Archive for June, 2010

I am addressing a letter and envelope to the Sheriff of the Civil Parish which is an elected position. How would I go about doing this correctly? Thank you.
Andrew Marlay

Dear Mr. Marlay:
Greeting to Louisiana.
Sheriffs would be:
The Honorable Andrew Marlay
Sheriff of (Name of Civil Parish)
And the salutation would be
Dear Sheriff Marlay:

– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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I am addressing a letter and an envelope to both the Police Chief of the city (not elected). Do you list that form in your book? How would I go about doing this correctly?
Mickie Andrews

Dear Mickie Andrews:
I do include every form of address for uniformed personnel in my book … and that includes the police. Nearly all police officers hold a military style rank … so “The Chief” may actually hold the office of “Chief of Police” and not be addressed as “Chief” but by his rank:
Captain Mickie Andrews
Arlington County Chief of Police
And the salutation would be to him or her by rank:
Dear Captain Andrews:
But in some places the ‘chief of police’ is not from the uniformed ranks. For example in New York City the ‘chief’ of police does not hold a military style rank … and is a ‘commissioner’ …. so he is
Mr. Raymond Kelly
Police Commissioner
And the salutation would be to:
Dear Commissioner Kelly:
Commissioners typically use Commissioner as their honorific.
So you will need to call the police department … or perhaps the secretary in the chief’s office to be certain …
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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I have a question about capitalization. We actually have a post where readers can submit questions about capitalization, and in our post we discuss honorifics. Our advice to readers was to capitalize honorifics such as ‘Your Honor.’ A guest left a comment stating:
       “I beg to differ about your Honor. The court reporters in New York City have never capitalized the “y” in “your” while capitalizing the “H” in “Honor.” this has been consistent for decades (I started practicing here in 1973.)”
My question is – should that ‘y’ be capitalized at all times, or not? My first instinct would be yes, as both words ‘Your Honor’ take the place of the judge’s name and are meant to honor him or her. In any case, I’d like to be able to answer this reader. Thanks so much for any help you can give us!  I’ll be glad to give you credit in my answer.
— Samantha at PricelessWriters

Dear Samantha @ PW:

This is an editorial question rather than a forms of address question, so I am not in my precise area of interest, but here’s my take on it. The closest I can suggest is when a courtesy title is in a sentence, the “the” is not capitalized:

   Today at 2:00 p.m. there will be an address by the Honorable Michael Bloomberg …

I’ve heard from court reporters that they don’t capitalized the “Y” in “your” but do capitalize the “H” in “Honor.”  It ‘s their style and they use it consistently.

The only hesitation I have is that names are capitalized in text and the combination of both words in Your Honor is used in place of a name.  In a sentence The President will arrive in five minutes I would capitalize President because it is used in place of a name.  In the sentence The office of president has a term of four years I would not capitalize president because it is not used in place of a name.

But in the end I leave this to copy editors!

– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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I work in the development office at a small university and noticed that a donor is a retired Major.  We have usually been addressing correspondence to he and his wife as Mr. and Mrs. Doe, but I think it is important to show him the proper respect of acknowledging his service to our country.  The issue is, I don’t know what branch he served in. His check that he wrote us has Maj. (Ret.) John Doe, and then his wife’s name below his.  Would the proper way to address him be Major John Doe and Mrs. Doe?  Would it also be the same for the salutation on the actual letter as well?
— KR, Concordia University Texas, Austin

Dear KR in Austin:

How is name is written on a check is probably more a function of the way the form at the bank asked for his name was structured … and he probably put in, in the Mr./Mrs./Ms./Dr. spot … Maj. (Ret.)
If you are writing him socially … you don’t need to include branch of service and to note he is Retired.
Socially he is:
Major John Doe
and in joint form as you suggest, most formally he and his wife are:
Major John Doe
and Mrs. Doe
and the salutation would most formally be:
Dear Major Doe and Mrs. Doe,
If you are writing him officially … then you will need to call to find out whether he’s a USA, USMC or USAF Major
Officially he is:
Major John Doe, USMC, Retired
Major John Doe, USMC, Ret.
and the salutation would most formally be the same as social:
Dear Major Doe and Mrs. Doe,
If he is donating personally, not as an official of the US government, this could be deemed to be a social letter.
An official letter would be one in which he is requested to attend the Concordia Veterans Day ceremony in uniform as a representative of the United States Armed Forces. Then it is pertinent to include the branch of service and to note he has a ‘retired’ and not an ‘active duty’ status.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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Hello from Toronto. I am meeting the wife of the present president of Mexico. What is the protocol? What is the correct address? I am male. Thanks.
— Vishnu, Ontario Science Center, North York, Ontario

Dear Vishnu:
Greetings to Toronto. I have several good friends there who are always asking when I am going to visit.  Haven’t been in years and it’s about time!
The President of Mexico is Felipe Calderon, and his wife is Margarita Zavala.
Assuming you are greeting them in English, then verbally address her as:
Ms. Zavala
or in an extended conversation as:
There is no reason to greet her in anything but English, unless you happen to be fluent in Spanish, and if you are Spanish would of course be appropriate.
The wife of a foreign head-of-state is granted the courtesies due to her spouse, but actually is not an official herself.
Be ready to introduce yourself, wait for her to extend her hand, and if she offers it …. shake it. Some traveling officials (and spouses of officials) will want to shake hands with everyone they meet, no matter how many that maybe: but others may not want to … preferring to just nod and smile. Follow her lead.
Do some research to find out of her personal interests …. why she is visiting … and either verbally or with your smile extend her warm best wishes for her visit.
Hope this helps!
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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As president of a non-profit organization, I’m going to be making a presentation before my local city council requesting funding for a community service project. The seven member council sits on a raised platform at the front of the council chamber. The mayor and clerk-treasurer attend the meetings and are seated at a table to the right of the council members at floor level. The council president is the presiding official. When I get up to address the council, what should be my salutation? Should it be to all members of the council? Or should it be just to the council president? And should it include reference to the mayor and clerk-treasurer whose roles are mainly to comment and advise.  We are a small Hoosier town and I don’t want to sound too highfalutin in my opening.
Is Dear Members of City Council acceptable instead of Honorable Members of City Council?
I would really like to show honor, respect and decorum in the way I conduct myself. Thanks for taking the time to read and answer this email.
Dear BIO.:
If your oral comments are to all of present … let’s start with how to address each person and then work on their order.
For the president and members of the city council
President (surname)
Members of the the City Council

The Honorable always precedes a full name … never an office: So a person is honorable, not an office.
I am not completely clear whether the mayor & clerk/treasurer are part of “the official team” at the board meeting. But if included the mayor would be:
Mr. Mayor or Mayor (surname)
Normally clerks and treasurers are NOT most formally addressed as “Clerk (surname)” or “Treasurer (surname).”  So he or she would be:
Mr./Ms. (surname)
There is no need to mention his/her office: in this context everyone will know who he/she is.
Now, about the order to mention them: I would want to know MORE to be certain who had the highest precedence at this event. But… based on the officials you mention… here is where I would start:
1. A mayor in his own city
(Was elected by all voters)
2. A President of the council as presiding official at his own event
(Represents all voters, and probably would succeed the mayor if they mayor died or stepped down … like The Speaker of the House of Representatives succeeds the Vice President if both the VP and the President die or step down…)
3. The clerk/treasurer if he/she was elected in a general election?
(Was elected by all voters)
4. The members of the council
(Were elected by only their district’s voters)
– Robert Hi
ckey www.formsofaddress.info

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I’m writing a letter to the Provincial Superior of a religious order – I’m not sure what the salutation should be – Dear ____________: Could you answer this question?  Any ideas?   Thanks so much for your help.
— Lisa W.

Dear Lisa W.:
I include that form on page 289 of my book. A superior of a Roman Catholic order is addressed in a salutation as:
Dear Mother (name):
Dear Mother:
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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