Archive for August, 2011

How do  address a wedding invitation to an acting sheriff and his wife?
— Mary Brady

Dear Ms. Brady:
      If he’s the acting sheriff … and was not elected to the office, he is not the Honorable but he would be addressed with the honorific Sheriff in conversation or in a salutation.
      Typically Sheriff wouldn’t be used on a social invitation’s outside envelope. You might use if if you were writing to at acting sheriff at the jail with regards to his duties, but I am assuming you are inviting him to this wedding as a guest and not in an official capacity.  So all that said —
      Most formally & socially on the outside envelope it would be:
             Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Wilson
      Inside envelope you use the conversational form of their names:
             Sheriff and Mrs. Wilson
      In conversation call him when you greet him or introduce him to others use:
             Sheriff Wilson or just Sheriff.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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I am sending a sympathy card from our College’s President Mary Smith and her husband John Smith.  How should the card be signed? I send this sort of sympathy card to our students who may not know her name.  Any thoughts on that?
— Suzanne Grey

Dear Ms. Grey:
      If the recipient might not know the President’s name, is not a strictly personal card …. so consider having it be MORE from The President & the College … not including her husband’s name on it. Figuring out a way to include her name & office and his name will be cumbersome.
If looks to be personally signed by your boss, how about something like:
 Mary Smith and the faculty of (Name of) College
If it looks typed … thus looks more official and less personal:
 Dr. Mary Smith and the faculty of (Name of) College
The Dr. is on the latter option because one does not give oneself an honorific in a signature, so she would not actually sign herself as Dr. Mary Smith. 
I also considered:
  Mary Smith and your friends at (Name of) College
… but I think she can most appropriately send condolences from the Office of the President and the faculty rather than the student body … but you would know better than I on that point.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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Our parish is celebrating its 50th Anniversary. We are giving Certificates of Recognition to honor our Founding Parishioners.  My question is how to list a couple when one person is deceased?  The committee recommends putting the living person’s name first, following by the deceased spouse.
If the husband is deceased: Mary & Joseph Smith
If the wife is deceased: Joseph & Mary Smith
After reading your online information under “Deceased,” I don’t think this is correct.
   Should it be:
Mary & the late Joseph Smith (if the husband is deceased)
The late Mary & Joseph Smith (if the husband is deceased)
    Or can it be:
Mary & Joseph (cross) Smith (if the husband is deceased);
Mary (cross) & Joseph Smith (if the wife is deceased).
It is common in our Church to designate someone is deceased by placing a smallcross after their name.
— Powell Dean

Dear Mr. Dean:
      IN WRITING: To me if you are honoring the founding parishioners — just list their names without noting whether the are alive or dead at this moment — since they were alive when they were contributing to the parish.
 Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Smith
              Thomas James Smith and Mary Wilson Smith
              Thomas and Mary Smith
 Mary and Thomas Smith
       Any of the above would work. Style manuals vary on whether #3 or #4 is the preferred form if both given names are presented.
If you have an established style of putting a cross by the names of deceased … then … Mary and Thomas (cross) Smith …. is clear.  But I don’t see how it’s pertinent in this context. Is it that you want historians to be able to look back and know who was alive at the 50th Anniversary Celebration?
       ORALLY: If you are having an ceremony where the founders will be recognized by name the podium, it makes sense to recognize only those founders who are present. So if Mary Smith is present … recognize her …. and orally note that her late husband, Thomas Smith, was also a founding member.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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I’m a fiction writer, and I’m currently having a difference of opinion with my editor in regards to usage of abbreviations of military ranks. He says that rank abbreviation is alright in the course of narrative text, but should always be written out in dialogue.
I assume he means, for example,
 “I want Sergeant James put in the guardhouse,” said Lt. Bigelow.
But isn’t it also correct to write,
  “I want Sgt. James put in the guardhouse,” said Lt. Bigelow.
— Ernest Greer

Dear Mr. Greer:
     In forms of address there is a rule that says when you orally introduce someone you say what the abbreviation represents … and do not say the abbreviations.
Thus one would say that “Our speaker today holds a doctorate in…”  and not say “Our speaker today holds a P-H-D in…”
So you always say the word, but write the abbreviation.
Based on that, your editor’s editorial style seems logical to me, and aligns with a forms of address rule I follow.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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We have an appointed government official who as also received an honorary doctorate.  She wants to be addressed as Dr.
I’ve always been averse to the double honorific.  But to this person, it’s important.  (What can I tell you!)
So is it:
 The Honorable Dr. Mary Jones
Or is it:
  Dr. The Honorable Mary Jones?
— Anne Lesley

Dear Ms. Leslie:
      1.) In the USA courtesy titles are not used in combination with honorifics. We follow a simplified tradition of the person being just one thing at a time. (See note 3. below)
So she is: The Honorable Mary Jones
2.) If she wants to be addressed as Dr. then in a salutation or in conversation she’d be:
    Dr. Smith
 3.) I say “in the USA” because the British style is to include everything, so you come up with names like The Right Honourable General Ambassador Dr. Mary Jones, OBE, MP.
4.) Everyone is entitled to have their name be what they want it to be, But recipients of honorary doctorates are not entitled to be addressed as Dr. 
In the USA all honors and distinctions would be mentioned on a resume underhonors or noted in an introduction that she was a awarded a honorary doctorate etc.  
You can’t tell that to her of course, unless she asks your opinion, but she’s going to look either ignorant of the correct style (not good for a person holding a doctorate I’d say) — or pretentious if others know she’s asking to be addressed as Dr. when the degree is an honorary one.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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I’m a Navy Reserve Commander not on active duty, working as a civilian instructor at (one of the Armed Service Academies) and am a DoD employee. What is the permissible title to use on a signature block or in the classroom setting?
— John MacDonald

Dear John:
      You are instructor and do not hold that job because of your rank, right?
Then you should use a signature block supported by the office you hold.  So, as a instructor use your academic credentials, such as:
 John MacDonald, MBA, MS
In the classroom students would address you as a civilian, because that’s what you are in the classroom.
The DoD’s position is there is no appropriate professional/official use of rank at a position in which you do not serve (are assigned to it by the US Government) as a person of rank. To the DoD it can be seen as an attempt to receive some courtesy due the rank in an office where there is no force or power of the US Government behind the person & the rank.
You can of course mention your rank and Naval Reserve status in text, such as in your biography.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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I am an RN and currently working as Associate Director of Nursing. I just completed my MBA in Healthcare Management. What is the proper way of adding the title after my name? Shall I have it MBA only or use the full MBA in Healthcare Management. I’ll appreciate your guidance.
— Jane Martinez, RN

Dear JM:
      Specify the details of your degrees on your resume, With your name you just list the RN and the MBA.
Post-nominals are ordered high to low …. so if RN is a lower degree, it would be
  Jane Martinez, MBA, RN
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

And another question on a related topic:
What is the appropriate way to abbreviate the masters degree granted by Air University?  It is titled, Master of Military Operational Art and Science.  At first I thought it would truly be a Masters of Science, but even the accrediting institution refer to it as titled.  Therefore, the most common M.S. will not do.  Would it be a MMOAS?
        — Jason Simpson

Dear Jason,
The post-nominal abbreviation for degrees … even degrees that seems to outsiders to be the same degree … vary by tradition at the individual institution.
To be absolutely certain call the Air University — office of the dean of the department, registrar, provost, etc. — to see what they suggest.
It will be your peers (those holding the same degree) and the Air University faculty and staff who will be your harshest critics if you use something they don’t like.
In truth, the reset of us don’t really care.  We’re too focused on our own post-nominals!
   – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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Our county courthouse proudly displays personal bricks on a Walk of Honor with the names, years of service, branch of service of veterans.
There is a brick that displays a person’s name with the information USMC and the years he was supposed to have served in the Marine Corp.  This person was dishonorably discharged as a deserter.
Since he was in fact a member of the Armed Forces and did produce the required DD214 to gain a place on our Walk of Honor is he doing anything illegal?
It is a shame the county employee that verified the information did not check his papers closer.
My husband did serve this country as a Marine and it is offensive to me to see the bricks even on the same sidewalk..
— S P.

Dear S. P.:
       What he’s essentially doing is impersonating a veteran. However I doubt it is anything the Department of Defense will pursue.
       If he were to defraud the DoD of benefits due to veterans or retirees … that would be clearly illegal and they would be all over him.
       Maybe there is someone at the court house who is “the keeper of the walk” who could remove a brick that was found to be inappropriate?
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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What is the proper title and salutation I should use to address Thorvald Stoltenberg of Norway in a personal letter of condolence. He has had several  positions including Ambassador to the UN.
— F. P.

Dear F. P.:
       1) He is no longer an Excellency. Only currently accredited ambassadors are addressed as Excellency.
       2) Typically (with a couple of exceptions) former ambassadors are addressed asAmbassador for life.
       3) If it is a letter of condolence, it is a personal letter and so his former positions are not pertinent. So you don’t have to include positions he formerly held, e.g.  Former Ambassador of the Kingdom of Norway to …. after his name.
On the mailing envelope use:
 Ambassador Thorvald Stoltenberg
(Street Address)
(City, State, Postal Code)
And in a social salutation use:
 Dear Ambassador Stoltenberg,
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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We have an upcoming event next week at which both of our current U. S. Senators will be speaking as will one of our former U. S. Senators, a long-serving senator who retired last year.  What is the proper way to differentiate between the current senators and retired senator in the printed program that will be made available to those attending that day?  Is the situation different if a senator or member of congress is defeated in an election instead of retiring?
This event, sponsored by the University, will be held at our local Air Force Base, so we have political, military, and academic protocol issues coming together at one event.  We want to get things right.
— North Dakota Chairman

Dear Dear Mr. Chairman:
The forms of address for current and retired senators is the same … so in the program you should differentiate between them with a modifying statement after their name:

The Honorable Full Name
Senator for North Dakota

The Honorable Full Name
Senator for North Dakota, 1990-2006

Precedence of current senators is the one elected first is first.  Precedence of a former is with, but after any current.
Former senators …. retired or defeated … continue to use the same forms of address. Exception is a senator who was removed from office: he or she would no longer be addressed as The Honorable.
I cover all this in my book if this sort of thing comes up often.
Just in case you haven’t, that local Air Force Base you mention has a Protocol Officer with whom you should be coordinating all this.
I don’t know who is the current head of protocol at Ellsworth AFB, but plenty of USAF Protocol Officers are grads of The Protocol School of Washington, so it’s likely they use my book.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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