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We a developing a Web application. My co-worker, who is a native German speaker, created the following registration form. I assume that he checked a dictionary for the translation of Anrede, found title and address as the options. We already have a field for title which takes an academic title such as Dr. (our software is used primarily by academic researchers), so he chose "Address".

registration form

To me, it's rather confusing on a registration form, where a user's first thought is "Do they want me to tell them where I live?". And if one reads the hint to the right, "Name and affiliation will be displayed as address title first name last name", without noticing the field name first, it's even more confusing.

I'll change Title to Academic title, but this still leaves me with the problem of what to call the "Mr/Ms" option. Any ideas?

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    Gender: male or female. And then "title" which would include professions and noble titles and marital status: e.g. Dr; Rev; Sir; Lady; Mr: Miss; Ms; and Mrs. – Mari-Lou A Feb 3 '15 at 11:45
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    @Mary-Lou A Asking the user for a gender is a whole different can of worms. This is why we ask them how they want to be addressed, not which gender they feel they belong to. As for "title", nonacademic titles will be irrelevant for us, although we're not stopping someone from entering "Rev. Prof. Dr." if that's what they want to be displayed. – Rumi P. Feb 3 '15 at 11:54
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For most dialects of English, if not all, this form gives the wrong results. English custom is not like German, where a form of address like Ing. Dr. Hermann Koenig is possible.

Mr, Mrs, Dr, Prof are all treated as titles in forms such as this, and generally they are mutually exclusive. There are a few which can be combined: Revd and Sir for example.

Many forms use a single drop-down list of alternatives, some quite exhaustive. Most just give Mr, Mrs, Miss, Ms, Dr; others might add Prof, Rev, Sir. Some just allow users to write in their own (like your text entry box), which also allows odd combinations like Revd Canon Prof Sir George Dixon.

Do bear in mind that in many jurisdictions you may only collect the data you need. If you don't need to know whether someone is male or female (apart from addressing them as Mr/Mrs) then don't ask for that. That is, if you're happy simply addressing someone as Dr Leslie King without knowing what sex they are, don't ask for that information. This may seem irrelevant to a question about English forms of address, but if that's what your Mr/Mrs radio-button choice is for, it becomes relevant. If you do need that information, then that should be labelled Gender and offer choices Male/Female.

  • Thank you, the first part is what I realized while looking at the form a bit more. I don't know how my colleague has solved it, if his code really shows a "Ms Dr Angela Merkel", or if it has the logic to only show the address when the academic title has been left empty. I'll talk to the team about the possible legal issue. The application already passed through our Datenschutzbeauftragter (the privacy policy officer? I don't believe there is an English equivalent), but I don't think he'll object if we remove a required field from the registration. – Rumi P. Feb 3 '15 at 12:07
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In my company's sytems it is often labelled as the salutation. I prefer honorific (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honorific), though I suspect many users would not understand the term.

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In the US, at least, some people consider using a non-earned title like Mr/Ms to be unnecessary, if not actually rude, so I would suggest leaving it off. Anyone who wants to use Mr/Ms can include it in the title field, e.g. "Ms Dr".

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