Archive for the ‘Names & Honorifics’ 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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I have a Doctor of Medicine degree, Master of Science in Technical Management, Master of Science in Chemistry, and Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry.  I have only ever used: MY NAME, MD.  I see other physicians using THEIR NAME, MD, MS to include the fact that they have a master’s degree.  Which is correct?

I am a holistic health practitioner (HHP), certified aromatherapist (cert aroma), registered aromatherapist (RA), master herbalist (MH), licensed massage therapist (LMT) and esthetician (LE).
      Should my name on my business card be (Full Name), HHP, cert aroma, MH, LMT, LE, RA?

Dear KTW & HHP:
Two issues here:
  (1) What is pertinent to your clients? 
On their business card (and other items presented to the public) individuals use the pertinent post nominals when presenting their name to the public (clients, peers, licensing agencies, etc.) so the public can know with what preparation they present themselves.
E.g., physicians include MD and professional affiliations to define their type of schooling and specialty. Both clarify to the public their credentials to offer their service. They could include another degree/certification such as a Masters in Science in Chemistry when related. But a Masters in Fashion Design might not be. Both degrees would be on their CV/resume but whether they are used with the name on a business card would depend on the service offered.
  (2) Which post-nominals will the public recognize? 
When they are yours you are very proud of every one.  But a business card is not your CV/resume.
So, when deciding which post nominals to include, you should also ask: are what the post nominals stand for common knowledge?
If they are not, it may be better just to list the services you offer e.g, “Holistic Health Practitioner” “Master Herbalist”  “Aromatherapy” and “Licensed Massage Therapist” on your card — and the detailed information on the on your CV/resume.
           — Robert Hickey

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I received a note addressed to M Chris Buchanan, not Mrs. or Ms.  
Is using M proper?
        — Ms. Chris Buchanan

I have read there is a rule that one never signs one’s signature with an honorific — Mr., Mrs., Judge, Senator, Captain, Dr., etc. But I sign my e-mails Mr. Robin Thompson so people when they reply know to address me as Mr. Thompson rather than Ms. Thompson.
Is that O.K.?
        — Mr. Robin Thompson

Dear Ms. Buchanan and Mr. Thompson:
     The issues here are “how to address someone as Mr./Mrs./Ms./Miss when you don’t know their gender?”  #1 & #2 below – and – “How to specify your gender when you know they will want to know it?” #3.
     1) Though not traditionally formal, when you don’t know the gender and you want to address someone, address them by their (Given Name)+(Family Name):

Chris Buchanan
Dear Chris Buchanan,

Robin Thompson
Dear Robin Thompson,

     2) If you want to formally address someone and use Mr., Mrs., Ms., Miss … and don’t want to do #1, you have to ask them to share that information: call their office. That takes time, but is the only thing you can do. If you are trying to start an important conversation, what could be more important than getting their name right?
     3) With regard to not giving oneself an honorific, I still advise when you sign your signature never give yourself an honorific: just sign your name.
But it is O.K. to type your name at the end of an e-mail as Mr./Mrs./Ms./Miss (Given Name)+(Family Name) to someone you have not met – or – type your name as Mr./Mrs./Ms./Miss (Given Name)+(Family Name) in the signature block (above which you actually sign) on the letter.
      Others will want to know – and it is both useful and considerate to provide that information.
– Robert Hickey

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I am a school board representative who received a hand-written note from the school librarian asking me to read to a class. The envelope was addressed to M Robin Buchanan, not Mrs. or Ms.
Is using M to address a woman a proper salutation? I understood M is to be used to address men.
I thought perhaps the librarian did not know if I was a male or female, although that information would be easy to find.
Should I be concerned by her lack of consideration to the person she is writing to or worry that she is using improper salutations?   Or do I something new to learn?    Thank you for your clarification.
Best regards,
    — Mrs. Robin Buchanan

Dear Ms. Buchanan:
     1) The issue here is ‘how to address you formally?’  I suspect they wrote M Robin Buchanan … just because didn’t which honorific you preferred … or didn’t know your gender … and were avoiding the issue. I advise if one is writing someone and are unsure of how he or she prefers to be addressed — call and ask. I find no one minds being asked how to be addressed respectfully.
     2) As to the question of ‘How do I present my name to others?’  …. today I observe that married women use various honorifics depending on the situation.
Ms. Robin Buchanan …  where their marital status is not an issue but you want to specify an honorific. Doing so implies you are not automatically on a first-name basis and prefer be formally addressed in conversation as Ms. Buchanan.  Many women use this form at work.
 Mrs. (husband’s first name) Buchanan …. in very formal situations or when you are involved as a spouse/part of a couple. This definitely implies that others will call you Mrs. Surname.  Widows continue to use this form when formally addressed as part of a couple.
 Mrs. Robin Buchanan is often the choice of women in the context of being a mom — dealing with school teachers (as you do), pediatricians, etc.  This form provides the given name for those with whom they would be on a first-name basis: this form provides information for others to address them by (First name) or as Mrs. (Surname).  Part of presenting your name is giving guidance to the other person as to what you want to be called in subsequent conversation.
[Another note: Traditional etiquette references state that using Mrs. (Woman’s Given name) + (Family name) is the form used by a divorced woman, who wants to keep using her former husband’s family name, but can no longer use Mrs. (husband’s given name) (Family Name) because her former husband might have remarried and there would be a new Mrs. (husband’s given name) (Family Name).Thus, she uses her given name with Mrs.  But some still married women don’t care what was ‘traditional’ in etiquette books and like to use Mrs. … thus including their marital status with their given name.
 Robin Buchanan …. is casual. You also use this form when signing your own name: One never gives oneself an honorific.
So to me — you are all of those names at different times. You choose the one that’s right for the circumstance.
For formal etiquette geeks like me Mrs. Robin Buchanan is the traditional form for a divorced woman who was formerly married to someone named “Buchanan” …. but had kept using the “Buchanan” perhaps because that’s the family name of her kids, or for some other reason.  BUT … one of the basics of forms of address is that your name belongs to you …. and EVERYONE is entitled to be addressed as they prefer!
    — Robert Hickey

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How do you address a former pope of the Roman Catholic Church? I bet you never considered that!
          — B. E. in Georgia

Dear B.E.,
It’s less that I have not considered it, than the Roman Catholic Church didn’t have a formal style for how to address a retired pope in it’s modern literature.
I don’t define how anyone is addressed … I just keep track of how current organizations address their current and former officials – so those of us outside their domain can address them correctly.
Now they’ve established there can be a former office holder.
Some would have guessed that Pope Benedict would return to the form of address to which he was entitled before assuming office — cardinal. There are already retired former office holders at that level. Having a retired cardinal addressed in the same way as current cardinals presents no confusion, since being a cardinal is not a singular (only-one-office-holder-at-a-time) position.

* For example, when Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands abdicated the throne to her son Willem-Alexander in 2013, she returned to the form of address to which she was entitled prior to taking office: Princess.

However, In the UK, “Queen Elizabeth” – the Queen Mother (Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother was the mother of Queen Elizabeth II, the present British sovereign, and the widow of King George VI) continued to be addressed as Your Majesty when her daughter assumed the throne without much mishap.

These situations are, of course, a bit different, but they are modern examples of how other hierarchies dealt with titles of office holders.
       — Robert Hickey 

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 We have a client that is currently in the reserves and is making business cards. She is not stating a title at all but it wearing her uniform in the picture on her business card. Her husband informed her that she isn’t allowed to do this but we were wondering, for this client and for future clients, what the rule was for wearing uniforms in photographs on business item such as business cards, flyers, yard signs, etc. Any help would be appreciated. A copy of the business card is attached with the contact information removed.
       — A.M.M.

     I’ve recently noticed a retired LTC and his son (who was a SSG) who opened a rug-cleaning business in my area. They have a newspaper ad with pictures of both of them in uniform marketing their new civilian business. Guidance please.
       — R.M.

Dear A.M.M. & R.M.,
A U.S. Department of Defense regulation that’s pertinent is DODI 1334.01.
  It is U.S. DoD policy that:
3.1. The wearing of the uniform by members of the Armed Forces (including retired members and members of Reserve components) is prohibited under any of the following circumstances:
3.1.2. During or in connection with furthering political activities, private employment or commercial interests, when an inference of official sponsorship for the activity or interest may be drawn.

In both cases it is exactly what the DoD regulation would seek to prohibit. Both of these situations are examples of people trying to parlay the goodwill of the public toward veterans – to financial success in their commercial enterprises.
       — Robert Hickey


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          I’m a college student, I graduate in May and have an internship lined up. I want to print some business cards to use for networking and my long-term job search. The internship is unpaid and only for 2 months so I’m not sure if I want the company name on the cards. My question is, could I put my degree, BA International Business, under my name instead of the company name? Or should I stick with the standard Company Name – Intern? It’s a small company and I feel like it’d be more beneficial to put my degree for job hunting purposes.           — A.S.

Dear A.S., It would be inappropriate to create a company business card for yourself to be used for other than company business. If you want to create a networking card for your job search … that’s a great idea. I’ve seen them with a  just their name, degree, cell phone and e-mail — without a mailing address.  Why not include a link to your on-line resume?           — Robert Hickey 


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When writing a letter to a Senior Vice Commander of a Veterans of Foreign Wars Post, how do I address the envelope? Is it Commander (Name)Senior Vice Commander (Name), or Mr. (Name)?
         — MKH

Dear MKH,
Senior Vice Commander of a Veterans of Foreign Wars post is not exactly a rank – as if he is on active duty in the armed services. It is an office or a role at a paramilitary organization.
It’s a bit like being principal of a school. At school it’s likely people will address the person as Principal (Surname) — formally he is:
  Dr./Mr./Ms. (First Name) (Surname)
But, in the context of his or her responsibilities at the VFW Post it would be correct to use his office before his name, for example in a salutation:
            Dear Senior Vice Commander (Surname),
– Robert Hickey    http://www.formsofaddress.info/faq.html

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Dear Mr. Hickey.
I will be meeting the Pope. If I introduce him, would you say, “May I introduce the Holy Father, Pope Francis” or would you say, “May I present His Holiness” and not use Francis in the introduction?
~ Meeting the Pope

Dear Meeting the Pope:
(All this is covered on page 282 in my book.)
The Holy Father is so high he is never introduced to anyone: individuals are presented to The Holy Father. He requires no introduction: anyone about to meet the Pope already knows who he is. Rather he is announced …. as he enters a room an aide says so all can hear  “His Holiness” … and that’s it.
It is more likely you, are any of the rest of us, will be introduced to the Pope. In that case the introducer would say “Your Holiness may I present (name of the other person).”
As to whether his name is ever used: Neither you, I, nor anyone else ever will call him Francis … he is addressed in conversation as “Your Holiness.” So that’s how you will reply to your introduction.
This not using the name is also the rule for other very high officials.  For example, the Queen of the United Kingdom is never addressed as Queen Elizabeth… she is always addressed as “Your Majesty”
 — Robert Hickey    http://www.formsofaddress.info/faq.html

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My friend has not announced this yet, but she is retiring, leaving her post with the state government, and I helping her to get business cards made.  Is she going to be anemeritus or emerita?
 — Dan

Dear Dan,
Emerita is correct for use by a woman. Emeritus/emerita are the masculine and feminine forms of the adjective. Of course, some women use emeritus like some women use chairman without thinking about gender agreement. But there are many professors recognized as an Professor Emerita in academia.
You say she is retiring, and so while I am at it, I will mention the difference between being retired and being an emeritus/emerita. The difference is thatemeritus/emerita implies a continuing relationship with one’s former office and organization, and it’s the office or institution that grants the emeritus/emerita status.
    E.G. At universities while a Professor Emeritus/a might not be getting his or her former salary ….. they would keep a ID card, any faculty discounts, continue to be seated and be recognized at graduations, be listed as a member of the faculty in the catalog, still use the faculty dining room, have access to the university clinic & athletic facilities, even have an office, and serve on committees.
So it shouldn’t be your friend determining if she is an emerita, it’s her former employer.
         — Robert Hickey   http://www.formsofaddress.info/faq.html

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