Writing to an important or highly educated person is nerve-racking. You may worry about saying the right thing, or striking just the right tone of respect without crossing the line into fawning or appearing to curry favor. Even more important, you may wonder how to address the letter to this person, especially if he has several professional titles. Fortunately, there are some simple rules for addressing a letter to a person who holds multiple titles.
Begin the letter by typing your address and the date in the top left corner of the page. Then, skip a line and type the recipient's name directly underneath the date. If he has either an M.D. or a Ph.D., type "Dr." before his name.
Skip a line and type the first title. If one title is clearly more important than the other, type that one in first. For example, you might type:
Dr. Alan Rodriguez Chair, Department of Chemistry Associate Professor of Chemistry
Alternately, if both titles appear to be equal in weight, type the title that describes the primary job duty. For example:
Father Charles Hampton, Ph.D. Pastor, Holy Angels Catholic Church Associate Professor of Theology
Notice that in this example, Father Charles is a priest and he has a Ph.D. In this instance, his priesthood is likely to be his primary job duty, so type "Father" before his name rather than "Dr." Then, type Ph.D. after the name. This way you have included both titles but highlighted the one that is more important in this instance by placing it first.
Type the rest of the address after the titles.
Create the salutation by typing "Dear (Dr. or other honorary) (Last name), (Most important title)" followed by a colon. For example, you might type "Dear Dr. Alan Rodriguez, Chair of the Department of Chemistry" followed by a colon. You can omit the second title.
Copy the name, titles and address and use the same formatting for the envelope.
Natalie Smith is a technical writing professor specializing in medical writing localization and food writing. Her work has been published in technical journals, on several prominent cooking and nutrition websites, as well as books and conference proceedings. Smith has won two international research awards for her scholarship in intercultural medical writing, and holds a PhD in technical communication and rhetoric.