Writing for Business

Aug 3 2012   12:38PM GMT

Capitalization and long job titles

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
1. Alex Keh, principal product manager for Oracle Development Tools, described the benefits of the new tools for .NET development.
2. Principal Product Manager for Oracle Development Tools Alex Keh described the benefits of the new tools for .NET development.

Answer: Neither is incorrect, but the second choice is preferable.

Job titles are capitalized when they’re placed before a person’s name, and not capitalized when they come after, so neither of these sentences is incorrect. However, when a job title is on the long side, it’s better to place it after the name, just to avoid having such a long string of capitalized words, which can start to seem silly.

@GrammarGirl has a good post on capitalization. Here’s a snippet:

“Sometimes you can simplify through capitalization. For example, a case can be made for capitalization in some business writings as a type of shorthand. “Let me check with our Legal employees,” one might write [with “legal” capitalized]. It’s clear, in corporate America, that this means the Legal Department. And one can forgive a shortening there, because if you’ve ever dealt with Legal, you want to save as much time elsewhere as possible.
If you lowercase “legal” in that sentence — “Let me check with our legal employees” – it might leave your audience wondering about the lawfulness of your other staff, the ones who aren’t legal. Hmmm. That might explain why your staplers keep disappearing.”

Follow me on Twitter @tao_of_grammar

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