How to Address the Speaker of the House

The Speaker of the House,
United States House of Representatives

—-Envelope, official:
—-—-The Speaker of the House of Representatives
—-—-United States Capitol
—-—-Washington, DC 20515

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


How to Address a Former Speaker?

There’s a question lingering around the Capitol: What should people call the former Speaker? Is Mr./Madam Speaker still correct? Do we use Speaker (Last Name)?
—-—-—-—-—-– TB

Dear TB:

—-Only the current office holder is addressed as:  Mr./Madam Speaker

—-Or less formally as:  Speaker (Surname)

Former office holders are not addressed with forms of address reserved for the Speaker.  They either go back to the form of address to which they were entitled before being the Speaker. or if they have a new position, then address them by their current position. E.g., perhaps they’ve become the Leader of the Minority party. If so, address them as such.  When appropriate, identify as ‘the 115th Speaker of the House’ or mention the span of years in office.

Here are the rules:

—-#1) For offices of which there is only one office holder at a time (e.g., Prime Minister, President, Speaker, Governor, Mayor, etc.) only the current office holder is formally addressed with the forms of address of the office. Forms of address are courtesies of office just like the big corner office, great parking space and preferential seating at events. The courtesies stay with the office, and don’t become the property of former office holders.

They go back to Mr./Ms. (Surname), Congresswoman (Name), Representative (Name) … whatever is their preference and is pertinent to the office they currently hold.

—-#2) Offices that are held by more than one person at the same time are different. In those cases, (e.g., Admirals, Senators, Judges, Professors, Ambassadors, etc.). former and retired individuals DO continue to use their former honorific. Having two ambassadors or two senators in the room is not confusing.

—-#3) The individual is flattered by the honorific inflation. But when you ask them directly, they say ‘It’s not formally correct.’ Having been the singular office holder they know what it’s like to have all the formers clinging to the courtesies of office.

– Robert Hickey

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

How to Address the Speaker & Spouse?

How do you address an invitation’s envelope the Speaker and wife?
—————-– Liz T.

Dear Liz,

Here’s how:

—-—-The Speaker of the House
—-—-and Mrs. (Surname)

—-—-The Speaker of the House
—-—-and Mr. (Full Name)

—-Inside envelope:
—-—-The Speaker and Mrs. (Surname)
—-—-The Speaker and Mr. (Surname)

Follow that link in the list at right to Mrs. vs. Ms. for more on writing the names of spouses.

– Robert Hickey

—-See These Related Posts:
—-—-Couples: Private Citizens
—-—-Couples: Military
—-—-Couples: U.S. Officials
—-—-Couples: Same Sex

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.