Are department names supposed to be capitalized? Do we submit something to the Administration and Finance Department or the administration and finance department? Does it make a difference if it’s the Department of Administration and Finance or the department of administration and finance?
What about job titles? How do we know when to capitalize someone’s job title in a sentence?
Let’s all test our capitalization competency with a quick quiz on capital letters.
Jackson Lawrence, immediate past [Chief Executive Officer/chief executive officer] of the Eagle Leadership Institute, gave the keynote address.
Thompson Padgett, [Diversity Officer/diversity officer] for the College of Business and Industry, is leading an initiative devoted to creating a culture of belonging.
Shannon Pierce, [President/president] of the Rotary Club, facilitated a strategic planning session for the new year.
Jackson Lawrence, immediate past chief executive officer of the Eagle Leadership Institute, gave the keynote address.
Did this one surprise you? It’s the most frequently overcapitalized tendency. The rule I hope you take away from this exercise is this:
The only time we capitalize the first letters of a person’s job title is when the title precedes the person’s proper name. When a job title is used as an appositive, it is not capitalized in the sentence.
In the pop quiz question above, the job title of chief executive officer is an appositive for Jackson Lawrence; therefore, it remains lower case.
Thompson Padgett, diversity officer for the College of Business and Industry, is leading an initiative devoted to creating a culture of belonging.
Diversity officer is an appositive for Thompson Padgett. It remains lower case.
Shannon Pierce, president of the Rotary Club, facilitated a strategic planning session for the new year.
President is an appositive for Shannon Pierce. Even the word president remains lower case in this instance.
We’ll discuss the capitalization of departments next week.
To customize a keynote or professional development session that will have your audience laughing and learning, contact Mandi Stanley.
Certified Speaking Professional Mandi Stanley works with business leaders who want to boost their professional image by becoming better speakers and writers through interactive high-content keynotes, breakout sessions, workshops, technical writing seminars, and fun proofreading classes.
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Photo by Suzy Hazelwood