Guide to Use of Names, Titles, & Forms of Address




ON-LINE GUIDE TO
FORMS OF ADDRESS
* * *
BLOG: Robert Hickey
Answers Questions
From On-Line Users
* * *
VIDEO of Robert Hickey
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About the book:
HONOR & RESPECT

Abbess,
    Christian Orthodox       
Abbot,
    Christian Orthodox        
Accountant        
Acting Official       
Adjutant General     
Admiral
        

Admiral, Texas Navy   
Adventist Minister       
Alderman
        

Archbishop, Catholic        
Archbishop,
   Christian Orthodox        
Archdeacon, Episcopal        
Archimandrite        
Architect
Archpriest        
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        
Assemblyman
   U.S., State / or           

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

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

Canadian Officials    
Candidate    
Captain,
   USA, USAF, USMC     
Cardinal
             
Certificate, Name on a 
Chairman
    Federal Reserve      
Chairwoman      
Chancellor      
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
   Officer          
Child
           
Chiropractor     
City Manager
   
Clergy & Religious
    Officials     
Club Official          
Colonel, Kentucky      
Colonel, USA, USAF,
    or USMC     
Commandant       
Commissioner, Court     
Commissioner
         
Commodore of a         
      Yacht Club         
Congressman, U.S.               
Congresswoman, U.S.   
Consul and or
   Consul General   
 
Consultant      
Corporate Executive         
Councilman
    Councilwoman      
Counselor (Diplomat)      
Countess     
County Officials       
Couples     
    U.S. Military
    U.S. Officials
    Private Citizens    
    Same Sex
Curator        

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

Dentist             
Deputy Chief of Mission      
Deputy Marshal          
Designate,
Elect,
    Pro Tempore      
Diploma, Name on a   
Diplomats
     

Director      
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        
Doctorate, honorary      

Earl            
Elect, Designate
  
Pro Tempore      
Emeritus/emerita
     
Eminence     
Emperor    
Engineer    
Esquire, Esq.       
Excellency           

Family     
Fiancee      
Firefighter    
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
ant
   
Former Officials    
Freeholder       

Gay Couple      
Geshe

General
    USA, USAF, USMC
Girl       

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

Governor, Tribal Council          
Governor, U.S. State       
Governor, Former    
Governor
    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   
Introductions       
Invitations
  
   Writing &  
   Addressing  
Invitations
   
Military:
    Writing &
    Addressing

Judge, former     
Judge of US City

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

Justice, Associate

     Federal
     Supreme Court

Justice, Associate

     State
     Supreme Court

King     
Knight      

Late, The
   (deceased persons)
       
Lawyer      
Lesbian Couple    
Lieutenant      
Lieutenant Colonel,     
   USA, USAF, USMC      
    
Lieutenant General,
   USA, USAF, USMC      

Lieutenant Governor    
     

Ma'am          
Major
   USA, USAF, USMC  
Major General,
   USA, USAF, USMC   
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    
Medic      
Minister,
   Protestant Clergy       
Miss      
Monk,
   Christian Orthodox     
Monsignor       
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
Nurse           

Officer, Police     
Optometrist     

Pastor, Christian Clergy  
Patriarch,
   Christian Orthodox  
Patriarch,
   Ecumenical Patriarch
   of Constantinople  
People with Two Titles      
Permanent
     Representative        
Petty Officer
      
Pharmacist     
Physician
        
PhD     
Place Cards            
Plaque, Name on a    
Police Chief
Police Officer                     
Pope, Catholic
  
Pope, Coptic
      
Postmaster General         
Post-Nominal
    Abbreviations    
Presbyter, Orthodox
   
President, corporate
President of
    College or
    University   
President of a
    Secondary
    School      
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  
President-elect
    of the U.S.   
Priest, Catholic          
Priest,
    Christian Orthodox 
Priest, Episcopal        
Prime Minister
       
Principal      
Professionals
   & Academics         
Professor
     
Pro Tempore,
   Elect, Designate    
Psychologist      

Queen

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

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

Same Sex Couple      
Salvation Army    
School Board Member
     
Second
Lieutenant        
Secretary,
   U.S. Department,
   Member of the Cabinet
Secretary
   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       
Sergeant at Arms
          
Seventh Day
     Adventist Minister       
Sheriff       
Sister, Catholic       
Sir       

Solicitor General      
Speaker of the U.S.
   House of
   Representatives.           
Specialist       
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)         
Veterinarian
           
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
   Viscountess        

Warrant Officer       
Widow
     
White House Staff    
Woman, business        
Woman, social        

Yacht Club Officer      



Robert Hickey's Blog on
Names, Titles & Forms of Address
Invitations, Introductions, Precedence, etc.


Answers to Questions From On-Line Users (like you)


Robert Hickey is Deputy Director of The Protocol School of Washington® and has been conducting protocol trainings since 1988.

Site updated by Robert Hickey on 15 January 2017

Welcome To My Website.
     I’ve been teaching at The Protocol School of Washington® for 25 years and spent a decade collecting what I've learned on names, titles and forms of address into my book that has become the standard reference on the topic.
     Since the book was published in 2008, thousands of people and organizations have acquired and use it. Browse around this site, learn how to flawlessly interact with those who are high on the pecking order, and you too can become an ambassador of honor and respect.

      -- Robert Hickey

Something You Are Looking For?
 
   If you have a question on how to address a particular office/official more than 150 are listed below and to the right and on the On-Line Guide To Forms Of Address,
   You can also browse all the previously asked questions. They are saved by category, with a list of those categories at the bottom of this page. I've answered hundreds of questions, so your question may be covered there.

Here Are Six Recently Asked Questions
After they've been here, I move them to a page with related questions
A list of those topics appears at the bottom of this page.


How to Address Someone Who is "The Honorable"
But Also Has Additional Titles and/or Degrees?

       How would one address, either orally or by correspondence, a retired US Senator who is now a US Ambassador to a foreign country? 
       Is he Ambassador Senator (Name)? Which title goes first?
       Or, if his last job was as an Ambassador, perhaps I address him as an Ambassador?

            -- Thomas Manning

       How would one address a retired Army General who is now a Secretary of a U.S. Department?  Is he The Honorable General (Full Name), USA, Retired?
            -- LPD

       How do you address a Doctor who is the ambassador of a foreign country, so he is now an Excellency?  Is he "His Excellency Dr. Ambassador (Full Name)"
            -- MJG

Dear Ms. Manning, LPD & MJG:
      
1) Only One Form of Address At A Time.  The U.S. style is to use just one form of address at a time. So when the communication is related to one of the roles, address the person in the manner pertinent to the topic to which the communication is related.
        E.g. Colin Powell is addressed in writing when the communication relates to his/her service as the Secretary of State as either:
                   The Honorable Colin Powell

             and in the salutation or conversation as:
                   Mr. Powell,

       
E.g. when the when the communication or conversation relates to his/her service as a US Army general address him in writing as:
                   General Colin Powell, USA, Retired

              and in the salutation or conversation as:
                   General Powell,

       Re: use of "Mr. Powell" above.: In the case of Colin Powell he has let it be known he prefers General Powell when it's not related directly to either.
       This is the same situation with General James Mattis, USA, Retired. As Secretary of Defense he is addressed in writing as the Honorable James Mattis. and orally as Mr. Secretary -- or if the room is full of Cabinet secretaries, less formally he'd be addressed as Secretary Mattis.
       2) Doctors:
In the USA, academic post-nominals are not used with other titles. So it is not used with a courtesy title (Excellency or Honorable), with a title (Senator or Judge) or with a military rank. So if one is currently addressed with a courtesy title or rank, any reference to their having a doctorate -- academic, medical, legal, -- appears in his/her biography.
       3) What if the official is now retired, and the communication is social -or- not related to any of the jobs/offices in particular?: As mentioned with General Powell at the end of Part #1, if you know their preference, use their preference.
       He or she likely held one of the offices for the bulk of their career and might prefer that one. Or if one is by far the most prestigious, they might prefer that one.
      If you are unsure, call their office and ask. No one is offended when asked "how do you like to be addressed?"  If you ask their staff, they will know: it will not have been the first time they were asked!

       -- Robert Hickey

How to Address & Refer to an (Official)-elect?
     How do I address the vice-president elect?
       -- S.P.
     How do I address a governor-elect in the U.S.A.?
       -- G. P.

     How do I address a newly-elected judge who hasn't taken the oath of office?

       -- H.W.

Dear G.P., S.P. & H.W.
    I have all the forms of address for -elect officials in my book should this sort of thing come up often.
    The rule is that in the USA, once elected one is immediately addressed on the envelope or in a full introduction as "the Honorable":
             The Honorable (Full Name)
   
Reason? One is entitled to be addressed as "the Honorable" one one has been elected in a general election.
    But in the salutation or in conversation use  ...
             Dear Mr./Ms./Dr./etc. (Surname):

             ... or whatever honorific to which he or she is entitled to -- prior to the election. 
    So if a governor had been a 'senator' or the vice-president had been a "representative/congressman/congresswoman", then they would continue to be addressed in a salutation or conversation as "Senator (Name)" or "
Representative/Congressman/Congresswoman (Name)" until they are sworn into the new office.
    Use of Mr. Vice President, Governor (Name), Judge (Name), or (whatever special honorific comes with the new job)  is reserved until he or she has taken their oath.
    One would identify him or her as the vice-president-elect, governor-elect,
judge-elect, or (fill in the blank)-elect ... but these are not actually titles, offices, or positions.  These are adjectives which describe his or her status and are used as an identification -- but are not forms of address.
        -- Robert Hickey
 

How to Address & Refer to a President-elect?
          What is the proper way to address a President-elect in person? And how do you refer to him when just speaking about him?
          I.e. I saw and heard on TV people already referring to the President-elect as Mr. President or The President (talking to him directly and also talking about him).  I always thought this was incorrect until after the inauguration.
          I thought (Full Name), President-elect was correct when speaking about him ... not President (Surname).
         And just Mr. (Surname) when speaking to him directly, until after the election ... not "Mr. President".
         -- PT

Dear PT,
       You are right.
       There is a difference between direct address and -- referring to a person in a news story -- which is a reference in the third-person.

        DIRECTLY ADDRESSING THE PERSON
        Once elected, a president-elect is in direct address (name on an envelope, or in a full introduction):
                The Honorable (Full Name)
                The Honorable (Full Name), the president-elect

        But until he/she is sworn in … he is directly addressed in conversation in the style to which he was entitled before being elected. Typically that would be:
                Mr./Ms./etc. (Surname)
        Only a current president is ever addressed as Mr./Madam President
        So if you heard that -- the person on the air is not very knowledgeable of what the rules are and is possibly misleading his/her viewers.

        REFERRING TO THE PERSON IN A NEWS STORY
        Reporters should correctly refer to a president-elect as:
                Mr./Ms./etc. (Surname), the president-elect
                The president-elect, (Full Name)
                President-elect (Full name)
        None of these is a form of direct address.
        These are used by a reporter when referring to someone in the 3rd person to be clear to a listener who they are talking about.
        All this is in my book should this sort of thing come up often.
          -- Robert Hickey


May a Retired Officer Use His/Her Rank
As an DoD Employee?

       Some years ago I recall seeing in an US Army protocol document that retired Army officers who subsequently become Department of the Army civilians were not to use or refer to their retired rank in connection with their civilian service position.  Can you verify that?

    -- Timothy Stoner


Dear Mr. Stoner:
     The Department of Defense (DoD) directive you refer to forbids the use by retired personnel of a military rank in any sort of commercial enterprise: JER, para 2-304.
     This is generally interpreted to forbid use anytime there could be a possibility someone might believe a retired officer has an endorsement by the DoD in a position ... or is seeking to appear to have some additional authority because of her or her former rank.

      As general statement, one should use a form of address supported by the position one holds, not by one's former position.

         -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Reservist on Active Duty?
     I am addressing a letter to a Army Reservist currently on active duty.  For his address block, would it be:
           (Rank) (Full Name) USA Reserve
            e.g.:
           Brigadier General John Smith, USA Reserve
?
    With salutation be:
           Dear (Rank) (Surname),

          e.g.
           Dear General Smith
, ?

   
                   -- Jamie

Dear Jamie:
    This question is answered in the chapter of my book on Armed Services Forms of Address.
    It is correct to use all letters for branch of service: don't spell out "reserve'.  See the forms that follow.

    Department of Defense guidelines give two ways to address a letter... one 'official" and another for "social" correspondence: On official correspondence you include the post-nominal abbreviation for branch of service, on social, you don't.
    Here is what the official form looks like:
    1) On the envelope and address block:
             Brigadier General John Smith, USAR
                  or:
             BG John Smith
, USAR
    2) The salutation should be:
             Dear General Smith:

                      -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Reservist
If It's Not Related to His/Her Reserve Duty

 
       I am getting married and inviting a friend who is a Captain in the U.S. Army Reserves.  He serves few weeks a year and on one weekends a month. The Army calls him Captain when he's serving, but when I address him I don't use his rank. Should I address his invitation to his rank – Captain – or to Mr.?
 
       -- Jolanda

Dear Jolanda:
        When he is serving with his USA on weekends he is addressed by rank. He is not addressed as Captain the rest of the time, e.g., at his civilian job. 
        If you were inviting him to an Independence Day / July 4th event and wanted him to attend in uniform, they it would be appropriate to address his invitation to Captain (Full Name), USAR.
        But, in this case since he will be attending your wedding as a private citizen … not a part of his reserve duty ... address his invitation to Mr. (Full Name)
.
         -- Robert Hickey

Punctuation on Tombstones
          I am having a double cemetery headstone made for my parents. The surname will be in large letters in the center. Below and to the left will be my father’s first and middle name and on the right, my mother’s first and maiden surname. My father was a "Jr." 
          My question regards punctuation. Is a comma placed after the middle name, before Jr.?
 
                   John James, Jr.
           
             or
     
               John James Jr.
         -- Jan

Dear Jan,
          I vote for no punctuation.
          Traditionally punctuation is not used on tombstones: no periods with middle initials; no commas after names or periods with sequence post-nominals like Jr or III.
          Stone carvers use elegant spacing to define the names:
                 John James Jr
         -- Robert Hickey





Robert Hickey on NPR-Chicago's Morning Shift.  WBEZ 91.5.  July 26, 2016.
Would Clinton Be Madame President?
The Dos And Don’ts Of Honorifics In Politics,

     Hillary Clinton is referred to as Mrs. Clinton, Madame Secretary, Former Secretary of State, Senator, Former Senator, and Former First Lady. Which is correct? Which is the most accurate? And if she wins the presidency, how should the American people refer to her and Bill?
      We get answers from a man who literally wrote the book on the subject. Robert Hickey is the Deputy Director of the Protocol School of Washington and author of Honor & Respect: The Official Guide to Names, Titles, & Forms of Address.  Click here to listen.
Site updated by Robert Hickey on 15 January 2017

And finally, from a rather challenging internet surfer:
 

What Authority Do You Have?
Dear Mr. Hickey:
What authority do you have for your answers
?
         --- Mary Louise Timmons

Dear Ms. Timmons:
    I'm not sure "what authority I have" but I've been teaching at The Protocol School of Washington® since 1988.
    After researching with the hierarchies of the officials, and answering questions on forms of address for so long, I guess I've gotten good at it!  What I've learned I've put in my book -- which I am pleased to say is used at lots of serious places: See http://www.formsofaddress.info/Collections.html. 

          -- Robert Hickey


Cartoon by Michael Diffee.
From The New Yorker, Volume LXXXV, Number 28, September 14, 2009.
Copyright c. 2009 Conde Nast Publications. All rights reserved.

USE OF NAMES & HONORIFICS   
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      

USE OF SPECIFIC OFFICIAL TITLES        
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        

SPECIFIC SITUATIONS
Author's Name on His/Her Book       
Business Cards, Names on
,       
Couples           
  
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      




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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

Copyright © 2016 Robert Hickey.     All Rights Reserved.
Book Photo: Marc Goodman.





All information on www.formsofaddress.info is copyright © 2016 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®