Archive for June, 2009

    There has been much talk about Senator Barbara Boxer’s request to be addressed asSenator and not Ma’am.  Did General Walsh use an incorrect form of address?  (See the clip on YouTube) 
    How do you suggest someone correct another if they are addressed incorrectly?  Is it polite to correct anyone in a public forum like this?  If not, how do you suggest Senator Boxer tackle what appears to be a gender specific problem (always being referred to as “Ma’am”) when her male colleagues are addressed as “Sir” and have no problem with it?

     — Caroline Allbritain, Fort Wayne
, Indiana

Dear Ms. Allbritain:
    This was a clash of cultures.
    In my book I show a Senator is initially addressed in conversation as Senator (name) and then as 
Senator in extended conversation. On Capital Hill that’s the traditional form of address. Senator Boxer was asking for her traditional form of address. (Colleagues of mine point out that the way she did it and her tone of voice was scolding …. and could have been accomplished in a more appropriate manner. )
    Also in my book I show that the military addresses in conversation any superior as (Rank) (name) and then as Sir 
or Ma’am in extended conversation.  The Brigadier General was showing respect to a superior as it is shown in the armed services.
    I think correcting another as to what your name is or how to correctly pronounce it, is not only correct but can actually be kind. I’d rather learn I am doing it wrong and fix it immediately. None of us like being corrected, but I’d prefer to be corrected than to find I’d been addressing them incorrectly and they didn’t bother to correct me.
      I have a colleague who early-on corrected me on the spelling of her first name: I’d misspelled it in an e-mail.  She said … “Robert, it’s Lesley – not Leslie. Others have misspelled it, but I only correct people I really like.” I thought that was a generous and gentle way to let me know I was wrong … but … I was still O.K. in her book!

            — Robert Hickey     www.formsofaddress.info 


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      I am writing a letter to:
           The Honorable Robert Haynes, QC
           Attorney at-Law
        Firm Name
    How do I address him in the salutation line?
     — DAH- Jamaica

Dear DAH:

     If he’s addressed as “The Honorable” he must be a former member of the Cabinet in Jamaica? But “Honorable” is never used in salutations.
     Members of Jamaica’s Queen’s Council (QC) … are addressed in a salutation:
Dear Mr./Ms./etc. (surname):
             — Robert Hickey     www.formsofaddress.info 

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      Would you please clarify for me, if a person holds a PhD, should his or her name be Doctor (name) a wedding invitation? Or (Name), PhD ?  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, and follow the standard rules for social correspondence. One rule is … post-nominals aren’t used on social correspondence.
    Holders of academic doctorates working in academia and research usually prefer to be addressed as Dr. (name) socially. 
    Holders of academic doctorates working outside of academia and research … in corporate and business … usually don’t. E.g., holder of a doctorate in finance who works at a bank probably doesn’t request to be addressed 
Dr. (name).  An attorney with a doctor in jurisprudence won’t insist on being addressed as Dr. (name).
    But guessing won’t get you the right answer.
    The key for PhD’s is to find the “the preference of the bearer”. It’s not up to either of us to decide if someone with a PhD is or is not addressed as 
Dr. (name) If that’s what he or she prefers I will go along with it. A person’s name belongs to them.
            — Robert Hickey     www.formsofaddress.info 

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      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.
     One group get an honorific (Dr. is used for physicians only) 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 them … 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 issue here: 

RE: Who Gets Their Post Nominals?
    Post-nominal abbreviations are used on official correspondence. A letter to a physician at his office is addressed to: David Smith, MD. A social letter is addressed to his home: Dr. David Smith.
    Official correspondence often includes post-nominal for a degree 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 holder’s 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 comforting to me, sitting barefoot in an open-backed paper gown waiting to see the doctor, when the person walking in the room introduces himself or herself saying “Hello, I am Dr. Smith.”
    FYI … There’s a rule that “one never gives oneself an honorific” … which normally means that I don’t introduce myself saying “Hello, I am Mr. Hickey.”  That rule is routinely broken for clarity … by physicians … on the phone. I’ve hear message such as “You have reached the voice mail of Dr. David Smith. Please feel free to leave a private message” and I understand that it’s the physician who will be hearing what I’ve said.

            — Robert Hickey     www.formsofaddress.info 

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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 … 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 medical 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 need to call to see what his preference is.
    The key is “the preference of the bearer” …. it’s not up to me or you to decide if someone has a PhD and want’s to be addressed as 
Dr.   If that’s what he want’s I will go along with it for him. A person’s name belongs to them.
            — Robert Hickey     www.formsofaddress.info 

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Having attended Catholic school for many years, I was sure that we had had some deacons/seminarians in high school who were called Reverend Mr. ___. With someGoogling I have found this is the correct form of address used for a deacon who is preparing to be ordained a priest, who is called a “transitional deacon.”
What do you think of this advice?
So my question today is how to address a deacon on the outside envelope. We are addressing some some beautiful Crane’s wedding invitations that have to be just perfect!
– Chris Wilder, Syosset, New York

Dear Ms. Wilder:
People I’ve consulted with in the Roman Catholic hierarchy have the opinion that there are two types of Roman Catholic deacons — Permanent Deacons who are not addressed as “The Reverend.” … and Transitional Deacons {seminary graduates on their way to becoming priests} who are addresses as “The Reverend”.  So that would suggest you will need to find out which type of deacon you are inviting.

Outside envelope for an invitation:
The Reverend Mr. (Full Name)
Inside envelope for an invitation:
Deacon (Surname)


Outside envelope for an invitation:
Deacon (Full Name)
Inside envelope for an invitation:
Deacon (Surname)

Here’s what I think:
1) Always use The Reverend … not just Reverend. It is a courtesy title used just like TheHonorable would be used a U.S. elected official … with a The and always preceding a full name.
2) The use of  The Reverend + Mr. is REALLY unusual in the United States. In the US we don’t use duplicate honorifics. The American tradition is to use just one courtesy title orhonorific before the name. E.g., a Navy Captain who is also a physician is not addressed as “Captain Dr. (name).” or a member of the House of Representatives who is an PhD would not be “The Honorable Dr. (name).”
Double titles are typical in the UK, and when people tell me of such a form (“Reverend Mr.”), I always wonder if their source isn’t a British (Church of England) style guide?  While I’ve seen The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. here and there … it is not what they use that at The King Center in Atlanta. They use The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was a The Reverend and he held a doctorate, but used one honorific or courtesy title at a time.

Note to other readers: I am interested in hearing from you if you have an opinion.  (See two of the notes below from others.)
— Robert Hickey

PS: I am glad you like your Crane’s invitations.
Pamela Eyring and I updated the new edition of the Crane’s Blue Book of Stationery.

— Robert Hickey     www.formsofaddress.info

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     I can’t find the answer to how to address the letter to a former  (the ) U.S. Attorney General, and the greeting on a letter. Thank you
     — Beverly Minor, Upland, Virginia

Dear Ms. Minor:
   A former US Attorney General is on a envelope:
         The Honorable (full name)
   In the salutation:
     Dear Mr./Ms. (Surname),
   Since he or she was appointed by the President and approved by the Senate … he or she is “The Honorable” for life.  But only the current attorney general would be addressed as “Mr./Madame Attorney General”
            — Robert Hickey     www.formsofaddress.info 

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