Mrs, Ms, Miss, or Madam, which to use

In Thursday’s Letters to the Editor in the Daily Telegraph [not online], a reader enquired of the correct formal address to women who have not indicated their marital status in a letter or email.

In today’s letters to the editor they variously suggest,

  • Presume the title ‘Mrs’, as a mark of respect. Hmmmm, I don’t think so.
  • Use ‘Ms’. Not sure this is quite so fashionable as once it was.
  • Reply with first name, and apologise for informality. The best course of action.
  • Try using Madam. Best not go there, eh.

It’s an issue that’s concerned me, more than once. The Office of National Statistics states that in 2006 only 50% of women in the country were married. And so, if no marital status is provided I use the first name, e.g, ‘Dear Mary’. Certain to be right half of the time.

I still use the male ‘Esquire’, abbreviated to ‘Esq’ after a name, e.g Tom Jones Esq, though now only when sending birthday cards and the like to my brother.

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