Writing Style – Titles and Capital Letters

A BizWritingTip reader wrote: I often see titles written without capitals, for example, Joe Blow, pharmacy manager, … . I would normally use capitals on these words but maybe a rule has changed, and I missed it!

BizWritingTip response: The style today with regard to capitalizing words within sentences is called modified down. In other words, lowercase words are generally preferred.

Therefore, if a title follows a name and is separated from it by a comma, use the lowercase for the title.

Example

Joe Blow, pharmacy manager, chaired the meeting.

Tony Clement, federal health minister, attended the conference.

If a formal title directly precedes the name, then it would be capitalized.

Example

Prime Minister Stephen Harper

However, if the title stands alone or is plural, write it as a lowercase,

Example

The mayor was re-elected.

Two premiers, Gordon Campbell and Gary Doer, met to discuss the issue.

Don’t forget that occupations are always lowercased: nurses, doctors, teachers, engineers, etc.

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