How to Address a President-elect

President-elect of the United States

—-Envelope or address block on letter or email:
—-—-The Honorable
—-—-(Full Name)

—-—-The Honorable (Full Name)
—-—-The President-elect

—-Letter salutation:
——–Dear Mr./Ms./etc. (Surname): *

* Use the form of address to which he or she is entitled prior to election as the President.

Robert Hickey author of "Honor & Respect"

Is the President-elect Mr. President?

What is the proper way to address the President-elect?  I saw and heard on TV people addressing the president-elect as Mr. President or The President (talking directly and talking about him). I thought this was incorrect until after the inauguration.
—-—-—-– PT

Dear PT,How to Address a President-elect

——#1) If the President-elect is currently the President – and starting a second term – ‘Mr. President’ would be correct.  That is the correct form of address for a current office holder.

——#2) If he starting his first term, then you are correct. The President-elect would not be addressed as Mr. President or referred to as The President until after taking the oath of office.

——#3) The President-elect is correctly identified or addressed (program, envelope, address block on a letter) as The Honorable (Full Name).  ‘The Honorable’ becomes part of his name once elected to office in a general election.

Robert Hickey author of "Honor & Respect"

—-#4) In conversation or in a salutation – until he/she is sworn in – the President-elect is addressed in the style to which he/she was entitled before being elected. Dwight Eisenhower in 1953 was ‘General’.  Barack Obama in 2009 was ‘Senator” and Donald Trump in 2017 was ‘Mr.’

—-In conversation or in a salutation:
——–Mr./Ms. (Surname)

—-Or if the official-elect had a personal rank:
—-—-Dr./Senator/Judge/Ambassador/etc. (Surname)

—-Only a current president is addressed as Mr./Madam President or referred to as The President.  If you hear this done incorrectly it means the newscaster/reporter is not knowledgeable of our national traditions and is demonstrating it to a wide audience.

– Robert Hickey

How to Address a President-elect

What Should the Press Call a President-elect?

How do you refer to the President-elect when speaking about him? I think the rules are different than when addressing a letter to him.

What I hear in the media is all over the place. Is it?
—-—-The President-elect
—-—-Mr. President-elect
—-—-President-elect (Name)

—-—-—-– PT How to Address a President-elect

Robert Hickey author of "Honor & Respect"

Dear PT,

There is a difference between –
—-#1) Direct address. Speaking or writing to the person. Presenting their name on a program.
—-#2) Referring to a person in the third person.

—-All of these are correct for referring to the person:
—-—-The President-elect
—-—-The Honorable (Full Name), the President-elect
—-—-The President-elect, (Full Name)
—-—-*Mr./Ms./etc. (Surname only), the President-elect

—-—-*Whatever honorific to which the President-elect is entitled prior to taking office.

None of these is a form of direct address. These are used by the media when referring to the President-elect in the 3rd person. Each makes it clear to a listener who they are talking about.

I get into the details of all this in my book, but what’s posted here will get you through the moment!

– Robert Hickey

Robert Hickey author of "Honor & Respect"

When Should You Use the Forms on this Page?

You can use these forms of address for any mode of communication: addressing a letter, invitation, card or Email. (If there are differences between the official and social forms of address, I will have mentioned the different forms.)  The form noted in the salutation is the same form you say when you say their name in conversation or when you greet them.

Not Finding Your Answer?

—-#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)  If you don’t see the official you seek included or 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, Sometimes I post the question  – but always change all the specifics.

— Robert Hickey 

Robert Hickey author of "Honor & Respect"