Etiquette for Signing Names on Cards

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Whether you're sending a birthday card to a loved one, or giving your boss and colleagues a holiday greeting card, it's important to know how to sign the sentiments properly. While signing each card by hand is preferred and dictates that time and effort you've put into selecting a card, the names you write and the greetings you select will help to display the right amount of professionalism or heartfelt consideration.

Cards from Couples

If the card is from a couple, it is proper etiquette for the woman's name to go first. For instance, a holiday card signed, "Merry Christmas, Jennifer and Michael Townsend" is appropriate. If the card is presented to a professional, the woman's name also appears first, even if the couple isn't married, or the wife has kept her maiden name. If the man and woman don't share a last name, the woman's first and last name goes first, then the man's first and last name, e.g. "Best birthday wishes, Stacy Anderson and Matthew Elliot."

Cards From the Family

According to The Gallery Collection website, the man's name appears first when the card is signed from the entire family. After the man's name, his wife or partner's name is written on the card, along with all the names of the children, in order of their ages, from oldest to youngest. The website also asserts that conventional etiquette suggests that it's proper to list the woman's name first on a card from the whole family as well. The Cards Direct website suggests that writing the wife's name first when signing a greeting card is also appropriate when the wife has the principle relationship with the card recipient, e.g. a birthday card to the woman's mother, or a holiday card to her boss.

Cards from a Group

If you and a group of loved ones are signing a card that will go to a close friend or relative, it's appropriate for the person addressing the card to use everyone's first name only. This makes the card informal and more personal. The individual signing the card will sign his own name last. If a card is from a family, signing the parents' names, followed by the phrase "and family" is fitting, e.g. "Jonathan, Patricia and family."

Signing withTitles

To sign a greeting card and include your professional title, the title appears before the name, and the member of the couple with the professional title is mentioned initially by first name. For instance, a reverend sending greeting cards to his congregation may sign the document, "Reverend and Mrs. Thomas Jensen." The same rule applies if the husband is a doctor. If the wife holds a professional position, the card signage should read something like "Happy holidays, Dr. Sharon Samuelson and Mr. Victor Samuelson." It is also proper etiquette for a widow to use her husband's first and name when signing a greeting card instead of her name, e.g. "Mrs. Adam Robertson." However, she can sign the card with her first name and married last name as well.