When it comes to capitalizing job titles, there are several rules and also The Rule. The other rules have been formed from a precedent, whereas The Rule is based on people’s egos. To differentiate between the rules and “ego rule”, let’s first look at the rules based on the former.
These rules state that you must capitalize job titles that precede the name of the person the job relates to when used as part of the name:
“The journalist asked Chairperson Smith for her opinion on the latest profit figures.”
“President Le Grande stated that the unemployment figures were lower than expected.”
You must also capitalize job titles when they immediately follow the name of the person the job relates to when the word “the” does not precede the job title:
“Mrs Smith, Chairperson, will attend the meeting on 27 July at 09.00.”
“Bill Jones, Editor for The Messenger newspaper, oversaw the article.”
“Ms Brown, Office Manager, will take minutes during the meeting.”
When the word “the” appears before the job title, you do not need to capitalize:
“Mrs Smith, the chairperson, will begin the meeting at 09.00 sharp.”
“Ms Brown, the office manager, will order the new stationery supplies.”
“Bill Jones was the editor of The Messenger for twenty years.”
However, when you write signatures in business letters and other correspondence, you must always capitalize job titles:
“Mrs Jane Smith, Chairperson, ABS Ltd.”
“Mr Bill Jones, Editor, The Messenger.”
“Mr Green, Department Manager, Human Resources.”
Job titles are never capitalized when used in a descriptive manner:
“Mrs Smith, who will chair the meeting, wants all participants to arrive on time.”
“Mr Green, who manages the Human Resources Department, is on leave this week.”
Now, let us turn our attention to The Rule – the rule that concerns ego.
This rule can, in certain circumstances, override the above rules. In working life, you may come across several colleagues, such as a manager, who want their job titles to be capitalized at all times. It is generally the case that more senior members of staff want the ego-boost of having their job titles capitalized everywhere.
So, as you can see, the rules mentioned above are sometimes broken in order to satisfy the wishes of higher-ranking staff members. In other situations, bear in the mind the standard rules, and use them accordingly.
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