If you ever find yourself worrying about the etiquette "what ifs"—we're here for you. After discussing ripped pants, too-hot foods, forgetting someone's name mid-introduction, and Facebook drama...let's talk about how to address women by last name in a formal setting.
And we're getting some extra help to answer the "Ms., Miss, or Mrs." question. Thank you, Dawn Jumper, etiquette consultant of Chattanooga-based The Etiquette Company!
WHAT DO I DO...if I'm not sure whether to call someone Ms., Mrs. or Miss?
Dawn Jumper says:
The answer is: it depends.
If you are referring to a young unmarried woman then Miss is acceptable. The challenge is how to define "young," because as those of us over 30 know, "young" is a relative term! I use the rule of thumb of college age and below for the use of Miss.
If you are addressing a woman who you know is married and has taken her husband's last name, it is acceptable to use Mrs. Mrs. tends to be used more often in social settings.
You often do not know which last name (her husband's or her maiden) a woman is using , so play it safe and use Ms. Over time as you do get to know her, you will learn how she prefers to be addressed and you can adjust accordingly.
If a woman has kept her maiden name, only address her by Ms.
You may also use Ms. for a married woman who uses her husband's last name.
Ms. is always acceptable in business settings regardless of age and martial status. Wondering how to pronounce Ms.? It rhymes with "quiz".
The take away:
- Ms. is always an acceptable option.
- Miss can be a useful designation for a young unmarried lady.
- Mrs. should only be used if you know the woman is married and has taken her husband's last name.