Capitalizing titles of high-ranking officials

Should the title of a high-ranking official be capitalized?

Depends on who you ask! But since we use, recommend, and carry The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, that’s the source WriteShop tends to rely on first. According to the Blue Book (10th ed.):

    Capitalize the titles of high-ranking government officials when used with or before their names. Do not capitalize the civil title if it is used instead of the name.

The author cites several examples, including:

  • The president will address Congress.
  • The governors, lieutenant governors, and attorneys general called for a special task force.
  • Governor Fortinbrass, Lieutenant Governor Poppins, Attorney General Dalloway, and Senators James and Twain will attend.

That said, you may accept either from your students since other sources may conflict. For instance:

The Holt Handbook, 6th ed. says:

    Titles that indicate high-ranking positions may be capitalized even when they are used alone or when they follow a name.
    Example: Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States

The Writer’s Brief Handbook, 5th ed. says:

    When you use titles of world figures alone, capitalization is optional.
    Example: The President [or president] spoke to the reporters.

. . . . .

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