Learn when the word president should be capitalized or written in lower case with Grammar Rules from the Writer’s Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.
Since today is Presidents’ Day, it makes sense to look at a grammar rule related to presidents…or should it be Presidents? That is, I often see inconsistencies in the use of capitalization when it comes to referring to presidents.
So let’s take a look at when we should use an upper or lower “p.”
When Do You Capitalize President?
While the president of the United States may be a very special person, the title itself is treated no different than any other title when it comes to capitalization. Titles such as doctor, manager, or even my own senior editor are treated the same.
As such, the word president is only capitalized when it directly precedes a person’s name or is used in place of a specific person’s name. “Introducing President Joe Biden” would be capitalized, but “introducing Joe Biden, president of the United States” would not be.
Similarly, if a reporter asks, “Mr. President, was is your position on grammar rules,” it would be capitalized. But if a reporter said, “The president made no comment on grammar,” it would be lower case.
Here are a couple examples:
Correct: It was President Eisenhower who signed the Civil Rights Act of 1957.
Incorrect: It was president Eisenhower who signed the Civil Rights Act of 1957.
Correct: Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States.
Incorrect: Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States.
The nice thing about this grammar rule is that it applies to all job titles. So if you understand how to use it with a president, then you know how to use it with a principal, accountant, or editor-in-chief.
No matter what type of writing you do, mastering the fundamentals of grammar and mechanics is an important first step to having a successful writing career.