Widow Wording: How to Properly Address a Widowed Woman

Q: What is the proper addressee and salutation for a widowed woman? Addressee: Mrs. John Smith, Mrs. Mary Smith, or Mary Smith? Salutation: Mrs. Smith? Suggestions?

A: A widow is addressed as Mrs. John Doe. By her choice, she may be Ms. Ann Doe, and now she can even be Mrs. Ann Doe. The latter used to be reserved for divorcees. However, that is her choice. In the meantime, it is most correct to address an invitation to Mrs. John Doe.  Your salutation follows the form you use to address the correspondence.

No Phone Zone: Are Cell Phones Okay in the Library?

Q: In your book Emily Post’s Guide to Good Manners for Kids, you give quite a few suggestions as to where kids should turn off their cell phones. Why did you not mention libraries? Cell phones have become a problem for us (patrons and staff) too.

A: You are correct.  Children and adults alike should either turn off cell phones or put them on vibrate.  If they must take a call, they should go outside to take the call. In such a short book it would be impossible to list every situation that would require a child to turn off a cell phone, but we will make note of your suggestion for future revisions.

Family Followings: What are Some Guidelines for Generational Names?

Q: When there are same names for dads and sons, Sr. Jr., or I, II, III, IV etc. what are the rules on how they are used? When one dies, do you change the other names or does everyone keep their respective title? Is the suffix written on their birth certificate?

A: In some families, names are carried on through three or more generations – John (Sr.) is succeeded by John, Jr., and Johns III, IV, and V.  But this presents something of a problem once John, Sr. has died.  Does each man retain the title by which he has always been known, or does everyone “move up”?  The only “rule” in this regard is to use common sense.  Moving up the suffixes is bound to cause some confusion among acquaintances who used to know the new John, Jr. as John III.  Then there are the changes that must be made on personal accounts and bank checks. Yes, the suffix may be placed on a birth certificate.