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How to Punctuate Organization Titles


Properly punctuating organization titles shows respect to the individuals about whom you are writing. The term "organization titles," can refer to both the titles of particular individuals at an organization or business, as well as the title of the organization itself. In addition to proper title punctuation, it is important to know when and when not to use capitalization in titles. There are some general guidelines that take the guessing out of writing these titles.

Titles of Individuals at an Organization

Place a period after abbreviated titles preceding names.

Mr. Name Name or Mr. Name

Mrs. Name Name or Mrs. Name

Ms. Name Name or Ms. Name

Dr. Name Name or Dr. Name

Miss is not an abbreviation and does not require a period.

Only use an abbreviated academic title when a first name or initial is included.

Prof. N. Name

Prof. Name Name

or

Professor Name

Use a comma after an individual's name when it is followed by an abbreviated academic degree or a familial abbreviation.

Name Name, M.D.

Name Name, Jr.

Name Name, Sr.

Do not use both an abbreviated title and an abbreviated academic degree. Use only one or the other.

Dr. N. Name

or

Name Name, M.D.

not

Dr. N. Name, M.D.

Capitalize and spell out titles when they precede a name in a sentence.

I voted for Senator Name.

Capitalize titles that appear after a name in a document signature line. There should also be a comma between the name and title.

Name Name, Executive Editor

Capitalize and spell out titles when they follow a name in a sentence if the word "the" does not precede the title. Include commas on both sides of the title.

Name Name, Treasurer, will emcee the event.

Do not capitalize a title following a name if it includes the word "the." Do still use commas on both sides of the title.

Mr. Name, the club president, sang a song.

Organization Titles

Abbreviate the portion of an organization or business title that includes a legal designation such as "Company," "Limited" or "Incorporated." Use a period after the abbreviation and do not use commas before the abbreviation.

Arby's Restaurant Group Inc.

CVS Caremark Corp.

Allied Domecq Financial Services Ltd.

Dow Chemical Co.

Do not use an organization or company's abbreviated legal designation in non-formal writing when the content will not affect the organization's business.

Arby's Restaurant

CVS Caremark

Allied Domecq Financial Services

Dow Chemical

Always capitalize and never abbreviate any portion of a government organization's name on first reference. However, it is okay to use abbreviations and non-formal names on second reference.

National Science Foundation (NSF)

Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae)

Tips
  • For a comprehensive list of title abbreviations for individuals at an Organization refer to "Capital Community College: Name Title Abbreviations."
  • "Standard & Poor's: Register of Rated Corporations" includes the official names of many organizations and businesses.
  • "USA.gov: A-Z Index of U.S. Government Departments and Agencies" lists the official names of all government organizations.
About the Author

Laura Payne has been freelance writing for several online publications in her free time since 2006. She holds a Master of Arts in linguistics from Wayne State University and a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Oakland University. Payne teaches linguistics classes at both universities on an adjunct basis.

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