1. PeterC

    PeterC Active Member

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    Capitalization of titles in dialog.

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by PeterC, Mar 26, 2014.

    I'm specifically concerned about the title "professor." Sometimes it feels like it should be capitalized, but other times not. I'm sorry that I'm not familiar enough with the rules to completely understand the distinction. For example

    "I'd like to introduce Professor Smith of the biology department," said Jane.​

    "I wish professor Smith would shut up," Jim snapped.​

    The question comes up for me even in narration. For example

    Frantically professor Smith shuffled through his papers looking for the note.​

    Thanks for any advice you can offer!
     
  2. Thomas Kitchen

    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    If it's a title, then it's capitalised e.g. Dad, Mum/Mom, Teacher Anne, Professor Daniels, etc. So you could say, "Do you know what Professor Daniels said to me today?"

    However, if you're not using something as a title but rather as something someone does, the it's lower-case e.g. my dad, my mum/mom, the teacher, the professor. So you could say, "Do you know what the professor said to me today?"

    At least, that's how I've always understood it. Hope this helps. :)
     
  3. shadowwalker

    shadowwalker Contributor Contributor

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    Yes, if it's being used as part of the name (Professor Smith), it's capped; if it's being only as a description (the professor), it's not.
     
  4. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ditto all of that!
     
  5. PeterC

    PeterC Active Member

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    Okay, thanks. I pretty sure I understand. So in all of my examples above it should be "Professor" and not "professor."
     
  6. Thomas Kitchen

    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    Yes. :)
     
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  7. Bjørnar Munkerud

    Bjørnar Munkerud Senior Member

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    Agreed, and my thoughts exactly. If it's descriptive, don't capitalise it. If it's what you're actually referring to the person as, then capitalise. It's that simple. That does not, however, mean that it's easy in specific instances to decide which to go for, because both are very often equally good options, they just have slightly different meanings.
     
  8. Dagolas

    Dagolas Banned

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    Lord X, Queen Elizabeth, Sir Terry Pratchett

    These thing stake caps. Pretty sure. But only if adressing the person!
    "The king is dead!"
    "Hello King X"
     

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