Writing Wednesday, what up!
It dawned on me earlier today that while a solid 98 percent of the people reading this know what I do for a living, there’s a lovely two percent that has every reason to find my obsession with grammar borderline unhealthy.
I write and edit marketing and product copy for a software company.
It’s way more exciting than it sounds, I promise. And it may not totally excuse my off-putting passion for the written word, but should answer a few very valid questions.
(Because I can’t figure out what plural days own and YES THEY DO.)
And while my day-to-day provided plenty of Writing Wednesday topics for the first few months of the year, I realized just this morning that my well was running dry.
Then I sat down to edit a mondo doc and found one of those stupid things we all screw up: capitalizing job titles.
I get it! Your job is important. And I’m not being facetious.
You obviously fill that role for a reason and totally crush the required tasks. But that doesn’t automatically qualify your position for eternal capitalization.
There is a time and place for every job to be capitalized—including the president’s.
See what I did there?
When it comes to deciding whether or not a title should be capitalized, pay attention to context above all else!
If the job immediately precedes the person’s name with no determiners like “our” or “the”, it should be capitalized.
— Brand Editor Alli Pane writes a blog in her free time because doing things outside is overrated.
And I promise to never, ever refer to myself in the third person again.
But only after I do this:
— Alli Pane, a brand editor for a Lincoln software company, can’t not edit everything she reads, no matter how hard she tries.
— Our brand editor, Alli Pane, does a scary good job of finding people’s social profiles.
I’M SORRY. But can you see the difference? When it’s my actual title, and not just talking about the job itself, it’s capitalized.
Look at it this way: If you can say everything but the name and still make sense, it should be lowercase.
— Brand Editor writes a blog in her free time. (lol, please no)
— A brand editor for a Lincoln software company can’t not edit everything she reads.
So what about when the job title comes immediately after a name? With no determiner like “our” or “an”?
Same deal as a determiner before the name.
— Becky McGillicuddy, support technician at a local manufacturing firm, was jailed on suspicion of stealing one million donuts.
Can’t say I blame Becky. But do you see how that’s different? In the case of putting it after a name, you may as well say “Becky, girl with good hair and a pension for sugar.”
Ask yourself if the title is serving as a descriptor or addressing the person directly. If it’s the former, lowercase.
Otherwise, it’s essentially part of the person’s name. Thus, capitalized.
So how does this apply to very important people, like a doctor or president? No different than anyone else.
Yes, YOU are on a level playing field with the president. Congrats!
— Former President Barack Obama kicked off a sweet tropical vacation within hours of leaving office.
— Dr. Kennedy told me I eat too much bread so I found a new doctor.
— As vice president of operations, Clark Retchem does very serious work things.
Make sense? If you still have questions, drop them below.
I mean it. I love comments!
I just never get them.
Title Credit: Rihanna