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Essay Example: Use of the Title Miss in Sales Letters

3 pages
672 words
Harvey Mudd College
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SUBJECT: Use of the Title Miss in Sales Letters

In the recent past, the management has noted that several administrative assistants have been sending letters to female customers using the titles Ms. And Mrs randomly. Although it is unclear of the motivations behind this tendency, it is obvious that many assistants do not clearly know the marital status of the recipient. In other cases, laxity has contributed to the growth of this tendency whereby administrators fail to conduct research about their clients prior to sending the letters. Mostly, the information about the client is readily available, and several mistakes could be avoided by researching about the recipient. While Ms and Mrs titles may appear to be widely accepted, some clients are sensitive and reactive when addressed wrongly. Therefore, it is important that administrators understand the significance of using the correct titles in the right context.

The Origins of Miss

The title Ms is an English honorific that is used together with the name of a woman as a form of address to a female regardless of her marital status. It was first coined in the 17th century but gained popularity in the mainstream in the 20th century. In the 17th century, it was noted that there was a void in the English language when addressing a woman especially when there was no knowledge about marital status. Following this, there was the need to coin a title that would be comprehensive in paying homage to female sex and at the same time does not express an opinion about their marital status (Luu, 2017). However, the concerns about the appropriateness of use of the title have been growing recently hence the need to gain a deeper understanding of when to use the title.

When to use Miss

Many English scholars have contributed to the debate on how and when to use Miss and if whether it should be used at all. According to xxxx, the title should only be used when the subject requests it to be used and not when the sender does not know the marital status of the recipient. The title has been referred to as ugly by The Economist Magazine which stresses that a person should first find out what the recipient uses herself and stick to it (Zimmer, 2009). On the other, the New York Times has embraced the use of the title but underscores that a sender should use the recipients preferences (Zimmer, 2009)

While etiquette scholars oppose the use of Ms, some academic sources approve its use for business purposes. Etiquette scholars argue that it is absurd and disrespectful to use Miss especially for a married woman who has adopted his husbands name. Others have criticized its use arguing that it has gained popularity because some women are sensitive about their marital status (Browning, 2009). On the contrary, business scholars persist that Ms remains the default and most accepted form of address unless the sender has adequate information that the receiver wishes to be addressed otherwise.

Way Forward

As shown above, the title used in a letter is a sensitive issue. While some women are comfortable being addressed as Miss, others feel insulted especially those married. For this reason, the administration has decided that all administrative supervisors must obtain sufficient information about the recipient before sending letters. It should be noted that the primary purpose of sending sales letters is to market the business and wrongly addressing the client could have a negative effect rather than a positive effect. Therefore, assistants should ensure they understand the marital status of female clients before writing sales letters.



Browning, A. (2009). BBC NEWS | UK | Mrs? Or is that Ms, Miss?. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Dec. 2017].

Luu, C. (2017). From the Mixed-Up History of Mrs., Miss, and Ms. | JSTOR Daily. [online] JSTOR Daily. Available at: [Accessed 1 Dec. 2017].

Zimmer, B. (2009). Explaining the Origins of Ms.. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Dec. 2017].


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