Archive for May, 2011

I am getting married and inviting a friend who is a Captain in the Army.  He was works with me, but he’s been in the reserves for years, meaning that a few weeks a year he continues to serve. I know if he were discharged and not in the military anymore he would no longer be a Captain.  However, since I am sure the US Army calls him Captain when he’s serving, should I address his invitation to Captain or to Mr.?
        — Jolanda

Dear Jolanda:
When serving his USA Reserve service on weekends he is addressed by rank.
But as a member of the Reserves he is not addressed as Captain the rest of the time.  He does not use his rank in any circumstance in which he could be interpreted to have the power of the US Army behind him … when he is actually a civilian, acting as a private citizen.
Reservists are not addressed by rank at their civilian job (any work outside the military) because Department of Defense guidelines forbid use of rank by personnel when employed by or representing commercial enterprises.
Since he will be attending your wedding unofficially … he is attending as a civilian.
Address his invitation to Mr.
          – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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I need to write a thank you note to Detective Lieutenant William A. Barerra. Does the name or the title go first on the letter and envelope?  Is it:
                William A. Barerra, Detective Lieutenant ?
                Detective Lieutenant William A. Barerra ?
        — Patty in Stony Point, New York

Dear Patty:
Detectives (the investigative members of police departments) have ranks just like the military:
  Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain …. etc.
So a detective is a lieutenant, but not a detective lieutenant.
…. so on a letter would be
 Lieutenant William A. Barerra
Stony Point Police Department
XXXXX, Stony Point, NY

In conversation all the ranks of detective can be addressed as “Detective (Name)”
          – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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Most members of my organization are submitting their profiles for the members list have a basic honorific of Mr. or Ms.  However, for those who have a Ph.D. and is a Dr., which is the best way to list them?
                A.  Dr. Jane Doe
                B.  Jane Doe, Ph.D.
I lean toward B because it is better because to show the kind of doctorate the person has, versus just using Dr. Jane Doe… Otherwise, the person could be an M.D.?
         — SS in San Francisco

Dear Judith:
1) Sometimes creating a perfectly consistent list makes the editor happy, but some of the listed are not so happy.  They want their names written exactly how they submit their names.
2) I would follow the style they submit, with the logic that everyone is entitled to have their name presented as they prefer it to be presented. So if they submit their name as Dr. or with a PhD … I would do it exactly like they submit.
3) The MD vs. PhD issue was discussed in my household because my mother’s father and brother were medical doctors … and the MDs would say the PhD’s wanted to be Dr. until someone had a heart attack or the malpractice insurance bill needed paying.  But that’s MDs talking!
          – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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I take minutes for a state finance board chaired by our Governor, who is also the board’s president. Other elected officials on the board are the Lieutenant Governor and state’s Treasurer. I’ve been instructed to henceforth identify each as  “The Honorable” when referring to them on the roster.
Do I list the governor as the board president AND the governor? Do I say, “The Honorable Susana Martinez, Governor and President?
         — Judith in New Mexico

Dear Judith:
I suggest that in the minutes of your board’s meetings the participants be listed only by their function on that board.
If they are appointed to the board due to another position they hold, that’s defined in your charter … or was perhaps included in previous minutes which welcomed them as a new member.
For example, the previous minutes would reflect:
 the new member
and their qualifications / other positions / who appointed them / or whatever.  

But during a board meetings they are a acting as a member of that board … not as the holder of another position that qualified them to be on the board.
    *** If the state treasurer is on the board as a member, in the board’s minutes he’d be listed as a member.
    *** Whereas …. If the state attorney general is not on the board, but participates in the meeting for some reason, he is a guest and is participating in the meeting as the State Attorney General … so I would list him as the State Attorney general … thus not a member of the board.
But all this is more a matter of style than substance.
I just submit that the minutes of a particular meeting are not the record of how and why the appointed members got to be on the board.
          – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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I am a retired enlisted Marine and currently hold a DoD contractors position; Is it proper address an active duty officer as Sir or Ma’am as if I was still enlisted?
         — LeRoy Costello

Dear Mr. Costello:
It’s still appropriate to address active-duty personnel by Rank+Name … first … then switch over to Sir/ma’am.
Outside the armed forces (in corporate situations) Sir and Ma’am might be considered by some to be excessively formal. But with active duty officers in uniform it’s a sign of respect that will be normal for them, and addressing another person respectfully is not a sign subservience. But if using Sir/ma’am seems too deferential to you, why not address them as Rank+Name… and not use anything after that?
         – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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I sit on the board of a local community organization and am preparing appreciation plaques for several Virginia state senators and members of the Virginia House of Delegates. Is it appropriate to just use their names (without titles) on the plaques, or should we use their titles as well? If we should use titles, which one(s) are appropriate?
         — Karen Snell, M.D. / in Central Virginia 

Dear Dr. Snell:
Include or not include the office?
If you honoring them due to actions taken based on there office … exercising powers or privileges that might accompany their office …. it’s would be a good practice to write their name in a style consistent with their office.
     The Honorable (Full Name)
Or perhaps including the office, such as:
     The Honorable (Full Name)
                  Senator, Virginia State Assembly
        Or less formally
     Senator (Full Name)
     Delegate (Full Name)
       As to why you would include their formal name & office … flip it around: how would they list you?  If it was trophy from neighborhood tennis tournament they might just list you by your given and family name … since you are just Karen to them.
But if it was some sort of community honor …. and your profession was pertinent … they’d always include Dr. or M.D. to note your professional service and position in the community. time
          – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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I have a question for you regarding how I should be properly addressed. I am of nobility and the last man in our family. I am the Count James Renninger, but also have two doctorates. I am trying to decide how to incorporate both titles and academic degrees into my name while remaining correct so that I do not make a fool of myself. My question is how should I be addressed being both a Count and a Doctor?
Dr. J. Renninger? 

Dear JL:
The US form and British forms are the most common models used around the world for address in English.
Since you are living in the US it follows you would follow the US Style in which you are both a “Count” and a “Dr.” but perhaps not at the same time.  Here’s what’s done:
            1) Post-nominals are used professionally, not socially
Traditional form would be to use your academic post-nominals with out reference to your hereditary title
An official letter is addressed with the academic post-nominal abbreviation:
   (Full Name), PhD
A social letter is addressed with the honorific:
     Dr. (Full Name)
     2) Hereditary titles from a former monarchy are used socially in the USA, not officially, and most typically not professionally. 
          – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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