Personal Names and Titles

An apostrophe is used for the possessive of singular nouns ending in s:

  • Burns’s poems
  • Harris’s committee

Do not use a comma around Jr., II, or III.

  • The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was a renowned civil rights activist.

Lowercase words like professor, director, dean, when they stand alone or follow a name:

  • The audience gave its loudest applause to the professor who…
  • Costis Maglaras, dean of Columbia Business School, stated…
  • Sheena Iyengar, professor of management, was moderating…

Lowercase a person’s title when the title appears after the name or without the name, but uppercase it if it precedes a name.

  • She now works as director of customer relations...
  • The new policy, as laid out by Professor Jane Doe, takes effect tomorrow.

However, when a title is used in apposition before a personal name—usually preceded by the or by a modifier—it is not considered a title and is therefore lowercased.

  • the empress Elisabeth of Austria (but Empress Elisabeth of Austria)
  • German chancellor Angela Merkel (but Chancellor Merkel)

Endowed Chairs

The full name of the chair/professorship should be noted whenever the current or an emeritus occupant is mentioned. In running text, the named professorship should be prefaced with the word “the.”

  • Bernd Schmitt, the Robert D. Calkins Professor of International Business at Columbia Business School, spoke at the annual meeting of the Hong Kong Alumni Club.
  • The guest of honor was Stefan H. Robock, the R. D. Calkins Professor Emeritus of International Business at Columbia Business School.

NOTE: When an endowed chair/professorship beginning with a proper name follows the current or emeritus occupant’s name (as in the two examples above), the article "the” is used before the endowed chair/professorship to prevent misreading. Depending on the context, you may omit “at Columbia Business School” if that is clear.