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Archive for November 18th, 2010

Robert …. how do I write include my rank in a post-retirement signature block at my new job?
— Bob Thompson

Dear Bob,
According to protocol at the Pentagon (my contact in in the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force) … here’s their view on use of rank at a new employer:
“If retirees are in a new job, then they should use a signature block that supports that job and should not be using military rank and retired – it is a misrepresentation. They are an employee of the new employer and representing the new employer in their new official position – not the military. We run into this a lot when retired officers who attend Pentagon events and they are coming in their new “contractor” status not as a private/retired status. We don’t address them with their retired rank on invitations or tent cards etc., but with Mr/Ms (name) and their new company affiliation.”

– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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I work in the advancement office at Bates College in Maine, and I travel to meet with alumni and parents all over the country and in Europe. I am hoping to secure a meeting in Austria with two Bates graduates (class of 1997) and they are a count and countess. I would like to send them an email, but I am unclear as to how to address them. I do not wish to be too formal, but I certainly do not want to be disrespectful.  I see in your book royal forms …but they are British. Can I use those?
— RVK

Dear RVK,
Interesting question: There is an official answer … and a social answer.
Officially … the Republic of Austria has no aristocracy since there is no reigning monarch and the nobility is no longer intact as it is in the UK, the Netherlands, or the UAE.  So officially they are Mr. & Mrs. (or whatever honorifics they are entitled to … Dr., Lieutenant, Professor …. etc.)
Socially … where royals are no longer in power such titles are a matter of pride in one’s heritage and personal marks of status … like being a member of the Daughter’s of The American Revolution or Order of the Cincinatti.    The titles are used at the preference of the bearer.   Some do — some don’t — some do but only in certain circumstances. If you don’t know it might be good to address them by title … and if they don’t like it they can say so. If you know they like to be addressed as “Count” and “Countess” … using the pattern you see in the British forms I provide will work.

– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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We need to list a judge and his wife in the university’s list of donors.  Everyone else is by first names — Bob and Sue Smith.
— MWT, William Woods University

Dear MWT,
There are really no rules for informal forms of address  … everyone can do pretty much what they want to do.
On my site I am am just discussing formal forms of address … for which there are rules …. which can be done consistently … and is their benefit.
If you are setting a casual pattern …. first name + last name …. Bob and Sue Smith …. you are establishing an style that won’t easily accommodate couples in which one is uses a special honorific such as Dr., Rabbi, Pastor, Senator, Captain, or Judge.
Judge Bob and Sue Smith is not acceptable to me … since … people who have high titles get their full names as a unit, so Judge Bob Smith and Sue Smith would is better. Judge Bob Smith and Mrs. Smith is the most formal.
One solution would be to do what many fundraisers do … and to list the names exactly as the donors write their names. You see notes on the donation forms saying “List your name as you would like it to appear in the program.”  This makes for an inconsistent list, but the purpose of the list is to satisfy the donors … not the copyeditors.

– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

 

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I love your book, but have a question about University Presidents. I am working on a wedding invitation where the father of the bride is the president of a university.  He also holds several honorary doctorates.  When invitations go out from the university we use “President and Mrs. John Jones request the pleasure . . .”
Should the wedding invitation be worded as “President and Mrs.” , “Dr. and Mrs.” or “President Dr. and Mrs.”?  Also, when dealing with an honorary doctorate, do you write out “Doctor” on formal invitations as you do with medical doctors?
— Evelyn Cotton

Dear Ms. Cotton,
Definitely not “President Dr.”
Two honorifics are not traditionally combined in the United States.
Is he typically addressed as Dr. Jones?  Recipients of honorary doctorates are not addressed asDr., but every president of a university I’ve ever encountered held a doctorate in his or her own right … so check on that.
If you want to be the most formal it would be:  Dr. John Jones and Mrs. Jones
Dr. and Mrs. John Jones … is O.K. … just less formal than the form above.
Regarding the abbreviation of doctor, “Dr.” is O.K. even on formal invitations. Dr., Mr., Mrs. are abbreviations all used on invitations.
Regarding use of’ President as an honorific … e.g. calling him President Jones. Only the President of the United States is most formally addresed in writing as “The President.”  Other presidents are normally addressed by whatever honorific they are entitled to … Mr./Ms./Dr./etc.  and then identified by their office as in:
Dr. John Jones, President of the University of Delaware
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

 

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I am President of our Friends of the Library and are engraving some bricks for a new sidewalk path being installed.  We are including our Council Members and their wives, but are unsure the proper way of titling them.   We are given 3 rows of 16 characters or spaces each.  Would you please provide us some guidance?
Would we list them as:
Council Member Drexel and Kate Douglas
Council Member Drexel & Kate Douglas
Council Member Pam and Adam Steel
Council Member Pam & Adam Steel

Or some other variation?  We are trying to make this a surprise so have not approached any of them or City Hall.
— Jack Scott

Dear Mr. Scott,
Hummmm. The options you suggest are awkward because you are combining official and social forms of address … including an official’s elected office … with …. the couple’s names in an social way.
Members of city councils are typically addressed on an envelope or in the letter by whatever honorific they are entitled to (Mr./Ms./Dr./etc.), and identified as a member of a council: Mr. Drexel Douglas, Member, Hudson County Council
You would never see Senator Evan and Susan Bayh in Washington. Formally when someone holds an office they get their name as a unit … so …. Senator Evan Bayh and Mrs. Bayh … is correct … and is how an invitation would be better addressed to them.
If you are limited for space and must include spouses, include the names and leave off the Council Member.  Bricks are permanent, membership on the city council is fleeting.

– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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I need to send a letter to the Chief of Staff in Puerto Rico.  Could you please advise me on the protocol for the inside of the letter? Dear what ?,
— Mary Stiller, Puerto Rico

Dear Ms. Stiller,
The chief of staff to the President of the United States is addressed as The Honorable
But chiefs of staff at the state and territorial level are not. Use:
Mr./Ms./etc. (Full Name)
Chief of Staff to (name of office)
(Address)

… and …
Dear Mr./Ms./etc. (Surname)

– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

 

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Good Morning Sir,
A civilian member of the Canadian defence team (Department of National Defence) just recently pasted away.  The individual has been employed with the us for over 25 years. If we place a flag on his coffin does that flag have to be presented to the family?
Sincerely,
Timothy Clark
Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class
Canadian Navy

Dear Chief Clark,
I don’t any experience in Canadian civilian funerals, but in the USA the military districts will provide a color guard and flag for active duty and retired military personnel and the flag is presented to the family.
And for just a flag …. funeral directors have them on hand since any citizen can have the flag on their coffin.  I know of no protocol in the USA that requires the flag be presented — but I have observed that is a widely followed practice.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

Dear Sir,
I do agree that if a flag is used in a funeral, then that flag should be presented to the family in respect to the decease and do note that there is no written protocol that cover this aspect of this topic.
Once again thank you for your responce.
Cheers,
Timothy Clark

 

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