Grammar Tip: Don't Overcapitalize
Written by
Maria Murnane
September 2014
Written by
Maria Murnane
September 2014

In last week's post, I discussed a grammatical error authors tend to make when writing their own bios. Another common mistake I see in author bios is the capitalization of the titles they hold/held in their current or previous day jobs.


Here's a typical example:


John Smith, Author of Book ABC, is the Director of Human Resources at Company XYZ. In his free time he loves to surf, play practical jokes on his coworkers and toss a baseball around with his three young sons. He currently lives in San Diego.


While John sounds like a fun guy, he could use a little refresher on the rules of capitalization. Here's how it works:


If a person's formal title comes directly before the person's name, it is capitalized:


  • The White House has announced that President Barack Obama will be giving a press conference this afternoon.
  • It is expected that Vice President Joe Biden will also give some remarks.
  • It is uncertain whether Chief of Staff Denis McDonough will be in attendance.


If the formal title is after the person's name, it is not capitalized:


  • Barack Obama, who is president of the United States, will be giving a press conference this afternoon.
  • Joe Biden, who is vice president, will also give some remarks.
  • It is uncertain if Denis McDonough, Obama's chief of staff, will be in attendance.


As for the title of "author," it is not formal and should never be capitalized, so the following are correct:


  • John Smith, author of Book ABC, is the director of human resources.
  • The author of Book ABC is John Smith.


Capitalizing formal titles after a person's name is such a common mistake that you might be quite surprised to learn that it's incorrect. But pick up a newspaper and read an article or two. You'll see how the journalists do it.


Maria Murnane is the best-selling author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, Chocolate for Two, Cassidy Lane, and Katwalk. She also provides consulting services to aspiring and published authors. Learn more at


This blog post originally appeared on Reprinted with permission. © 2014 CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.

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