How to Address a Candidate

How to Address a Candidate for Elected Office?

What is the correct way to address the candidate in a letter? The candidate is a former mayor of a city.  Shall I write ‘Candidate (Name)? Or do I use ‘Mr./Ms. (Name)’ ?
——–– Martin Dexter

Dear Mr. Dexter:    How to Address a Candidate

—-#1) In Direct Address – When Addressing as a Candidate
—-—-When you use an honorific, use:
—-——Mr./Mrs./Dr./etc. (Name)

—-—-Former Officials? In the U.S. tradition, a candidate runs for office as a private citizen. Formal address as Mr./Mrs./Dr./etc. (Name) best represents their qualification to be a candidate.  Prior military service, serving as an ambassador, being a retired judge and other career achievements will certainly be detailed in his campaign literature. Do not address as a former anything. No military rank, no judge, no mayor, no governor as part of their name.  


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

—-#2) Referring to -or- Writing About the Candidate
—-—-Don’t use a former title as part of his name in writing.  Use  Mr./Mrs./Dr./etc. (Name).  That the candidate served in another role can follow his name as a descriptor when pertinent.

—-—-—-This is good: “Mr. Robert Thompson, candidate for mayor is a retired United States Navy Captain.”

—-—-—-This is not good: “Captain Robert Thompson, USN, is candidate for mayor”.

—-#3) Oral Use of “Candidate (Name)”
—-—-Sometimes, orally, a moderator at a debate or a newscaster might refer to a candidate as Candidate (Name). It’s a bit like  ‘Central High School French Teacher Tom Wilson said….’. It is a descriptive phrase to make it clear to the reader who the speaker/writer is talking/writing about. It is not a formal form of address. Orally it’s fine. But, It would not be used on an envelope or in a written salutation.

—-—-– Robert Hickey How to Address a Candidate

Related Posts:
—-Candidate for Office
—-The Honorable, Use of
—-The Late, Use of
—-Pro Tempore


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

When Should You Use the Forms on this Page?

You can use these forms of address for any mode of communication: addressing a letter, invitation, card or Email. (If there are differences between the official and social forms of address, I will have mentioned the different forms.)  The form noted in the salutation is the same form you say when you say their name in conversation or when you greet them.
___What I don’t cover on this site are many things I do cover in my book: all the rules of forms of address, about names, international titles, precedence, complimentary closes, details on invitations, place cards, all sorts of introductions, etc. I hope you’ll get a copy of the book if you’d like the further detail.

Not Finding Your Answer?

—-#1)  At right on desktops, at the bottom of every page on tablets and phones, is a list of all the offices, officials & topics covered on the site.

—-#2)  If you don’t see the official you seek included or your question answered send me an e-mail. I am pretty fast at sending a reply: usually the next day or so (unless I am traveling.)  Note: I don’t have mailing or Email addresses for any of the officials and I don’t keep track of offices that exist only in history books.

—-#3)  If I think your question is of interest to others, Sometimes I post the question  – but always change all the specifics.

— Robert Hickey 


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”