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I'm currently writing some fiction about a lord and I'm struggling with when I should capitalise his title.

There are a number of circumstances.

When someone is referring to him or about him using his title:

"Of course my lord."

When the title is used as part of his name:

"Welcome Lord Smith."

Or in the third person:

What did the lord say?

The pattern I've found is to only capitalise when the title is used as part of the character's proper name - Lord Smith. When used in place of his name I've not capitalised.

"What did the young Lord say?"

Doesn't look right to me.

Is this approach correct? Is there a better rule to follow?

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1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I think you have everything right except the last one, which should be

"What did the young lord say?"

You're essentially following AP style for titles.

Generally, capitalize formal titles when they appear before a person’s name, but lowercase titles if they are informal, appear without a person’s name, follow a person’s name or are set off before a name by commas. Also, lowercase adjectives that designate the status of a title. If a title is long, place it after the person’s name, or set it off with commas before the person’s name. Examples: President Bush; President-elect Obama; Sen. Harry Reid; Evan Bayh, a senator from Indiana; the senior senator from Indiana, Dick Lugar; former President George H.W. Bush; Paul Schneider, deputy secretary of homeland security.

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Agreed. Liath, you may be struggling because calling people "lord" is uncommon today, but think about how you use "sir" and I think you'll naturally do the right thing. –  Monica Cellio Aug 18 at 14:12

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