Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Capitalization Rules for Writers (Part 2 of 8)

(Kathy Ide wrote this eight-part series.)

Professional Titles

Civil, military, religious, academic, government, and professional titles are capitalized when they immediately precede a personal name and are thus part of the name. Titles are lowercased when following a name or used in place of a name. Examples:

* President Washington; the president General Patton; the general

* Cardinal Richelieu; the cardinal Professor Jones; the professor

* Governor Johnson; the governor John Kerry, senator from Massachusetts

In promotional or ceremonial contexts (such as a list of donors or corporate officers), titles are capitalized even when following a name. Example:

* Cristina Lopez, Manager of International Sales

A title used in place of a personal name is capitalized in such contexts as a toast or formal introduction, or when used in direct address. Examples:

* Ladies and Gentlemen, the Prime Minister.

* But Captain, that man’s a stowaway.

* Hello, Mr. President.

* What’s the prognosis, Doctor?

Terms of Respect

Honorific titles should be capitalized. But general terms of respect are not. Examples:

* His/Her/Your Majesty

* His/Her/Your Excellency

* His/Her/Your Honor

* my lord, my lady

* sir, ma’am

Kathy Ide is a published author, ghostwriter, and freelance editor. She speaks at writers’ conferences, teaches online writing and editing courses, and mentors new writers. She’s the founder and coordinator of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network (www.TheChristianPEN.com) and the Christian Editor Network (www.ChristianEditor.com). Learn more at www.KathyIde.com.

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