Should job titles be in capitals in press releases?

By Nicky Rudd
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Quite often we get asked by clients to capitalise job titles in press releases, so I thought I’d share the reason for why we don’t.

You may notice that in many news stories in printed publications and online, job titles are never capitalised. We take this as good practice and follow suit.

However, the main reason we don’t use capitals for job titles and why we try to keep them to a minimum in any copy we write, is because when someone is reading words, they are scanning the copy very quickly. Think about how fast you read when you’re not reading aloud. If you come across a capital letter or something in bold or italic, your eyes stop and jar on this capital.

This is even truer for journalists reading press releases, who are trying to get the information as fast as they can. Do you really want them stopping and starting every time they come to a Managing Director? Surely you want them to get a sense of what the news story is as quickly as possible.

When to capitalise and when not to

As the Economist’s style guide states: “A balance has to be struck between so many capitals that the eyes dance and so few that the reader is diverted more by our style than by our substance. The general rule is to dignify with capital letters organisations and institutions, but not people.”

Michael Brown of Michael Brown Associates, adds: “Intrusive, unnecessary capital letters are the boulders so often strewn through writing but which only inhibit the concentration and comprehension of the reader. Each capital has to earn its place.”

“Generally only the names of people, places, premises etc. deserve to be capitalised. The post of minister doesn’t (there are lots of them so no capital M) but John Brown, Minister of Transport, does deserve one. I was an assistant editor but only when Assistant Editor, Sunday Mirror did my title deserve capitals.”

“Next to commas (so often sprayed through text without a care) the undeserved capital letter only helps to deter the not-so-eager reader of a press release to stay the course.”

Michael’s career in journalism included posts as assistant editor of two national newspapers, editor of a major regional daily plus broadcasting experience covering both TV and radio. For the past eleven years, he has been a specialist trainer on media interviews for pro-active and crisis situations as well as offering writing training and story development for PR and press offices.

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