Tips and rules from the experts on titles

• Nancy Mitchell of The Etiquette Advocate said all Congress members are bestowed with the honorific “The Honorable” before their name. The title is normally written rather than spoken but can be used when a member is introduced before making a public appearance. Congress members can keep “The Honorable” honorific after they leave office. Senators may continue using the title “Senator” after leaving office.

• The title “Congressman” technically applies to members of both chambers, but it is used only to refer to members of the House, said Judith Martin, also known as Miss Manners.

• Senators should be referred to as “Senator” and their last name when being introduced, when being directly addressed and in the salutation of a letter, Mitchell said. A member of the House is simply “Mr.,” “Mrs.,” “Ms.,” or “Miss,” and his or her surname in these situations.

• A female member of the House can be casually referred to as “Congresswoman,” but should be referred to as “Congressman” when making an official introduction or in print, Mitchell said. The same is true for the chairman title (a female chairman would be “Madam Chairman” rather than “Madam Chairwoman”). However, these rules are subject to the female member’s preference.

• Committee and subcommittee chairmen should be addressed as “Mr. Chairman” or “Madam Chairman” in the salutation of a letter, but “Senator” and last name or “Mr.,” “Mrs.,” “Miss” or “Ms.” and last name in other usage, Mitchell said. The House Speaker is “Mr. Speaker” or “Madam Speaker” in a letter and in conversation.

• A Congress member who is wrongly addressed can make a “charmingly modest” correction if the situation calls for it, Martin said. For instance, if a member of the House is called “Senator,” he or she might reply, “Oh, goodness no, I haven’t achieved that yet.”

• “When you don’t know a name … ‘Sir’ or ‘Ma’am’ speaks volumes,” said Fannie Allen, the director of the Allen Etiquette Institute.