Are you curious about whether you should capitalize job titles? If so, learn more about the capitalization of job titles, and make sure you are capitalizing the right words.
When you read through a job description, it is easy to get confused about Job titles. Some of them use lowercase while other job titles might contain uppercase capital letters.
Whether you are looking at a job description for a vice president, a CEO, or a typical staff member, it is important to take a look at the style guides so you can figure out what capitalization rules to use. Examples include APA, MLA, and even AP style regarding the capitalization of job titles.
The rules for capitalizing job titles depend on the order of the words, whether the job title is part of the person's name, and how the words are being used. Learn more about when you should capitalize job titles below!
3 Rules for Job Title Capitalization
A few important rules for capitalizing job titles include:
1. After the Person’s Name
If the job title is coming immediately after someone's name, or if it is used instead of someone's name, then you should not capitalize the job title. For example, in the phrase, “Steven, chairman of the board,” you do not need to capitalize “chairman of the board.”
On the other hand, you do need to capitalize the job title if it is being used as a direct address. Furthermore, if a specific job title is replacing that person's name, then it might need to be capitalized out of courtesy. Finally, if the job title is being used in a formal context, such as closing an email or a letter, then it does need to be capitalized.
2. Before the Person’s Name
If the job title comes immediately before someone's name, then it does need to be capitalized. This is particularly important if the individual is being addressed.
Think of the job title as replacing that person's name. Therefore, it does need to be capitalized. For example, if you are talking about President George Washington, then you need to capitalize the word “President.”
3. Abbreviations of Job Titles
In general, you should capitalize all abbreviations of job titles; however, you also need to think about how the abbreviation is being used. You should apply the same rules to abbreviations as you do to full job titles.
What this means is that if the abbreviation is coming before the name of the person, then it needs to be capitalized. For example, if you are talking about General Douglas MacArthur and you write Gen. Douglas MacArthur, then you need to capitalize “General.”
On the other hand, if the abbreviation is coming after the name of the person, then it does not need to be capitalized. At the same time, it would look a bit awkward if you use abbreviations after the person's name, so you should always spell out the abbreviation if it comes after the name of the individual. Then, because it is coming after that person's name, it does not need to be capitalized.
A Few Examples of Job Titles and Rules
It might also be helpful to take a look at a few examples so you can figure out when you should capitalize job titles. A few examples to keep in mind include:
- Dr. Gregory House works at Princeton General Hospital
- Professor Smith is the head of the department.
- Mr. Jones, vice president of the board, is ready to make a statement today.
- Mrs. Smith, the chairwoman of the company, has an announcement that is ready.
- President Thomas Jefferson completed the Louisiana Purchase.
- Are you able to name the preceding four US presidents in order?
- If you like children’s authors, then you might want to take a look at a few books written by Dr. Seuss.
- Sergeant Luke left the base without permission.
You may want to keep these examples in mind if you are trying to figure out if you should capitalize job titles.
What About Job Titles on Resumes?
You might also be wondering if you need to capitalize job titles on resumes. A few important points to keep in mind include:
- If you are using a job title as a heading or title on your resume, then you should capitalize it.
- If you are including the job title in the plain text of your document, then you should not capitalize it.
- If you are including a job title as a reference on your resume or cover letter, then you need to capitalize it.
This should help you figure out when you should or should not capitalize job titles on resumes or cover letters.
Final Word on Capitalization of Job Titles
Similar to common nouns and proper nouns, there are a lot of style guides to follow regarding the capitalization of job titles. Remember that you should not capitalize most prepositions in an official title, but you should capitalize the first word and last word if you are capitalizing the title.
Regardless of whether you are discussing a chief executive officer, a director of sales, or a standard staff member, capitalizing titles are important for an email signature or a business card.
This will help you get the most out of your job posting for hiring managers, human resources, and any other open position. Using proper grammar is an important part of making a solid first impression.
Need help with fixing capitalization issues in your sentences? A good grammar checker is ideal. It'll help you find and fix odd capitalization issues fast.
To find out more, read our Grammarly review.
FAQs About the Capitalization of Job Titles
Should You Use Title Case When Capitalizing Job Titles In Your Writing Style?
Yes, in addition to capitalizing proper names of a specific person, if you are capitalizing the job title, you should follow title case. This is part of the style guidelines in the Chicago Manual of Style.
Do formal titles need to be capitalized?
Yes, if you are using someone's formal title in a document, then you need to capitalize it accordingly. You should view that formal title as a part of that person's name, and it needs to be capitalized accordingly.
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