Lesson: when to capitalize civil, military, religious, and professional titles
Capitalizing a title depends on whether it comes before or after a person’s name or stands alone.
If the title comes before a name, capitalize it. Titles that are directly in front of names are, in effect, being used as part of the names and thus require the same capitalization.
The church is home to Reverend James Boot.
The person in charge is Director Mary Fritz.
If the title comes after a name, lowercase it. Titles after names are not being used as part of the names and so do not require capitalization.
The article was about James Boot, reverend for the local church.
Mary Fritz, director of marketing, makes a lot of money.
If the title stands alone, lowercase it. Likewise, because titles are not attached to names, they do not need to be capitalized.
The church is looking for a new reverend.
The director of marketing is Mary Fritz.
Remember: only capitalize a title if it comes directly before a name.
Choose whether the title in italics should be capitalized. The answers are below.
1. The sergeant earned a medal.
2. Janet Deetz is the chief executive officer.
3. Fred Turner, provost of the university, will give a speech.
4. Friday, bishop Frank Tots will visit.
1. lowercase 3. lowercase 4. lowercase 5. capitalize
Erin Servais is the founder of Dot and Dash, LLC, an author-services company focusing on women writers and offering a range of editing, coaching, and social media packages.
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