How to Address Graduation Announcements

Rules of etiquette should be followed when addressing graduation announcements.
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When addressing announcements for a graduation of any type, it is customary to follow certain rules of etiquette. A graduation serves as a rite of passage in a person's life, since it marks the completion of an endeavor that is often -- but not always -- scholarly in nature. It is an achievement considered worthy of acknowledgement, which is why many graduates send out announcements to inform family and friends of their accomplishment and in some cases to join them in celebration.

1 Outer Envelope

Graduation announcements and invitations typically consist on an outer envelope with the name and address of the person or persons to whom the announcement is being sent as well as the return address of the person making the announcement. This envelope should be addressed formally, because it is the first part of the invitation that will be seen once received, and postal workers must rely on the address to ensure that the announcement reaches its destination. The address on the envelope should be legibly handwritten in either blue or black ink. The return address can either be handwritten also or posted using printed labels. Do not use abbreviations for words such as “street” or “lane” -- spell them out.

2 Titles and Names

Titles such as “Dr.,” “Mr.,” “Mrs.” and “Ms.” should be used on the outer envelope of the graduation announcement to accompany the first and last names of the recipients. Understand which titles and names are to be used in various situations. For example, for a male, it is acceptable to simply refer to him by his proper title -- most commonly “Mr.” -- followed by his first and last name.

3 Addressing Women Properly

Using the correct titles and names when addressing women on the outer envelope can prove to be slightly more complicated. For instance, when a woman takes her husband's surname in marriage, she should be referred to as, for example, “Mrs. Ronald Baker,” although more common in this case would be to simply address the announcement to “Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Baker.” However, if she gets married yet chooses to keep her last name, she should be referred to by her own name along with the title of Ms. -- for example, “Ms. Barbara Jensen.” A good rule of thumb is to use the title “Ms.” when in doubt, because it can refer to a married or unmarried woman. For married couples who choose to adopt hyphenated last names, the woman's last name customarily comes first. In this example, it would be proper to refer to them as, “Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Jensen-Baker.”

4 Inner Envelope

The inner envelope contains the actual graduation announcement. It should also bear the names of the recipients but it can do so more informally. It is perfectly acceptable to simply address the back of the inner envelope to say, “Grandma and Grandpa,” “Uncle Bob” or “Ron and Barbara,” and it should be handwritten.

Alice Wilkins is a current college instructor teaching classes in sociology and anthropology. Wilkins has a bachelor's degree in anthropology and a master's degree in sociology. She specializes in teaching subjects including gender differences, crime, deviance, medicine/health, social organization, religion and more.