Bill Bennett

Bill Bennett

Narcissistic capitals

Companies and insecure people often insist their job titles should be spelt with upper case letters. Thee are narcissistic capitals.

Using capitals this way is incorrect grammar — capitals are used at the start of proper nouns.

Bus driver is not a proper noun. Nor is marketing director or chief executive officer.

For that matter neither is president.

A job title can be a proper noun in some cases, that’s another issue.

No matter.

Are you important enough?

People who insist writers spell job titles in capital letters think it makes the person look more important. Or because they think some jobs are more important than others and deserve capitals for that reason.

As if ‘head of marketing’ isn’t already impressive enough.

Some people insist on using upper case even when they understand it is bad grammar. As my friend Chris Bell (no longer online) points out they worry that using titles correctly may show the world they are unduly modest.

So they deliberately show the world they are semi-illiterate instead. Give me literate any day.

At Psychology Today, Susan Krauss Whitbourne has another warning about narcissists and capital letters:

People high in narcissism, whether characteristically or on a given day, may try demand your immediate attention. Because it affects them, it’s urgent. If it’s a conversation you’re having in person, rather than over email, you may feel that what’s being said could be translated into words appearing all in capital letters, along with a few extra exclamation points.