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to address a woman in a formal letter as "Ms"?

(290 Posts)
twattock Thu 28-Feb-13 13:37:16

Here's the problem; as a solicitor the formal way to address correspondence is "Dear sirs/your faithfully" or "Dear (insert as appropriate)/yours sincerely". But I often have to write to a woman without knowing what title she has given herself-so do I use Ms? I dont want to assume anything obviously, so I can't use Miss or Mrs, so what would people prefer?

Xiaoxiong Thu 28-Feb-13 13:56:58

I'm a solicitor. We were told when writing to a woman to always use Ms unless the person themselves indicated otherwise.

firawla Thu 28-Feb-13 13:57:46

I prefer ms, it should be fine

HazleNutt Thu 28-Feb-13 13:58:54

Yes I would always use Ms and expect people who have not been informd differently to use the same title when writing to me.

AnnieLobeseder Thu 28-Feb-13 13:59:29

I always use Ms unless I know for absolute sure the woman prefers another title. Because I hate Miss and Mrs anyway, and only ever use them when I have no choice.

sarahtigh Thu 28-Feb-13 13:59:35

use Ms unless someone has specifically introduced themselves as Mrs brown or Miss Green,

if you know they are Mrs and prefer Mrs to use Ms is a bit passive aggressive

Pootles2010 Thu 28-Feb-13 13:59:51

Legal department here, I would either put 'dear sirs' if i didn't know, or otherwise if it was an email i might copy how she's signed herself off iyswim.

Obviously depends on the relationship - we're in-house, so always the client, might be different if they were!

BumBiscuits Thu 28-Feb-13 14:00:42

I loathe Ms when people use it for me. I was Miss and now I'm Mrs. I'd rather someone used nothing than Ms. Or just asked the question.

My late MIL always used it for me and then for my DD when she was born fruitloop

babiesinslingsgetcoveredinfood Thu 28-Feb-13 14:01:48

I hate being called Ms, so I always make sure I make it clear that I'm a Mrs. Ms is standard if you don't know otherwise. So YANBU.

If you're a solicitor you must have access to DeBretts? Use that.


lurkedtoolong Thu 28-Feb-13 14:02:08

I personally prefer Mrs but if there's no way for someone to know what my title is then Ms is absolutely fine.

SPBInDisguise Thu 28-Feb-13 14:02:46

I had a job bout 18y ago sending out generic reminders to patients at a dental practice. None of the patient records had titles so I addressed them all as ms. When the first batch went out we had so many complaints. From then on I was told to address any woman with children (as records were linked) or over 30 as Mrs!

CockyFox Thu 28-Feb-13 14:03:26

I am not put out to receive a letter addressed to Ms Fox if you haven't had contact with me before but if I had communicated with your company in any form previously I would expect Mrs Fox and be a bit hmm if It was Ms.

JuliaScurr Thu 28-Feb-13 14:04:21

just outof interest -- why do people not want to be Ms?

ivykaty44 Thu 28-Feb-13 14:05:27

I would write Ms if I had to put a title. I write a lot of letters and email and address the person as they have signed themselves as if that is how they want to sign themselves then surely that is how they want me to address them?

I do though write Mr for men, though had a name the other day and it wasn't clear whether it was a man or woman.

seeker Thu 28-Feb-13 14:09:06

Being offended by Ms is seriously bonkers! It makes no assumptions so is completely value- neutral.

Having somebody decide whether you are a Miss or a Mrs based on age or appearance is mildly offensive.

So Ms every time.

UseHerName Thu 28-Feb-13 14:10:42

Ms is not value neutral for some people - it has a historical meaning ascribed to it

why can you not just address the letter Dear Jane Brown - why the need for the bloody title?!

Andro Thu 28-Feb-13 14:11:28

JuliaScurr - some just don't like it, other think it's 'aggressively feminist'.

I always expect to be addressed as Ms unless/until I have indicated otherwise, once the appropriate title has been indicated I think using the wrong one is quite ill mannered.

CockyFox Thu 28-Feb-13 14:12:08

I don't want to be addressed as Ms Fox because I am not Ms Fox I am Mrs Fox that is the title I have chisen and the one I expect to be used for myself. Nothing to do with any feelings about the title Ms just that I am not one.

IThinkOfHappyWhenIThinkOfYou Thu 28-Feb-13 14:12:43

I prefer Ms but I don't especially care if I get Mrs.

You could use M/s, I've had that before.

Do you need to use a title?

drjohnsonscat Thu 28-Feb-13 14:12:48

I would insist on Ms. I was really angry the other day when I was filling out a form on the computer and I had to be Miss, same as my six year old daughter, whereas my three year old son was Mr. If we started writing to unmarried men as Master it would be fair enough but we don't and now we don't even use Master for little boys.

Oh and I also don't use Dear Sirs. I know it's, in theory according to some ancient book, correct. But it's also rude. So I use Dear Sir/Madam.

Andro Thu 28-Feb-13 14:13:28

why the need for the bloody title?

The presumption of informality is, to say the least, unprofessional.

WillieWaggledagger Thu 28-Feb-13 14:13:32

i would put ms unless i knew they preferred otherwise, and would expect people to put the same when writing to me

i have colleagues at work whose email signatures say 'firstname surname (Mrs)' or 'firstname surname (Miss)' which is fine if that's what they want, i prefer not to include that on my email signature and would expect Ms

drjohnsonscat Thu 28-Feb-13 14:14:57

And it's interesting that most people who don't like Ms are a Mrs and would prefer that to be used. There absolutely is a status elevation in being married. It's very subtle but it's there. I can understand why, if you had that title, you'd want it to be used.

But it's also why I prefer not to use Miss and be in the same category as my six year old.

ElliesWellies Thu 28-Feb-13 14:15:43

I think 'Ms' in the right term to use, unless the person has indicated otherwise. If they then indicate otherwise, it would be rude to continue using 'Ms'.

Do most people really notice/care much anyway, if you're not a regular correspondent? I am sure I receive letters with 'Miss' 'Ms' and 'Mrs' but I'm more concerned with the contents.

SPBInDisguise Thu 28-Feb-13 14:18:28

Julia, according to the people who complained, it made it look like they are divorced.
This is going back to mid 90s. I am Mrs but if I'm addressed as ms I don't notice / care.

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