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capitals in titles of office or rank

(A similar topic is discussed in French in the article TITRES DE FONCTION.)

Follow the guidelines below.

DO capitalize

Capitalize titles in the following situations.

  • Titles before a name (whether the title is civil, military, religious or professional, or a title of nobility):
    • Archbishop Gervais
    • Finance Minister Paul Martin
    • General de Chastelain
    • Lord Carrington
    • Pope Francis
    • President Obama
    • Prime Minister Harper
    • Professor Layton
    • Queen Elizabeth II
  • Titles following and placed in apposition to a personal name (except those denoting professions):
    • Clare Smith, Director of Public Affairs
    • Ron Irwin, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
  • BUT
    • Jane Tanaka, professor of physics
  • Titles referring to a specific person and used as a substitute for that person’s name:
    • the President of the Treasury Board
    • the Chief, Public Affairs Section
    • the Leader of the Opposition
    • According to the Assistant Deputy Minister, this is a unique agreement.
    • They discussed the matter with the Colonel.
    • The Archbishop made no further comment.
  • Abbreviated titles in the plural:
    • We met Profs. Sami and Nicolet.
  • Titles of respect and forms of address (even when used in the plural):
    • Your Honour
    • Your Grace
    • Your Excellencies
    • Mr. Chairman
    • Their Royal Highnesses
    • Her Worship
    • His Holiness
    • Her Majesty

DO NOT capitalize

Do not capitalize titles in the following situations.

  • Spelled-out titles in the plural or titles preceded by an indefinite article:
    • the lieutenant-governors of Quebec and Ontario
    • a member of Parliament
  • BUT
    • the Member for Winnipeg North Centre
      [preceded by the definite article and referring to a specific person]
  • Titles modified by a possessive or other type of adjective, or by an indefinite article:
    • their colonel
    • the former ambassador
    • the Canadian prime minister
    • a member of Parliament
  • Occupational titles that are used descriptively and that are followed by a complete personal name:
    • manager Cito Gaston
    • production superintendent Anna Chang
    • technical writer John Lipon

Note: Occupational titles are often capitalized in a company’s own documents.

  • Terms that refer to a role rather than a person:
    • As prime minister [that is, while occupying a certain position], Lester Pearson introduced the new Canadian flag.
    • The production manager [any person who occupies that position] assigns schedules.
  • Adjectives derived from titles:
    • episcopal
    • papal
    • ministerial correspondence
    • presidential prerogative