Archive for July, 2011

Is a federal government inspector general addressed as “The Honorable”?  The office is several layers below cabinet rank?
   — DC Resident on Tunlaw Road, NW

It depends on which one you are addressing.
Inspector generals of federal departments, major agencies and administrations are:
Agency for International Development
Department of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, etc.
                        Central Intelligence Agency
Environmental Protection Agency
                        Export-Import Bank
General Services Administration
Small Business Adminstration
           and many others are.

Inspector generals of commissions, boards, and smaller organizations are not:
  Consumer Product Safety Commission
Equal Employment Commission
                        Farm Credit Administration
Environmental Protection Agency
                        Library of Congress
National Labor Relations Board
National Science Foundation
U.S. Postal Service
            and many others are not.

The Council of Inspector Generals maintains a list of inspector generals and perhaps your ‘inspector general’ is listed. If not call his or her office to confirm.
        – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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I am a Veterinary Management Consultant. One of my pet peeves when dealing with clinic staff nowadays is their lack of professionalism when addressing each other, especially in front of clients. The use of cutesy nick-names, addressing veterinarians by their first names and using self-proclaimed (and often, inappropriate) nicknames seems to give a very bad impression. I’m looking for some back up on my stance to show staffers who think I’m just being picky. Do you have anything on this subject? Your help would be appreciated.
   — Talbot James

Dear Mr. James:
My precedents are more medical than veterinary, but the issues are exactly the same.
Regarding calling the veterinarian “Dr” … At hospitals & in doctor’s offices physicians are addressed as Dr. (Name) so patients will know which person in the room is the physician.
It also informs the patient of how to address the doctor.
So … it’s an issue of clarity rather than an issue of formality.
Regarding use of formal names rather than first or nick names … anytime one is on a first-name basis with someone who merits a special form of address(Doctor, Mayor, Senator, Dean, etc.), one should address him/her formally (e.g. as Dr. Surname) in front of others who are not on a first-name basis with him/her.  Thus, while the staff might call the veterinarian by first name back stage … they should useDr. (Name) in front of clients/patients, or in this case pet owners.
Regarding other clinical staff … nurses are often addressed by first name … or first name and last initial.  I have a Q&A on the “Nurse” page on why first-name-only for nurses makes sense for security reasons. See Karen Hickman’s on addressing a letter to a nurse whose name badge only had her first name on it.  Her comment is at the end of How to Address Someone In Writing When They Only Have Their First Name on Their Name Badge?
While a pharmacist, hospital administrator, or nurse may also have a doctorate …. it is confusing to the patient to address them as “Dr.” in the clinical environment. It’s not because their degrees are not respected; they are.
        Regarding nick names …. a person’s name is what they say it is. When it is their preference to be addressed as Cupcake, Snookie, or whatever, it does not set a formal tone. Some would say it makes the individual look childish … but I don’t think you can tell someone they can’t use the name the prefer.
        – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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Where can I find a comprehensive list of all official post-nominal letters for the U.S.?
I am working on behalf of data governance for the amusement park operator I work for, and want to make sure we present a comprehensive and accurate list to our guests making reservations online.
   — William Maryse

Dear Mr. Maryse:
I think such a list is impossible to develop and keep current.
I started to develop one for my book, but found that universities, societies, and certifying organizations vary on the post-nominals they use for degrees, honors, and certificates.  Further there is no recognizing agency to decide who can invent a new post-nominal and who gets to use it.
But you say this is for guest registering on-line for reservations at your amusement part properties: I think you should consider that post-nominals are not used in social situations …. only in official situations.
So a broad list of honorifics like …
  Mr., Ms., Mrs., Dr., Senator, General, Father, Pastor, …. etc.
… would be appropriate
… and skip the post-nominals.
In my book I have the forms of address for every hierarchy I could identify in the US and 194 countries … which would include every honorific commonly used in direct address.
       – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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A question from a faculty member at our institution.  He will be introducing the Sheriff of the City of London in the near future and we were wondering what was the proper form of address for this title.
   — Edward Craig @ Dot EDU

Dear EC @ Dot EDU:
In the City of London there are two sheriffs elected every year. [It’s a completely ceremonial office … unlike a High Sheriff of an English, Welsh, and Northern Irish county which is a functional office.]
 If the sheriff is simultaneously an alderman of the City of London … which is frequently the case …. both would also be included in an introduction:
  Mr./Ms./Mrs. Alderman and Sheriff (Full Name), member of … and Sheriff of …
In direct oral address he/she can be addressed as:
  Mr./Ms./Mrs. Alderman and Sheriff (Surname)
In extended conversation it could be shortened to:
  Mr./Ms./Mrs. (Surname)

    If the sheriff is not an alderman
In an introduction he/she could introduced as:
  Mr./Madame Sheriff (Full Name), Sheriff of the City of London
In direct oral address he/she can be addressed as:
   Mr./Madame Sheriff (Surname)
   Mr./Madame Sheriff

A note regarding British visitors: if they hold an honor, e.g. OBE, in an introduction one would ‘say’ what the initials mean — not say the letters. In the case your distinguished guest is an OBE, you would say that he or she is an:
   Officer of the Order of the British Empire

       – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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Can a person who is awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) in 2010, put the post-nominal MBE after his name on ”winners” boards showing that he won golf competitions, prior to him receiving the award of the MBE?  This has generated a lot of discussion in the Golf Club and your advise would be warmly welcomed.
   — Jeff Hardison

Dear Mr. Hardison:
It would be odd to rewrite history to include honors and decorations received later in one’s life. It makes me wonder if an Nobel Laureate can go back and have himself listed as such as the presenter of his high school valedictory speech?
I think you are located in the UK, and the British tradition is to include more post-nominals … in more situations … than we do in the US. But including the post-nominal abbreviations on a golf record in any circumstance is an odd policy to me.  Are the post-nominals of PhDs, MDs, & DDSs included on list? 
In the US post-nominals are used with official situations (regarding one’s work) — but not in personal/social situations.
And even in official situations post-nominals are included just when PERTINENT:
E.g., a person with masters in library science would include the post-nominal on a business card if working as a librarian, but if working as an interior decorator … would not … because the degree does not support their performance of the activity.
For example, even though MDs tend to use MDs all the time,my Uncle Robert was an MD — won his country club’s championship and was listed simply as (First Name) (Last name) on the plaque in the clubhouse. No. “Dr.”  No “MD”
Let me know if this approach makes sense to you.
I’d like to be a fly on a wall during your golf club discussions!
   — Robert Hickey

Dear Robert,
Thank you for your prompt reply which I find most illuminating. It is not the policy of the Club to use post-nominal abbreviations, as one of my playing partners is also an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) and he does not have this after his name on the Honour’s board. Naturally he started the conversation, as he keeps the award rather discreet. I feel that your last comment makes eminent sense to me and will keep you appraised of the situation (out of curiosity) if you so wish.
         — Jeff

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How do I add my noble title Baron to my name when I am writing my signature in the English language?  I live in Sweden, but our family’s noble rank was presented 1638 in Hungary in the 300-year war holding back the Ottomans from Europe. Now as the head of our family I have to be able to communicate properly as the Baron.
   — Borg Lizska

Dear Borg Lizska:
The answer is: one does not include the title as a part of your signature.
Others address you in a manner that note your noble rank (I cover all those traditional forms of address in my book), but when one writes one’s name — one gives oneself neither a title nor an honorific.
E.G.: The King of Sweden signs his name Carl XVI Gustaf. The Queen of the United Kingdom signs her name Elizabeth II.  
Certainly their stationery has their full name printed on it. — or their title and full name would appear elsewhere on the document — and we hope the person seeing the signature knows whose signature it is.
So …. have stationery printed with your title and simply sign your name.
        – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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How would you address a letter for a United States Attorney?
   — Pamela Addison

Dear Ms. Addison:
U.S. Attorneys are addressed as The Honorable (Full Name) on an envelope or address block of a letter.
In oral conversation or in a salutation they are addressed as Mr./Ms. (Surname).
I include a list of US federal, state and local officials addressed as the Honorable on page 78-79 in my book.
         – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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