Writing Style – Capitalization With Occupations Versus Titles

BizWritingTip reader: “When you are referring to a person’s title, i.e., nurse, doctor, accountant, etc., when do you capitalize the first letter in their title and when do you not?”

BizWritingTip response: According to The Canadian Press style book, Caps and Spelling, the style for capitalization is “modified down.” This means that occupations and job descriptions are written in the lower case.

We need to hire more nurses.
There is a shortage of doctors.
He has been appointed vice president.
Have you met our accountant Susan Smith?

The way to separate occupations from titles is to determine how you would address someone. You would never say, “Good morning, Investment Counsellor Jones.” Therefore, you know not to capitalize “investment counsellor.”

When you would address someone with his or her title, you capitalize the title. But if you are using the plural form of the title, lowercase it.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Mayor McCallion
Monsignor Shields
Sgt. Smith
Dr. Eisen
Councillor Jones
We want to invite premiers Dalton McGuinty and Jean Charest. (The title is plural.)

There are a lot more rules with regard to the capitalization of job titles.