Dear Miss Manners:

I've noticed that on otherwise well-respected current events programs, guests are regularly addressed by their proper title (Mr. So-and-So, Ambassador Such-and-Such), but the guest, probably by prior instruction, addresses the journalists by their first names.

In the unlikely event that I am interviewed on one of these programs, I would like to treat the news people with the same courtesy they do me, but I also would not want to appear stuffy by objecting to their common practice. Any advice?

Yes: Think about why you want to be on such a program, other than to excite your parents.

Miss Manners does not want to disparage your fantasy -- or fear, as the case may be. She only wants to alert you that there is more going on here than the simple system of recognizing rank.

Journalists have incentives for using titles: to remind the audience of the importance of their guests, and to avoid the appearance of favoritism, if their questions seem soft, or of disrespect, if their questions seem harsh.

They may well have it both ways if a distinguished person implies familiarity by addressing them by their first names. But politicians have their own reasons for wanting to appear folksy, foreign dignitaries often have the impression that surnames are not properly used in America and entertainment celebrities like to imply that the famous all know one another.

If your appearance is connected with one of those careers, you may want to follow its practice. The correct thing, however, is to maintain equality in the degree of formality used. But, then, Miss Manners is never afraid of appearing stuffy.

Dear Miss Manners:

As a high school senior, I am in the process of preparing my graduation plans for June. We had a presentation in school the other day about graduation announcements. I understand that other than announcing your graduation to friends and family, the announcements are a way to get monetary gifts.

Coming from a background that is not familiar with this American tradition, how am I supposed to send the message across that these gifts would be appreciated?

I don't think my oblivious relatives will see the pre-stamped, addressed envelope as a hint, however obvious it may be.

Miss Manners would not exactly call begging -- whether of the kind you describe or the frank kind practiced on the streets -- an American custom. It is true that both forms of behavior exist here, and may even be widespread; however, they are not the expression of our charming culture but the unpleasant results of misfortune or greed.

The proper use for graduation announcements is to announce your graduation to those who you have reason to think will be interested. What they will be moved to do about this is up to them and out of your control.

Dear Miss Manners:

What do you do with a used tea bag when a guest at another person's home or in a restaurant?

I have always found it rather tacky to put it on the same saucer that I am placing my cup on. I have always placed a clean saucer next to the individual for any used tea bags. What should one do?

"What shall I do with the tea bag?" is an excellent question to ask your hostess. After all, it is her tablecloth.

Feeling incorrect? E-mail your etiquette questions to Miss Manners (who is distraught that she cannot reply personally) at or mail to United Media, 200 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016.

(c) 2004, Judith Martin