Do you use “pride capitals”?

If you’re in business, you probably use capital letters more than grammar geeks recommend.

I confess. I was guilty of overcapitalizing titles until Prof. Albert Craig, my Ph.D. thesis advisor, drummed the rules into me. I learned to write “Goto Fumio, home minister” instead of “Goto Fumio, Home Minister.” Titles should be capitalized only when they directly precede the titleholder’s name, as in “Home Minister Goto Fumio.” Goto Fumio, by the way, was the focus of my Ph.D. dissertation.

For a quick overview of the rules, see the Grammar Girl blog’s “When Should You Capitalize Words?” (Sorry, this post is no longer available.) The blog post, written by Rob Reinalda, who goes by word_czar on Twitter, discusses “pride capitals” to explain why “One mistake business writers often make is capitalizing words simply for emphasis or to augment their importance.”

You’re using pride capitals if your firm’s biographies refer to “Jane Smith, President and Chief Investment Officer” instead of “Jane Smith, president and chief investment officer.”


Note: edited on Feb. 11, 2016 to delete an outdated reference and again on Dec. 12, 2016.

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  1. […] By the way, I wish Mauldin hadn’t capitalized “Summit.” But that’s a whole other issue, which I’ve explored in “Do you use ‘pride capitals’?” […]

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