Re: Tricky capitalization

Subject: Re: Tricky capitalization
From: Lauren <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net>
Date: Thu, 19 Apr 2012 00:30:32 -0700

On 4/18/2012 7:58 PM, Fred Ridder wrote:

In response to Chris Morton, Lauren wrote:

> You were given appropriate answers, but, FYI, "president" is only
> capitalized when it refers to the head of state (or it is at the
> beginning of a sentence).
>
> Incidentally, you need a comma after "president" in your sentence as
> presented. You would not need this comma if referring to a head of state.
Neither of the "rules" you state as being based on references to heads of state are in agreement with most style manuals.
Chicago Manual of Style (16th) 8.18 says "Civil, military, religious, and professional titles are capitalized when they immediately precede a personal name and are thus used as a part of the name (typically replacing the title holder's first name)." The examples they provide include "General Bradley", "Cardinal Newman", and "Governors Quinn and Paterson", none of whom are heads of state.
Nor is it a rule that the title of a head of state is always capitalized.

No one, not even I, said it was. I said that it is "only" capitalized when it refers to the head of state and I never stated when it should be capitalized. The rule is that "president" is only capitalized, aside from beginning a sentence, when it is part of the name, as a title, of a head state, as in "President Clinton." That much detail was totally unnecessary in response to the question.

Also note that even though the name and title in these latter examples are in apposition (and even described as such), the appositive is *not* set off with commas. These appositives are not set off with commas because they are "restrictive appositives", which CMoS 5.21 defines as one which "cannot be removed from a sentence without obscuring the identity of the word or phrase that the appositive relates to." The examples they give of non-restrictive and restrictive appositives are "Robert Burns, the poet, wrote many songs about women named Mary" vs. "the poet Robert Burns wrote many songs about women."

Be happy with yourself, Fred, be happy.



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References:
Tricky capitalization: From: Chris Morton
Re: Tricky capitalization: From: Lauren
RE: Tricky capitalization: From: Fred Ridder

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