Capitalising job titles: an update to University house style

John Chapman
Monday 29 April 2019

For those familiar with the University house style, you will know that the digital communications team advises against the unnecessary use of capital letters on web pages. This includes the capitalisation of page titles, team names and job titles.

Popular style guides including The Guardian, The Times and the University of Oxford Style Guide all advise against the overuse of capital letters as it can make text difficult to read and create ambiguity. These guides also state that job titles or descriptions should be written in lower case. As respected style guides, the University’s house style was created following many of the same rules in those featured above. This includes the various rules on capitalisation.

However, some guides argue that there are no universal rules for the use of capital letters and usage will vary across different organisations. For all style guides, the most important rule is consistency. Style guides are created to ensure consistency across all written work as this helps to improve user experience.

The University is not consistent in the use of capitalisation for job titles. While the digital communication team uses lower case, other portals such as Pure and University news articles display job titles using upper case. Job titles in University print publications are also always written in upper case. We have also found that other universities including Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen capitalise job titles on their websites.

Working on the Schools website project has given us the opportunity to review our house style and ensure that all new School websites are consistent with the University website and other University associated sites.

To help achieve this, the digital communications team has decided to update house style to allow for the use of capitalisation of job titles. For both digital and print content, job titles should now be capitalised when used in relation to a specific member of staff.

For example: ‘Lauren Ipsum, Director of Teaching.’

However, if a job title is used without being associated with a specific person, then the title should continue to be written in lowercase.

For example: ‘Each School within the University has a head of School, director of research and director of teaching’.

Guidance on the use of capital letters in other contexts remains unchanged including on page titles and team names. No word should ever be written fully in capital letters either. If you need a refresher on the use of capital letters, then please read the house style for capital letters.

The digital communications team will gradually change job titles on the external website to meet the new house style rule as part of our ongoing editorial calendar.

If you have any questions about capitalisation or the University house style, please contact the digital communication team.

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