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Administrative and Professional Titles

In most cases, titles should be capitalized only when using a formal administrative or professional title directly before a name (e.g., President John Smith, Dean Jane Doe, Associate Professor John Doe, Trustee Jane Smith, Chairman John Smith, Coach Doe).

Note that a formal title generally denotes a scope of authority, professional activity or academic accomplishment so specific that the designation becomes as much an integral part of an individual’s identity as a proper name itself (e.g., President Clinton). Other titles serve primarily as occupational descriptions and should be in lowercase. If in doubt, set the name or the title off with commas (e.g., John Doe, coach of the women’s tennis team).

EXCEPTIONS – lowercase

  • When the title comes before the name, but is separated by a comma, use lowercase (e.g., The group presented it to the dean, Jane Doe).
  • For words that are not formal titles, but are occupational descriptions, use lowercase, even when they come before the name (e.g., department head Joan Russell, astronaut Neil Armstrong).

Lowercase titles after names (e.g., John Smith, president of the College; Jane Doe, dean of the School of Sciences and Mathematics; John Doe, associate professor of management and entrepreneurship; Jane Smith, trustee). In general, titles containing more than four words should come after the name.

EXCEPTION – capitalize

  • Capitalize the title when it is a named professorship (e.g., Jane Smith, Hales Professor of Ethics, spoke; John Doe, Mary Belle Higgins Howe Chair in English, attended the seminar). Named professorships are often, but not always, created by and named for the donor of the funds setting up the endowment that supports it.

Lowercase titles when a name is not used (e.g., the president, the dean, the director of student affairs, the pope).

When a title applies to only one person in an organization, use the word the in a construction that uses commas (e.g., John Smith, the deputy vice president, spoke). Don’t combine administrative titles with academic titles before a name (i.e., do not use Dean Professor Jane Doe).

Use whatever title the group uses for its leader (e.g., chairman, chairwoman, chair, chairperson). If the group does not make this clear, use chairmen or chairwoman. Chair holder and vice chair are not hyphenated.

director of athletics
The formal title is director of athletics. Do not capitalize athletics director in any instance.

emeritus, emerita, emeriti
The title of emeritus is not synonymous with retired; it is an honor bestowed on a small number of retired faculty and should be included in the title. Feminine is emerita; plural for both is emeriti. The word may precede or follow professor (e.g., John Doe is an emeritus professor of marketing; Jane Doe, professor emerita at the College).

modifiers to titles
Do not capitalize qualifying words in the title (e.g., former President Ford, acting Mayor John Doe).

At the College, the basic academic ranks include assistant professor, associate professor, professor, visiting assistant professor, visiting associate professor and visiting professor.

royal titles/nobility
Capitalize royal titles when directly before a name (e.g., Queen Elizabeth II). Capitalize a full title (without the name) when it serves as the alternate name for an individual (e.g., Duke of Wellington).


As a general rule, use full names on first reference and do not use courtesy titles such as Dr., Mr., Mrs., Miss or Ms. On second and subsequent references, use only last names without courtesy titles.


  • When a text passage describes more than one person with the same last name, first names may be used.
  • In short blocks of copy (e.g., in formal event programs), courtesy titles may be used.

When appropriate, use academic degrees after a name on first reference only (e.g., John Doe, Ph.D., teaches chemistry. Doe is our favorite professor).