It is by no means enough that an officer of the
Navy should be a capable mariner. He must
be that of course, but also a great deal more.
He should be as well a gentleman of liberal
education, refined manners, punctilious
courtesy, and the nicest sense of personal
From letters of John Paul Jones
Social etiquette has changed considerably since
the days of John Paul Jones. Today, in our fast-paced,
mobile, informal 20th-century society, many of the
old customs have disappeared.
esteemed traditions still survive.
The following pages will discuss some of the
more common situations pertaining to social
etiquette. For a more complete and detailed coverage
of naval social etiquette, refer to the Social Usage and
Protocol Handbook, OPNAVINST 1710.7, and to
Service Etiquette, published by the United States
Naval Institute, Annapolis, Maryland.
Bear in mind that as a naval officer you will deal
with many people whom you do not know personally.
At such times, social customs are practical. They help
to improve life, to get things accomplished quickly, to
smooth the course of friendly gatherings, and to
eliminate friction in our daily contacts with each
When you purchase your uniforms and
accessories, we recommend you purchase the best you
can afford. Buying cheap articles works out as poor
economy in the long runyou get what you pay for!
When you are in uniform, make sure you are in a
prescribed uniform of the day. Remember to remain
in that uniform when working in an office or a
stateroom. Correct civilian attire for social events is
equally important. Refer to table 7-1 for guidelines
on attire. The guidelines shown in table 7-1 are based
on the protocol requirements of Washington, D.C. In
other areas of the country, such as California or
Hawaii, social occasions call for far less formal attire.
When in doubt, inquire as to local custom. The
increased informality in modern-day living dictates a
wide latitude in apparel; therefore, encourage guests
to feel comfortable in whatever they choose to wear.
Correct, simple, and thoughtful speech, coupled
with a capacity for intelligent conversation, is one of
the greatest assets you can have.
Ensure your conversation reciprocates, not
monopolizes. Engaging and intelligent conversation
requires, among other things, a broad contact with
literature and familiarity with current events. Devote
time to reading and studying. Cultivate an interest in
national and international affairs.
specialization seems to be the order of the day, strive
to maintain a broad point of view to keep the events of
the day in perspective.
Correct telephone speech is extremely important;
poor telephone habits may often lead to
When placing a call, identify
yourself by name.
When answering an office
telephone, identify the office before stating your
Written communication is of equal importance. If
your writing is not clear, readers wont know what
you want them to do. Confusing or wordy writing
causes readers to waste time figuring out your
meaning or asking for clarification. Your writing is an
expression of your thinking. Refer to the Department
of the Navy Correspondence Manual, SECNAVINST
5216.5, for more details on effective writing.
Invitations vary in style and format depending
upon the type of occasion, formal or informal.
Formal invitations are most appropriate for
formal occasions such as official dinners, receptions,
dances, or official ceremonies. The invitations for