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How does one correctly address the newly elected President of the United States?  In the media, he’s being correctly referred to as President Donald Trump or President Trump. However, did you know that the President’s name is never used in his presence? And, on a related note, how does one refer to a former President? Is he referred to as Mr. Obama or former President Obama?

Knowing and using correct titles and forms of address is part of good business and social etiquette, including how we refer to U.S. Presidents and former presidents. Since I was recently asked about this topic, I went directly to an indispensable  resource on my book shelf, Honor & Respect; The Official Guide to Names, Titles, & Forms of Address. Authored by Robert Hickey, deputy director of The Protocol School of Washington, (which is where I received my business etiquette and protocol training and certification!), Hickey covers the correct written and oral forms of address for everyone from local officials to foreign heads of state.

So, to be in the know, especially with President’s Day coming up,  I’m sharing Hickey’s information on how to refer to a President or former President of the United States. And, by the way, I highly recommend his book!

Current President

  • Announced: The President or The President of the United States
  • Introduction, one person to another: In the United States, everyone is introduced to the President: Mr. President, may I present…
  • In conversation: Mr. President
  • Letter salutation: Dear Mr. President
  • Complimentary close: Most respectfully

Former President of the United States

  • Introduction: The Honorable Barack Obama
  • Introduction (less formal): Mr. Obama
  • Introduction, one person to another: Mr. Obama
  • In conversation: Mr. Obama
  • Letter salutation: Dear Mr. Obama
  • Complimentary close: Most respectfully, OR Respectfully yours,

Using correct titles and forms of address with the President and former president has nothing to do with one’s personal political preferences…but has everything to do with  showing respect to the person and the position.

Photo source: Gabby Wagner