Titles: courtesy or confusion?

Recently it occurred to me that when I’m writing my name or introducing myself, I never include a title: I’m simply Jonathan Rawle. The question of titles is particularly significant for me at the moment, as people who know me might understand… Anyway, my preference is not to use a title, and when I’m addressing an envelope to someone I know, I tend to write their name without a title too. I must admit, however, that if I’m writing a formal letter, particularly to an older person, I do tend to use a title and surname.

Unfortunately, when filling in a form, either on paper or on the web, they tend to have fields labelled “Title”, “Forename(s)” and “Surname”, forcing a title to be used. On the web, the Title field is often in the form of a drop-down box with a selection of titles. It seems that I’m not the only person who is annoyed by this (or, even, who thinks about this) as I found this excellent page discussing the issue:
http://www.siliconglen.com/usability/courtesytitles.html
Here, Amazon.com are praised for providing a single field in which a name can be entered in any form the customer so desires. However, I don’t agree with the article where it suggests that a suitable way to form salutation is to prefix this name with “Dear” – if I receive an e-mail that begins “Dear Jonathan Rawle”, I just think, “There’s an automated e-mail generated by a computer.”

I’d previously looked out for for the longest drop-down list of alternate titles. The best I came up with was the Institute of Physics’s membership details page, with 29 titles. However, the page above points to British Airways, who offer no fewer than 203 to choose from! (Click “Sign up” or “Register” to see it.)

Unfortunately, even BA’s list is far from perfect. Unlike the IoP, BA won’t let you be both a Eur Ing and a Dr. And funnily enough, I’d always thought “Barones” ended with double-S. That’s not to mention that, despite what some news sources would have you believe, to mention no names (and it is one of my pet hates), “Lord” or “Baroness” are a part of real titles, not mere prefixes – something else BA’s form doesn’t allow for. But that’s an issue I’ll leave until another day.

2 responses to “Titles: courtesy or confusion?”

  1. Amy

    courtesy:) A letter with title is from bank or uiniversity…without it,maybe from friends.

  2. Amy

    In china we put the title after names, easy to be omitted.

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