Skip to main content
Australian Government Coat of Arms

Style Manual

Australian Defence Force

Use the correct title and style to refer to members of the armed services.

Address officers in the Australian Defence Force by their military ranks

Use the following order to address officers in the Australian Defence Force:

  • rank
  • given name or initials and family name
  • post-nominals (without commas).
Example

Air Vice Marshal Catherine Roberts AM CSC

When someone has a military rank and another title such as ‘Sir’, ‘Dame’ or ‘the Honourable’, place the military rank first.

Example

General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK CVO MC (Retd)

Write military ranks of more than one word as separate words. Do not hyphenate the rank.

Example

Group Captain Alison Friedman

Lance Corporal McIntyre

Address non-commissioned officers and other ranks by their rank and family name. Do not use their given name.

Example

Petty Officer Singh

Private Fotheringham

Exception for internal military use

For internal military use, it is common to write the ranks in abbreviated form using capital letters.

Do not use this convention in other types of content. Write the full rank with an initial capital letter.

Write this

Lieutenant T Smith

Not this

LT T Smith

Post-nominals

Write post-nominals for honours and awards after the family name. Place post-nominals before any abbreviations showing service or regiment.

Example

Vice Admiral Michael Noonan AO RAN

Chaplains with military rank

Address chaplains with their ecclesiastical title, not their military rank.

Example

Senior Chaplain Angela Nguyen

Emails and letters

In emails and letters, you can address officers of the rank of colonel and above by their rank alone, without adding their name.

In informal correspondence, use the conventional titles ‘Ms’, ‘Mr’, ‘Mx’, ‘Mrs’ or ‘Dr’ to Australian Defence Force personnel of the following ranks and below:

  • Navy – Sub Lieutenant
  • Army – Lieutenant
  • Air Force – Flying Officer.

The Australian War Memorial has a complete list of ranks in the Navy, Army and Air Force.

Release notes

The digital edition consolidates information from the sixth edition and provides updated examples and external links. It has advice on capitalisation for internal military use that was not in the sixth edition.

The sixth edition had a list of armed service ranks in Australia. This is a link in the digital edition.

Examples in the digital edition do not follow the sixth edition’s requirement for a comma before and between post-nominals. This is consistent with this edition’s recommendation to use minimal punctuation.

The Content Guide did not have information about forms of address and ranks for the armed services.

About this page

References

Air Force (n.d.) Our leaders, Air Force website, accessed 8 June 2020.

Australian War Memorial (n.d.) ‘Rank’, Understanding military structure, Australian War Memorial website, accessed 8 June 2020.

Australian War Memorial Honours and Awards (n.d.) Collection, Australian War Memorial website, accessed 8 June 2020.

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

National Archives of Australia (n.d.) Abbreviations used in World War I and World War II service records, National Archives of Australia website, accessed 8 June 2020.

Navy (n.d.) Our people, Navy website, accessed 8 June 2020.

The Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia (2019) About the Governor-General, The Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia 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.

This page was updated Wednesday 23 September 2020.

Help us improve the Style Manual

Did you find this page useful?