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Archive for November, 2011

I am an Army Reservist with 36 years.  My wife and I have adopted 21 special kids.  I invited my former Brigade Commander (Now a Major General) and his wife to an event this coming weekend, because he always was interested in my family and was the first commanding officer I ever had that actually cared about my family.
My question is: How do I introduce him and his wife to others at the event?  To me he is a friend who happens to be a General Officer. I just don’t want to be disrespectful or go overboard.
— MS

Dear MS:
       Your question is one of etiquette rather than forms of address, but here’s my advice:
       Say his name is James Johnson.
       It won’t see overboard to him if you introduce him socially as General Johnsonor General James Johnson. To him that’s his name.
       Even though one might be on a first-name basis with a high office holder, I would always let them have the option of maintaining their formality with others. Most of us in the US assume we are on a first-name basis with everyone we meet socially. But it’s still an individual’s option to decide with whom they are on a first-name basis. I wouldn’t address a high ranking officer or elected officials by their first name … until invited to do so.
       What to Do: Introduce him in this social situation as General Johnson orGeneral James Johnson and let him suggest (if he wants to) he wants you to introduce him as JIm Johnson (no reference to his rank) henceforth.
       Or let him suggest to the others they should call him JIm saying Please call me Jim on a case-by-case basis.
       I would introduce his wife in a social situation as Sarah Johnson and let the other person decide to call her Sarah or Mrs. Johnson,
                – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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How do I refer to two married women on an invitation?
More specifically, listing our deceased mothers on our wedding invitation in a modern style. Is the following acceptable?

Mr. Joseph Grant and
Mr. and Mrs. Edward and Betsy Smith
request the pleasure of your company
at the marriage of
Michael Andrew Grant
and
Dale Edward Smith
sons of the late Mmes. Kathleen Grant and Blanche Smith

Combining our mothers with Mmes seems to work best as it reduces the dwelling on death that would result from the late Mrs. Kathleen Grant and the late Mrs. Blanche Smith. 
In invitation etiquette, Mmes is rarely ever mentioned as married women are linked with their husbands.  And Mssrs. and Misses are always spoken of in relation to siblings (either young, bachelor, or spinsters) who cohabitate (most likely to address the envelopes.  However, by extension I have seen these titles used the way in other contexts: “My lawyers are Mssrs. Brown and Johnson” or by logical extension “My favorite authors are the Mmes. Bronte and Austen.”
— Michael Grant

Dear Mr. Grant:
       1) RE: MMES.: Plural honorifics are not used on invitations. The style is to give everyone their own name as a unit.  Rather than Mmes. Grant and Smith, we writeMrs. Grant and Mrs. Smith … each gets their name a a unit.
 2) RE: Mr. and Mrs. Eddie and Betsy Smith is really awkward because it is an attempt to mix [formal] honorifics with a [casual] forms for the names.
        ** Formal has rules that enable us to be consistent across a wide variety of names from all sorts of hierarchies and cultures
        ** Casual is more of a freestyle, everyone does however they want to
        ** Mixing them creates a mess.
 3) The Best Option is to dispense with the honorifics if you want to include both parent’s names. Without the mixture of styles it become rather elegant:

Joseph Grant and
Edward and Betsy Smith
request the pleasure of your company 
at the marriage of
Michael Andrew Grant 
and 
Dale Edward Smith
sons of the late Kathleen Grant and Blanche Smith

  4) RE: A modern style     
In my book (used everywhere from The White House to Canadian Parliament) I show forms for addressing only two types of couples:
  Couples using the same surname
Couples using different surnames

Rather than different forms for married couples, unmarried couples, gay couples etc., invitations are issued to couples or individuals.  If two individuals don’t present themselves as a couple — they are issued individual invitations. It’s really simple.
                – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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How do you address a business letter to two people at the same company when they have different titles? The people are David McGraw, Supply Manager, and Wayne Kammerer, Maintenance Manager.
      – Linda Whedbee

I am acknowledging a donation from a mother and her adult daughter.  How do I address them, and what salutation would I use?
      – Harold Towle
 
Dear Ms. Whedbee and Mr. Towle:
Most often adults receive individual communications. In business the letter is directed to one and the other is copied on the correspondence. Socially only young children are included on their parents invitations.
But … if you want to write one letter, list them individually, with the name of the person with the higher precedence first. That would be the senior person first in business or if you are not aware of any hierarchical order, list their names in alphabetical order. For the family members list the mother first following the social convention of deferring to age. The word “and” appears between names in a couple …. so there’s no ‘and’ between them on these envelopes.
On an envelope or address block on a letter:
Mr./Mrs./Ms./etc. (Full Name)
          Mr./Mrs./Ms./etc. (Full Name)
         (Address)
   As the salutation:
          Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms./etc. (Surname) and Mr./Mrs./Ms./etc. (Surname):

                – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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Can you tell me how to address a Lieutenant Governor in a program and on a place card?
In the program would it be:
Lieutenant Governor Mark A. Darr
or 
Mark A. Darr
 Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas
On the place card, do I refer to him as:
  The Honorable Mark A. Darr
or
  Lieutenant Governor Mark A. Darr
— Nicole in Little Rock

Dear Nicole:
       I provide all the forms (invitations, letters, introductions, saluations, conversation)for a Lieutenant Governor on page 191 of my book if this sort of thing comes up often.
You don’t need to include Arkansas if you are not having lieutenant governorsfrom other states and the event is in Arkansas.
  PROGRAM
   The Honorable Mark A. Darr
Lieutenant Governor
If you do want to include “Arkansas” using “State of Arkansas” is more formal.
 The Honorable Mark A. Darr
Lieutenant Governor of the State of Arkansas
     PLACE CARDS
If it is a small place card only to identify for the Lieutenant Governor which is his seat  … (and is not a larger double-sided tent card) … it has just his name on it as he’d be addressed in conversation.
      Mr. Darr
On the other hand, formal place cards are sometimes done with just a title.  E.g.,at The White House the President’s place card reads The President.
 The Lieutenant Governor
Larger, double-sided tent cards (text on both sides, meant for others at the table to see who is who) can have much more information:
   Mark A. Darr
Lieutenant Governor
       – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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I am working on reply letters for my boss to send to different individuals including several active Army personnel.  One of them is the current commanding officer at a nearby military installation.  His signature block on official letterhead is:
  (Name)
(Rank), US Army

At the top of the letter, it states, reply to attention of Office of the Commander. So would the return letter be addressed as the following or some other format:
 (Name)
(Rank), US Army
Office of the Commander
Department of the Army
(address)
And for the salutation:
   Dear (Rank) (Last Name): 
— DH in Nevada

Dear DH:
1) No … don’t use their e-mail letter block to address a letter.
Use the form of address for the particular rank I have on my guide to offices.
Find the rank … and follow the format.
In my book I cover invitations, place cards, name badges, introductions. what to call them in conversation, etc, if this sort of thing comes up often. But on this site I just provide the basics for business envelope, business letter’s address block and salutation.
2) If you are in Nevada, and this Office on the Commander is nearby, I doubt he is thecommander of the Department of the Army.
He must be a commander of something much smaller …. like a base or installation …. so it’s going to be something like:
     (Rank) (Full Name), USA
Office of the Commander
(Name of base, installation, etc.)

3) Your salutation looks fine.
               – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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Wondering what to put on a name badge for the Attorney General and a former attorney general. We usually do first name large, then first last underneath. Not sure what to do with these officials. Any help appreciated.
— Jenny

Dear Jenny:
    In my experience, it’s rare that you can get high officials to even wear a name badge, so if you can do that … congratulations.
Usually protocol professional go for consistency, so if you are including jobs/affiliations … then everyone should have their title or organization..
If you decide to accept inconsistency — because functionally you want first-name last-name … and think the Attorney General needs to be identified — you might write a non-official’s name badge as:
          Mary
Jones

And a current official … in this case the current attorney generals badge as:
 Attorney General
Henry
Smith

Former attorney generals continue to be in writing as The Honorable … (see my page on attorney generals) but other than that …. they don’t get any special form of address
They go back to whatever they were before they were attorney general, but are of course identified as a former attorney general when appropriate.
                – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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What is the correct address and salutation for a Vice-Mayor and for a Mayor Pro Tempore? Both were elected to our city council and appointed to their offices by their peers on the council. We don’t address members of our council as the Honorable, but we do address our Mayor as the Honorable. Are these two officials the Honorabletoo?
— Tricia in Sacramento, CA

Dear Tricia:
    Technically anyone elected to office in a general election is the Honorable, but if your jurisdiction does not address members of the council as such — and many localities do the same — but do address the Mayor as the Honorable …. I’d extend the the Honorable to the other mayoral offices for consistency.
Here’s how I’d recommend you do it:

Mayor Pro Tempore
ENVELOPE & ADDRESS BLOCK:
         The Honorable (full name)
         Mayor Pro Tempore of (Jurisdiction)
         (address)
CONVERSATION & SALUTATION WHEN HE/SHE IS ACTING AS THE MAYOR:
       Dear Mayor (Surname):
CONVERSATION & SALUTATION WHEN NOT ACTING AS THE MAYOR:
      Dear Mr./Mrs. (Surname):


Vice Mayor
ENVELOPE & ADDRESS BLOCK:
        The Honorable (full name)
        Vice-Mayor of (Jurisdiction)
        (address)
CONVERSATION & SALUTATION:
        Dear Mr./Mrs. (Surname):
                – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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