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Capitalizing titles

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Question: For the second year in a row, I have composed a short e-mail invite to the managers and supervisors on staff. Another employee informed me that the words managers and supervisors should be capitalized. It’s very common in the business profession today not to capitalize titles, especially in the context I am using. (“I have revised a new schedule this year for the managers/supervisors to serve the luncheon.”)

What is the correct capitalization in this situation? It would be helpful if I could point to a reference book or similar authority when replying to this person.  -- Aida


From Secretarial School (and the old Gregg Reference Manual I'm looking at), occupational titles are not capitalized as a general rule. It notes that these titles are sometimes capitalized in writing intended for a limited readership (i.e., in a local newspaper, in internal communication within an organziation...) where the person in question would be considered to have high rank by the intended reader. So....I'd say NO, because a) email is an informal means of communication, and b) these people sound like they're at or near each other in rank.

QUICK! Get yourself a a copy of The Chicago Manual of Style which is pretty much the editors' bible (and secretary's survival manual) for questions of this nature. It ought to be required reading for anyone entering an office environment at ANY level - clerical or managerial. You can order it at
There is a Chicago Manual of Style website, too:
And you will find Q&A re: "Capitalization" and "Capitalization, Titles" on this page:
And you can submit a question on this page:

These titles should not be capitalized in this context. When not preceding a name, when set apart from the person's name in apposition, or in a general generic term (as in your case) the title is not capitalized. Refer to capitalization rules in either The Gregg Reference Manual, Ninth Edition or to the Franklin Covey Style Guide for Business and Technological Communication.

I can't quote a specific source, but you would only capitalize manager or supervisor if you were giving the title of a specific person. For example, you would say "John Doe is Manager of IT, or Susan Smith is Supervisor of Accounting." But you would not capitilalize the titles when you are referring to a group of individuals. For example, "all managers and supervisors are invited to attend the meeting."

I just attended a Fred Pryor semiar "Mistake-Free Grammar & Proofreading" yesterday, and the rule is, no you do not capitalize titles, now here is the real problem, title are more ego that what is actually correct. If you are listing the individual by name ex: Rosemary Cox, Supervisor by all means make them feel important, but the correct way is no capitalizations. There are two great tools available "The Gregg Reference Manual", and "Grammar Reference Guide", the Grammar Reference Guide is a new product sold on the Fred Pryor website

This was one of the best seminars, the instructor was Dr. Faye Fulton, and she was absolutely great, if you ever get a chance to attend one of her classes you will not be disappointed.

Also, there is a web link that is also useful.

I hope this information is helpful.


In the situation you use, the words "managers and supervisors" would not be capitalized - they are just regular nouns.

When you're referring to a specific person's title WITHIN YOUR ORGANIZATION ("Manager of Human Resources"), you can capitalize it or not, depending on your preference. I usually do, because it helps to make the title stand out within the sentence.

Here's what the Katherine Gibbs Handbook of Business English says:

Capitalize titles of honor, position, and public office when the titles PRECEDE a name (example: "Dean Marcus") unless the name is in apposition and set off by commas ("I spoke to the dean, James Marcus, about that matter.")

Other titles used alone, after, or in place of a name are usually not capitalized unless the writer wishes to show special respect or importance (within an organization). [Example: "Your appointment is at 2:00 p.m. with Mrs. Colby, Dean of Secretarial Studies." -- this is within an organization, so they chose to capitalize it.]

The book goes on to say that titles of high-ranking officials are capitalized (like the President of the United States, the Pope, etc.).

Hope this helps!

Any of the manuals suggested here would be good. I use the Gregg Reference Manual, Tenth Edition. It is wonderful. You really do need a good manual. I've been to the seminar Margarette spoke about. I learned a lot, and one thing I learned is that no one can remember ALL the rules. That's why you need a manual.

Hi all!
Best site in web!

Unfortunately your boss may have a preference that runs contrary to proper useage. Note and go with your boss's preference and/or have a discussion about why it's preferred.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Writer February 17, 2011 at 3:22 pm

Unnecessary capitalization is rampant in government writing. I think it’s because so many insecure managers like to see their titles in capitals (“Deputy Assistant Undersecretary to the Secretary”). I disagree about adjusting style to your boss’s wishes. Style guides need to remain consistent if the language is to remain uncontaminated.


brenda komater August 19, 2010 at 10:31 am

Does the rule not to capitalize titles after the persons name still correct?


ugg December 17, 2009 at 9:19 pm

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