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Great reply from Woe Is I author: Should titles like "senior editor" be capital?

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Dionna

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Should a title like senior editor, editor-in-chief, art director, literary agent...be lower case unless it is being used as part of the person's name? I notice that just about everyone in the lit field capitalizes it, esp in their salutations and bios. But we don't capitalize work titles like gardener, window cleaner, baker...Isn't it the same difference?

Mary Allen, senior editor with All Smiles Books, is pleased to announce her new baby.

Senior Editor Mary Ellen with All Smiles is pleased to announce her new baby.


What say you?
#1 - December 10, 2015, 08:48 PM
« Last Edit: December 12, 2015, 11:18 AM by Dionna »

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I'd agree with your example, Dionna. When I'm marking students' papers, though, I've noticed many of them randomly capitalizing words I never would...makes me wonder if the rules are changing.
#2 - December 10, 2015, 08:50 PM
Robin
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In my mind, it is uppercase if it is being used as a title and lowercase of it is a simple description of their position. In your examples, Dionna, I would actually capitalize in both instances cited unless you added an "a" in front of your first instance. I would say things like: Xandra is an agent with Good Books Literary. Senior Agent Xandra has sold many books.
#3 - December 10, 2015, 09:19 PM

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Yes, the general rule seems to be lower-case plus article for descriptives, capitalized sans article for titles. As with all rules, there are exceptions.

But I too have noticed an increase in "random" capitalization of nouns and even non-nouns, mostly it seems for emphasis within a phrase, as in the classic She Who Must Be Obeyed. Maybe English is drifting back toward its germanic roots in capitalizing all substantives?
#4 - December 11, 2015, 05:40 AM
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Dionna, I write high school English textbooks, and your examples are consistent with the rules they have me teaching. There's a pretty big disconnect between what's taught and how the language is actually used, obviously, but I thought I'd mention it for what it's worth.
#5 - December 11, 2015, 06:12 AM
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Agreeing with Holly and A.S.

Also agreeing that usage is straying from these rules, not only by students, and I've had the same thought as A.S. about Germanic roots.
#6 - December 11, 2015, 06:20 AM
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.makes me wonder if the rules are changing.

I think it's more a matter of rules not being taught. Older Son told me once he learned more about grammar in his German class as a HS freshman than he did in his entire eight years of grade and middle school. And yes, his earlier schools were arts specialty schools and excellent in so many ways. They learned to write essays, but we have a couple of generations saying "Me and my friend went down the street."  :cry2
#7 - December 11, 2015, 06:41 AM

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I think it's more a matter of rules not being taught...we have a couple of generations saying "Me and my friend went down the street."  :cry2

Heck, yes. I have recently read *published books* with sentences like "Her and Mary went to the store" and "Grandma gave the cake to Mary and I"; misuse of subjective and objective pronouns is a biggie. And don't even get me started on "It's not that big of a deal." The problem is now compounded by the fact that we have an entire generation of adults who've learned it wrong.

But I'm straying from the topic. Sorry! :grin3
#8 - December 11, 2015, 07:07 AM
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Dionna

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Thanks for your input, all! The thing is, it's professionals in the WRITING field, education field, medical field that capitalize the titles, and not just a few. And so I was beginning to think, since they KNOW THINGS, and since I don't know things, that the titles should be capitalized.
#9 - December 11, 2015, 12:02 PM
« Last Edit: December 12, 2015, 03:47 AM by Dionna »

Agree with somebody up there. You can describe me as an lower-case agent or a literary agent, as a job description -- but my title, if I'm being official, is Senior Agent.
#10 - December 11, 2015, 05:25 PM
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Dionna

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Agree with somebody up there. You can describe me as an lower-case agent or a literary agent, as a job description -- but my title, if I'm being official, is Senior Agent.

Thanks for chiming in, Literaticat! So if I were to write...

Literaticat, senior agent with Awesome Cats' Literary for 15 years, has shown her prowess,  yet again.

Do I capitalize "senior agent"?
#11 - December 11, 2015, 06:53 PM

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Not to be snarky (ok, having been grading papers all day long, I am being snarky), but Jenn's Tumblr describes her as "a Senior Agent" at ABLA!
#12 - December 11, 2015, 06:55 PM

Not to be snarky (ok, having been grading papers all day long, I am being snarky), but Jenn's Tumblr describes her as "a Senior Agent" at ABLA!

Is that snarky? IDK -- I think I capitalized it because I am a Senior Agent, that is my title. Not to be confused with a senior (elderly) agent. (Though the jury is still out on that one!) I put "a" Senior Agent because I am not the only one at the agency. But I am perfectly willing to believe I am wrong on both counts! :-)

Thanks for chiming in, Literaticat! So if I were to write...

Literaticat, senior agent with Awesome Cats' Literary for 15 years, has shown her prowess,  yet again.

Do I capitalize "senior agent"?

Hahahaha AT THIS POINT I am so confused, I have no idea. LOL! :D

*slinks away from thread*
#13 - December 11, 2015, 07:25 PM
twitter: @literaticat
ask the agent: http://literaticat.tumblr.com/ask

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This is my work email sig line:
Deena, Young Adult Services Librarian

This is how I describe myself:
Deena, a young adult services librarian

So yeah, what A.S. and litcat said is how I label myself, FWIW. :-P
#14 - December 11, 2015, 07:31 PM
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Literaticat, if I were proofreading for you in my editorial capacity, I would probably remove the "a" and leave the caps. The caps imply that it's a title, so one would assume that there could be more than one Senior Agent. But others have already disagreed with my interpretation of capitalization rules. ::-)
#15 - December 11, 2015, 07:43 PM

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I agree with those that said as a title it's capitalized, like: Jenn L, Senior Agent. Or: Artemesia, Official Shenaniganizer. :ohbehave

But if I were to say "Jenn Laughran is a senior agent" I wouldn't capitalize it. Sorry to make an example of you, Lit!
#16 - December 11, 2015, 07:53 PM
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Dionna

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Whether Literaticat is one of many Senior Agents at ABLA or a senior agent, she is The Senior Agent any author would be privileged to have!!  :exactly
#17 - December 12, 2015, 05:06 AM

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Whether Literaticat is one of many Senior Agents at ABLA or a senior agent, she is The Senior Agent any author would be privileged to have!!  :exactly 
:love5
#18 - December 12, 2015, 05:21 AM
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Yeah, what Dionna said! Literaticat = The Senior Agent of the Blueboards!
#19 - December 12, 2015, 06:55 AM

Dionna

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New!
I asked this question of Patricia T. O'Connor, the amazing author of WOE IS I, a title that makes learning grammar a barrel of fun!! I am sharing the answer here, with permission from Ms. O’Connor and her grammar-pro colleague, Stewart Kellerman, of course. (People in this industry are AMAZING!! You get replies from the 'highest" of places!)

BTW: Their blog http://www.grammarphobia.com/ is bookmark-able!

 
QUESTION: Should titles like senior editor, assistant literary agent, editor-in-chief, art director, literary agent be lower case unless they are being used as part of the person's name. (I've never seen work titles like gardener, window cleaner, baker, librarian... capitalized.) By capitalizing a title does it indicate that what a person does is important? (I've noticed in the literary, education, and scientific fields folks like to capitalize their titles.)

This is what I've seen written:

Mary Allen, a Senior Editor with All Smiles Books, is pleased to announce her new baby.

Mary Allen, Senior Editor with All Smiles Books, is pleased to announce her new baby.
 
But I think it should be written like this:
 
Mary Allen, senior editor with All Smiles Books, is pleased to announce her new baby.
 
Mary Allen, a senior editor with All Smiles Books, is pleased to announce her new baby.
 
Senior Editor Mary Allen with All Smiles Books is pleased to announce her new baby.
 
All Smiles Books is pleased to announce that one of our senior editors, Mary Allen, has had her new baby.
 
What say you?

Hi, Dionna,
 
No, you’re right. In ordinary usage, such titles should be lowercased. Often, though, when they appear as part of a signature at the end of a letter or email, they will be capitalized.
 
People love to use capitals because it makes them (or their institution) seem more important. We’ve written several times in our blog about the use of capitals.
 
Here’s one link: http://www.grammarphobia.com/blog/2009/04/capital-punishment-2.html
 
And another: http://www.grammarphobia.com/blog/2007/06/is-the-president-being-dissed.html
 
And another: http://www.grammarphobia.com/blog/2007/12/occupational-therapy.html
 
It’s not wrong to use unnecessary capitals in this way. It’s just not appropriate in everyday usage.
 
We hope all this will shed some light. Thanks for writing, and all the best,
 
Pat O’Conner & Stewart Kellerman
 
#20 - December 12, 2015, 11:16 AM
« Last Edit: December 12, 2015, 05:22 PM by Dionna »

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Interesting!
#21 - December 12, 2015, 11:35 AM
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Very much what I thought, so it's good to have some validation (ha) for how I edit student papers. ;) Thanks, Dionna!
#22 - December 12, 2015, 12:47 PM
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