Etiquette and Protocol

Etiquette and Protocol

Arrival Protocol

  • Some details to consider:
  • Are your guests arriving from out of town?
  • Are they high level enough to be greeted at the airport and the hotel before the event? Or should they be given directions to the venue or have a campus shuttle transport them?
  • Will you have snacks or a gift delivered to their room?
  • Will you have someone from your organization host them at dinner the night before the event?

Flag Protocol

  • The place of honor is to the audience’s left (over the speaker’s right shoulder).
  • The U.S. flag, as the home country, holds the place of honor, followed by state, city, university, organization, etc. 

Seating Protocol

The simplest approach to follow:

  • Host and co-host – OPPOSITE each other
  • Guest of honor – to the host’s RIGHT
  • Second highest-ranking guest – to the co-host’s RIGHT
  • From there, seat in ranking order, alternating on either side of the host and co-host
  • Be mindful of balancing men/women, language ability, overlapping interest, or expertise


  • Remember to include tokens for speakers, as well as higher-level gifts for your guests.
  • Think about what fits the theme of the events, the tastes, and interests of the principles, and the institution or location; it’s ideal to have a gift reflect the spirit or values of the institution or a cause that’s important to the host.
  • Local artists and local food products are always appropriate gift items to consider.
  • Don’t forget that presentation is as important as the gift. 

International Guests

Coordinate with the Office of International Student Services to ensure the correct protocol is being followed for international guests. 

Invitation Etiquette

Invitation Etiquette template  

Punctuation on invitations differs from standard punctuation rules. Some general guidelines for copy follow:

  • Courtesy titles are appropriate for invitation address purposes
  • All phrasing is in the third person 
    Example: President Michael T. Benson cordially invites you to attend . . .
  • Do not use abbreviations
    Example: Spell out words such as road, street, and state names
  • Days and dates are always spelled out
    Example: Monday or September
  • Times and years should be spelled out on formal invitations
    Example: Tuesday, the fourth of September, two thousand and sixteen at four o’clock in the afternoon
  • Punctuation is not used at the end of the line (no commas, periods, colons, etc.)
  • The only acceptable logos/graphics to be placed on University-style invitations include:
    • Coastal Carolina University logos (vertical and horizontal versions)
    • Chanticleer logo for the athletic-related invitations
    • Coastal Carolina University Presidential Seal (reserved for presidential events)
  • If the event is co-sponsored by another agency (on or off-campus), the co-sponsor will be listed by name only without using the agency’s logo   
  • Information that is necessary for a complete invitation:           
    • Who the invitation is from
    • Event for which invitation is extended
    • Date of the event
    • Time of the event
    • Location of the event
    • Any additional details relating to the occasion
    • Dress code, if applicable (examples: Business Attire, Casual Attire, Cocktail Attire, Black Tie Optional, etc.)
    • RSVP information: date to reply by and contact information 

Addressing Invitations

  • All addresses must be printed directly on the envelope
  • Use a font that matches return address or invitation text
  • Make sure that the name and address are centered properly on the envelope
  • Use a point size that is relative to the size of the envelope
  • General Rules
    • There should always be at least three lines in an address. If there is no street or box number, you will use the second line for the city and the third for the state and zip code
    • Do not use abbreviations for the street, avenue, name of the state, etc. This, however, does not include directions (i.e., NW, SE) and DC as in Washington, DC or titles and suffixes (Dr., Mr., Jr., and Sr.)
    • Military and religious abbreviations are spelled out
    • 1st Sgt. should be First Sergeant
    • Col. Should be Colonel
    • Rev. should be Reverend
  • When sending to an elected official (i.e., Legislators, Judges, etc.)
    The Honorable Nikki R. Haley and Mr. William M. Haley
  • If both are elected officials
    The Honorable Joseph A. Roberts and The Honorable Mary E. Roberts
  • If both are Doctors:
    Drs. Sam and Georgia Smith
  • If the woman is a Dr. and she is invited
    Dr. Elizabeth M. Martin and Mr. Robert B. Martin
  • If he is the invited guest and she is included as his spouse
    Mr. Robert B. Martin and Dr. Elizabeth M. Martin
  • If the spouses have different last names
    Mr. Charles F. Brooks and Ms. Susan K. Dunn
  • When to address a woman as Ms.
    Any woman that is widowed, divorced, unmarried, or has kept her maiden name
  • A comma does NOT go before II, III, IV
    Mr. and Mrs. Harry E. Stein III
  • Addressing on-campus address:
    President Michael T. Benson
    Office of the President
    Singleton Building 104