How to Address Professionals and Academics

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    Christian Orthodox       
    Christian Orthodox        
Acting Official       
Adjutant General     

Admiral, Texas Navy   
Adventist Minister       

Archbishop, Catholic        
   Christian Orthodox        
Archdeacon, Episcopal        
Ambassador, Goodwill
Ambassador of one country
   to another country      
Ambassador of the U.S.
   to another country
   by a U.S. citizen       
Ambassador of the U.S.
   to the U.K.  
American Indian Chief        
   U.S., State / or           

Assistant Secretary
Associate Justice,
   U.S. Supreme Court          
Associate Justice of a
   State Supreme Court
Attorney General           
Attorney General,
Attorney, U.S.         
Australian Officials    
Awards, Name on an

Baron, Baroness           
British Officials,
   Royalty, Nobility     
Brother, Catholic
   Christian Orthodox          
Bishop, Catholic            
   Christian Orthodox         
Bishop, Episcopal        
Board Member     
Brigadier General       
Business Cards      

Canadian Officials    
   USA, USAF, USMC     
Certificate, Name on a 
    Federal Reserve      
Chaplain in the
    Armed Services        
Chaplain of Congress          

Chargé d’Affaires         
Chief Executive Officer 
Chief Judge          
Chief Justice,
      U.S. Supreme Court 
Chief Justice, of a State
      Supreme Court             

Chief of Police          
Chief of Staff     

Chief Operating
City Manager
Clergy & Religious
Club Official          
Colonel, Kentucky      
Colonel, USA, USAF,
    or USMC     
Commissioner, Court     
Commodore of a         
      Yacht Club         
Congressman, U.S.               
Congresswoman, U.S.   
Consul and or
   Consul General   
Corporate Executive         
Counselor (Diplomat)      
County Officials       
    U.S. Military
    U.S. Officials
    Private Citizens    
    Same Sex

Dalai Lama          
Dean, academic            
Dean, clergy            
Deceased Persons        
Degree, honorary      
Delegate, U.S., State

Deputy Chief of Mission
Deputy Marshal

Deputy Secretary      
    Pro Tempore      
Diploma, Name on a   

District Attorney
Doctor, Chiropractor     
Doctor of Dentistry
Doctor of Medicine              
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,     
   USA, USAF, USMC      
Lieutenant General,
   USA, USAF, USMC      

Lieutenant Governor    

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     
Nobility, UK/British
Nobility, Other & Former     
Nun, Catholic
Nun, Orthodox

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
Police Officer                     
Pope, Catholic
Pope, Coptic
Postmaster General         
Presbyter, Orthodox
President, corporate
President of
    College or
President of a
President of a
    US State Assembly 
President (current)
   of the U.S.A.          
President (former)
   of the U.S.A.     
President of the
    U.S.A., spouse of  
    of the U.S.   
Priest, Catholic          
    Christian Orthodox 
Priest, Episcopal        
Prime Minister
   & Academics         
Pro Tempore,
   Elect, Designate    


Ranger, Texas        
   U.S., Federal           
   U.S., State            
Reservist, Military      
Retired Military
   1. Formula For
       How to Address     
   2. Use of Rank by
       Retired Military    

   3. Q&A on
       How to Address
       Retired Military   
Reverend, The
Right Reverend, The         

Same Sex Couple      
Salvation Army    
School Board Member
   U.S. Department,
   Member of the Cabinet
   of Defense, U.S.       
Secretary, Assistant       
Secretary General
   of the U.N.            
Senator, U.S., Federal       
Senator, U.S., State         
Senator, Canadian       
Senior, Junior,
     I, II, III, etc.         
Senior Judge 
Sergeant at Arms
Seventh Day
     Adventist Minister       
Sister, Catholic       

Solicitor General      
Speaker of the U.S.
   House of
Spouse of the
    President of the U.S.       
Spouse of the
    Vice President
    of the U.S.           
Spouse of an
    Elected Official            
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 / Forms of Address
Professionals and Academics

Questions & Answers, Frequently Asked Questions, and Blog

Site updated by Robert Hickey on 23 March 2020

Honorary Degrees     

What is the Correct Order of
     My Professional Post-Nominal Abbreviations?    

How to to Use "Esq." With Other Post-Nominals?       
How to Use the Post Nominals for a Masters Degree?             
How to Use Academic Post Nominals with a Military Rank?             

When Can I Begin to Use My Academic Post Nominals?        
How to Use My Degree's Post-Nominals on My Checks?            

Can I call myself "Dr." with a PhD?             
Can I sign my name as "Dr. (Name)"?             
Do I Introduce Myself as "Dr. (Name)"          

How Do I know if a PhD is Addresed as "Dr."?            
How to Use "Dr." or "PhD" on an Wedding Invitation?              

Who Uses "Dr." in a Health Care Setting?    
Do I Introduce a Doctor as "Dr. (Name)" in a Social Setting?              
How Should Clinical Staff Address a Doctor in Front of Patients?                

Can I use "Professor Dr. (name)"?             
How to Address a Retired Professor?           
How to Address a Dean?       
How to Address a Retired Officer who has a Doctorate?              
How to Address a Retired Officer who is also a Professor?              
How to Address a Retired Officer who is also a Dean?        

How to Address a Retired Physician?        
How to Address a Retired Dentist?              
How to Address a Nurse Practitioner?        

How to List a University President on an Invitation?
      I am hosting a cocktail reception in my home honoring the athletic director of a university. The university president and his wife will be attending and I want to list them on the invitation with a few other university officials. Please advise as to how I should list the couple:
            Mr. and Mrs. Jim Clements, President, West Virginia University
            Mr. Jim Clements, President, West Virginia University and Ms. Beth Clements
West Virginia University President Jim Clements and Beth Clements
      Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
           -- Sally H.

Dear Sally:
      High officials may not need to be identified on invitations since the invitees know / should know the ranks of the notable guests.
      And, every University president I have ever encountered is a "Dr." not a "Mr."
      So, most formally it would simply be:
            Dr. and Mrs. James P. Clements
      If you need to (want to) include his position then it would be
            Dr. James P. Clements, President, West Virginia University
                  and Mrs. Clements

     Some people will want to list them as James and Beth Clements, but I'd use the first + last name format for a neighborhood party, but not for one honoring university officials. 
      -- Robert Hickey

How Should Clinical Staff Address a Veterinarian
in Front of Clients?

       I am a Veterinary Management Consultant. One of my pet peeves when dealing with clinic staff nowadays is their lack of professionalism when addressing each other, especially in front of clients. The use of cutesy nick-names, addressing veterinarians by their first names and using self-proclaimed (and often, inappropriate) nicknames seems to give a very bad impression. I'm looking for some back up on my stance to show staffers who think I'm just being picky. Do you have anything on this subject? Your help would be appreciated.

        -- Talbot James

Dear Mr. James:
        My precedents are more medical than veterinary, but the issues are exactly the same.
        Regarding calling the veterinarian "Dr" ... At hospitals & in doctor's offices physicians are addressed as Dr. (Name) so patients will know which person in the room is the physician.
        It also informs the patient of how to address the doctor.
        So ... it's an issue of clarity rather than an issue of formality.
Regarding use of formal names rather than first or nick names ... anytime one is on a first-name basis with someone who merits a special form of address (Doctor, Mayor, Senator, Dean, etc.), one should address him/her formally (e.g. as Dr. Surname) in front of others who are not on a first-name basis with him/her.  Thus, while the staff might call the veterinarian by first name back stage ... they should use Dr. (Name) in front of clients/patients, or in this case pet owners.
        Regarding other clinical staff ... nurses are often addressed by first name ... or first name and last initial.  I have a Q&A on the "Nurse" page on why first-name-only for nurses makes sense for security reasons. See Karen Hickman's on addressing a letter to a nurse whose name badge only had her first name on it.  Her comment is at the end of How to Address Someone In Writing When They Only Have Their First Name on Their Name Badge?
        While a pharmacist, hospital administrator, or nurse may also have a doctorate .... it is confusing to the patient to address them as "Dr." in the clinical environment. It's not because their degrees are not respected; they are.
        Regarding nick names .... a person's name is what they say it is. When it is their preference to be addressed as Cupcake, Snookie, or whatever, it does not set a formal tone. Some would say it makes the individual look childish ... but I don't think you can tell someone they can't use the name the prefer.
        -- Robert Hickey

Do I Introduce a Doctor as Dr. (Name) at a Party?    
   At an event where everyone is on a first name basis, does one introduce a doctor with the honorific “Dr.”?  Or should I introduce his just with his first name ... no "Dr."
        -- Amy K. in Montreal

Dear Amy K.:
n a truly social introduction don't introduce a doctor as Dr. (Name).
    RE: First name basis. Normally only children are introduced with first-names-only.  For adults give first and last names in an introduction -- so both parties get complete information -- then let them switch to first-name-only.
    So saying something like one of the following in a social situation seems good to me ...
       1.   Michael Updike I would like to introduce Kevin Cox.  Michael is a radiologist here in Montreal. Kevin is my neighbor and teaches Canadian history at McGill.
    This gets them started using first names. 
    Or consider this option:
       2.   Michael Updike I would like to introduce to you Kevin Cox.  Dr. Updike is a radiologist here in Montreal. Dr. Cox is my neighbor and teaches Canadian history at McGill.
    This gives them a cue that you are not expecting them to be on a first name basis and gets them started with the more formal terms.

         -- Robert Hickey

Who Uses "Dr." In a Health Care Setting?
      We have been having great debate about the use honorifics and credentials in our health care setting.  The current practice is to only use honorifics and credentials when referring to physicians.  Therefore, announcements and communications (internal and external) read Dr. William Smith and Julie Brown.  In some instances, Julie Brown may have a doctorate, such as a PhD, DPT, PharmD.
     Physicians get an honorific but no one else get's an honorific (Dr., Mr., Mrs., and/or Ms.).  The same is true if you use MD at the end of the name -- physicians get post nominals ... others don't. Shouldn't all the degrees be acknowledged in the same fashion? Do you have any guidance?
     -- Cody Burnett, Holland Michigan

Dear Mr. Burnett:
    A couple of issues here:
   RE: Who Gets Their Post Nominals?
   Official correspondence often includes post-nominal for a degree that is a requirement for the position.
So regarding your the hospital's newsletter, It seems reasonable that post nominals would be included when pertinent. E.g., in a story about a pharmacist and his professional activities -- it would seem reasonable to include post nominals: David Smith, PharmD.
RE: Who Get's to Be Addressed as "Dr."?

    At universities and research facilities holders of non-medical doctorates use
Dr. as an honorific all the time. But there, there are no patients needing quite the same level of clarity as to who is and who is not a physician / doctor
    I'd say your rule that Dr. is only used for physicians is a benefit to customers/clients/patients.  It's functionally informative that while waiting to see the doctor --
physicians are the only ones around the hospital getting the honorific .... and being referred to as doctor.
    -- Robert Hickey

Do I Introduce Myself as "Dr. (Surname)?
     I have a Doctorate in Education. In the world of academia do I introduce myself as Dr. Esposito-Vanderbilt or Maria Esposito-Vanderbilt and let them find out later that I have a doctorate?

            -- MEV

Dear MEV:
    Normally one does not give oneself an honorific.
    Thus I introduce myself as Robert Hickey ... not Mr. Robert Hickey or Mr. Hickey.
    But, there could be an occasional exception when a professional expertise is immediately pertinent.
    1) When a physician enters an exam room to see a brand new patient who is sitting there in a backless paper gown, it's pertine
nt and considerate for him or her to say "Good morning, I am Dr. Wilson"  
    2) A high school school teacher might introduce himself or herself to their class as Mr./Mrs./Ms. (Surname).  thus informing the class how he or she wishes to be addressed, but then turn around and introduce himself or herself to a parent as (First Name) (Last Name).
    3) You might do it the first time you introduce yourself to a class to make sure they know how to directly address you .... Dr. Esposito ... Dr. Esposito-Vanderbilt.
    But most of the time, one does not give oneself an honorific.
    I cover this sort of issue in my book it this sort of thing comes up often
       -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a University President?
   I have been asked to translate a letter for my university in Germany celebrating its 40th anniversary. This letter invites non-German university presidents to attend the celebration. In very formal German our university president (rector) is addressed as Magnifizenz (His magnificence). This seems to be a bit over the top in the more relaxed Anglo-American academic world. How to I address a US university president? I would welcome any suggestion, and should my request be of interest to others, please publish it!
    -- Hans Schroeder, Bielefeld, Germany

Dear Mr. Schroeder:
    On the assumption that all university presidents hold a doctorate, on the envelope and address block on the letter use:
           Dr. (Full Name)
           Name of University

    The salutation could be: Dear President Schroeder:
   I have a friend who is president of a college in North Carolina and I can't wait to tell her that if she were in Germany she'd be Her Magnificence.  She will flip!
      -- Robert Hickey

How to Use an Academic Degree with a Rank?
    I am wondering the proper way to format a military rank and academic degree on a resume.  In question is a gentleman, "John Smith," who is a currently a Captain in the USMC who holds a masters degree in HR business administration... and MBA.
           -- GB in Career Counseling

Dear GB:
    No sort of post-nominal abbreviation ... professional, academic, religious .. is ever used with a rank.
    He is Captain John Smith, USMC.
    Note in a his bio (or resume) that he holds a Masters in Business Administration from (Name of) University in a section on education.
               -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Retired Dentist?
     I would like to know when addressing a card to a retired dentist and his wife, how should the envelope be addressed?

       Dr. & Mrs. John Smith or Mr. & Mrs. John Smith.
                   -- Cari Winters

Dear Ms. Winters:
    It is absolutely ...
        Dr. and Mrs. John Smith

    Doctors continue to use their "Dr." as an honorific forever.

             -- Robert Hickey

May I Use Both an Honorific & a Post Nominal?
      I am a practicing civil engineer, and the question has often arisen in our company about how to display a professional engineer’s name in a report or proposal letter.  The suffix P.E. (or PE) is used to signify that the individual is a Professional Engineer registered as such in a particular state.  Our local practice has been to only use the suffix -- James R. Bowden, PE.  Others in our company have used both a suffix and honorific -- Mr. James R. Bowden, PE.  I can’t seem to find any references for this situation, other than recommendations to avoid redundancy -- Dr. James R. Bowden, MD.  What is your opinion?

             -- James Bowden, Georgia

Dear Mr. Bowden:
     I have a chapter in my book just on Abbreviations & Post Nominals that covers this point, and I say your local practice is perfect:  "Our local practice has been to only use … James R. Bowden, PE"
    In the United States the tradition is you get either something before your name or something after, but not both.
    You get just one of the following:
             Honorific: Mr., Mrs., Ms., Dr., Judge, etc.
Captain, Admiral, etc.
             Courtesy title:  
The Honorable, The Reverend, His Excellency, etc.
    Or you get your post nominal abbreviations
... but not both at the same time.
    I mention in the US because the UK and Commonwealth Countries use everything one has to include. There you get names the can get long: His Excellency The Right Reverend Captain Dr. Lord James R. Bowden, Jr, PhD, OBE, PC
    The name becomes a resume.  In the US we include only the parts that are is pertinent to the situation.

          -- Robert Hickey

When Can I Start Using My Degree with My Name?
May I Use Post-Nominal Initials Before Graduation?

    I recently completed the requirements for an MBA.  Graduation is in December - but when can I present my name as (Name), MBA on my resume or when I speak at conferences?  Do I start using the post-nominals now that the program is done -or- do I have to wait until I have the diploma in hand?
      -- Proud About-to-be Grad

     I’m a doctoral candidate and was told that while I can't use Ph.D. yet, the form of the post-nominal abbreviation a doctoral candidate can use is:
                  (Full Name), Ph.D. (c) 
     Please confirm.
      -- Soon to be Dr.

Dear About-to-be Graduates:
    There's no police unit out there hunting down premature post-nominal users, but your degree becomes official when your degree is noted on your transcript. An official transcript is the document required as 'proof of a degree.'  This will be completed before graduation, but you will not know the exact date unless you check.
    So until then, you are not entitled to the honors and courtesies that come with it. Forms of address -- in writing and in oral conversation -- are honors and courtesies.
    You can definitely state on your biography/resume/curriculum vitae you will be receiving your Master of Business Administration
from (name of university) in (month), (year)
or are a candidate for
Doctorate in (fill-in the blank) from (name of university).

                    -- Robert Hickey

How to Use Academic Post-Nominals with a Noble Title?
       I have a question for you regarding how I should be properly addressed. I am of nobility and the last man in our family. I am the Count James Renninger, but also have two doctorates. I am trying to decide how to incorporate both titles and academic degrees into my name while remaining correct so that I do not make a fool of myself. My question is how should I be addressed being both a Count and a Doctor?
         Dr. J. Renninger?

Dear JL:
        The US form and British forms are the most common models used around the world for address in English.
        Since you are living in the US it follows you would follow the US Style in which you are both a "Count" and a "Dr." but perhaps not at the same time.  Here's what's done:
            1) Post-nominals are used professionally, not socially
            Traditional form would be to use your academic post-nominals with out reference to your hereditary title
                  An official letter is addressed with the academic post-nominal abbreviation:
                          (Full Name), PhD
                  A social letter is addressed with the honorific:
                           Dr. (Full Name)
            2) Hereditary titles from a former monarchy are used socially in the USA, not officially, and most typically not professionally.

        -- Robert Hickey

May I Use Professor Dr. (Name)?    
   Dear Mr. Hickey,
    In Europe, university professors use the honorific Prof., or Prof. Dr., in (semi-) formal social context.
    Is it ever acceptable for Americans to do so in the US? It might be valuable to distinguish oneself from a medical doctor.
    Thank you,
    David Uslan, PhD
    Associate Professor of Astronomy
    University of (State)

Dear Dr. Uslan,
    In the UK they have a tradition of using every honorific, courtesy title, and rank one is entitled to. Their name is their resume ... their curriculum vitae.
    So, you see names written ... as you note:
        Professor Dr. David Uslan
    You even see:
        His Excellency the Reverend Captain Sir David Uslan, PhD
    The Germans do it too: Ambassador Professor David Uslan, General Dr. David Uslan etc.
    In the US we have a simplified tradition of just using the one honorific, courtesy title, or rank -- usually choosing the one that is pertinent or is the preference of the bearer. For example the former US Senator from Tennessee, Bill Frist, was an MD and a US Senator. He preferred to be Dr. Frist to Senator Frist, but was never Senator Dr. Frist.
    In your case I'd say that traditionally you would be
        Professor Uslan -or- Dr. Uslan in the classroom.
        David Uslan, PhD on a letter mailed to your office (post-nominals with official correspondence)
        Dr. David Uslan on a holiday card mailed to your home (honorific with social correspondence).
    I had another Q&A that was similar, FYI.

         -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Retired Professor?
    How do you address a retired professor?

                -- Kathy

Dear Kathy:
    If the professor holds a doctorate and has the personal rank of "Dr." ... he or she is formally addressed in writing as Dr. (Full Name)
for the rest of his or her life.  If he or she holds a lower degree than doctorate, then he or she would be addressed as Mr./Ms. (Full Name).
    "Professor" is an honorific used with instructors in and around campus. Its use as an honorific is situational. Continuing to orally address a retired professor as Professor (Name) acknowledges your continued hierarchical / deferential relationship. There are graded ranks of professor .... "Professor"  "Associate Professor" "Assistant Professor" etc. Even though an individual may hold one of these "graded ranks" all can be addressed (as a courtesy) as ... "Professor (name)"  in conversation.
               -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Professor Who is A
Retired Officer from the Armed Services?

     Would you by any chance know the proper form of address for a USN Captain who is now a university professor with a PhD?  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

Dear Mr. Scott:
I cover this on page 99 in my book.
    1) Re: "Captain Doctor": As a
In the United States we only use just one honorific at a time. Orally on in a salutation he would be Dr. (name), Professor (name) or even Captain (name),  
    2) Retired officers are entitled to use their ranks socially. But usually when they take another job in retirement, they use forms of address that support the subsequent job -- like the form I provide for professor. So, ask him his preference. He may use both at various times, but he'll clarify what he prefers when in his professorial role.
           -- Robert Hickey

When To Use Dr. (Name)? 
And When To Use (Name), PhD?

My daughter is receiving her PhD and will be teaching.  I would like to give her a name plate for her desk. Should it be Dr. (Full Name) or (Full Name), PhD?
              --  AP

Dear AP,
         (Full Name), PhD is the official form of her name. You will use it on the envelope, or in the address block of a letter, when you write to her with regard to her professional pursuits. This is the form the university will use when she is listed among the faculty. It is used by the degree holder, when specifying the exact degree is pertinent – like on business cards or in a list of academics.
         Dr. (Full Name) is the social form of her name. You will use it when you write her name on a personal letter's envelope, e.g., one sent to her home.  This is the form everyone will use on the envelope when they send her a birthday or holiday card. It is rarely used by the degree holder since one does not correctly give oneself an honorific. The degree holder – in their signature or when introducing him or herself – just uses their name ... no "Dr."   It's up to the other person to add the "Dr."  E.g., I just introduce myself as "Robert Hickey" – never "Mr. Robert Hickey." (Sometimes you will observe a physician in a healthcare setting introducing him or herself as "Dr" – but there it is for the patient's benefit to know that they are the physician in a field of people wearing seemingly identical white coats!)
         Dr. (Surname) is the conversational form of her name.  Use it both officially and socially in a letter's salutation as well as in oral conversation.
         So for a office name plate use the official form of her name -- (Full Name), PhD  
                  -- Robert Hickey

Can I Call Myself a "Dr." with my PhD?
    I hold a DMA, Doctorate in Music from a Boston university, and am a Church Music Director. Please could you advise me as to whether it is acceptable for the church where I work to list me in the service bulletins as: Dr. (first name) + (last name)
                    -- CJ a Music Director at Church
Dear CJ:
    Academic doctorates are frequently used professionally: Faculty members with a PhD are usually "Dr. (name)" at the university or when speaking in the context of their degree. Scientists with a PhD are typically "Dr. (name)" at the research lab and at professional conferences.
    Socially? Usually academics and researchers use "Dr." socially. But ultimately whether a particular PhD holder is "Dr."
socially ... especially outside of academia or research ... is at the preference of the bearer.
    List yourself in the bulletin using the professional form ... which is "(First name) + (Last name), DMA"  It specifically acknowledges your academic credential in your professional domain.
     It however doesn't specify if you prefer to be addressed orally as "Dr. (name)" or "Ms. (name)."  In my book (page 160) I show
that outside academia or research in oral address "Ms. (name)" would be the default, but advises one check preference of the person you are addressing.
                       -- Robert Hickey

How Do I Know if a PhD Should Be Addressed as "Dr."?
   May I ask question regarding those with PhDs?  Would you please clarify for me -  if a person holds a PhD -  should Doctor be used in front of his name? I apologize if these questions are answered in your book! I'll try to get it.
     -- Mac Bozman, Council Bluffs

Dear Mr. Bozman:
    This 'doctor' question comes up often.
    Holders of medical doctorates (medical, osteopaths, dentists, podiatrist, vets...) use Dr. (Name) professionally and socially.
    Holders of academic doctorates in academia and research usually do too.
    Holders of academic doctorates outside of academia and research ... in corporate and business ... usually don't. E.g., every lawyer now-a-days is a JD ... doctor of jurisprudence, but none use
Dr. ... and a holder of a doctorate in finance at a bank probably doesn't either.
    So the good news is that if it's a doctor and if he works at a college or in scientific research ... you can address  him as
Dr. (Name) safely.
    And the bad news is with PhD's outside those arenas ... you will need to call to see what his or her preference is.
    The key is "the preference of the bearer" .... it's not up to me or you to decide when or if someone with a PhD is addressed as
Dr.   If that's what he or she want's I will go along with it. A person's name belongs to them.
                     -- Robert Hickey

May I Call Myself Dr. (Name) if my Degree
Is Not in the Field Directly Related to the
Professional Service I am Offering?

     Please help me. I have a PhD. I have also a license in counseling.  Recently I sent out an announcement for a yoga class I will be teaching.  The state of Colorado says I should not be using my name -- Dr. Kevin Schoffner. 
     They cannot see that someone does more then one thing. I have worked in clinical behavioral counseling/integrative health counseling. I've taught yoga at a hospital, have many articles and PR on my work, and always as
Dr. Kevin though I am not presenting myself as a clinical psychologist. When I have looked up the legality of this they say that any advanced degree can say PhD. I need to address this situation immediately.  I greatly appreciate your help.

      -- Kevin Schoffner, PhD, LPC, CMT, IKYTA
           Counseling, Yoga Therapy, Integrative Health & Healing

    I have an MD, but don't have a license to practice medicine. I now work as a naturopathic health consultant in the office an Osteopath. The State Medical Board has brought charges against me for practicing medicine without a license, even though I have every client sign a consent form which states that I have no medical license. Everyone calls me Dr.  –– Dr. is a academic title that I should be able to use.
      -- Dr. J.D.

Dear Drs. Schoffner & JD,
    So you have a PhD / MD.  In one instance it is not related to the service you are offering, and in the other, you are a health consultant addressed as "Dr." since you hold a doctorate, which happens to be an MD, but you have no medical license.
    A couple of typical practices I observe in the USA come to mind:
Professionals use with their name the degrees pertinent to their profession service. The degrees and certifications are provided for the benefit of the public so the public can quickly evaluate your credentials.
     Here's what I mean by pertinent. A pastor who would be The Reverend (Full Name) & Pastor (Name) at church on Sundays, would not use The Reverend (Full Name) & Pastor (Name) when teaching English, Monday through Friday, at the local high school. That he or she is
The Reverend might be mentioned in his or her complete biography or complete introduction.  It just wouldn't be part of her/her name at the school.
   So, I can see if you are using Dr. when offering a class in yoga, and your doctorate is not directly to the service you are offering, say a doctorate physical therapy or kinesthetics ... OR using Dr. in a doctors office advising on a healthcare topics  ..... it would be confusing to me ... and the state officials must think it is misleading to the public.
        -- Robert Hickey

Should I Use Dr. or Ph.D. on an Invitation?
      If a person holds a Ph.D., should his or her name be Dr. (name) a wedding invitation? Or (Name), Ph.D.? 
      Is this true for the father of the bride?
      The groom?
      Is the rule for names on wedding invitations and wedding envelopes different that the guidelines for social correspondence?
     -- Beverly Russell, Winchester, Virginia

Dear Ms. Russell:
     Wedding invitations and their envelopes are social correspondence. Post-nominal abbreviations (Ph.D. is a post nominal abbreviation) aren't used on social correspondence:
                DON'T use Ph.D.
                DO use Dr. (Name).

     Another question that typically comes up is whether to use Doctor or Dr. (spelled out or abbreviated) on the invitation or on the mailing envelope? The rule is to spell out everything and not to use abbreviations.
Mr., Mrs., Dr., and Ms. (for which there is no spelled-out version) are typically used on invitations and when addressing invitations in even the most formal circles. I think Doctor (Name) looks oh-so-highly precious, but I know some wedding planners who would wrestle me to the mat on that one.
            -- Robert Hickey

How Do I Use My Post-Nominals
With My Own Name In Print?

      How should my name appear on my checks "Dr. Cynthia Brodart" or "Cynthia Brodart, M.D." ?
            --- Cynthia Brodart

      How do I list my name on an invitation?  As Kevin Millard, M.D. or Dr. Kevin Millard?
            --- K.M.

Dear Doctors:
      The form of your name you use at work and in official correspondence is with the post-nominals for your degree: (Full Name), M.D. Use this on checks, signage at our office, in listings as a physician -- anything relating to your practice of medicine.  This is also the form others use when they write to you at the office or write your name when they make out a check to you.
     The form of your name you use on social correspondence -- e.g., when you are listed as the host, bride or groom on a wedding invitation or others use when they send you a holiday card -- is
Dr. (Full Name). 
           -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Retired Officer Who is A Dean?
     In your book you cover academics and every rank of officer. But, how would I address an envelope to a captain retired from the US Navy, who now is the dean of a college?
             --- O.S.

Dear O.S.:
    A retired officer is entitled to be addressed by rank socially.
    BUT in a new professional role retired officers will almost always choose to be addressed in a way pertinent to that new role.
    An academic dean
is addressed as:
       (Full name), (Post-nominal abbreviation for his degree)
       Dean of (name of school, college, etc.)
       (Name of College/University)
    The salutation would be:
            Dear Dr. (Surname),
    He is always Dr. (Surname) but you could certainly address him as Dean (Surname) if you are interacting with him as The Dean ... And call him Dean (name) in conversations with regard to his actions as a dean.
    So back to my first comment ... about retired officers being entitled to be addressed by rank. If for some reason he wants to be addressed as "Captain" ... a rank is never used with "Dr." or an academic post-nominal abbreviation.
           -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Dean?
    I need to write a thank-you card to the following person and do not know how to address him. His business card reads,
     Gordon D. Palmer, Ph.D.
             College of Hospitality & Tourism Management
                  blah, blah, blah,

Do I address the card as
        1. Dear Dr. Palmer,
        2. Dear Dean Palmer,
... or something entirely different?  Thank you in advance,
                       -- Charlie in Toronto

Dear Charlie:
    The quick answer is ... use "Dr." -- Ph.D.'s in academia will use the honorific "Dr." professionally and socially.
    The long answer is ... you said it's a "thank-you card" so I am going to call it social. Even if it's a professional relationship, a "thank you" is basically personal. I suggest you address the envelope:
        Dr. Gordon Palmer
(home or office address is O.K.)

    And for the salutation use:
        Dear Dr. Palmer,
    You could certainly use the salutation:
        Dear Dean Palmer,
    My first job was at a university, and when deans were in the dean's office or when acting as a dean -- they were "dean" and in the class room or just themselves -- the were "Dr." 
    I would orally address him as "Dean Palmer" in conversation with him in his official role as a dean. The American tradition is to address someone as they are to you at that moment: A Captain in the United States Navy who is also a doctor could be addressed as "Captain (name)" when he is your commanding officer, and "Dr. (name)" when he is examining your foot.
    You can also refer to the "How to Address an Academic Dean"   page on the site.
    While I think addressing the note correctly is important, the first priority with a thank-you note is get that card mailed with 24 hours! Whenever he get's it, it will be appreciated, but it makes the most impact when it arrives promptly.
                       -- Robert Hickey

How Do I Address a Nurse Practitioner?
Dear Mr. Hickey:
How would you address a nurse practitioner in writing?  John Doe, N.P.Mr. John Doe, N.P.?
    --- Fred Bullard

Dear Mr. Bullard:
    You never use both an honorific ... Mr. ... and a post-nominal ... N.P.
    John Doe, N.P. is the for official correspondence ... on a envelope, or letter ... to his office
    Mr. John Doe is for social correspondence .... personal letter or card ... to his home.
          -- Robert Hickey

How Do I List a Judge on an Invitation?
Dear Mr. Hickey:
On a wedding announcement, how should I write the name of the judge who officiates at the wedding ceremony?  Should he be referred to as The Honorable So-and-So or Judge So-and-So?
    --- Elizabeth Levinson

Dear Ms. Levinson:
    Refer to the judge as The Honorable (full name) in writing.
    Call him or her Judge (name) in conversation, on a place card, and in an introduction to other guests.
          -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Retired Officer Who Has a Doctorate?
     How does one, in written form, address a retired BGen (USAF) who has his PhD?  He goes by “Dr. Taylor” now that he is retired, but management also wants to acknowledge his service as well as his degree.
                BGen Henry Taylor, PhD, USAF (Ret)?
                BGen Henry Taylor, USAF (Ret), PhD?
Dr. Henry Taylor, BGen, USAF (Ret)?
    Thank you,
         --- Bill Montgomery

Dear Mr. Montgomery:
    Three part answer:
    You say he 'goes by Dr. Taylor now. When retired officers represent private companies to the armed services ... they frequently skip using their rank when dealing with active-duty officers. So in spite of management's desire to bring his former rank into the picture, I'd get back to management that the best course is to follow his preference, but it would be appropriate introduce him as "May I introduce Dr. Henry Taylor. Dr. Taylor is a retired United States Air Force Brigadier General."
    Now on to the details:
      #1  There is an American tradition that we only give a person one title at time.
            **  If he prefers to be continued to be addressed as a Brigadier General
                  then use the form I have on Brigadier General
            **  if he prefers now to be addressed as a Doctor
                  use the form I have on Doctorate
    I say "American tradition" because the "British tradition" is to give a person EVERYTHING they would ever get ... so you see names like The Right Honourable Reverend Lieutenant Colonel Dr. Lord William Ramsey, MP, VC ....  But in the US we address a person with the one "honorific" or "courtesy title" that's appropriate to the situation .... who they are to us at the moment.
     #2 Regarding you use of abbreviations: "BGen" is the DOD service-specific abbreviation used by Marine Brigadier Generals.   The DOD service-specific abbreviation for USAF Brigadier Generals is "Brig Gen"
    #3 You see "Retired" noted many ways ... but use EITHER of the following ... to (Ret)
          Brig Gen Henry Taylor, USAF, Ret.
  Brig Gen Henry Taylor, USAF, Retired
    For future use of abbreviations, my books has all that. It answers your questions on page 94 (use of retired with retired officers) and page 97 (DOD USAF abbreviations). 
          -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Retired Physician?
    My friend who was a physician but involved in a car accident and no longer practices due to his injuries is now retired. He no longer has a state license. He is now beginning a Life Coach career and would like to know if he can still be addressed by Dr. in his title in regards to writing his name, or, does he just put MD after his name.
          --- Linda Whedbee

Dear Ms. Whedbee:
   He will be addressed as Dr. ... forever ... in practice, retired, consulting, or coaching.
            Dr. William Smith     (oral address or social form of address)
            William Smith, MD   (traditional form used when addressing a letter to a physician at their office)

                    -- Robert Hickey

May I Sign My Name as "Dr. (Name)"?    
     Increasingly in this country (UK) people with PhDs are signing themselves in their correspondence (such as in e-mail) as Dr (Name). I have always thought that it was bad form to present yourself your title (even Mr.). Shouldn't people use (Name),  PhD and NOT Dr (Name)? Is there is a difference in practice between US and UK?  (By the way, I have a PhD.)
        -- Geoff In London

Dear Geoff in London:
     If you are hand signing your name on a paper letter, use (full name) or
(full name)+(post nominals) and below your signature include (type in) your full name and post nominals. In an email, create a signature block with your full name and post nominals.
         -- 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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Robert Hickey is the author of Honor & Respect:
The Official Guide to Names, Titles, and Forms of Address
Published by The Protocol School of Washington®
Foreword by Pamela Eyring

Available in   Hardcover   /  Kindle   /  Apple Book

Copyright © 2020 Robert Hickey.     All Rights Reserved.
Book Photo: Marc Goodman.

All information on is copyright © 2020 by Robert Hickey. All rights reserved.
The Protocol School of Washington® is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Honor & Respect is dedicated to Dorothea Johnson, Founder of The Protocol School of Washington®