Etiquette: Announcements

Hear ye, hear ye. From new bundles of joy to holiday cheer, here’s how to spread the news with stateliness.

Holiday Cards
Sympathy Correspondence
Calling Cards

Birth Announcements
When a baby is born, it is customary to send announcements heralding the event. Your choice of birth announcements should reflect your personality. They can be formal and traditional, or less formal and more imaginative.

The most traditional birth announcements are small cards that are attached to larger cards with a pink or blue ribbon. Other traditional announcements may be simple flat cards with a standard format with formal wording. Less formal announcements can run the gamut from an adorable photo card to an imprint of the baby’s foot. The titles “Mr. and Mrs.” are used on the most formal announcements, but are dropped on less formal ones. A mother who uses her maiden name has her name appear on the line above the father’s name. She does not use a title.

pearl white boy birth announcementAdoption Announcements
Adoption announcements have the same look and format as birth announcements, but contain additional information. They typically include both the date of birth and the date on which the child was brought home. Sometimes the word “arrived” is used instead of “adopted” as the adoption might not have been finalized before the arrival date. Many parents send adoption announcements as soon as they bring their child home while others wait until the adoption has been legally finalized. If the adoption involves a name change (as with an older child), the announcements generally mention the change.

Christening Invitations
personalized christening invitation
Christening and baptismal invitations are usually very informal. They may be printed in a standard format, engraved in the format of a personal note or handwritten.


Holiday Cards
Individuals, families and businesses send personalized holiday greeting cards toward the end of the year. While most are sent in December to coincide with Christmas and Chanukah, some are sent in November, usually by businesses, to coincide with Thanksgiving. Holiday cards may express either a generic season’s greeting or a religious sentiment. Businesses should stick to a generic message.
personalized christmas greeting card
Most holiday cards display a seasonal or religious scene on the front of the card with a message inside. Many families use a holiday photo card, which has a photograph of the entire family, just the children or even the family dog on the front of the card. Your holiday cards may be personalized by adding your name or your company’s name to the sentiment.

Cards sent by a couple show the couple’s first names followed by their surname. The woman’s name appears first. Couples that do not share the same surname list their names on separate lines.

Again, the woman’s name appears first. Children’s names may appear in age order (older to younger) on the same line together with their parents’ names or separately on a second line.

Jeanette and Scott Robison


Mr. and Mrs. Scott Robison

Jeanette Baker
Scott Robison

Jeanette, Scott, Mindy and Tina Robison


Jeanette and Scott Robison
Mindy and Tina


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
Season’s Greetings and Best Wishes for the New Year
Wishing you joy and happiness during this holiday season and throughout the New Year
Wishing you a joyous Christmas with health and happiness through the coming year
May you find health, happiness and peace during this Holiday Season and through the coming year

Rosh Hashanah Cards
Cards celebrating the Jewish New Year are sent early enough to arrive before the holiday. Like other holiday cards, they may be sent by individuals, families or on behalf of corporations. Your Rosh Hashanah cards may be personalized by adding your name or your company’s name to the sentiment.

Cards sent by a couple show the couple’s first names followed by their surname. The woman’s name appears first. Couples that do not share the same surname list their names on separate lines. Again, the woman’s name appears first. Children’s names may appear in age order (older to younger) on the same line together with their parents’ names or separately on a second line.

Judy and Bob Nishman

Judy Goldstein
Bob Nishman

Judy, Bob, Steven and Bill Nishman


Judy and Bob Nishman
Steven and Bill

All good wishes for health and happiness through the coming year May the coming New Year bring you health and happiness


Sympathy Correspondence
Invitations to a Memorial Service A memorial service is given in memory of the deceased. It may be given any time after the burial or cremation. The invitations are formal: black ink on an ecru or white card or letter sheet.

Condolence Notes
Condolence notes are letters of sympathy sent to the family of the deceased. They should be sent on a timely basis and should contain sincere expressions of sympathy. Since condolence notes are sent at a difficult time for the family, they should be brief. They should contain personal praise of the deceased and, if appropriate, mention how life was enriched because of him or her. It is always appropriate to end with an offer to be of service to the family.

Sample Notes
Dear Tom,

I was so sorry to hear about your father’s death. I’ll always remember playing ball with him in your backyard and his teaching us to always give our best. I’ll miss him greatly. If there is anything I can do, please let me know.


Dear James,
Michael and I are deeply saddened by Melissa’s death. Good friends are hard to come by and Melissa was the best. We will always miss her friendship and love. Please call us if there is anything you need. We’re always available.


Dear Mrs. Schwartzman,
We were all surprised and saddened by your husband’s death. Working for him was a pleasure for all of us. His door was always open to us whenever we had a question or a problem. Coming to work will be a little bit harder for us now. We hope you will still stop by and visit us when you’re in the city.

Susan Miller

Sympathy Acknowlegdments
Sympathy acknowledgments are handwritten notes of appreciation sent to family, friends and business associates who expressed their condolences. They may be engraved when sent to people who are not known personally by the family or when an overwhelming number of acknowledgments need to be sent. A personal message may always be added to engraved acknowledgments.
sympathy acknowledgment card
Ecru or white cards are generally used for sympathy acknowledgments. They may be plain or bordered in black. At one time, the width of the border signified the sender’s closeness to the deceased.


Calling Cards

The History of Calling Cards
personalized calling card

In Europe, the first known use of a calling card occurred in Italy during the latter part of the sixteenth century. The custom spread to France, Great Britain and, eventually, the United States.

Calling cards were originally made for the nobility to hand to a footman when paying a call or to leave at the home when the person called upon was absent. Their use was popularized during the reign of Louis XVI when the custom developed in France to use them when paying New Year’s calls.

Calligraphers made the early calling cards, which bore the name of the individual and his hereditary titles. The cards were further embellished with borders, floral designs and other ornamentations.

Early in the 19th century, these embellishments were abandoned in favor of a fine card on which only the individual’s name appeared. When making a social call, you leave a calling card for each adult on whom you are calling, never, however, exceeding three cards.

A man may call on a husband and wife, in which case he leaves two cards. A woman may only call on another woman, so she leaves only one card. You may turn down the corner of your card to signify that it is intended for all the ladies of the house.
Calling cards are still occasionally used for their original purpose, but are often used as gift enclosures. The traditional way to personalize a gift enclosure card is by drawing a line through the imprinted name and writing a brief message with your signature.

Calling cards are now available in many sizes and colors. They have become the newest trend in networking. Below are the more traditional guidelines to follow when choosing the format of your calling card.

Men’s Cards
A man’s full name, preceded by his title, is always used. His middle name is always spelled out, never abbreviated. While “Mr.” is always abbreviated, other titles, such as “Doctor” and “Colonel”, are spelled out.
letterpress calling card
Suffixes, such as “junior”, may follow the name. A man is a junior when he shares the same name as his father. He uses junior until his father passes away. Then, he drops it from his name.

If, however, his father were a well-known figure, he would continue to use “junior” to avoid any confusion. It may appear in its abbreviated form as “Jr.” or, when space permits, spelled out as “junior”. When abbreviated, the “J” is capitalized. When spelled out, the “j” is lower case.

A man uses “II” when he is named after an older relative other than his father. “III” is used when a man is named after somebody who uses “junior” or “II”. They are usually preceded by a comma, although some men omit the comma.

Traditionally, both formats are correct.

Mr. Griffen Alexander Greylock
Mr. Griffen Alexander Greylock, junior
Mr. Griffen Alexander Greylock, Jr.
Mr. Griffen Alexander Greylock, III

Boy’s Cards
A title does not precede the name of a boy under the age of 18.

Thomas Arthur Hancock

Women’s Cards
A married woman uses her husband’s full name, preceded by “Mrs.” Her husband’s middle name is always included and is never replaced by his middle initial. If her husband’s name is followed by a suffix, such as “Jr.”, that suffix appears on her calling cards as well.
Pearl White Calling Card with Dotted RuleMrs. Harrison Raiford Booth
Mrs. Harrison Raiford Booth, Jr.

A widow continues to use her husband’s name on her calling cards. If her son is a junior who has dropped the “Jr.” from his name, she adds the suffix “senior” to distinguish herself from her daughter-in-law. “Senior” may be spelled out with a lower case “s” or abbreviated with a capital “S”.

Mrs. Harrison Raiford Booth
Mrs. Harrison Raiford Booth, senior
Mrs. Harrison Raiford Booth, Sr.

Divorced Women
A divorced woman uses her first name, maiden name and married name, preceded by “Mrs.” She may also use her first, maiden and married names without a title.

Mrs. Lydia Renner Booth
Lydia Renner Booth

A divorced woman who resumed the use of her maiden name uses her first name, middle name and last name, without a title.

Lydia Anne Renner

The Use of “Ms.”
“Ms.” does not properly appear on calling cards. If a woman feels uncomfortable using “Miss” or “Mrs.”, she may omit her title.

Single Woman
A single woman typically uses her first name, middle name and last name, preceded by “Miss”. She may also omit her title.

Miss Lydia Anne Renner
Lydia Anne Renner

Husband and Wife
A calling card used jointly by a husband and wife has “Mr. and Mrs.” followed by the husband’s first name, middle name and last name. His middle name is always spelled out, never abbreviated. If the husband has a title other than “Mr.” that title isused instead.

Titles other than “Mr.” and “Mrs.” should not be abbreviated. When a name is too long to fit on a calling card, it is preferable to omit the middle name rather than to abbreviate a title or use an initial.

Mr. and Mrs. Harrison Raiford Booth
The Reverend and Mrs. Harrison Booth

Medical Doctors
Physicians, surgeons and dentists use the prefix “Doctor” or “Dr.” on their calling cards. Professional degrees, however, should not appear on cards for social use.

A single woman who is a medical doctor or a married woman who has retained the use of her maiden name or who uses a professional name uses her first name, middle name and last name, preceded by “Doctor” or “Dr.”.

A married woman who is a doctor traditionally uses her husband’s first name, middle name and last name, preceded by “Mrs.”. Today, she may instead choose to use her first name, maiden name and married name, preceded by “Doctor” or “Dr.”.

Male Doctor
Doctor Jeffrey Allen Glenwood
Dr. Jeffrey Allen Glenwood

Single Female Doctor
Doctor Leslie Jean Carpenter
Dr. Leslie Jean Carpenter

Married Female Doctor
Mrs. Jeffrey Allen Glenwood
Doctor Leslie Carpenter Glenwood
Dr. Leslie Allen Glenwood

University and College Titles
Calling cards for general social use for college and university faculty members show no academic titles or degrees. However, calling cards intended for college and university use do show academic titles. The titles are never abbreviated. If there is not enough room on the card due to a long name and title, the middle name may be abbreviated. Letters indicating advanced degrees do not appear.

General Use
Mr. Gregory Winston Hughes

College and University Use
Doctor Gregory Winston Hughes

Members of the clergy use their full names preceded by their title on their calling cards. Titles are never abbreviated. The middle name may be omitted if there is not enough space on the card. No initials indicating divinity degrees appear on the card.

Rabbi Nathan Weisman
The Reverend John Kenneth Rhoads


Have more questions about stationery etiquette? Email our Crane Concierge at

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