Although it can be argued that we have become much less formal in society, there is still a time and a place to know how to address people formally – often for invitations to events such as weddings or gala dinners.
Dear Mr Brown
Envelope: Mr John Brown or John Brown, Esq
Esquire (Esq) should never be used in conjunction with any other title, as for instance, the prefix Mr.
Dear Mrs Brown
Envelope: Mrs John Brown or Mrs Jane Brown
The traditional use of the husband’s first name in place of the woman’s actual given name can be ‘political’, and preference varies from person to person. Check before using, if in doubt.
Widows traditionally retain their styling as Mrs John Brown until they remarry or choose otherwise.
Dear Miss Brown
Envelope: Miss Sarah Brown
Dear Ms Brown
Envelope: Ms Sarah Brown
In business, unless you know if the woman is married, always use Ms unless advised otherwise, as a woman’s marital status has no bearing on her ability to work.
If a person’s gender is unknown or unspecified it is best to make every effort to find out so the correct honorific (Mr, Miss etc) can be used.
If a person’s gender is deliberately unspecified (e.g transgender or gender-fluid) then use the honorific Mx.
Dear Mx Brown
Envelope: Mx Alex Brown
Mx is pronounced ‘Mix’.
Even though they are abbreviations in British and Commonwealth usage there is no full stop/point/period after honorifics such as Mr, Mrs, Ms, Mx, Mstr, Dr or Prof.
In American Usage there is, however.
Forms of Address
The King and Queen
Knights and Dames
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For in-depth advice or matters that are not covered in our Forms of Address section, please feel free to contact us.
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