Titles: When to Cap and When Not to

Just to be clear, I’m talking about position titles, not book/movie/article titles (already covered that–at least in part–here).

So, titles: to capitalize or not to capitalize?

Here’s a pretty easy rule to remember:

  • Capitalize formal titles when they appear before a name:

Unfortunately, Vice President McDaniels is at the dentist today.

I heard Colonel Morales will not be attending the ceremony.

I can always speak with Provost Bello at the law school.

  • Lowercase formal titles when separated from a name by a comma:

Chiara McDaniels, vice president of our company, is at the dentist today.

Our colonel, Juan Morales, will not be attending the ceremony.

Ms. Bello, the provost, has an office at the law school.

  • Job descriptions, on the other hand, are never capitalized:

When we hired copyeditor Marcellus Krylova, we knew he’d be a good fit.

Ahmad never liked coach Watson.

The first presenter tomorrow is market researcher Jane Adams.

When in doubt, rewording is always an option. Or you can send me your query, and I’ll do my best to puzzle it out.

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