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How do I write the name of an honoree who was our mayor. Is he Mr. (Full Name), Former Mayor (Full Name) or The Honorable (Full Name)?
  — Ken

Dear Ken,
Former US elected officials continue to be officially listed as The Honorable for life. Since there’s a new mayor this former official is no longer the mayor anymore. “Former mayor” identifies him, but is not a form of address.  
The Honorable
 (a courtesy title) is used by others addressing the person. So, while it is never used by the host on his/her own invitation, it is used when listing a honoree:
 The Honorable (Full Name)
     If you feel you need to note what his job was for some reason, you can include his office, or former office on the next line:
The Honorable (Full Name)
Mayor of River City, 1990-2000
— Robert Hickey

How do I address a retired American Ambassador?  He was a member of the U.S. Foreign Service so he was a diplomat for a long time before he was an ambassador.
           — Carol Bentley

How do I address someone who served as an American Ambassador?  He was a close personal friend of The President and served for four years.
           — Keith Inge

Dear Ms. Bentley & Mr. Inge:
Any retired or former ambassador is addressed on the envelope, or in the address block of the letter, in the standard style used for addressing high US officials:
 The Honorable (Full name)
(Address)

And, in the salutation or conversation he/she would be addressed as:
   Dear Ambassador (Surname),
     The difference between ambassadors will arise when you introduce them, describe them, give their title, or identify them in writing.

How to identify a political appointee who served as a Ambassador?
Those appointed to serve as a U.S. ambassador after a career in another field (typically they serve just one administration, more or less) are introduced as:
            Ambassador of the United States to (Name of Country) from Year to Year
or
            Former Ambassador of the United States to (Name of Country)

Who can be identified as a “Career Ambassador, Retired”?
There are certain individuals who can be identified as a Career Ambassador.   They have been accorded the “Personal Rank of Career Ambassador” by the President. If you do a web search for “career-ambassador U.S. Department of State” you find the list. There aren’t many. This small category of ambassadors is introduced or identified as:
          Career Ambassador of the Foreign Service of the United States of America, Retired

Who can be identified as a “Ambassador, Retired”?
Career U.S. Foreign Service Officers who have served as a U.S. Ambassador at one or more U.S. embassies are introduced or identified as:
          Ambassador of the United States of America, Retired

WASHINGTON, July 21, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/

When Bill Clinton first won the presidency, the form of address used for him and the first lady, Hillary, was as follows:
     The President and Mrs. Clinton

This form of address fits into the traditional formula in writing: The President and Mrs. (Surname) and in conversation: 
Mr./Madam President and Mr./Mrs. (Surname).

If Hillary Clinton wins the current presidential election, Bill Clinton will be a first: the first First Husband, Spouse, Partner, or Significant Other.

So, how will the White House staff address Bill Clinton? How will his name appear with the President’s on invitations?  How will his place card read at a state dinner? How should the media address him or refer to him?  Perhaps First Gentleman Bill Clinton, awkward as that might seem? According to Robert Hickey, author of The Protocol School of Washington’s Honor and Respect: The Official Guide to Names, Titles and Forms of Address, the formula for the husband of President of the United States (POTUS) has been around for a long time. It just hasn’t been used thus far:

In writing: The President and Mr. (Full Name)

As a former elected official, Bill Clinton does have a special title. He is “the Honorable.” Using this courtesy title fits right in without a hitch.

In writing: The President and the Honorable (Full Name)

However, which version of Bill Clinton’s full name would be correct?  That is a matter of how formal a reporter or social secretary chooses to be for any given occasion. Bill Clinton, William J. Clinton, or William Jefferson Clinton might be frequent choices.

Still, two questions linger:

1. How should he be addressed in direct conversation or as a salutation?
 a.  Mr. Clinton
b.  President Clinton

2. How should reporters refer to him in order to not mislead or confuse their audience on who is the current president and who is not?
 a.  Mr. Clinton
b.  President Clinton
c.  Former President Clinton

According to Hickey, the right option for both questions would be  a. Mr. Clinton.

“While it is common practice in the media and elsewhere to address and identify former presidents as ‘President (Name),’ this is a mistake,” said Hickey. “Serving as President of the United States does not grant one the personal rank of ‘President’ for life. The office of President is a one-person-at-a-time role that a specific individual holds and then hands off to the next person.”

“Courtesies, honors, and special forms of address are symbols of the power of the office. They belong to the office and to the citizens, not former office holders.”

Hickey goes on to say the media and the public should be wary of identifying or addressing previous holders of the presidency and other unique offices by referring to them as “former (title).” This qualifier diminishes the singular prestige of both the office and its current occupant and is potentially misleading/confusing to their audience.

“There is an accepted term of respect used for previous presidents and other elected U.S. officials to recognize their service. This title is one of high distinction that they keep for life: she or he is addressed as “the Honorable (Full Name).”

I just looked at your website and I have a question .You reference a directive “the DoD directive you refer to forbids the use by retired personnel of a military rank in any sort of commercial enterprise.” Do you know the exact citation for the directive?

— Writing Away @ the Institute for Defense Analyses

 

Dear WA@TIFDA:

Here is what I have posted on my website (which has more information than this WordPress Version)

Note: JER is the Joint Ethics Regulations.

JER, para. 2-304 concerns use of ranks

“Use of Military Title by Retirees or Reserves. Retired military members and members of Reserve Components, not on active duty, may use military titles in connection with commercial enterprises, provided they clearly indicate their retired or inactive Reserve status. However, any use of military titles is prohibited if it in any way casts discredit on DoD or gives the appearance of sponsorship, sanction, endorsement, or approval by DoD.”

“In addition, in overseas areas, commanders may further restrict the use of titles by retired military members and members of Reserve Components.”

Here is an U.S. Army regulations that is related. Army Regulation 25-50, paragraph 6-6, paragraph d. The regulation refers to retired personnel in a post-retirement job among active-duty personnel but in which they are not on active-duty. “Army retirees serving as DA (Department of the Army) civilians will not use or refer to their military grade or rank except when referring to their personal retirement actions.”

DODI 5410.20 concerns use of uniforms or insignia

Paragraph 7 lists criteria to determine whether the best interests of the Government and DoD are enhanced by use of DoD materials, uniforms and insignia by anyone other than the Government and DoD. Any use of identifiably DoD material outside a a DoD environment is limited.

DODI 1334.01 concerns wearing of uniforms:

“It is DoD policy that:

3.1. The wearing of the uniform by members of the Armed Forces (including retired members and members of Reserve components) is prohibited under any of the following circumstances:

3.1.2. During or in connection with furthering political activities, private employment or commercial interests, when an inference of official sponsorship for the activity or interest may be drawn.”

— Robert Hickey

Frequently I hear TV journalists address clergymen as ‘Reverend Smith” or simply as ‘Reverend’.  I think these are incorrect.  Am I wrong?
       — BH in Maryland

Dear BH,
Here’s what the standard in formal communications.  In writing use:
  The Reverend (Full Name)
  The Reverend Bennett Smith
      The conversational form (and what you use in a salutation) is:
 Pastor/Father/Dr./etc. (Surname)
  Pastor Smith | Father Smith | Dr. Smith | etc.
      Since not all communication is formal. If you are on the equivalent of being on a first-name basis.– the familiar, informal, version is often:
 Pastor/Father/Dr. (Given name)
    Pastor Bennett | Father Bennett | Dr. Bennett | etc.
What about Rev. (Name)?
“Rev.” is a shorthand version of “The Reverend”.  And indeed Rev. (Name) is the preference of some, but not all, clergy. Therefore use it when you know it is their preference.  If you don’t know their preference – ask.  Asking is always appropriate.
When Rev. is the preference rather than Pastor/Father/Dr./etc., use Rev. conversation and in a salutation. But in writing use the standard formal form – the Reverend (Full Name).
— Robert Hickey 

I have a Doctor of Medicine degree, Master of Science in Technical Management, Master of Science in Chemistry, and Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry.  I have only ever used: MY NAME, MD.  I see other physicians using THEIR NAME, MD, MS to include the fact that they have a master’s degree.  Which is correct?
— KTW

I am a holistic health practitioner (HHP), certified aromatherapist (cert aroma), registered aromatherapist (RA), master herbalist (MH), licensed massage therapist (LMT) and esthetician (LE).
      Should my name on my business card be (Full Name), HHP, cert aroma, MH, LMT, LE, RA?
— HHP

Dear KTW & HHP:
Two issues here:
  (1) What is pertinent to your clients? 
On their business card (and other items presented to the public) individuals use the pertinent post nominals when presenting their name to the public (clients, peers, licensing agencies, etc.) so the public can know with what preparation they present themselves.
E.g., physicians include MD and professional affiliations to define their type of schooling and specialty. Both clarify to the public their credentials to offer their service. They could include another degree/certification such as a Masters in Science in Chemistry when related. But a Masters in Fashion Design might not be. Both degrees would be on their CV/resume but whether they are used with the name on a business card would depend on the service offered.
  (2) Which post-nominals will the public recognize? 
When they are yours you are very proud of every one.  But a business card is not your CV/resume.
So, when deciding which post nominals to include, you should also ask: are what the post nominals stand for common knowledge?
If they are not, it may be better just to list the services you offer e.g, “Holistic Health Practitioner” “Master Herbalist”  “Aromatherapy” and “Licensed Massage Therapist” on your card — and the detailed information on the on your CV/resume.
           — Robert Hickey

I received a note addressed to M Chris Buchanan, not Mrs. or Ms.  
Is using M proper?
        — Ms. Chris Buchanan

I have read there is a rule that one never signs one’s signature with an honorific — Mr., Mrs., Judge, Senator, Captain, Dr., etc. But I sign my e-mails Mr. Robin Thompson so people when they reply know to address me as Mr. Thompson rather than Ms. Thompson.
Is that O.K.?
        — Mr. Robin Thompson

Dear Ms. Buchanan and Mr. Thompson:
     The issues here are “how to address someone as Mr./Mrs./Ms./Miss when you don’t know their gender?”  #1 & #2 below – and – “How to specify your gender when you know they will want to know it?” #3.
     1) Though not traditionally formal, when you don’t know the gender and you want to address someone, address them by their (Given Name)+(Family Name):

Chris Buchanan
(Address)
Dear Chris Buchanan,

Robin Thompson
(Address)
Dear Robin Thompson,

     2) If you want to formally address someone and use Mr., Mrs., Ms., Miss … and don’t want to do #1, you have to ask them to share that information: call their office. That takes time, but is the only thing you can do. If you are trying to start an important conversation, what could be more important than getting their name right?
     3) With regard to not giving oneself an honorific, I still advise when you sign your signature never give yourself an honorific: just sign your name.
But it is O.K. to type your name at the end of an e-mail as Mr./Mrs./Ms./Miss (Given Name)+(Family Name) to someone you have not met – or – type your name as Mr./Mrs./Ms./Miss (Given Name)+(Family Name) in the signature block (above which you actually sign) on the letter.
      Others will want to know – and it is both useful and considerate to provide that information.
– Robert Hickey