How to Address a Candidate

How to Address a Candidate for Elected Office?

What is the correct way to address the candidate in a letter? The candidate is a former mayor of a city.  Shall I write ‘Candidate (Name)? Or do I use ‘Mr./Ms. (Name)’ ?
– Martin Dexter

Dear Mr. Dexter:    How to Address a Candidate

If you use an honorific, use:
——–Mr./Mrs./Dr./etc. (Name)

Use whichever honorific he or she was entitled to prior to being elected to office.

You write your candidate is a former elected official. In the U.S. tradition, all candidates running for office run as private citizens. His prior service and career achievements will certainly be detailed in his campaign literature. Do not address him as a former anything. No military rank, no judge, no mayor, no governor. Formal address as Mr./Mrs./Dr./etc. (Name) best represents his qualification to be a candidate.

Don’t use a formal title as part of his name. That he served as something else can follow his name as a descriptor when pertinent.

Once again, if you use an honorific – use Mr./Mrs./Dr./etc. (Name). Use the one he or she was entitled to prior to being elected to office.

Sometimes, orally, a moderator at a debate or a newscaster might refer to a candidate as Candidate (Name). It’s a bit like reading in the paper ‘Central High School French Teacher Tom Wilson said….’. It is a descriptive phrase to make it clear to the reader who the speaker/writer is talking/writing about. It is not a formal form of address. It would not be used on an envelope or in a written salutation.

– Robert Hickey How to Address a Candidate

—-See these Posts on Types of Officials:
Candidate for Office
—-—-The Honorable, Use of
—-—-The Late, Use of
—-—-Pro Tempore

Not Finding Your Question Answered?

—-#1)  At right on desktops, at the bottom of every page on tablets and phones, is a list of all the offices, officials & topics covered on the site.

—-#2)  After checking the list and reading the posts, 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 or so (unless I am traveling.)  Note: I don’t have mailing or Email addresses for any of the officials and I don’t keep track of offices that exist only in history books.

—-#3)  If I think your question is of interest to others, I will post the question & answer – always changing the names and specifics.

— Robert Hickey

The Protocol School of Washington (PSOW) was founded in 1988 and offers open-enrollment, classroom-based programs where students learn to become a licensed Intercultural Etiquette and Protocol Trainer, or can earn a certificate in operational protocol by completing Protocol Officer Training. Private, on-site training is also available to provide tailored training solutions. In 2020, PSOW launched online, instructor-led training to meet the needs of students worldwide.

PSOW has offices in: Washington, DC; Columbia, SC; and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The school is nationally accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET) and provides international protocol, cross-cultural awareness, business etiquette, and image training preparing professionals to build lasting business relationships.


Protocol and Diplomacy International – Protocol Officers Association promotes the protocol profession and raises awareness of its central role in business and diplomacy through education and networking. PDI-POA’s mission is to share the highest level of collective expertise, training, information and advice regarding accepted rules of protocol. PDI-POA is committed to facilitating communication, understanding and cooperation among individuals, governments and cultures around the globe.