Identifications: Courtesy and professional titles

July 27, 2006: Issue 149

Don’t use courtesy titles (Mr., Ms., Miss, Sir) except in direct quotations.
incorrect: Miss Mirsky had other ideas.
correct: Mirsky had other ideas.
correct: “Miss Mirsky had other ideas,” he says.

Avoid the professional title “Dr.” Instead, specify what kind of doctor the person is, and add any other information that clarifies his expertise.
correct: Juan Williams, M.D.
correct: psychiatrist David Chen
correct: Julia Patel, Ph.D., a history professor at Georgetown University

Do use the professional title “Rev.,” but only on first reference with both first and last names. For later references, use the last name only.
incorrect: Rev. Miracle
correct: Rev. Amy Miracle
correct: Miracle

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