Academics and professionals

There are rules for using academic and professional titles. Follow these rules to address and title people correctly.

Use initial capitals for the titles of academics and professionals

The full titles of academics and professionals always have an initial capital letter. Use lower case for the names of positions when using them in a generic way.

Example

  • The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Tasmania visited last week.
  • Several vice-chancellors met last week.
  • Dr Sam Brown is the skin specialist at this clinic.
  • Two doctors from this practice attended the conference.

Titles for chancellors, vice-chancellors and professors

Address chancellors, vice-chancellors and professors with their title, name and position.

Example

 

  • Professor Margaret Gardner AC, President and Vice-Chancellor, Monash University
  • Distinguished Professor Larissa Behrendt, Professor of Law and Director of Research, Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research, University of Technology, Sydney

A chancellor, vice-chancellor or professor who is knighted

Use ‘Sir’ or ‘Dame’ after the official title for a knighted:

  • chancellor
  • vice-chancellor
  • professor.
Example
  • Chancellor Sir Eric Newsome

Emails and letters to chancellors, vice-chancellors and professors

Keep the initial capital for the title in correspondence when you’re writing to a specific person.

In formal correspondence:

  • Open with ‘Chancellor’ (or ‘Vice-Chancellor’ or ‘Professor’).
  • Conclude with ‘Yours faithfully’.

In less formal correspondence:

  • Open with Dear ‘Chancellor’ (or ‘Vice-Chancellor’ or ‘Professor’).
  • Conclude with ‘Yours sincerely’.

Don’t include post-nominals (letters after the name) to show master and bachelor degrees in official or academic correspondence to a chancellor, vice-chancellor or professor.

People with doctorates

Address people who hold a doctorate as ‘Doctor’ in formal communication. You can also use the shortened form ‘Dr’ without a full stop.

When writing ‘Dear’ without the person’s name in emails and letters, write the title ‘Doctor’ in full.

Example

  • Dear Doctor Muecke
  • Dear Doctor

A holder of a doctorate who is knighted

If the holder of a doctorate is knighted, don’t address them as ‘Doctor’.

Instead, address the person by ‘Sir’ or ‘Dame’. Write the post-nominals for the knighthood after the name, followed by any other post-nominals. Don’t insert commas before or between the post-nominals.

Example

  • Dame Bridget Ogilvie AC DBE FRS FAA

Medical practitioners, dental surgeons and veterinarians

Use ‘Doctor’ or ‘Dr’ for medical practitioners, dental surgeons and veterinarians, whether or not they hold a doctorate.

Surgeons are traditionally called ‘Mr’, ‘Ms’ or their preferred gender-appropriate honorific.

Example

  • Doctor Farida Khan
  • Dr Wilson Chang MBBS
  • Dr Phil Smith BDS
  • Dr Eve Fenton BVSc DVM

Write abbreviations of academic and professional qualifications after the name

Use post-nominals that stand for tertiary and professional qualifications: 

  • for correspondence within the academic community
  • to show relevant expertise.

Don’t include both ‘Dr’ and ‘PhD’ for the one name. Use the one that is most relevant for the content.

Example

  • Dr Zdenka Svoboda or Zdenka Svoboda PhD
  • Dr Amin Salke MD FRACGP
  • Brent Hulot CPA
  • Mark Price BEngTech TMIEAust
  • Mia Lillard BCom CFP

Release notes

The digital edition includes the information from the sixth edition with updated examples.

The sixth edition included relevant information about titles for academics and professionals.

The Content Guide had very brief information about abbreviations for some academic qualifications.

About this page

References

Australian National University (n.d.) University executive, ANU website, accessed 8 June 2020.

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (2016) It’s an honour, PM&C website, accessed 13 June 2020.

Engineers Australia (n.d.) Engineer of the Year Awards, Engineers Australia website, accessed 8 June 2020.

Monash University (n.d.)Senior Monash staff’, Organisational governance and structure, Monash University website, accessed 10 June 2020.

National Centre of Biography (n.d.) Australian dictionary of biography, Australian Dictionary of Biography website, accessed 8 June 2020.

The Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia (n.d.) Australian honours and awards, The Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia website, accessed 8 June 2020.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (n.d.) Fellowship, The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners website, accessed 8 June 2020.

University of Melbourne (n.d.) ‘Honorary degree holders’, Notable alumni and staff, University of Melbourne website, accessed 10 June 2020.

University of Technology Sydney (n.d.) Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research, UTS website, accessed 17 June 2020.

University of Technology Sydney (n.d.) ‘Our director: Distinguished Professor Larissa Behrendt, Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research, UTS website, accessed 8 June 2020.

University of Western Australia (2020) ‘Former officers of the university’, History of the university, University of Western Australia website, accessed 10 June 2020.

This page was updated Monday 6 September 2021.

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