As title, what are the more formal words for "clerk", who deal with the paper works. Administrative jobs, managers, secretaries, people standing behind the counters taking your forms...

It should be a serious formal word to express that this person is specialized or interested in dealing with PAPERWORKS, DOCUMENTS, and so on.

Finally: I must have some sort of delusion. I found that the word/phrase I was looking for is simply Clerical workers.

Note: While Matt has given the "correct" answer, the findings from J.R. are also quite mentionable. I'm sorry that my "accepted answer" could only go to one of you. Also thank you Sean despite got a little off.

  • 1
    Bureaucrat? Agent? Clerical officer?
    – DopeGhoti
    Commented Dec 27, 2013 at 19:46
  • 1
    Administration staff, perhaps. Commented Dec 27, 2013 at 19:47
  • Kind of. I'm looking for the words to summarize the idea. Honestly I've seen the word once but I can't remember it. Commented Dec 27, 2013 at 19:48
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    Clerk is sufficiently formal for a job title.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Commented Dec 27, 2013 at 20:21
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    There is nothing informal to the word clerk indeed. I am just looking for a more formal writing word for it. The word I've seen feels a little ancient, but I'm not sure at all. I would also keep trying to find out, when I found it I would answer my own question. Commented Dec 28, 2013 at 3:27

5 Answers 5


I would go with one of the following:

An [administrative] assistant (esp. with junior staff)

[Office] support staff (slightly more broad than just clerks, but often used synonymously)

A bureaucrat (esp. with mildly negative connotations)

Clerical staff

But there's nothing wrong with using the word clerk, it's not informal, and it's a widely understood word that would be readily understood by your readers.


In government offices, these are commonly known as either administrative officers or administrative assistants, depending on their levels of responsibility.


The word that springs to mind is an official (n: 1): One who holds an office or position

The words from the thesaurus entry may also give you the word you are looking for.

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    I've never heard a secretary, clerk, or administrative assistant ever referred to as an "official," either informally, or in job title.
    – J.R.
    Commented Dec 27, 2013 at 20:25
  • I gave you +1 back. It seems a bit harsh to downvote a wrong answer when you did your research and got misled by a bad dictionary definition. (I don't suppose the downvoters did their due diligence by reading it? No, probably not.) The actual definition is "One who holds an office or position, especially one who acts in a subordinate capacity for an institution such as a corporation or governmental agency." While people who hold offices are generally officials, people who hold positions are most often not. I hold a position (my job), but I'm not by any means an official.
    – BobRodes
    Commented May 6, 2014 at 18:26
  • @J.R. (and in contrast to @BobRodes) You have never heard a clerk referred to as an official, because (apart from a few archaic cases) an 'official' normally refers to someone on the level above this.
    – MikeB
    Commented Nov 12, 2019 at 12:38

I can't tell if this is the word you are looking for or not, but when I checked clerk in a thesaurus, it listed scrivener, with the label historical.

It's defined by NOAD as:

scrivener (noun) historical a clerk, scribe, or notary.

Wikipedia mentions:

A scribe is a person who writes books or documents by hand as a profession and helps the city keep track of its records. The work could involve copying books, or secretarial and administrative duties, such as taking of dictation and the keeping of business, judicial and, historical records for kings, nobles, temples, and cities. Later the profession developed into public servants, journalists, accountants, typists, and lawyers.

Either scrivener or scribe would fall into the category mentioned in your comment, in that the words have an "ancient" feel to them.

  • 'Historical' is a warning that this is no longer current/normal usage.
    – MikeB
    Commented Nov 12, 2019 at 12:34
  • @MikeB - Absolutely true. The main reason I've even bothered to include it here was because the OP remarked in a comment: The word I've seen feels a little ancient, but I'm not sure.
    – J.R.
    Commented Nov 12, 2019 at 15:59

Clerk is an overused term. A person who keys in data is a data entry keyer or a data entry operator or computer operator not a data entry clerk. A receptionist could be an information specialist not reception clerk or an administrative support clerk. A typist is a typist or keyer not a clerk typist or typist clerk. A word processing operator is just that or maybe a text editor but not a word processing clerk. Office workers are office assistants, office specialists, staff support specialists or administrative support specialists. Well you wouldn't want to use the last one because you would come up with an embarrassing acronym.

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