Understanding capitalization rules for the English language can be challenging and the same is true for the word professor. Whether or not professor is capitalized depends on many factors, including where it is placed in the sentence and how it is used.
When you add other punctuation marks, such as commas, semicolons, and others, it can be hard to get the capitalization correct. With that in mind, here are the rules to correctly use this word.
You Should Capitalize Professor When:
- The word “professor” is part of a title for a specific person or as a reference. The person’s name does not have to be included. Ex. Professor Emeritus John Doe or University Distinguished Professor or Alumni Distinguished Professor.
- The word “professor” is at the beginning of a sentence. This rule goes for all words, as you learned many years ago.
You Should Not Capitalize Professor When:
- When adding “professor” before a person’s name, unless it is the beginning of a sentence. ex. professor John Doe.
- When “professor” is surrounded by commas. This same rule applies to other titles. Ex. We, the professor and I, went to class.
- When there is no specific name attached to “professor.” Ex. The professor went to her lecture.
- When a specific person’s title follows their name. Ex. John Doe, professor of Common Names.
Note: According to AP style, you should not abbreviate professor. Always write this word out fully.
Some people will want you to follow the AP style rules, but there are many other style guides. You will want to check which style guide is requested before completing your article.
With these rules in mind, you can wow your professor or colleagues. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to send us a message. We’re happy to help you master grammar and produce better content every day.
To learn more about proper title capitalization rules, give our free title capitalization tool a try.