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.
It is for the writer to decide whether to use one of the following three styles: John Brown, Esq, Mr John Brown, or simply John Brown.
The first of the three styles was customary in most walks of life in Great Britain and Ireland for the greater part of the 20th century, but the advent of e-mail and other electronic methods of communication has eroded formality to such an extent that 'Esq' now seems hopelessly old-fashioned to most people.
Mr John Brown is still a polite, direct and unpretentious style of address, and is probably the safest form to use if in doubt.
How to address a Gentleman
|Beginning of letter||Dear Mr Brown|
|End of letter||Yours sincerely|
|Envelope||Mr John Brown/John Brown, Esq/John Brown|
|Verbal communication||Mr Brown|
|Invitation||Mr John Brown|
|Joint invitation* & joint form of address||Mr and Mrs John Brown|
|Description in conversation||Mr Brown|
|List of Directors or Patrons||Mr John Brown|
|Place card||Mr John Brown|
*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.