How to Address a Mayor of A US City

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    Christian Orthodox       
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      U.S. Supreme Court 
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City Manager
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Doctor, Military           
Doctor of
   Veterinary Medicine          
Doctor, Optometrist   
Doctor of Osteopathy            
Doctor, Other Disciplines     
Doctorate, honorary      

Elect, Designate
Pro Tempore      
Esquire, Esq.       

First Names, Use of
   Formal / Informal     
First, Second,
   Third , etc .        
First Lady, Spouse
   of the President of
   the United States 
First Lady, Member
    of Her   
    White House Staff      
First Lady, Spouse
   of a U.S. Governor
   or Lt. Gov.    
First Lady, Spouse
   of a U.S. Mayor    

First Lady
   of a Church      

First Lieuten
Former Officials    

Gay Couple      


Goodwill Ambassador      
Governor General         
Governor, Lieuten
Governor, Lt., Spouse   

Governor, Tribal Council          
Governor, U.S. State       
Governor, Former    
    Spouse of     
Governor's Staff,
    Member of
Governors, Board of 

High Commissioner    
Honorable, The
Honorary Ambassador       
Honorary degrees
Honorary doctorate
Honourable, The

Indian Chief         
Inspector General    
Interim Official   
   Writing &  
    Writing &

Judge, former     
Judge of US City

     County or State     
Judge, US Federal            
Junior, Senior,
    I, II, III, etc

Justice, Associate

     Supreme Court

Justice, Associate

     Supreme Court


Late, The
   (deceased persons)
Lesbian Couple    
Lieutenant Colonel,     
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Lieutenant General,
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Major General,
Man, business
Man, social
Marquess / Marchioness
Married Women       
Marshal for a
   Judicial District, U.S. 
Mayor, U.S. City   
Mayor, Canadian City    
Mayor Pro Tempore
Mayor, Vice    
   Protestant Clergy       
   Christian Orthodox     
Most Reverend, The        
Mother Superior
Mr. (Social)      
Mr. (Business)      
Mrs., Ms. (Use, Social Forms)      
Mrs. vs. Ms.     
Mr. & Mrs. / Couples   

Name Badges or Tags     
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Officer, Police     

Pastor, Christian Clergy  
   Christian Orthodox  
   Ecumenical Patriarch
   of Constantinople  
People with Two Titles      
Petty Officer
Place Cards            
Plaque, Name on a    
Police Chief
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Presbyter, Orthodox
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   1. Formula For
       How to Address     
   2. Use of Rank by
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   3. Q&A on
       How to Address
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Right Reverend, The         

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     I, II, III, etc.         
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Speaker of the U.S.
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Spouse of the
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State Attorney     
Surgeon General          

Texas Ranger        
Titles & Forms of
    Address, Useless?        
Tombstones, Names on
Town Justice
Town Manager       
The Honorable     
Tribal Officials     
Two Titles,
    Person With

Under Secretary       
US Attorney
US Federal Officials
US State Officials     
US Municipal Officials

Venerable, The        
Veteran (not Retired)         
Very Reverend, The         
VFW Officer/Official    
Vice Mayor       
Vice President
    of the U.S.
Spouse of the
    Vice President
of the U.S.
Vice President-elect
    of the U.S.      
Viscount and/or

Warrant Officer       
White House Staff    
Woman, business        
Woman, social        

Yacht Club Officer      


How to Address a United States Mayor

Envelope, official:
    The Honorable
        (Full name)
            Mayor of (municipality)

Letter salutation:
    Dear Mayor (surname):

All about The Honorable
Link to Q&A just on officials in the U.S. addressed as The Honorable

FYI, here is what's come into the Blog that relates to this office/rank.
   For recent questions sent in, check out Robert Hickey's Blog.

   For specific offices/ranks, check out Robert Hickey's On-Line Guide.

Are Elected Officials The Honorable for Life?
I am the mayor of a municipality - and the question arose: "Is a mayor the honorable for life?"
     --- Cate Wilson in Florida

Is a former state senator or assemblyman still "the Honorable"?
      --- F.P.W. in Albany

Dear Mayor Wilson and F.P.W.:
         The rule for U.S. officials elected to office in a general election is once an Honorable, always an Honorable.
         Mayors: So a current elected mayor of a municipality is formally: The Honorable (Full Name), Mayor of (Name of City) In conversation you are addressed as Mr./Madame Mayor, Mayor (Surname) -or- Your Honor.
         Other former elected-officials: They too continue to be formally addressed as The Honorable (Full Name) when they leave office. If they held a job which only one person can hold it at a time ... then the special honorific ... if there was one ... does not continue.  They revert to whatever conversational form of address to which they were entitled before they took office .... e.g..  Mr./Ms./Dr./etc. (Surname). Their successor gets to be one-and-only while they hold the office.
      E.g., for mayors, in a salutation or conversation, when one leaves office he/she goes back to Mr./Ms./etc. (Surname) -- since it is a job of which there is only one at a time.  A former mayor doesn't continue to be addressed as "Mayor (Name)" once they are out of office.
      But senators and judges, of which there were always many at the same time, may continue to be addressed by the "title" when they are out of office.  If they are fully retired they are more likely to want to use the elevated form of address.  If they are working professionally in some other field, they are much less likely to do so.
           -- Robert Hickey

Is a Former Mayor Addressed as Mayor (Name)?
I am addressing an invitation to a former mayor. How do I correctly do that??
     --- Karen Szczpanski

Hi Karen:
        Address a former mayor on the envelope or address block of a letter use this form:
              The Honorable (Full name)
        On the salutation, in conversation, or if your invitation has an inside envelope use this:
           Mr./Mrs./Dr./etc. (Surname):
        Sometimes you will see or hear former mayors addressed as Mayor (name) but it is not correct, Address a former mayor as Mr./Ms./Dr./etc. (whatever honorific they had before becoming mayor) (Name).
       The reason? In a city there is only one mayor at a time. It's not respectful to the current officer holder, and is potentially confusing to be addressing more than one person as Mayor (Name).
Being addressed as
Mayor (Name) is a courtesy of the office and is reserved for the current office holder. I know, I know, I know, you hear former mayors addressed as Mayor (Name), but addressing a former mayor as Mayor (Name) is simply a reporter flattering the former official's ego, or the former official seeking to continue to enjoy the courtesies due his or her former lofty post.
      [This contrasts with officials of which there is more than one office holder at a time -- e.g, there are many judges, ambassadors, generals, admirals, professors, senators etc. at a time -- and these former office holders DO use their (Special Honorific)+(Name) in every situation for the rest of their lives.]

            -- Robert Hickey

How to Address an Acting Official?
Would it be appropriate to address an acting mayor of a U.S. city as The Honorable? Do you call him Mayor (Name)?
           -- Cheryl

Dear Cheryl:
    The Honorable is reserved for officials elected in a general election ... or those very high officials appointed by the President of the United States and approved by the U.S. Senate.
    So if he/she is serving as acting mayor through an appointment ... he/she would not be The Honorable  ... I say that with one exception: he or she might have been
The Honorable due to prior elected service.
    Typically acting officials are not addressed in conversation as if they were the elected and inaugurated official. An 'acting' mayor of a city, governor of a state, or president of a college isn't really the office holder -- he or she is 'acting'.  So in a salutation or conversation use Mr./Ms./Dr./etc. (Name) and identify as the acting mayor.
            -- Robert Hickey

Hi Robert:
     This really helps us.  Our acting mayor who was formerly an elected legislator. Consequently, we will continue to refer to him as The Honorable.  We appreciate your assistance!
           -- Cheryl

Is a Mayor-Elect "Your Honor"?
      Our mayor-elect is coming to our building today. If I have the occasion to address him personally, should I call him Your Honor even though he will not take office for two months? Or is he simply Mr. Emanuel still?

              - Laurie in Chicago

Dear Laurie:
    Address him/her as Mr./Ms. (Surname) ... or with whatever honorific to which he or she used prior to the election.
    He will be addressed with the forms of address due a Mayor when he takes the oath and is sworn in.  He/she is already The Honorable (Full Name) on a letter because he has been elected office, but won't be addressed as Your Honor until he takes office.
                     -- Robert Hickey

How To Address an Elected Official Who Is Also a Physician?
      What is the proper form of address for a a mayor of a city who is also a medical doctor? How about a member of the city council who is a doctor? Mayor Smith?  Councilman Jones?  Dr. (Family Name)?
              - L.K. in Temple, Texas

      How would I address a senator who is a physician?  Which trumps which?  Dr. Cleary or Senator Cleary?
              - T.W the Party Girl

Dear L.K and T.W.:
      If you are writing to an elected official regarding their official activities as an elected official, address him or her as an elected official If you are writing to the person regarding their activities as a physician, address as a doctor.
       1) AN OFFICIAL IN WRITING: Traditionally all officials elected to office in a general election in the US are The Honorable (Full Name) on an envelope and address block of a letter. I say traditionally because in some localities by local tradition they do not address members of the city or town council as "The Honorable" but for that you need to check your council's office.
       2) AN OFFICIAL IN THE SALUTATION OR CONVERSATION: If the individual has a special honorific attached to their office, use that honorific+name in the salutation or in conversation: E.g., Mayor (Name), Senator (Name). etc.   If there isn't a special honorific attached to the job and formal address in conversation in a salutation is simply Mr./Ms. Name, the use of Dr. Name would be correct because it is her/her personal rank and likely to be the preference of the individual.
       For example .... Bill Frist, former U.S. Senator from Tennessee was an MD, preferred to be addressed in conversation or in a salutation as "Dr. Frist" when he served in the United States Senate rather than "Senator Frist."   It was his personal preference, so people respected his preference, but other physicians in the same situation have followed the standard tradition and were addressed as The Honorable (Full Name) / Senator (Surname).
        -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Former Governor? Former Mayor?
      Good morning Robert:
      I'm writing to inquire into an apparent discrepancy between Judith Martin's writing on former titles and the position you put forth in you wonderful book (let's not even discuss Letitia's written position.) Specifically, Miss Manners writes about the One At A Time Rule (OAAT Rule) applying only to the President and that title holders revert back to their prior highest official title held.  You write that the OAAT Rule refers to all exclusive positions (Gov/Mayor.) which there is only one office holder at a time.
      How does the lay person make sense of what looks like inconsistency within our field?  Many thanks for you help, Robert!
     -- Susan
, Graduate, The Protocol School of Washington

Dear Susan:
If Judith Martin says a former governor is formally addressed as "Governor" and a former mayor if formally addressed as "Mayor" ... then I would disagree with her and would not agree it is historically based.   Formally they are "The Honorable" and revert back their highest former title that wasn't a O-A-A-T office.
     I see my book as a listing of the most formal forms of address, figuring that 'informal' is 'free style" and easier: everyone can do it. But I do get people who disagree. Nixon's post-presidential staff addressed him as "Mr. President." I've had e-mails from readers in Annapolis saying they always called former Maryland governors "Govenor (Name)".  I read that Sarah Palin's publishing publicist directed people to call her "Governor Palin' when she was on her book tour. And I've seen Newt Gingrich addressed as "Speaker Gingrich" on TV by George Stefanopolis.  Former vice presidents, prime ministers, chief justices, chairmen, and chancellors, get the same treatment.
     But everytime I have directly asked a current or former "o-a-a-t" office holder ... be they a mayor of a city or president of the country club .... they confirm the "o-a-a-t rule" is correct -- having been in the situation of being 'current' and dealing with 'formers.'
     The point is not denying the former official of his or her history .... or dishonoring their service  ... but in honoring our system that elects just person one at a time to certain high offices .... and being clear who speaks for the authority of the office.
     Re consistency .... I always insert the "most formally" phrase because people do realized that what they hear on TV is narrative in the third person.  A newscaster referring to President Clinton and Secretary Clinton in a story ... is not a direct forms of address.
     I also find that asking the question "in your club or association, is the former president addressed as 'President'?"  That question gets their affirmation that having multiple presidents -- or multiple mayors -- or multiple governors -- is confusing.

  -- Robert Hickey

How To Write My Name as The Mayor with My Doctor Husband?
My husband is a doctor and I am the mayor of our town.  How should we be signing registries, cards, etc. as a couple?  I am signing as Dr. and Mrs. Carl Wilson. Is that correct?  Can my mayor title go anywhere in there? How should I be signing our Christmas Cards?
             --- Cate Wilson in Florida, again

Dear Mayor Wilson:
If you are signing an official card, register, or guest book
as the Mayor --- use the following:
             Cate Wilson, Mayor of (town) and Dr. Carl Wilson
      I am suggesting you put your self first: as an elected official you have higher precedence that your husband. And I am suggesting you don't call yourself Mayor Cate Wilson, since one doesn't give oneself an honorific (I don't introduce myself saying "Hi I am Mr. Robert Hickey.")  And one doesn't identify oneself as The Honorable (full name).
      Inside personal holiday cards -- not sent as the Mayor but by you and your husband -- you could use the same as you use officially if you want to Cate Wilson, Mayor of (town) and Dr. Carl Wilson  ... or you could use your social name ... Dr. and Mrs. Carl Wilson. Either way, if you are sending it to close friends and family  -- draw a line through the printed names and and write by hand your first names ... "Cate and Carl"
           -- Robert Hickey

How to Address an Someone Addressed as
"The Honorable (Full Name)" and His/Her Spouse?
   How does one address an invitation to the mayor and his wife?
        -- Susan Hensley

   I need to address our elected sheriff and his wife. Is it: The Honorable and Mrs. James Smith?
        -- Agnes Harrington

   How do I address a senator and her husband?
        -- J.K. in Virginia

   How do I address a judge and and her husband?
        -- Ann Buchanan

Dear S.H, A.H. and J.K.:
I cover how to every type of elected official and spouse in Chapter Nine: Joint Forms of Address.
What all these U.S. officials have in common is that they are addressed on an envelope as the Honorable. None of you mentioned their names ... so here are the formulas.
    (1) If "the Honorable" is a man and if his spouse uses (Mrs.) + (same family name), then traditionally her given name does not appear:
       The Honorable William Stanton
        and Mrs. Stanton
    (2If "the Honorable" is a man and If she a different family last name ... then her full name does appear:
       The Honorable William Smith
        and Ms. Linda Blake

    (3)  If "the Honorable" is a woman his full name appears whether he uses the same or different family name:
       The Honorable Linda Stanton
        and Mr. William Stanton
        The Honorable Linda Blake
        and Mr. William Smith

    When person is the Honorable -- they get their name as unit -- not combined with anyone else's name. So what you want to avoid is:
       The Honorable and Mrs. William Stanton
    (4If the spouse has her own rank, courtesy title, or some special honorific, and does not have higher precedence, then both get their full name:
        The Honorable (full name)
        and Lieutenant (full name)
       The Honorable (full name)
       and Dr. Linda Stanton
        The Honorable (full name)
        and the Reverend (full name)

    Probably more answer than you wanted ... but I hope it is useful.

         -- Robert Hickey

Not Finding Your Question Answered?
(1) At left is a list offices/officials covered and (2) below are other topics covered in my blog. Between the two I probably have what you are looking for.
     But after checking both lists 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 (unless I am traveling.)
      If I think your question is of interest to others, I will post the question & answer – but I always change the names and specifics.
      -- Robert Hickey

Mr., Miss, Jr., III, & Names        
Married Women       
Deceased Persons         
People with Two Titles
Post-Nominal Abbreviations and Initials         
Sequence Post-Nominal Abbreviations: Sr., Jr., etc.    
Couples: Private Citizens / Joint Forms of Address 
Couples: U.S. Military / Joint Forms of Address     
Couples: U.S. Officials / Joint Forms of Address      

Former Officials            
Professionals and Academics        

United States Federal Officials, Currently In Office             
United States State Officials, Currently In Office              
United States Municipal Officials, Currently In Office             
       All About The Honorable with U.S. Officials         
       Former United States Officials of all types             
United States Armed Services
       Addressing Active Duty Personnel              
       Addressing Retired Personnel      
       Use of Rank by Retired Personnel      
       Use of Rank by Veterans      

Tribal Officials 
Clergy and Religious Officials           
Canadian Officials         
Australian Officials          
British Officials, Royalty, and Nobility        
Diplomats and International Representatives
Foreign National Officials and Nobility        

Author's Name on His/Her Book       
Business Cards, Names on
Introductions, Names in
Invitations: Names on
Invitations: Names of Armed Service Personnel on        
Name Badges & Tags            
Names on Programs, Signs, & Lists            
Naming a Building or Road            
Place Cards            

Plaques, Awards, Diplomas, Certificates, Names on    
Precedence: Ordering Officials 
Tombstones, Names on      

Site updated by Robert Hickey on 23 March 2020


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For forms of address for invitations, place cards, name badges, introductions, conversation, and all other formal uses, see Honor & Respect: the Official Guide to Names, Titles, and Forms of Address.

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Photo: Marc Goodman.

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