Should you capitalize the title of a high-ranking government official?
Depends on who you ask! To know when capitalizing titles of government officials is warranted, do your research. Since we recommend The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, it’s the source WriteShop tends to rely on first. According to the Blue Book (11th 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:
- 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.
Does it matter?
Other respected grammar sources may conflict, so feel free to accept either capitalized or lowercase titles from your students. Just make sure they’re consistent. For instance:
The Holt Handbook, 6th course. says:
Titles that indicate high-ranking positions may be capitalized even when they are used alone or when they follow a name.
We learned about Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States.
The Secretary of Defense spoke about key issues during the meeting.
Last week, the Prince of Wales went to Kenya.
The Writer’s Brief Handbook says:
When you use titles of world figures alone, capitalization is optional.
The Prime Minister [or prime minister] spoke to reporters.
They knelt in the presence of the King [or king].
Do you need help with grammar rules such as capitalizing titles of government officials? The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation offers concise rules and clear examples. You’ll also find practice exercises that are ideal for homeschool teens in middle school and high school.
It’s a combination reference book and workbook, super easy to use, and handy for home or office. Examples are short, simple, and practical. We know you’ll love it too!