Capitalization of Job Titles
With capitalization of job titles, there are rules and then there is the “rule.” The rules are based on some precedent while the “rule” is based on ego. Let’s go over the rules that have precedent first.
Rule: Capitalize job titles immediately preceding the name when used as part of the name.
Example:We asked Chairperson Leong to join us at the meeting.
Rule: Titles immediately following the name do not ordinarily require capitalization.
Ms. Leong, chairperson, will join us at the meeting.
Ms. Leong, chair, will join us at the meeting.
Mr. Hanson, editorial adviser for the Independent Journal, helped draft the article.
Rule: When the appears in front of the job title, do not capitalize.
Mr. Hanson, the editorial adviser, helped draft the article.
The chairperson, Sarah Leong, will join us at the meeting.
Mr. Cortez was the senior managing director of the Baskin Group.
Rule: Capitalize titles in signature lines.
Sarah Leong, Chairperson
Craig Hanson, Editorial Adviser
Rule: Do not capitalize titles when used descriptively.
Example:Ms. Leong, who will chair the meeting, is always on time.
“Rule”: The “ego rule” is that you may have to ignore the above rules in real life. If someone in your office (as in your boss) wants his or her title capitalized in all situations, then do so. Generally, the higher in rank someone is in an organization, the more likely his or her title will be capitalized at all times.
Correct any errors in the following sentences.
1. Thank goodness for Finance Director, Sam Woo.
2. Sam Woo, our finance director, delivered our third-quarter projections.
3. Sam Woo, Finance Director, delivered our third-quarter projections.
Pop Quiz Answers
1. Thank goodness for Finance Director Sam Woo.
2. Sam Woo, our finance director, delivered our third-quarter projections. (CORRECT)
3. Sam Woo, Finance Director, delivered our third-quarter projections. (CORRECT) or Sam Woo, finance director, delivered our third-quarter projections.
Posted on Thursday, January 25, 2007, at 12:14 am
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Here's a topic that throws a lot of job seekers for a loop: when to capitalize letters in a cover letter.
Knowing what words always start with a capital letter and what circumstances require a normally lowercase word to be capitalized can help you make a good first impression. So keep the following points in mind as you plow through your letter-writing process.
When to Capitalize Letters
- Capitalize the first word of a sentence, question, exclamation, or expression used as a sentence.
- Capitalize the first word of a quoted sentence, even when it appears within a sentence. Example: I couldn't believe it when Mr. Jones said, "Go for it!"
- Capitalize the first word of each line in a list of items. Example:
- Capitalize the first word of the salutation and complimentary close. Examples: Dear Mrs. Smith, Sincerely yours,
- Capitalize proper nouns such as names of people, organizations, days of the week, months, and languages. Examples: Sally White, Produce Growers Inc., Monday, March, English
- Capitalize adjectives that are derived from proper nouns. Example: South American bananas.
- Capitalize a title when it is used as part of someone's name. Example: Please ask President Brown your question.
- Capitalize the first and last word in a title, as well as all words within the title that are four or more letters long or have special significance. Examples: The Annual Tin and Aluminum Report
- Capitalize a term such as "marketing," "production," or "sales" in a sentence when it refers to the name of an official department. Example: I coordinated with the Marketing Department.
When NOT to Capitalize Words
- Do not capitalize the word "the" when it appears before the name of an organization, unless "the" is officially part of the organization's name. Examples: I wrote to the Agency on Aging. I wrote to The American Red Cross Association.
- Do not capitalize a professional title when it is used as a common noun. Example: Please ask the president your question.
Optional Times to Cap Letters
- Capitalizing a job title in the text of your cover letter is optional. You may capitalize the title if you want to give it emphasis. If you capitalize one job title in your letter, you should capitalize all job titles in that document.
There are exceptions to these guidelines, of course. You'll notice in my collection of sample cover letters that some proper names of products and companies intentionally start with lowercase letters. iPhone, for example.