How to Address the President

The President of the United States (POTUS)

—-Envelope, official:
—-—-The President
—-—-The White House
—-—-1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
—-—-Washington, DC 20500

—-Letter salutation:
—-—-Dear Mr./Madam President:

How to Address Donald Trump

While the President is referred to as President Trump, Donald Trump, and Trump in the media, these are not correct forms of direct address. In direct address the President’s given and surname are not used.

—-Envelope, official:
—-—-The President
—-—-The White House
—-—-1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
—-—-Washington, DC 20500

—-Letter salutation:
—-—-Dear Mr. President:

—-Complimentary close:
—-—-Most respectfully,

—-—-The President of the United States

—-—-Mr. President, may I present …

—-—-Mr. President

— Robert Hickey

Forms of Address: How a conversation begins can have a huge impact on how the conversation - even the entire relationship - develops.

How Should the Media Refer to The President?

How should the media refer to the current President (POTUS)? I hear them refer to him as Mr. (Surname) and this just doesn’t sound respectful of him or the office (in my opinion). Mahalo for your time.
———-– Ms. Brazile In Honolulu

Dear MBIH:
First we need to define a reference to The President in a story … an editorial issue ––  And what are the respectful forms of address to use when actually speaking to the President.

—–You’ll hear:
———-(The Office) The President
—–(Full Name) Donald Trump
—–—–President (Name) President Trump
—–—–(Surname Only)  Trump
—–—–Mr. (Surname)  Mr. Trump

#1) A Respectful Way to Refer to the POTUS in the Third Person:  It is correct to refer to the POTUS as The President. There is only one President at any given time.

#2) A Practical Way to Refer to the POTUS in the Third Person:  Reporters use all the examples above.  They are references in the third person to clarify to whom they are referring.  Some editorial style books state first references be (Special honorific or rank)+(Name) | President Trump and all subsequent references be Mr. (Name) | Mr. Trump.  It’s not disrespectful. It’s just an attempt to streamline the text.

#3) Are These Used in Direct Address? None of the above is a correct form of direct address.  In direct address – when you are actually speaking to the President – the President is addressed as:
—–—–Mr. President

—-His given name or surname is not used in his presence. This pattern of not using the name is typical around the world when addressing the highest officials – Chiefs of state, heads of government, speakers of houses, chief justices and a very few others.  Listen to a White House news conference: Reporters addressing the POTUS as Mr. President are doing it correctly.

#4) What Not to Use in Direct Address:  You will hear someone directly address the POTUS as President (Name) | President Trump.  This is an incorrect form of direct address.  Typically this person doesn’t know the tradition … or has been listening to the evening news and thinks their references to President (Full Name) | President Trump is how you’d address the POTUS.

Whenever I hear a reporter do it wrong, I think I should send them an informative note.  After having done it innumerable times, I don’t think it does any good.

— Robert Hickey

—-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

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