When to Capitalise Job Titles in Writing
  • 4-minute read
  • 19th July 2021

When to Capitalise Job Titles in Writing

Should it be ‘President Biden’ or ‘president Biden’? Is the ‘social worker’ coming to the meeting, or should it be ‘Social Worker’? To learn when to capitalise job titles in business writing (or any other document), read our guide below.

When Capitalisation is Key

Typically, job titles that come before names are capitalised (unless there is punctuation separating the title from the name). In these cases, the job title functions as part of a proper noun formed by the title and name:

President Biden has won the election. 

Head of Sales Mark Smith will be interviewing for the position. 

But beware of commas! As you can see, the job title below is not capitalised as we’re using it generically, not as a proper name:

The graphic designer, Sohaila Hussein, is very good at her job. 

We’ll look at this and other exceptions again later in the post.

Capitalisation in Other Contexts

Other situations in which you may need to capitalise job titles include:

  • To show respect to a person in a high-status role or position, especially if you are using their job title to stand in for their name.

The Queen will be opening this leisure centre. 

Have you written to the Prime Minister yet? 

  • In emails or letter signature lines.

Yours faithfully, Sarah Brown, Assistant Headteacher 

Melanie Ferrer, Speech and Language Therapist

  • In headings, such as section headings in a resume.

May 2019–July 2020, Customer Services Assistant

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  • In the vocative case (i.e. when using a job title to address someone directly).

Is it serious, Doctor?

  • If a job title appears in the proper name for a building or department.

Office of the Vice Chancellor

Finally, if you’re an employee, make sure to check your organisation’s style guide (if they have one) for specific details on capitalising titles within the company. For example, some companies prefer to capitalise job roles as a matter of respect. And if your boss prefers to see their title capitalised in official documents, it is usually wise to follow their example even if it means bending the standard rules!

When Capitalisation is Not Correct

When job titles are used descriptively or generically within a sentence, they are not usually capitalised. This applies to formal writing, job descriptions, cover letters and resumes, and pretty much any other form of writing you can imagine. For example:

Our chief editor, Simon Crystal, has an office on the second floor.

Mrs. Osborne, our assistant chef, makes the most delicious lasagne.

The receptionists at this company leave a lot to be desired.

During my time as a sales manager, I was responsible for 15 employees.

I would make an excellent staff nurse as I have great interpersonal skills.

In other words, when a job description is used in a sentence and does not stand in for (or form part of) a proper name, your default should be to use lowercase letters at the start of each word. However, as above, you may want to check your employer’s style guide for advice on capitalising specific job titles.

Summary: To Capitalise or Not to Capitalise?

In summary, the rules for capitalising job titles are:

  • Job titles are normally capitalised when they stand in for (or are part of) a proper name, especially when the title precedes a person’s name.
  • Job titles are also commonly capitalised to show respect for high-status individuals, when using a title to address someone directly, or when they appear in headings and signature lines. 
  • When used generically or descriptively, job titles are not usually capitalised.

We hope this post has clarified how to capitalise job titles in writing. But if you’d like an expert to help you perfect your writing, why not try our proofreading service?

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