I want to talk about a Big Problem we make with our Writing that’s Never Discussed.
What’s the Issue? We tend to Capitalize words we think should be Uppercase. The mistake happens everywhere: Facebook Status Updates, Resumes, Cover Letters and even our Job Descriptions.
Sorry, let me write that line again:
The mistake happens everywhere: Facebook status updates, resumes, cover letters and even our job descriptions.
Why do we use so many capital letters? Because the words we capitalize feel important so, naturally, we want them to stand out.
What’s your job?
Maybe you’re an Associate Buyer, Development Assistant or Project Manager.
Would you believe all three of those titles are written incorrectly? Welp, they are, and here’s why.
If we follow the rules of grammar (as written here), then we don’t write a job title in capital letters unless it precedes our name.
Here are the three scenarios:
1. Lowercase job title if it comes AFTER your name or in a sentence without your name.
“Jane Doe is an associate buyer at Fake Company, Inc.”
“She works as an associate buyer at Fake Company, Inc.”
2. Uppercase job title if it comes BEFORE your name.
“Associate Buyer Jane Doe works at Fake Company, Inc.”
3. Jane Strauss, grammar guru, says to also write your job title in uppercase if it comes DIRECTLY after your name.
“Jane Doe, Associate Buyer, works at Fake Company, Inc.”
I want to show you something that will forever change the way you view capitalization. It’s from a CNN article about the Government Shutdown (ahem, government shutdown). Like all News To Live By columns, the answers are hidden in the headlines.
“House Speaker John Boehner, speaking Tuesday afternoon after what he called a “pleasant” but ineffectual phone call with Obama, promptly rejected the president’s comments as nothing new.”
Did you notice the word “president” lacks an uppercase “P”? Even our president gets the lowercase treatment if “Barack Obama” doesn’t come directly after the title.“President Barack Obama,” on the other hand, is correct.
Capitalization can be tricky, but a general rule of thumb is use lowercase when the word isn’t a specific place or thing. If you’re planning this weekend, for instance, to go tubing on the River, the sentence needs fixing.
“River” should be lowercase because you didn’t name a specific one like the Mississippi River, in which case it WOULD be uppercase.
For the ten rules of capitalization, go here.
Now is a smart time to look over your resume (which needs rearranging), cover letters, LinkedIn profile, email signature (which should have a #personalhashtag) and any other place where your job title could be written the wrong way.
It might not seem like a Huge Deal, but in the crowded Job Market, the sharpest Portfolios get noticed.
Sorry, let me write that li-
Well, you get the point.
Any more capitalization questions?
Ask them below!