How to Address the Speaker of the House

The Speaker of the House,
United States House of Representatives

Note: While Speaker (Name) is informally used in the media for identification, in formal address the name of the Speaker is not used.

—-Envelope or address block in an email:
—-—-The Speaker of the House of Representatives
—-—-United States Capitol
—-—-Washington, DC 20515

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

—-Conversation:
—-—-Mr./Madam Speaker

Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

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:

Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

—-#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

Related Posts:
—-Acting
—-Candidate for Office
—-Deceased
—-Designate
—-Elect
—-Former
—-The Honorable, Use of
—-Interim
—-The Late, Use of
—-Nominee
—-Pro Tempore
—-Retiree

Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

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:

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

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

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

Follow this link to a discussion of Mrs. vs. Ms. for more on writing the names of spouses.

– Robert Hickey

Related Posts:
Couples: Private Citizens
Couples: Christian Clergy
Couples: Rabbis
Couples: Military
Couples: U.S. Officials
Couples: Same Sex

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”