Communication Skills

JS Tip 173: From the Writing Workshops: cAPItaliZING tWo

A lot of responses from last week’s tip. Thank you.

Several folks expressed concern about capitalizing titles. President. Dean. Lord High Executioner. The problem is the guidance is all over the place. There’s no clear guidance for capitalizing titles.

But we do have two suggestions:

One. Follow your local protocol. Every organization has different standards. Some say “Always capitalize ‘President’ when referring to the company President.” (Looks goofy, doesn’t it?)

A friend of ours wrote army manuals. The general in charge said “Always capitalize ‘Soldier.’ We want to honor our men and women in uniform.” The friend explained, “Sir, that violates every capitalization guideline in modern English.” The general’s caring response was, “I don’t care.”

So find and follow your local protocol. Start with HR. They may know.

Two. Capitalize titles immediately before a person’s name. Don’t capitalize titles elsewhere.

We met with Dean Marian Sanchez of the College of Humanities.

We capitalized “Dean” because it’s immediately before Ms. Sanchez’s name.

But—

We met with Marian Sanchez, dean of the College of Humanities.

Not this time.       

We’ll add more next week. Let us know your questions, suggestions, or arguments. We appreciate your comments and suggestions. We love this stuff.

Also: If you’re moving, let us know. The tips belong to you, not your old organization.