How to Address a President-elect

President-elect of the United States

—-Envelope or address block on letter or email:
—-—-The Honorable
—-—-(Full Name)

—-—-The Honorable (Full Name)
—-—-The President-elect

—-Letter salutation:
——–Dear Mr./Ms./etc. (Surname): *

* Use the form of address to which he or she is entitled prior to election as the President.


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

Is the President-elect Mr. President?

What is the proper way to address the President-elect?  I saw and heard on TV people addressing the president-elect as Mr. President or The President (talking directly and talking about him). I thought this was incorrect until after the inauguration.
—-—-—-– PT

Dear PT,How to Address a President-elect

——#1) If the President-elect is currently the President – and starting a second term – ‘Mr. President’ would be correct.  That is the correct form of address for a current office holder.

——#2) If he starting his first term, then you are correct. The President-elect would not be addressed as Mr. President or referred to as The President until after taking the oath of office.

——#3) The President-elect is correctly identified or addressed (program, envelope, address block on a letter) as The Honorable (Full Name).  ‘The Honorable’ becomes part of his name once elected to office in a general election.


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

—-#4) In conversation or in a salutation – until he/she is sworn in – the President-elect is addressed in the style to which he/she was entitled before being elected. Dwight Eisenhower in 1953 was ‘General’.  Barack Obama in 2009 was ‘Senator” and Donald Trump in 2017 was ‘Mr.’

—-In conversation or in a salutation:
——–Mr./Ms. (Surname)

—-Or if the official-elect had a personal rank:
—-—-Dr./Senator/Judge/Ambassador/etc. (Surname)

—-Only a current president is addressed as Mr./Madam President or referred to as The President.  If you hear this done incorrectly it means the newscaster/reporter is not knowledgeable of our national traditions and is demonstrating it to a wide audience.

– Robert Hickey

How to Address a President-elect

What Should the Press Call a President-elect?

How do you refer to the President-elect when speaking about him? I think the rules are different than when addressing a letter to him.

What I hear in the media is all over the place. Is it?
—-—-The President-elect
—-—-Mr. President-elect
—-—-President-elect (Name)

—-—-—-– PT How to Address a President-elect


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

Dear PT,

There is a difference between –
—-#1) Direct address. Speaking or writing to the person. Presenting their name on a program.
—-#2) Referring to a person in the third person.

—-All of these are correct for referring to the person:
—-—-The President-elect
—-—-The Honorable (Full Name), the President-elect
—-—-The President-elect, (Full Name)
—-—-*Mr./Ms./etc. (Surname only), the President-elect

—-—-*Whatever honorific to which the President-elect is entitled prior to taking office.

None of these is a form of direct address. These are used by the media when referring to the President-elect in the 3rd person. Each makes it clear to a listener who they are talking about.

I get into the details of all this in my book, but what’s posted here will get you through the moment!

– Robert Hickey


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”