In offering the advice below, we do not intend to imply that other practices are necessarily to be discouraged (for example, the use of Father as in ‘Father Smith’). A good deal depends on circumstances, and, where a personal preference is known, it is usually good practice to follow it.
The following notes show acceptable current usage
Category (a) is not open to much variation, owing to the formality of the context, but categories (b) and (c) will often vary according to circumstances. It is always acceptable to use the appropriate Christian name in place of initials (for example, the Revd Alice Smith). In the absence of any style or title conferred by a post, all deacons and priests are styled ‘The Reverend’, and all who have been consecrated bishop are styled ‘The Right Reverend’.
Definitions for many of the specialist terms used below (such as Prebendary and Suffragan bishop) can be found in the Glossary of key terms.
Where a member of the clergy also holds a temporal title, this is always preceded in writing by the ecclesiastical one.
Barons (other than retired archbishops)
An ordained priest may be appointed to an order of knighthood, but will not normally receive the accolade or title. The appropriate designation will follow the name or ecclesiastical title, e.g. The Right Reverend the Bishop of X, KCVO. If he was knighted before he was ordained, he will retain his title, and will be addressed in much the same manner as a baronet.
Wives of Barons, Baronets and Knights
Sons and daughters of peers
When a member of the clergy holds more than one title, the ecclesiastical one is normally used.
Professor also Canon
Canon also Doctor
The following abbreviations are in common use
Reverend, Right Reverend, Very Reverend, Most Reverend and Venerable, whether abbreviated or not, should always be preceded by the definite article.
© The Archbishops' Council 2004–2023