Is President Capitalized?

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The word President often confuses people when it comes to capitalization. Is it president or President? When do you capitalize it?

The word “president” is a proper noun or a common noun depending on the context in which it is used, so the capitalization rules vary.

If President is used to refer to a specific person with a title, then it is capitalized such as:

  • President Donald Trump
  • President Barack Obama

If used as a common noun, then the word president is lowercased such as in the following sentences:

  • The president will announce his candidacy this morning.
  • George Washington was the first president.

According to English capitalization rules, proper nouns are always capitalized. Therefore, when referring to a person with the title President, always capitalize the word.

 

What about presidential? Should presidential be capitalized?

Presidential is not a proper noun naturally, so it should be lowercased unless used in an official event title such as the “50th Presidential Inauguration.”

To learn more about proper title capitalization rules, give our free title capitalization tool a try.

9 COMMENTS

  1. What if you are referring to the current president specifically? As in, saying “the president” to refer to the president who is in office now>

    • According to the link, one capitalizes “president” they said, “…it’s really only necessary to do so when you’re using the title as part of a person’s name or addressing a president directly.“ There previous examples do not demonstrate it, but by this defining factor, technically, “The President is in town,” should be capitalized because it represents not only part of his name, but rather, his whole name. Is it not the same as saying, “President Obama is in town,” or “President Trump is in town”?

      • Ugh: My keyboard changes things and I miss it sometimes! That should have said, “Their previous examples…”

  2. This is totally NOT what we were taught in school. I’m 54, and the office of President of the United States was always to be capitalized when used to represent the President of the United States of America. “President” when referring to other organizations or companies was not to be capitalized unless used in the title addressing the individual such as when “president” replaces “Mr.” or “Ms.” in front of the person’s name. When referring to the President of the United States, we were taught it that out of reverence and patriotism the Office of President of the U.S. received the capital letter at all times. To clarify, in a “grammarly“ sense, we were taught that one should capitalize President when one is referring to President Obama or the President of the United States; therefore, one would say “The President is in town.”

    Langdon Elsbree and Frederick Bracher, Brief Handbook of Usage (Lexington, Mass.: D.C. Heath and Company, 1968), 286, says, “When used without proper names, titles of officers of high rank should be capitalized; other titles should not.” One of the examples is, “The postmaster of our town appealed to the Postmaster General.” The Postmaster General used to be a head of a U.S. government department and a member of the President’s cabinet, whereas the manager of a local post office—its postmaster—might be the only person who worked there. The Postmaster General was subordinate to the President but still an “officer of high rank.”

    The President of the United States is, still in 2019, an “officer of high rank,” thus, by this rule, his title would be capitalized whether it is followed by his name or not. “President Obama will visit our city next month.” “The President will visit our city next month.” The president of anything else should not be capitalized unless it’s in direct address. For example: “The president chairs meetings of the association’s board of directors.” “Our school’s class president is Jeremy Fischer.” “The president of the company wants a word with you!”

    Under this rule, whether you capitalize “P/president” depends on how important you think that particular official is. I capitalize “President” without a name when referring to the head of state of a country. I do not capitalize it when referring to the chief executive of a private corporation, even a very large one. I believe that our mass media world of today and its total disregard of providing unbiased news has eliminated the patriotic and reverent aspect of the very simple grammar rule they taught in schools during my generation and PRIOR—just read printed books published and printed prior to the 1980’s to verify or dispute this argument.

    The first time I, personally, remember seeing the word “president” uncapitalized in reference to the President of the United States was in a common core school book! My thought was, “Indeed, the present government is working diligently to dumb down America!”

  3. Forgive my errors. Typing on my phone seems to produce multiple proofreading neglects:

    “We were taught that out of reverence…”

    It should have said, “The Postmaster General used to be capitalized as it is the title of the head of a U.S…”

    “The president of anything else should not be capitalized unless it’s in direct address or in title.” Add: “For example, ‘President Franklin will walk you through the process of transitioning to the office of president of Acme Packaging because he is, after all, the current president and most qualified.’”

  4. Ok so the formal Newspaper the new york times just wrote an article about Guolini (sp?) and in all cases not directly referencing Trump used the word “president”. Later they dropped Trump’s name when they were definitely referring to something Trump may have said. I felt the article was disengenuous regarding if they were actually refering to Truml whenever it just said “president” and I felt in those cases they were talking about some other president of some other thing. Read the article it came out today. What about that case???

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