Courtesy Titles AP Style

Courtesy titles such as Mr. and Mrs. that are placed before an individuals name.

When dealing with courtesy titles, AP Style states that you should refer to men and women by full name, without courtesy titles, on the first reference. For example,

  • Jane Johnson spoke at the convention.
  • Steve Smith went out for dinner.

In all subsequent references, refer to men and women by last name, without courtesy titles.

The only time you should use courtesy titles such as Mr., Miss, Ms., and Mrs. is in direct quotations or when the subject being discussed specifically requests it. An example may be a woman who prefers to be known as Ms. Johnson or Mrs. Johnson.

Sometimes you may find it necessary to distinguish between two people who have the same last name, a married couple, siblings, etc. In cases such as these, use the first and last name of each without any courtesy titles.

If the gender of the subject is not clear from his or her first name or from the context of the story, indicate the gender by using “he” or “she” in the subsequent reference. For example,

  • Jordan Williams will be at the concert tonight. She will arrive shortly after 7:30 p.m.

For more information on AP Style and titles, please see our full AP Style titles page.

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