Names and titles

black and gray stethoscope

Only people under the age of 18 are boys or girls. Older than that, they are men or women.

Avoid “ladies”.

Women are generally Ms (unless they state a preference for Mrs or Miss – or, of course, unless they’re a Lady [aristocratic], Professor, Dr or whatever [see below]).

In general, at first mention use a person’s full name without title: Boris Johnson. In news reports, at subsequent mentions always use the title and surname: Mrs May.

Please avoid, Boris and prefer Johnson, without the title (if you think that this is odd, consider how Cameron is preferable to David).

For people under 18, use the first name at subsequent mentions both in features and news reports.

The following should be given their title, along with their first name and their surname, at first mention:

  • Doctors
  • People with a military rank
  • Peers (those that sit in the House of Lords)
  • Police officers
  • Professors
  • The clergy

The following titles are abbreviated throughout:

  • Dr (doctor)
  • PC (police constable)
  • DCI (detective chief inspector)
  • Sgt (Sergeant, note the spelling)
  • St (for Saint, but not for street)

All others are given in full at the first mention of a person and abbreviated
only at subsequent mention.

Thus Dr David Bowsher at first mention, Dr Bowsher thereafter, but Professor Stephen Hawking at first mention, Prof Hawking thereafter.

When writing for broadsheet newspapers, do not use job descriptions as though they were people’s titles. It is Mark French, a lorry driver, not lorry driver Mark French.

But for tabloids and magazines, the convention is often to use job descriptions as though they were people’s titles: sales executive Sara Kingston

Note also that councillor isn’t a title, but that Rachael Marks, a Chapel Allerton councillor (with a lower-case “c”) becomes Cllr Marks next time she’s mentioned.

For the long dead, sports people, entertainers and artists, it is often correct to use the surname only (unless, of course, the entertainer is Madonna or the artist is Banksy).

Use your ear and your common sense.

Always use the surname only in the case of convicted criminals.

No full points after initials, which are typed close up to each other: OJ Simpson.

The spelling of names should be checked and double-checked.

Is it, for instance, Dr Jeffreys, Dr Jefferies or Dr Jeffries?


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