Do You Capitalize Job Titles?

Instructor: Charles Kinney, Jr.
It is important to know if you should capitalize job titles. Making a mistake might look unprofessional, but do we capitalize all job titles? In this lesson, you will learn when and when not to capitalize job titles.

Do You Capitalize?

Remember that amazing board game Clue? You probably played it when you were a kid. After 60 years, the board got an update. The game is now set in a big, modern mansion. New rooms were added, and the game makers updated some of the characters' job titles: Colonel Mustard no longer works for the military. He's now a retired football star. Professor Plum? He doesn't read books much anymore. He's a dot.com billionaire!

Like the characters in Clue, do you capitalize job titles? Yes and no.

When to Capitalize

Capitalization means the first letter of a word is a large letter, like A, B, C, D, E, F, G, etc. In general, you capitalize job titles in specific situations. Let's take a look at some of these specific situations now.

A Job Title Before A Name

If a job title comes before a name, capitalize it:

  • Captain Han Solo
  • Professor Mary Smith
  • Managing Editor Frank Jones
  • Dean Elizabeth Raleigh
  • Captain Jean-Luc Picard
  • Astrophysicist, Cosmologist and Author Neil deGrasse Tyson
  • Prime Minister Winston Churchill
  • President George Washington

A Job Title Right After A Name

Although in the past this wasn't recognized, it is now commonly accepted to capitalize a job title after a person's name:

  • Tintin, Reporter
  • Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery
  • Susan Tilton, Home Secretary
  • Robert Long, Engineer
  • Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts

Mother, Finance Officer, Judge, Chauffeur, Chef, Entertainer, and Boo-Boo Fixer
mother

Royalty

Most of us might not run into a king or queen in our life, but if you do, their job titles are capitalized. Sometimes, when people are making a critical joke, they also use these capitalized job titles for people who are demanding too much or think too much of themselves:

  • Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Kent
  • Is there anything else you would like, Your Majesty?
  • His Royal Highness is making an appearance at the meeting today.

Abbreviations

As you are talking about a specific person, job title abbreviations are capitalized:

  • Dr. Francesky (which means Doctor Francesky)
  • Prof. Gladys (which means Professor Gladys)

At the End of a Letter

At the end of a letter, the job title is capitalized after a name:

Sincerely,

Gertrude Stein, Comptroller

Direct Speech

Sometimes in writing, we use direct speech to illustrate a conversation. Job titles are then capitalized because you are referring directly to the person as if it were their name:

  • Doctor, what's the diagnosis?
  • What do you see in your crystal ball, Prophet?
  • I didn't mean to set the school on fire, Headmistress.

When Not to Capitalize

Now that we know when to capitalize job titles, it seems almost as if they should always be capitalized, right? Wrong! Let's now look at when job titles should not be capitalized.

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