is seen with Microsoft's Bill Gates, who is really William H. Gates, Jr., but never used the "Jr."  Now his father, born William H. Gates uses William H. Gates, Sr.  He added the Sr. to clarify that he is not his much more famous son.  He probably did not officially change is name in court ... it's just a informal and unofficial change.
    So, if your son names his son Walter C. Wentz V, he's probably going to keep using Walter C. Wentz IV. If he names his son Zachery ... his IV
becomes less necessary.
 
          -- Robert Hickey

How to use I, II, III, IV?
      Aloha, Mr. Hickey,
      We're hoping you can answer a question regarding name titles I, II, III and IV.  Is it appropriate for someone to take on a numeric title just because there have been ancestors with the same name.  Does a numeric title need to be direct descent, as it would with Sr. and Jr.?
     It is our understanding that you can't have a III without a I or II, because they would have been Sr. and Jr. prior to the birth of the third party.  Once the III comes along, Sr. and Jr. now become I and II.  Is this correct?
      Thank you for your assistance.  We look forward to your reply.

        -- Adrienne in Hawaii

Dear Adrienne:
    
Here's how these post nominals typically work:
     1) Once you get your name it does not change "legally" unless you go to court and have a judge change it. That doesn't mean some people change their name ... an as long as you pay your bills no one really cares!
     2) A son who is given the same name as his father is named at birth (Full name), Jr.   A boy who is given the same name as a relative (in memory of or to honor that relative) is named at birth (Full name), II.
     3) Any boy named after a "Jr." or a "II" is a III. Any boy named after a "III." is a IV. etc.
     4) If the person you were named for dies ... e.g., if you are born a III. and your father who was a Jr. dies ... you keep being the name you were given at birth.  Many men stop using the Jr. when their father dies  -- my brother did --  but if a father was famous ... a son may keep using it for clarity. E.g., if you work in the same business as your father and everyone knew him, it may be useful to keep using the "Jr." with your name so people who knew your dad will be clear who you are. While some "Juniors" use the "Jr." all the time ... many don't.

      -- Robert Hickey

Are Jr., II, III, IV treated as Post Nominals?
      Some in our office say that honorifics shouldn’t be used with any post nominal suffixes  -- Mr. James R. Bowden, Jr., for example. Isn't there a rule that if a name has a post nominal it can't have an honorific at the same time.

             -- James Bowden, Georgia

Dear Mr. Bowden:
     Yes ... the rule is either an honorific or a post-nominal.
     But .... Sr., Jr, II, III, IV, etc. are part of the person's name, they are not post-nominals abbreviations like honors, degrees and professional affiliations are ... so ...
       Mr.
James R. Bowden, Jr.
 .... is O.K.
       James R. Bowden, Jr., P.E. .... is O.K.
       Mr. James R. Bowden, Jr., P.E. ... is not O.K.
 
  
          -- Robert Hickey

May I Use Both an Honorific & a Post Nominal?
      I am a practicing civil engineer, and the question has often arisen in our company about how to display a professional engineer’s name in a report or proposal letter.  The suffix P.E. (or PE) is used to signify that the individual is a Professional Engineer registered as such in a particular state.  Our local practice has been to only use the suffix -- James R. Bowden, PE.  Others in our company have used both a suffix and honorific -- Mr. James R. Bowden, PE.  I can’t seem to find any references for this situation, other than recommendations to avoid redundancy -- Dr. James R. Bowden, MD.  What is your opinion?

             -- James Bowden, Georgia

Dear Mr. Bowden:
     I have a chapter in my book just on Abbreviations & Post Nominals that covers this point, and I say your local practice is perfect:  "Our local practice has been to only use … James R. Bowden, PE"
    In the United States the tradition is you get either something before your name or something after, but not both.
    You get just one of the following:
             Honorific: Mr., Mrs., Ms., Dr., Judge, etc.
             Rank:
Captain, Admiral, etc.
             Courtesy title:  
The Honorable, The Reverend, His Excellency, etc.
    Or you get your post nominal abbreviations
... but not both at the same time.
    I mention in the US because the UK and Commonwealth Countries use everything one has to include. There you get names the can get long: His Excellency The Right Reverend Captain Dr. Lord James R. Bowden, Jr, PhD, OBE, PC
    The name becomes a resume.  In the US we include only the parts that are is pertinent to the situation.

 
  
          -- Robert Hickey

When Can I Start Using My Degree with My Name?
May I Use Post-Nominal Initials Before Graduation?
    I recently completed the requirements for an MBA.  Graduation is in December - but when can I present my name as (Name), MBA on my resume or when I speak at conferences?  Do I start using the post-nominals now that the program is done -or- do I have to wait until I have the diploma in hand?
      -- Proud About-to-be Grad


     I’m a doctoral candidate and was told that while I can't use Ph.D. yet, the form of the post-nominal abbreviation a doctoral candidate can use is:
                  (Full Name), Ph.D. (c) 
     Please confirm.
      -- Soon to be Dr.

Dear About-to-be Graduates:
    There's no police unit out there hunting down incorrect post-nominal users, but until you have diploma in hand, you are not entitled to the honors and courtesies that come with it. Forms of address -- in writing and in oral conversation -- are honors and courtesies.
    You can definitely state on your biography/resume/curriculum vitae you will be receiving your Master of Business Administration
from (name of university) in (month), (year)
    ...
or are a candidate for
Doctorate in (fill-in the blank) from (name of university).

 
                    -- Robert Hickey

How to Use Academic Post-Nominals with a Noble Title?
 
       I have a question for you regarding how I should be properly addressed. I am of nobility and the last man in our family. I am the Count James Renninger, but also have two doctorates. I am trying to decide how to incorporate both titles and academic degrees into my name while remaining correct so that I do not make a fool of myself. My question is how should I be addressed being both a Count and a Doctor?
 
        Sincerely,
         Dr. J. Renninger?


Dear JL:
        The US form and British forms are the most common models used around the world for address in English.
        Since you are living in the US it follows you would follow the US Style in which you are both a "Count" and a "Dr." but perhaps not at the same time.  Here's what's done:
            1) Post-nominals are used professionally, not socially
            Traditional form would be to use your academic post-nominals with out reference to your hereditary title
                  An official letter is addressed with the academic post-nominal abbreviation:
                          (Full Name), PhD
                  A social letter is addressed with the honorific:
                           Dr. (Full Name)
            2) Hereditary titles from a former monarchy are used socially in the USA, not officially, and most typically not professionally.

        -- Robert Hickey


Not Finding Your Question Answered?
Below are other topics covered in my blog and at right is a list of officials, Between the two I probably have what you are looking for.
     After hunting around a bit, if you don't see your question answered send me an e-mail. I am pretty fast at sending a reply: usually the next day (unless I am traveling.)
      If I think your question is of interest to others, I will post the question & answer – with your name and any personal specifics changed.
      -- Robert Hickey

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, 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        

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             


Site updated by Robert Hickey on September 19, 2014


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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 © 2013 Robert Hickey.     All Rights Reserved.
Book Photo: Marc Goodman.