Archive for the ‘Joint Forms of Address’ Category

WASHINGTON, July 21, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/

When Bill Clinton first won the presidency, the form of address used for him and the first lady, Hillary, was as follows:
     The President and Mrs. Clinton

This form of address fits into the traditional formula in writing: The President and Mrs. (Surname) and in conversation: 
Mr./Madam President and Mr./Mrs. (Surname).

If Hillary Clinton wins the current presidential election, Bill Clinton will be a first: the first First Husband, Spouse, Partner, or Significant Other.

So, how will the White House staff address Bill Clinton? How will his name appear with the President’s on invitations?  How will his place card read at a state dinner? How should the media address him or refer to him?  Perhaps First Gentleman Bill Clinton, awkward as that might seem? According to Robert Hickey, author of The Protocol School of Washington’s Honor and Respect: The Official Guide to Names, Titles and Forms of Address, the formula for the husband of President of the United States (POTUS) has been around for a long time. It just hasn’t been used thus far:

In writing: The President and Mr. (Full Name)

As a former elected official, Bill Clinton does have a special title. He is “the Honorable.” Using this courtesy title fits right in without a hitch.

In writing: The President and the Honorable (Full Name)

However, which version of Bill Clinton’s full name would be correct?  That is a matter of how formal a reporter or social secretary chooses to be for any given occasion. Bill Clinton, William J. Clinton, or William Jefferson Clinton might be frequent choices.

Still, two questions linger:

1. How should he be addressed in direct conversation or as a salutation?
 a.  Mr. Clinton
b.  President Clinton

2. How should reporters refer to him in order to not mislead or confuse their audience on who is the current president and who is not?
 a.  Mr. Clinton
b.  President Clinton
c.  Former President Clinton

According to Hickey, the right option for both questions would be  a. Mr. Clinton.

“While it is common practice in the media and elsewhere to address and identify former presidents as ‘President (Name),’ this is a mistake,” said Hickey. “Serving as President of the United States does not grant one the personal rank of ‘President’ for life. The office of President is a one-person-at-a-time role that a specific individual holds and then hands off to the next person.”

“Courtesies, honors, and special forms of address are symbols of the power of the office. They belong to the office and to the citizens, not former office holders.”

Hickey goes on to say the media and the public should be wary of identifying or addressing previous holders of the presidency and other unique offices by referring to them as “former (title).” This qualifier diminishes the singular prestige of both the office and its current occupant and is potentially misleading/confusing to their audience.

“There is an accepted term of respect used for previous presidents and other elected U.S. officials to recognize their service. This title is one of high distinction that they keep for life: she or he is addressed as “the Honorable (Full Name).”

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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
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 
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)
   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 please help me? When writing a couple’s name would you write Charles Henry, Sr. and Daisy Ellis Rivers. Or would it be Charles Henry and Daisy Ellis Rivers, Sr. 
— Betsy Mizner @ yahoo.com

I am preparing programs for my wedding. We are listing our grandparents who have passed. My grandfather was a junior.  However, my grandmother, his wife, is also deceased.  Where do we put the junior as to not confuse him with the other men with those names?
Example:  Jane and Thomas Smith, Jr. (?) or Thomas and Jane Smith, Jr. (?)
— Kristen Smith

Dear Ms. Mizner & Ms. Smith:
       When one combines names … as in … Jane and Thomas Smith or Charles Henry and Daisy Rivers … these are casual, informal forms.
The casual forms are sort of a free style … there are no rules.  But with casual forms, the names can’t be done as elegantly and consistently as they can when using formal forms. That’s what the formal forms were developed to do … to be consistent and elegant.
    #1 The traditional form for a married couple is:
   Mrs. and Mrs. Thomas Smith Jr.
Mrs. and Mrs. Charles Rivers, Sr.
    #2 But I am guessing you want to use all their given names … her name and his. Thus the most formal way is to write each name fully and not combine them:
     Thomas Smith, Jr. and Jane Smith
Charles Henry Rivers, Sr. and Daisy Ellis Rivers
or, ladies first ….
  Jane Smith and Thomas Smith, Jr.
Daisy Ellis Rivers and 
Charles Henry Rivers, Sr.
The majority of etiquette book suggest the former form, but I don’t actually think that’s the only correct option. You should choose.
In such a listing, the and between their names indicates they are married/are a couple because individuals who are not married/are a couple are listed separately / not listed together.
                 – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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How do I address an envelope to a United States Navy Captain and a Dentist who are married?
 Captain Joshua & Dr. Brooke Jones?
        — D. Bainbridge

Dear Mr. D. Bainbridge:
Most formally people with titles and ranks get their names as a unit … not combined with another person’s name. Since he is in uniform … military uniformed personnel have precedence over civilians … so the USN Captain is listed first.
So the form would be:
Captain Joshua Jones
                and Dr. Brooke Jones
         – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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How would I address and invitation to Rabbis that are husband and wife?
   — D.K.

Dear D.K.:
The most formal way would be to list them both fully …. first one … then the other.
   Rabbi Joel Pine
and Rabbi Julia Pine
2141 Wilson Boulevard
Silver Spring, Maryland 20987
Which one you put first will depend on the topic on which you are writing:
If it’s an invitation to her and he is on the letter as her spouse …. she’d be first
If it’s to him or to them together use the Mr. and Mrs. order …. list him first.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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How would you address an envelope to a retired pastor and his fiancee? They do not live together. He is a very dear friend, I have not yet met her.
             — DM Keller

Dear DM Keller:
In this case since he’s a pastor his name would be first. So, if they present themselves as a couple:
 His full name on the first line
Her full name on a second line

In other cases her name might be first if she had higher precedence.
If you put an and in front of her name it implies they are married, so in this case just list the names without an and.
  NOTE: If they don’t present themselves as a couple … e.g., not living together … consider this: Most formally it may be better to address the letter to him since he’s your friend, and include greetings to her in the letter itself.
These are some rules for issuing formal invitations which present the traditional logic:
        1) Unmarried person are each issued an individual invitation, not a joint invitation
        2) An invitation is issued to one person and that person is invited to bring a guest
        3) If they present themselves as an established couple … they are issued a joint invitation.

You mention the situations of ‘social’ and ‘official’ uses of ranks. What exactly is the difference?
– F. Wilson

Dear F. Wilson:
I mention it frequently because I get lots of questions on use of rank by retired personnel.
An example of an official situation would be (1) a letter to an active-duty officer from a retired officer regarding his or her service. Another example of an official situation would be (2) a letter from a high school to the retired officer asking him to be their guest … and to attend in uniform … their Memorial Day event.
In both cases service history and rank are pertinent. In the first instance the officer is identifying himself as retired in a situation where both active and retired persons are participants. In the second instance he or she is being asked to attend because of his or her rank … to represent the Armed Services at an event. Thus he or she is addressed as an officer, and the active/retired status is relevant.
An example of a social situation would be you (3) sending a holiday card to a neighbor who is a retired officer or enlisted person and that person preferring to be addressed on the envelope as (Rank) + (Name) … or (4) that person issuing a wedding invitation for his daughter’s wedding and using his or her rank on the invitation …. Major Robert Wilson and Mrs. Wilson cordially invite you … etc.
In both 3 & 4 it is clear that the force and prestige of the US Armed Services are not related to the activity.
Any retired armed service person, at his or her preference, can use their rank socially.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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I have been engaged by our local military as a consultant for an event. They want to hold a black-tie dinner to celebrate the marriage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. I am responsible for most of the arrangements and will provide a dining etiquette presentation to the guests. I am just putting together the invitations and have written Prince William’s name before Catherine’s. Would you agree? I have been in contact with the office of the private secretary to Prince William on other matters and they have been very helpful but I am to embarrassed to ask them, I should really know these things. I thought I would ask the expert!
— Jan C. in Ontario

Dear Jan C. in  Ontario:
Interesting question!
Among commoners typically the bride’s name is first: The parent’s of the bride invite you to the marriage of their daughter to this man, etc. But in this case his name is first since he is royalty.
See the two invitations below. Both list the royal person first:
1. The recently married Crown Princess of Sweden to Daniel Westling, a commoner.
2. The Prince of Wales to Diana, who was noble … but not royal like the H.R.H.
FYI I was just in Belgium and I read a story in Point de Vue, a magazine that focuses on nobility, about the maker of china souvenirs (mugs, plates, etc.) who had already made items with the couple’s initials intertwined … his “W” first …. her “C” second … then destroyed them all.
Reason being that WC had the wrong connotation and they redid them with the “C” on top sitting in the open “W” — deemed to be more suitable.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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How do you address a new widow who kept her maiden name?
For example: If her name is Jane Smith and her husband’s name was John Taylor?
— Sausalito, CA

Dear Sausalito:
If she kept her maiden name … then she never used Mrs. John Taylor
That’s the form the etiquette books would say was the traditional form for a married woman. But of course many women keep their maiden names, and in much of the world it’s the norm for women to keep their name. I’ve taught classes in the Middle East, and while some American may think the Arabic women are oppressed there … Arab women think it’s barbaric that a woman would give up her birth name when she marries!
So you should address her as a widow by the name she has always used:
Ms. Jane Smith
Not using her spouse’s name made her no less married — than his not using her name made him any less married.

– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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My brother (Erwin Wright) and sister-in-law (Monica Vintner) write their names asWright and Vintner on the return address. She has kept her maiden name and also has a PhD in academia. What is the correct way to address them on invitations (formal and informal), as well as holiday or anniversary cards?
— M. Torres

Dear M. Torres:
The formal social form would be (following the rules in etiquette books) to put Monica first since she’s “Dr.” and that has a higher precedence than a “Mr.”  Partners with special honorifics (doctorates, military ranks, etc.) are most formally listed first in joint forms of address:
Dr. Monica Vintner
and Mr. Erwin Wright
3333 Smith Court
Henderson, OH 44444
But — you are using this on family social cards. Hummm. Since they list themselves “Wright and Vintner” on their return address — they have established that to be their casual preference.  For casual correspondence I’d use it and address the envelope as:
Wright and Vintner
3333 Smith Court
Henderson, OH 44444
And inside write “Dear Monica and Erwin”
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info


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