Untitled Women

Forms of address are shown below for use in social and business contexts when addressing untitled individuals who do not belong to the peerage or professions where use of additional titles is necessary.

Married Women and widows

Traditionally, it is considered incorrect for a married woman or a widow to be addressed by her own forename or initials, as this implies that her marriage has been dissolved. However, it is becoming increasingly customary for married women and widows to use their own forenames and initials.

Some women, especially in a professional context, choose to retain their maiden names, in which case many prefer the prefix ‘Ms’ in place of ‘Mrs’ and ‘Miss’.

In business, ‘Ms’ is often used as a convenient female equivalent of ‘Mr’. It is, however, always advisable to find out if someone prefers to be styled as ‘Miss’, ‘Mrs’ or ‘Ms’. Some women also prefer to be styled ‘Ms’ in social situations. In conversation, ‘Ms’ is pronounced ‘Mizz’, not ‘Muzz’.

In 1976 the Speaker of the House of Commons agreed to this usage by female Members of Parliament if they so wished.

How to Address a Married Woman

Beginning of letter

Dear Mrs Smith/Miss Smith/Ms Smith

End of letter

Yours sincerely


Mrs John Smith/ Miss Mary Smith/Ms Mary Smith

Verbal communication

Mrs/Miss/Ms Smith


Mrs John Smith/Miss Mary Smith/Ms Mary Smith

Joint invitation* & joint form of address

Mr and Mrs John Smith

Description in conversation

Mrs/Miss/Ms Smith

List of Directors or Patrons

Check with the lady herself

Place card

Mrs John Smith/ Miss Mary Smith/Ms Mary Smith

*Note that, traditionally, invitations to a married couple, when sent to their home address, are addressed to the wife alone, with both names being inscribed on the invitation card. It has become increasingly acceptable, however, to address the envelope with both names.

Divorced Women

Some divorced women revert to their maiden names, but the majority do not, especially when there are children from the marriage. Mrs (or Ms) Mary Smith is generally the preferred style of address for all correspondence.



Forms Of Address

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the debrett's 500

the Debrett's 500

the Debrett's 500

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