Learning Italian: When to Capitalize Formal Titles before Names

By Antonietta Di Pietro, Francesca Romana Onofri, Teresa L. Picarazzi, Karen Antje Moller, Daniela Gobetti, Beth Bartolini-Salimbeni

Part of Italian All-in-One For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Fine-tune your command of the Italian language by knowing when to capitalize a person’s title. If you have to write a formal letter or e-mail to VIPs, such as the principal of your child’s school, show that you’re familiar with the rules of Italian “bureaucratic” etiquette.

Names that represent a particular title — by birth, merit, or qualification — should be capitalized. You write:

  • il Presidente (President)

  • l’Onorevole (Honorable)

  • il Rettore (Dean)

  • il Preside (Principal)

  • il Professore (Professor)

However, when these titles are accompanied by a proper name, using lowercase is preferable:

  • il presidente Rossi

  • l’onorevole Verdi

  • il rettore Bianchi

  • il conte Cavour

  • il re Vittorio Emanuele II

In the plural, these titles aren’t capitalized (such as ministers or senators). For example, i senatori hanno approvato una nuova legge sul lavoro (The senators have approved a new labor law).