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
* * *
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            
Assistant Secretary
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

Deputy Secretary      
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 17 April 2019

Welcome To My Website.
     I’ve been teaching at The Protocol School of Washington® for 30 years and spent more than a decade collecting what I've learned on names, titles and forms of address into my book that is 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 a Candidate for Elected Office?
      When writing a letter to a candidate, what is the correct way to address the candidate? One candidate is a former mayor of a city, the other is a private citizen in the business sector.
       Shall I write "Candidate (Name)?  Or is it correct to use “Mr./Ms.”
?
            -- Martin Dexter

Dear Mr. Dexter:

    FULL NAMES ON THE ENVELOPE
    SOMEONE ONCE ELECTED TO PUBLIC OFFICE
        When elected
to public office in the US in a general elected one becomes "the Honorable" and the rule is ... once an "Honorable" always an "Honorable".
        So a former mayor is still The Honorable when you are addressing him or her with their full name ... as you would on an envelope.
       So a former holder of an elected office is still formally addressed in writing as:
                 The Honorable (Full Name)
                 (Address)

    PRIVATE CITIZENS
       The private citizen -- the business person -- is Mr./Ms./Dr./etc. ... on the envelope.
                 Mr./Ms./Dr./etc. (Full Name)
                 (Address)

    SALUTATIONS
        Former mayors are not officially addressed as Mr./Madam Mayor or Mayor (Name) once out of office. Friends and family may do so unofficially, but formally there is only one Mayor at a time, so it is not formally correct
and is disrespectful to the current office holder to call all the former mayors with the singular title.
        This would be especially true for a former official now a candidate for another office. He or she is running for office as private citizen, not as an official duty of a high office.
        So both should be Mr./Mrs./Dr./etc. (Name) in the salutation.

   CANDIDATE?
        Sometimes, orally, a moderator at a debate or a newscaster might refer to a candidate as Candidate David Jones but that's a reference in the third-person, not a form of address. It's a bit like reading in the paper that "Central High School Football Coach Tom Wilson said....."  It is a descriptive phrase to make it clear to the reader who the speaker/writer is talking/writing about -- but it is not a form of address
. So
Candidate would not be used on an envelope or in a salutation.

               -- Robert Hickey

What is the Correct Order of Post-Nominal Abbreviations?
    I have recently earned my PhD.  I have a professional engineering registration designated as PE. I am also a fellow of an engineering organization F-SWE.
     What is the correct order for these different types of identifiers?  Also, what are the circumstances to use any or all of them?  If you are not the appropriate source for this information, can you suggest where or how I might find the answers.  I have asked all three institutions and none of them have a clue, but all would like for their initials to be most prominent of the set!
             --- PE, PhD, F-SWE

Dear PE, PhD, F-SWE:
    I cover this on page 100 in my book. The standard order for post-nominals is:
        1) Religious orders
        2) Theological degrees
 
       3) Academic degrees
        4) Honorary degrees, honors, decorations
 
       5) Professional licenses, certifications & affiliations
    Lastly ... If you have multiple post-nominals in one category, list most important/highest first and then in descending precedence order. It you think two are equal, put them in alphabetical order.
    So taking those points into consideration ... PhD, PE, F-SWE .... seems the best to me.
The guidelines on use of post-nominals are:
    * Only used with a full name
    * PhD is used in (in the USA) most often in academic and research environments. You see it used less often outside those areas.
    * Affiliations are used when appropriate and pertinent, like in official correspondence, on your business card, or in an professional publication.
    * None are used socially.
                               -- Robert Hickey

What is The Order of Post-Nominals?
      I am doing a presentation on waht the many post nominals in the medical and nursing fields are and what they stand for. There are many and for our nursing convention I am conducting a focus session on which post nominals to use and the correct order to present post nominals. Would you happen to have that information?
    -- Monica, RN, BSN

      I have been an RN for 15 years, and work in the healthcare industry as a home health regional preceptor.  I completed my BS in Health Sciences, and a Master’s in Healthcare Administration degree. I also hold several certifications.
      I have read that the educational degrees should be listed first, then licenses. permanent, followed by any certifications. Following this, I would list my name and post nominals as Tina Atkins, MHA, BS, RN, COS-C, HCS-D.  I have observed many of my colleagues with multiple post nominals still putting their RN designation first, followed by the educational achievements.  In that case, mine would be listed as Tina Atkins, RN, MHA, BS, COS-C, HCS-D.
       Are either of those correct, or should it be listed in another format?

 
  -- Tina

Dear Monica & Tina,
    When I started my book I thought I would include a list
of every post-nominal abbreviation in the world and what each one meant. I soon realized there are so many post nominals in so many fields any list would always be incomplete. Plus, I found that if you put any mysterious post-nominal abbreviation into any search engine ... the answer was instantly there.
    Thus I decided to focus on how they are used ... not what could be used.
    On page 100 of my book I cover how to correctly sequence all types of post nominals (academic degrees, decorations, honorary degrees, professional associations & affiliations, religious orders, theological degrees, etc., etc., etc.).  In your case here's the pertinent sequence that I often see with nurses:
            First Academic Degrees
            Then Professional Licenses -- RN is a professional license.
            Then Professional Certifications
            Then Professional Associations & Affiliations
      If you have more than one in a category, place them (1) high to low, and if they are of equal precedence then use (2) alphabetical order.
      Among nursing literature on credentials, this is what I've seen is: Academic degrees (Highest one only): Licensure: State designations or requirements: National certifications; awards and honors; and finally other recognitions.
      And finally, there is a frequently cited 'rule' you should not include more than three post nominals after your name. That's a good guideline.  But, often people ultimately decide on what to include depending on what is directly pertinent to the service they are offering.

               -- Robert Hickey

Wives of Political Leaders Have Long
Been Called 'First Ladies.'
California's Jennifer Siebel Newsom
Has Other Plans

Time.com | Katy Steinmetz | January 11, 2019

Robert Hickey, an expert on honorifics and titles who works at The Protocol School of Washington, says he is not aware of anyone using the title “first partner” before Newsom. He also suggests that its connotations of empowerment can only go so far. A title like “first spouse” would also be gender-neutral. The word “partner,” however, has the added flair of suggesting an equal split in power. Yet, he writes in an email, “From a protocol point of view, it is only the official who has precedence.” No matter how grand the title sounds, in other words, the spouse’s power is necessarily secondary as it derives solely from marriage to the person who got elected.

See full Story in PDF

How to Address The Surgeon General?
     I believe that you should revise your advice on the correct title and correspondence for the Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service.
      The Surgeon General is a commissioned officer in the United States Public Health Service.  The title "Honorable" is not used in addressing uniformed service personnel. The correct form for an official envelope and salutation would be:


          Surgeon General (Full name)
                 United States Public Heatlh Service
                 
     (Address)
       -- William Collins,

Dear Mr. Collins:
    Thanks your note. 
     You DO hear news commentators say "Surgeon General (name) announced today...." but that's not a form of address. This is reporter identifying a person in the third person so the person listening can know who said what. People hear what is in the media and think the same form is used in direct address.  Same situation for an inspector
general, solicitor general, or postmaster general -- none are formally used as honorifics before a name in direct written address.
       The second one you mention ...  VADM (Full Name) ... is one of the two forms of address suggested by office of the Surgeon General at the USPHS. The other one the office suggests is the Honorable (full name), also listed on my page on the Surgeon General. Both are good.
     In conversation use the forms I have listed for the salutation. The conversational form and the form used in a salutation are always the same.
       -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Commissioner?
        Need to know the following regarding the Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries for my state: Is he The Honorable or just Commissioner?
        -- Sherry @ Bellsouth

        How do you address Commissioners?  Are they Mr./Ms. (full name), Commissoner?
      -- CP

Dear Sherry & CP:
        First question to ask is the commissioner elected or appointed? Many commissioners are appointed and not addressed as the Honorable.
       Officials elected in national and state-wide elections are addressed as
the Honorable. (And at the federal level there are some very high commissioners who are appointed and approved by the Senate, who are 'the Honorable" too.)  
       At a town, city, or county level whether elected commissioners are or are not varies by local tradition. So if you are unsure, call his or her office to find out the local tradition.


 
      (1) If he or she is addressed as the Honorable, the envelope and address block on the letter would be:
                The Honorable (Full Name)
                   Commissioner
                      (Name of Commission)
                          Address

        Since he's THE Commissioner, in the salutation use the conversational form of address:
                Dear Commissioner (Surname)

 

        (2)
If he or she is not addressed as
the Honorable, and you are sure he or she is addressed orally and in writing as 'commissioner' .....the envelope and address block on the letter would be:
                Commissioner (Full Name)
                   (Name of Commission)
                      Address

        Since he's THE Commissioner, in the salutation use the conversational form of address:
                Dear Commissioner (Surname)

       (3) "Commissioner" is used as an honorific orally more frequently than it is in writing. And sometimes those on commission are technically "the chair of the commission" and "members of a commission" – and are not formally addressed as "commissioner."  So this would also be formally correct:
                Mr./Ms./Dr./Etc. (Full Name)
                   Chair/Member
                      (Name of Commission)
                           Address

                Dear Mr./Ms./Dr./etc. (Name)

        -- 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 17 April 2019

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      




     Back to Main Page of the Robert Hickey's BLOG 

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 © 2019 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®