How to Address a Person with Two Titles

Person with Two Titles — the summary:
—-#1) In the US the style is to use only one title/rank/honorific at a time.
—-#2) Use the one pertinent to the to the interaction/situation.
If the interaction is social, and not directly related to either, find out which is the preference of the individual. If one is a higher rank – they likely prefer it. If one is how they were addressed for most of their life – they might prefer that.
——————–Robert Hickey

—-#4) And some longer answers:
—-—-I’ve tried to write these to cover the ‘issue’ and you’ll be able to deduce the answer you need:
—-—-—-The Honorable + Another Title
—-—-—-The Honorable + Doctor
—-—-—-Military Rank + Doctorate
—-—-—-Military Rank + Professor or Dean
—-—-—-Military Rank + Corporate Title
—-—-—-Religious Title + Another Title
—-—-—-Old Title + New Role
—-—-—-Royal + Ambassador

Robert Hickey author of "Honor & Respect"

The Honorable + Another Title

How to Address an High Official Who Has a Second Title?

How would one address a retired US Senator who is now a US Ambassador?  In writing are they both The Honorable (full name)?  Is Senator higher than Ambassador? Or, is it a matter of which job was last?  That was ambassador. Perhaps I address him as Ambassador (Name)?
———————-– Thomas Manning

How would one address a retired Army General who is was a Secretary of a U.S. Department (member of the President’s Cabinet)?  Is he: ‘The Honorable General (Full Name), USA, Retired’?
———————-– LPD

Dear TM & LPD:

—-#1) In the USA, we address a person with one title at a time.
——–Never: The Honorable General (Full Name)
——–It’s either/or – never both.

—-Both a former Senator and a former US Ambassador are addressed in writing as:
—-—-The Honorable (Full Name)

—-In the salutation choose the honorific that’s pertinent to the nature of your communication :
—-—-Senator (Surname)
—-—-—-or  How to Address a Person with Two Titles
Ambassador (Surname)

—-#2) For the holder of a high office addressed as the Honorable – who also holds a military rank – Colin Powell is an example many people are familiar with. He served both as a high government official and a military officer. Both come with special forms of address

—-As a former Secretary of State he is addressed on the envelope as:
—-—-The Honorable Colin Powell

—-In the salutation or conversation address as:
—-—-Mr. Powell,
—-—-Don’t use ‘Mr. Secretary’ or ‘Secretary Powell’. Formers are not address by office.

—-As a retired US Army officer he is addressed in writing as:
—-—-General Colin Powell, USA, Retired

—-and in the salutation or conversation as:
—-—-General Powell

—-#3) What if the communication doesn’t exactly apply to one or the other role? If the interaction is not directly related to either exactly, find out which is the preference of the individual. If one is a higher rank – they likely prefer it. If one is how they were addressed for most of their life – they might prefer that.

– Robert Hickey    How to Address a Person with Two Titles

Robert Hickey author of "Honor & Respect"

Courtesy Title + Doctor

How to Address a High Official Who is Also a Physician

What is the proper form of address for a mayor of a city who is also a medical doctor?
————-– L.K. in Texas

How would I address a senator who is a physician? Which is it? – Dr. Cleary -or- Senator Cleary?
————-– T.W.  How to Address a Person with Two Titles

How do you address a U.S. Ambassador who is also a medical Doctor/physician?  He serves outside the USA where they use His Excellency for Ambassadors. But maybe he’s still the Honorable Dr. (Full Name)?   What about using His Excellency the Honorable Dr. Ambassador (Full Name)?
————-– MJG

Dear LK, T.W, and MJG:
If writing to an elected official regarding their official activities – address him or her as an elected official.
If you are writing to the person regarding their activities as a doctor – address as a doctor.

___#1) Courtesy Titles on the Envelope
—-U.S. officials are addressed as the Honorable (Full Name)  if they are elected to office in a general election. Senators and mayors fall into this category. On an envelope they are addressed as:
—-—-The Honorable (Full Name)
—-And certain high officials individually appointed by the President and approved by the Senate are addressed as the Honorable. Ambassadors fall into this category.
—-—-The Honorable (Full Name)

—-#2) Special Honorific in the Salutation
—-If the individual has a special honorific attached to their office, use that (Honorific) + (Surname) in the salutation or in conversation:
—-—-Mayor (Surname)
—-—-Senator (Surname)
—-—-Ambassador (Surname)
—-—-—-Follow the links at right to the various offices.

—-#3) Doctor
—-In the USA the honorific ‘Dr.’ is used alone – not in combination with anything else.
—-‘Dr.’ is not used with a courtesy title (excellency or honorable):
—-—-No: The Honorable Dr. (Full Name)
—-—-Yes: The Honorable (Full Name)

—-Dr. is not used with a title (senator, judge, ambassador, pastor, father), or with a military rank (general, captain, major…):
—-—-No: Senator Dr. (Surname)
—-—-No: Mayor Dr. (Surname)
——–No: Ambassador Dr. (Surname)
Senator (Surname)
—-—-Yes: Mayor (Surname)
——–Yes: Ambassador (Surname)
Dr. (Surname)

If he/she is addressed with a courtesy title (the honorable) or rank (ambassador, doctor) – their academic degree is listed in his/her biography/CV/resume. The post nominals for thier doctorate is not part of the official name.

– Robert Hickey  How to Address a Person with Two Titles

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

Military + Doctorate
Military + Professor or Dean

If you are looking for a armed services officer who is a physician, see Doctor, Military

How to Address Military Personnel (Active Duty or Retired) With a Ph.D.?

How does one, in written form, address an officer or retired officer who has his Ph.D.? He goes by ‘Dr. Taylor’ now that he works in a corporate environment, but our management also wants to highlight his service as well as his degree. Which should we use on our website?
—–—–BGen Henry Taylor, Ph.D., USAF (Ret)?
—–—–BGen Henry Taylor, USAF (Ret), Ph.D.?
————-– Bill Inge

Would you by any chance know the proper form of address for a retired officer who is now a university professor with a Ph.D.? I read the note on your website regarding context (Captain when he’s my commanding officer, Doctor when he’s bandaging my foot, or something to that effect), but I wonder what would be suitable with an academic doctor, and in a more formal usage. I’ve encountered Captain Doctor [name] once or twice on the Internet, but it seems a bit of a mouthful.
————-– P. L. Scott

How would I address an envelope to a retired officer who now is college dean?————-
————-– O.S.

Dear BI, PLS and OS,
—-#1) In the US Style we address a person with the form of address pertinent to the situation — just one title/form of elevated address at a time.
—-Anything more resides on the resume/CV.
—-This U.S. Style is a ‘simplified style’ … and is related to our cultural bias toward egalitarian, less structured status among citizens.
—-—-No: BGen Henry Taylor, Ph.D., USAF, Retired
—-—-No: Captain Robert Thompson, USN, Ph.D.
—-—-Yes: BGen Henry Taylor, USAF, Retired
—-—-Yes: Henry Taylor, Ph.D.
—-—-Yes: Captain Robert Thompson, USN
—-—-Yes: Robert Thompson, Ph.D.

#2) If one is a dean, address as a dean when the communication is pertinent to that office. (See the form by following the links in the list at right.)  Other times you might address as a retired military officere.g., to invite him to a Veterans Day Ceremony.
—-But – in the University catalog he’d be listed as an academic:
—-—-(Full Name), (Post-nominal Abbreviations for Degrees Held)

NOTE: I say it is a U.S. Style, because in the U.K. and in countries which hold the British traditions, one’s name is like one’s resume. It is a more structured-status society where clearly positioning yourself and your lineage in the hierarchy is a normal part of the culture.This U.K. Style is a ‘compound style’ and names get very long. Names including every title, rank, courtesy title and post-nominal to which one might ever have been entitled.
—-You see very long names like: Brigadier General the Right Honourable Professor Sir Alexander Smithson Montgomery, VC, GCMG, CB, DSO, PC.

– Robert Hickey How to Address a Person with Two Titles

U.K. Style: More Than One Honorific

Here are two photos I took at a hospital in Germany. The Germans, like the British, use mulitiple titles/ranks/honorifics before a name.  Note the use of the double honorifics: professor and doctor.  This is an example what’s discussed in the NOTE above. In the U.S. we never more-than-one title/rank/honorific at a time.

How to Address a Person with Two Titles

Military + Corporate Title

How to Address a Military Officer With a Post-Retirement Title?

Our University has a VP position currently filled by a retired Marine one star general.  He asked that he always be identified and listed as follows:

————Frank Miller
————Vice President, XYZ University
————& Brigadier General, USMC, Retired

Is this the correct way to present his name?  Should we call him General Miller?

————-– CH

Dear CH,
In the U.S. we just give one title at a time. And if there is more than one title in the mix, we use the one pertinent to the situation.
———* If he’s chairing an event as the VP of the University — that’s how he should be identified at that event.
———* If he’s invited to a Veteran’s Day event as a retired Marine BGen, then that’s how he should be identified at that event.
That he’s a retired BGen would be in his University biography and both might well be included in a complete introduction. And, he’s free to mention it orally to anyone if it comes up. There might even be people attending a University event who knew him as BGen Miller and address him that way in a private conversation, but that’s not official – it’s personal and unofficial.

I would not advise the & BGen, USMC, Retired for use as the VP at your University.
But, it could work if he gave a speech at a local high school – were he was there personally – and wasn’t there officially as either a VP or a BGen.
He’s got many names “Honey” “Daddy” “Frank” ‘General Miller” and now “Mr. Miller”.   All are correct in one situation or another.

I was raised in Arlington, VA in the shadow of the Pentagon and knew many retired officers.
Some could never let their rank go. One retiree would insist on being General Towner to neighbors when he was watering his garden.
Another retiree just moved on thinking what a great chapter that was, but now I am in a new chapter “Hi, I’m Bob Neville”

I don’t know if you’ll convince him, but at least you have a structure to think about it correctly!

– Robert Hickey How to Address a Person with Two Titles

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

Religious Title + Another Title

How to Address a Catholic Priest who has a Doctorate?

How do I address a letter to a Roman Catholic priest who is a college professor?
——–Dr. Blankenship
——–Father Blankenship
——–Father Dr. Blankenship
—————-– Jack Fleming

Dear Mr. Fleming
—-#1) Catholic Priests: In the form of names – being clergy outranks having an doctorate. So, don’t address as a doctor or a professor. Roman Catholic priests are addressed as a priest.  

—-—-The Reverend (Full Name), (initials of order)

—-Salutation or Converstation:
—-—-Father (Surname)

—-Which might look like
—-—-The Reverend Benjamin Gillespie, SJ

—-—-Dear Father Gillespie.

#2) For a Rabbi with an academic degree, address as a Rabbi (Name).  ‘Dr.’ or ‘Professor’ are not part of the name. See the posting for Rabbi in the list at right for more information.

#3) For Protestant clergy see the posting for ‘Pastor, Christian’ in the list at right. Protestant clergy are more likely to use ‘Dr. (Name)’ or ‘Professor (Name)’ than are Roman Catholic or Jewish teaching clerics.

– Robert Hickey   How to Address a Person with Two Titles

Robert Hickey author of "Honor & Respect"

Old Title + New Role

How to Address a Former Judge Who Is In a New Role?

My partner and I are meeting with the head of a major philanthropic and public service organization. Before taking this leadership position he was a New York State Supreme Court Judge in the Family Court System.

His new secretary answers his phone ‘Mr. (his last name)’s Office’. We’re preparing a briefing document for him and I’m unsure if he should be addressed as ‘Mr.’ or ‘Judge’ or ‘the Honorable’ Any ideas?

——————–– Laurane M. in New York How to Address a Person with Two Titles

Dear LM:

Use – Mr. (Full Name) and Mr. (Surname)

A retired judge continues to be addressed in writing as ‘the Honorable (full name)’. The rule is ‘once an Honorable, always an Honorable.’  Retired judges are addressed in oral social conversation as ‘Judge (Surname)’. Like ambassadors, generals, and senators, they are entitled to use their former professional title in informal situations for the rest of their lives.

BUT in his current role the form of address from a prior role – is not pertinent. He is most appropriately addressed at his current job – in a manner reflecting his current position. His own secretary says ‘Mr. (his last name)’s office’  I’d take that to mean that it is his preferred form of address.

I think he’s made the right decision.

– Robert Hickey   How to Address a Person with Two Titles

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

Royal + Ambassador

How to Address an Ambassador Who Also Has a Noble Title?

I have a meeting tomorrow with a foreign ambassador who also is a prominent member of the royal family of his country.
—-Do I address him in his role as an Ambassador –– Your Excellency -or- Mr. Ambassador?
—-Do I address him as a prince –– Your Royal Highness?
—-Or some combination of the two?
——————–– Mark M. in DC

Dear MM:
The basic rule that’s right 98% of the time is to address by rank, identify by office.

Since he has a personal royal rank, officially he is always as HRH. In monarchies a noble title outranks an appointed rank. So, in the USA we follow their pattern.

—-In writing you should acknowledge both the rank and office:
—-—-His Excellency His Royal Highness (Name)
—-—-The Ambassador of (Full Name of Country)

—-In conversation he is:
—-—-Your Royal Highness

FYI, here is a situation where that missing 2% comes in to play. I recently discussed this very issue with protocol officers at the Pentagon who had a Saudi Prince visit who is also a Lt. General in the Saudi Arabian Army. He was to be present in the role of commander of the Saudi Armed Services,

They were wondering: Shall we call him ‘General (Name)’ or ‘Your Royal Highness’ ?  Which one would be best?  They decided that during the visit he would be in uniform and they would orally addressed him as ‘General (Name)’.  His peers at the meeting were also addressed by rank.

Maybe another rule applies here: Address by the role which is pertinent to the communication … but their decision worked and everything went smoothly.

But, in Saudi Arabia he would have been Your Royal Highness  everywhere and in every instance. Being a prince outranks being a mere general!

– Robert Hickey How to Address a Person with Two Titles

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"