The Associated Press Stylebook sent out a tweet today with which I find myself forced to disagree:*

"AP Style tip: Capitalize publisher when used as a formal title before a name: Publisher Isaiah Thomas of the Massachusetts Spy."

No, no, no. This is the sort of thing that allows publishers to exaggerate their importance in the great scheme of things. General is a title; archbishop is a title; senator is a title. Publisher, like editor, is a job description, not a title. 

The distinction can get a little blurry, particularly because people like to give their dreary jobs the dignity of capitalization, and sycophants can be counted on to lay on the capitals whenever possible. But there is a rule of thumb that should help you make the distinction: If you would use the term with the person's last name, it is likely to be a title. 

Would you call Isaiah Thomas, publisher of the Massachusetts Spy, "Publisher Thomas" on second reference? Would you call John E. McIntyre, night content production manager at The Baltimore Sun, Night Content Production Manager McIntyre?** 

I recall seeing someone speculate that Time is responsible for fostering the proliferation of false titles. "Publsher Thomas" would have been a construction at home in Timestyle. Timestyle is not a model you should emulate.  

 

 

*By now it should be evident to you how much it pains me to differ from the AP Stylebook

**If so, tug your forelock and show a proper degree of respect.