Spoken and Written Forms of Address for U.S. Government Officials, Military Personnel, Foreign Officials, Nobility, and Religious Officials


This section provides the correct forms of address for U.S. Public officials, diplomats, religious leaders, royalty, the British peerage, and military personnel. For each personage the chart gives the appropriate form or forms to be used in addressing letters, in letter salutations, in direct conversation, and in more formal introductions.

In diplomatic and other public circles, "Sir" is generally considered an acceptable alternative to the formal address in both written and spoken greetings; this does not apply to religious or titled persons. The use of "Madam" or "Ma'am" for a female addressee is less customary but still acceptable, especially for high officeholders ("Madam Governor"). This rule also holds for high officials of foreign countries.

For greetings in which "Mr." is used, the feminine equivalent may be "Madam" or, less formally, "Mrs.," "Miss," or "Ms." Although there is no formal rule for the use of "Ms.," the preference of the addressee should be respected.

 

 Person

Letter Address

Letter Greeting

Spoken Greeting

Formal Introduction
President of the United States
The President
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. (or Madam) President Mr. (or Madam) President The President or the President of the United States
Former President
The Honorable John J. Jones
Current address
Dear Mr. (Mrs., Ms.) Jones Mr. (or Mrs., Ms.) Jones The Honorable John J. Jones
Vice President
The Vice President
Executive Office Building
Washington, DC 20501
Dear Mr. (or Madam) Vice President Mr. (or Madam) Vice President The Vice President or the Vice President of the United States
Cabinet members
The Honorable John (or Jane) Jones
The Secretary of ____________ or The Attorney General
Washington, DC
Dear Mr. (or Madam) Secretary Mr. (or Madam) Secretary The Secretary of _________________
Chief Justice
The Chief Justice
The Supreme Court
Washington, DC 20543
Dear Mr. (or Madam) Justice or Dear Mr. (or Madam) Chief Justice Mr. (or Madam) Chief Justice The Chief Justice
Associate Justice
Mr. Justice Jones or Madam Justice Jones
The Supreme Court
Washington, DC 20543
Dear Mr. (or Madam) Justice Mr. Justice or Mr. Justice Jones; Madam Justice or Madam Justice Jones Mr. Justice Jones; Madam Justice Jones
United States Senator
The Honorable John (or Jane) Jones
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Jones Senator Jones Senator Jones from Nebraska
Speaker of the House
The Honorable John (or Jane) Jones
Speaker of the House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Mr. (or Madam) Speaker Mr. Speaker; Madam Speaker The Speaker of the House of Representatives
United States Representative
The Honorable John (or Jane) Jones
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Mr. (or Mrs., Ms.) Jones Mr. (or Mrs., Ms.) Jones Representative Jones from New Jersey
  United Nations Ambassador
The Honorable John (or Jane) Jones
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations
United Nations Plaza
New York, NY 10017
Dear Mr. (or Madam) Ambassador The United States Ambassador to the United Nations
Ambassador
The Honorable John (or Jane) Jones
Ambassador of the United States
American Embassy
Address goes here
Dear Mr. (or Madam) Ambassador Mr. (or Madam) Ambassador
The American Ambassador
The Ambassador of The United States of America
Consul-General
The Honorable John (or Jane) Jones
American Consul General
Address goes here
Dear Mr. (or Mrs., Ms.) Jones Mr. (or Mrs., Ms.) Jones Mr. (or Mrs., Ms.) Jones
Foreign Ambassador
His (or Her) Excellency John (or Jean) Johnson
The Ambassador of ______________
Address goes here
Excellency or Dear Mr. (or Madam) Ambassador Excellency; or Mr. (or Madam) Ambassador
 The Ambassador of _______________
Secretary-General of the United Nations
His (or Her) Excellency Milo (or Mara) Jones
Secretary-General of the United Nations
United Nations Plaza
New York, NY 10017
Dear Mr.(or Madam) Secretary-General Mr. (or Madam) Secretary-General The Secretary-General of the United Nations
Governor
The Honorable John (or Jane) Jones
Governor of ______________
State Capitol
Address goes here
Dear Governor Jones Governor or Governor Jones The Governor of Maine: Governor Jones of Maine
State legislators
The Honorable John (or Jane) Jones
Address goes here
Dear Mr. (Or Mrs. , Ms.) Jones Mr. (Or Mrs., Ms.) Jones Mr. (Or Mrs., Ms.) Jones
Judges
The Honorable John J. Jones
Justice, Appellate Division
Supreme Court of the State of ______________
Address goes here
Dear Judge Jones Justice or Judge Jones; Madam Justice or Judge Jones The Honorable John (or Jane) Jones; Mr. Justice Jones or Judge Jones; Madam Justice Jones or Judge Jones
Mayor
The Honorable John (or Jane) Jones; His (or Her) Honor the Mayor
City Hall
Address goes here
Dear Mayor Jones Mayor Jones; Mr. (Or Madam) Mayor; Your Honor Mayor Jones; The Mayor
The Pope
His Holiness, the Pope or His Holiness, Pope John XII
Vatican City
Rome, Italy
Your Holiness or Most Holy Father Your Holiness or Most Holy Father His Holiness, the Holy Father; the Pope; the Pontiff
Cardinals
 His Eminence, John Cardinal Jones, Archbishop of ______________
Address goes here
Your Eminence of Dear Cardinal Jones Your Eminence or Cardinal Jones His Eminence, Cardinal Jones
Bishops
The Most Reverend John Jones, Bishop (or Archbishop) of ______________
Address goes here
Your Excellency or Dear Bishop (Archbishop) Jones Your Excellency or Bishop (Archbishop) Jones  
Monsignor
The Reverend Monsignor James Harding
Address goes here
Reverend Monsignor or Dear Monsignor Monsignor Harding or Monsignor Monsignor Harding
Priest
The Reverend John Jones
Address goes here
Reverend Father or Dear Father Jones Father or Father Jones Father Jones
Brother
Brother John or Brother John Jones
Address goes here
Dear Brother John or Dear Brother Brother John or Brother Brother John
Sister Sister Mary Marshall
Dear Sister Mary Marshall or Dear Sister
Sister Mary Marshall or Sister Sister Mary Marshall
Protestant Clergy The Reverend John (or Jane) Jones* Dear Dr. (or Mr., Ms.) Jones Dr. (or Mr., Ms.) Jones The Reverend (or Dr.) John Jones
Bishop (Episcopal)
The Right Reverend John Jones*
Bishop of __________
Address goes here
Dear Bishop Jones Bishop Jones The Right Reverend John Jones, Bishop of Detroit
Rabbi
Rabbi Arthur (or Anne) Schwartz
Address goes here
Dear Rabbi Schwartz Rabbi Schwartz or Rabbi Rabbi Arthur Schwartz
King or Queen
His (Her) Majesty King (Queen) ___________
Address (letters traditionally are sent to reigning monarchs not directly but via the private secretary)
Your Majesty; Sir or Madam Varies depending on titles, holdings, etc.  
Other royalty
His (Her) Royal Highness, the Prince (Princess) of _______________
Address goes here
Your Royal Highness Your Royal Highness; Sir or Madam His (Her) Royal Highness, the Duke (Duchess) of Gloucester
Duke/Duchess
His/Her Grace, the D ____________ of ____________
My Lord Duke/ Madam or Dear Duke of ____________/Dear Duchess Your Grace or Duke/Duchess His/Her Grace, the Duke/Duchess of Bridgeport
Marquess/Marchioness
The Most Honorable the M _____________ of Bridgeport
My Lord/Madam or Dear Lord/Lady Bridgeport
Lord/Lady Bridgeport Lord/Lady Bridgeport
Earl The Right Honorable the Earl of Franklin
My Lord or Dear Lord Franklin
Lord Franklin Lord Franklin
Countess (wife of an earl)
The Right Honorable the Countess of Franklin
Madam or Dear Lady Franklin Lady Franklin Lady Franklin
Viscount/Viscountess The Right Honorable the V _____________ Tyburn My Lord/Lady or Dear Lord/Lady Tyburn Lord/Lady Tyburn Lord/Lady Tyburn
Baron/Baroness The Right Honorable Lord/Lady Austin
My Lord/Madam or Dear Lord/Lady Austin
Lord/Lady Austin Lord/Lady Austin
Baronet Sir John Jones, Bt. Dear Sir or Dear Sir John Sir John Sir John Jones
Wife of Baronet Lady Jones
Dear Madam or Dear Lady Jones
Lady Jones Lady Jones
Knight Sir John Jones Dear Sir or Dear Sir John Sir John Sir John Jones
Wife of knight
Dear Madam or Dear Lady Jones
Lady Jones Lady Jones  
Military Personnel For commissioned officers in the U.S. Armed services, the full rank is used as a title only in addressing letters and in formal introductions: one writes to Major General Sarah Miller, U.S. Army, and introduces her as Major General Miller. In greetings the full rank is shortened to General: "Dear General Miller." Similar acceptable shortened greetings follow categorized by full rank then greetings :
Army, Air Force, Marines
General of the Army
Lieutenant General
Brigadier General
Lieutenant Colonel
First Lieutenant
Second Lieutenant
General
General
General
Colonel
Lieutenant
Lieutenant
Navy, Coast Guard
Fleet Admiral
Vice Admiral
Rear Admiral
Lieutenant Commander
Lieutenant, Junior Grade
Admiral
Admiral
Admiral
Commander
Lieutenant
 
 

For enlisted personnel, a similar principle applies. Sergeants -- whether staff sergeants, gunnery sergeants, or first sergeants -- are greeted simply as "Sergeant"; privates first class are referred to as "Private"; and, in the Navy and Coast Guard, chief petty officers are referred to as "Chief." Other noncommissioned officers are greeted by their ranks, although, informally, lower grades may be referred to generically as "Soldier" or "Sailor."

The universal terms of respect that lower ranks must use when addressing senior officers are "Sir" and "Madam." These terms are not applied to noncommissioned officers, however; the appropriate affirmative response to a sergeant, for example, is "Yes, Sergeant."

*If the cleric holds a doctorate in divinity, it is customary to add the designation D.D. after his or her name in the letter address.



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