Posts Tagged ‘The Honorable — How to Use’

How do I write the name of an honoree who was our mayor. Is he Mr. (Full Name), Former Mayor (Full Name) or The Honorable (Full Name)?
  — Ken

Dear Ken,
Former US elected officials continue to be officially listed as The Honorable for life. Since there’s a new mayor this former official is no longer the mayor anymore. “Former mayor” identifies him, but is not a form of address.  
The Honorable
 (a courtesy title) is used by others addressing the person. So, while it is never used by the host on his/her own invitation, it is used when listing a honoree:
 The Honorable (Full Name)
     If you feel you need to note what his job was for some reason, you can include his office, or former office on the next line:
The Honorable (Full Name)
Mayor of River City, 1990-2000
— Robert Hickey


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How does one address the envelope of an invitation to the mayor of a city and his wife?
 — Susan Hensley

I need to address our elected sheriff and his wife. On the envelope, would it be The Honorable and Mrs. James Smith?
 — Agnes Harrington

How do I address a governor and his wife?
 — J.K. in Virginia

How do I address a former senator and his wife?
 — Ann Buchanan

Dear S.H, A.H., J.K., and AB:
I cover how to every type of elected official and spouse in my book in Chapter Nine: Joint Forms of Address.

What all these U.S. officials have in common is that they are addressed as “The Honorable.” You didn’t tell me the names … so depending the form of her name … there are several options.

If she uses “Mrs.”  and uses the same last name … then traditionally her first name does not appear:
The Honorable William Stanton
and Mrs. Stanton

This is the form the White House would use for a married couple using the same last name. The rule is not to break up “The Honorable” from “(name)”
What you want to avoid is:
The Honorable and Mrs. William Stanton

If she uses a different last name, then her first name does appear, e.g.:
The Honorable Alan Greenspan
and Ms. Andrea Mitchell

If she has her own rank, courtesy title, or some special honorific, then her first name does appear:
The Honorable William Stanton
and Lieutenant Linda Stanton

The Honorable William Stanton
and Dr. Linda Stanton

The Honorable William Stanton
and the Reverend Linda Stanton
Probably more answer than you wanted … but I hope it is useful.
 — Robert Hickey

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How do you address in writing a former state senator?
          — RW in Florida

Dear RW,
A U.S. state senator is addressed as “the Honorable” — once one is “the Honorable” one is “the Honorable” for life.  Retired senators, since they are not one-officeholder-at-a-time officials continue to be addressed as “Senator (Name)”.
But, you say former state senator.
If you are addressing a letter relating to his/her public service, or it is social correspondence (a letter to a neighbor, a holiday note, or get-well card) — address the envelope and use in the letter’s envelope and address block  The Honorable (Full Name).  Use Senator (Surname) in the salutation.
If you are writing to someone who served as a state senator, but is now working in some commercial/professional role —  e.g., they are now your insurance agent, attorney, or stock broker — and you are writing to them in the context of this commercial/professional endeavor — address him/her as Mr./Ms./Dr./etc. (Name).  
In the U.S.A. we address people as pertinent to the situation. Each of us has many names and each is correct in a specific time and place. E.g., a woman named “Ann Robinson” might be addressed as “Mrs. Robinson”, “Ann”, “Mom” or “Sweetheart”.  Each name is how she is addressed in a certain situation. How she is addressed relates to (1) who is addressing her and (2) in which role she is being addressed.
Robert Hickey

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I have an example referring to a former president as “The Honorable (Name)”  Is that incorrect?  Yet I also find that one should call a former president as “Mr. (Last Name), and identify him as a former president. So what should I say to formally introduce a former president?
            — MJH

Dear MJH:
Former U.S. elected officials are The Honorable (Full Name). 
All of these would be correct for a formal introduction:
The Honorable William Jefferson Clinton,
President of the United States. 1993-2001

The Honorable William Jefferson Clinton,
                   Former president of the United States
          The Honorable William Jefferson Clinton
                   42nd president of the United States
If you just first & last name – William Clinton – that would constitute a (Full Name) too. I would not suggest using his nickname – Bill Clinton – with The Honorable.
This is correct for direct address, in a one-on-one introduction, or in conversation:
  Mr. Clinton
— Robert Hickey      http://www.formsofaddress.info/faq.html

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What is the proper way to address envelope to a State Attorney of the State of Florida?
          — KP

Dear KP,
I can’t say this is true for a State Attorney in every state, but in Florida, in salutation or conversation he or she is a Mr./Ms. (Surname).
Every State Attorney in Florida is elected in a general election, so each is entitled to be addressed as the Honorable.
Address the envelope as
The Honorable (Full Name)
State Attorney
17th Judicial Circuit of Florida 
 (or whatever circuit is corrrect)

          — Robert Hickey     http://www.formsofaddress.info/faq.html

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       I am co-hosting a dinner with a U.S. Senator. For purposes of preparing my place cards, how should they be addressed? For example, Senator Dianne Feinstein? OrSenator Feinstein?
For the other guests  I plan to use first and last name: Debbie Menzer. Is this proper ettiquette?
    — Debbie Menzer in Corporate Affairs
Dear Ms. Menzer:
        It would be better for all the place cards to be the same style. Senator Feinstein is the most formal form to use on a place card (it’s the conversational form).:
      Senator Feinstein
      Ms. Messemer
      Mr. Hickey
If you are going to include honorifics on some, you should do them all with honorifics.
The form I show above provides just the information needed for a guest to find his or her place.
But I see you are in corporate affairs. If it is your company style to include first and last names on place cards, how about giving the official her courtesy title:
      The Honorable Barbara Feinstein
      Debbie Messemer
Robert Hickey

It’s not technically ‘the most formal style” but you get first and last names … anyone entitled to a courtesy title gets theirs … and the place cards can be doneconsistently and I like consistency.
       – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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I am interim director at the Montgomery County Historical Society. A retired county judge is giving the invocation at our annual dinner. Is it still correct to call him judge on the agenda?
— Anne Hendrickson

Dear Ms. Hendrickson:
     Unless he or she left the bench in dishonor, retired judges continue to be in writingThe Honorable (Full Name) and continue to be orally addressed as Judge (surname).
If you write his name on the agenda … he is The Honorable (Full Name). 
            – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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