Capitalizing Job Titles

Knowing when to capitalize job titles can be tricky. You have to figure out whether the word is part of an official title or just describing someone's role.

Mignon Fogarty,
capitalizing job titles

Capitalizing job titles can be tricky because they aren’t always capitalized, but it seems like a lot of people want to see their title capitalized whether it should be or not. 

I’m talking about job titles such as vice president, sales director, chairperson, mayor, and emperor.

In general, titles that come before names are capitalized, and titles that come after names are lowercase.

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The thing you have to figure out is whether the word is part of an official title (in which case it is capitalized) or just describing someone's role (in which case it is lowercase).

For example, let’s imagine that Aardvark is class president. He’s very responsible. If you write,

We invited President Aardvark to dinner.

you capitalize president because it’s his official title and it’s right before his name.

But if you write,

Aardvark, the class president, came to dinner.

president is lowercase because it’s after his name and it’s just descriptive. You’re describing his role instead of using president as his official title.

If there is no name, the title is usually lowercase. For example, if you write,

The president came to dinner.

president is lowercase.

Sometimes a title may come directly before the name but still be lowercase because it’s simply describing someone’s role. For example, if you write,

Our class president, Aardvark Blueback, came over for dinner.

president is lowercase.

(That could be a trivia question someday. What is Aardvark’s last name?)


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