Saturday, January 31, 2015

"Notary" isn't a Proper Noun

Readers, if  you like this story, read more about this subject at the AAN's  link.

According to The Associated Press Stylebook 2014 and U.S. Government Printing Office Style Manual, the phrase "notary public" is a civil title; it isn't a proper noun or a title that should be capitalized.

Other words that should not be capitalized simply because they relate to a notary's duties are notarize, affidavit, affirm, oath, notary signing agent, and notarial, to name a few.

When should you capitalize notary public?
SOURCE:  U.S. GPO Style Manual

If "notary public" is being used as a proper title it would be appropriate to capitalize the words.

Ned Smith
Ned Smith, Florida Notary Public

Ned Smith
Ned Smith
State of Texas, Notary Public

When the word "notary" begins a sentence, it must be capitalized.  Also, if the words "notary public" are being used in the title of a document, book, chapter/section, form, manuscript, or other types of publications, it would be appropriate to capitalize them. For instance:

  • How to be a Fashionable Notary Public
  • Notaries Public Go Mobile! 
  • Chapter 5 - Becoming a Notary Public
  • Ten Strategies for Notaries

Don't take my word for it!  You can put your google talents to work and probably find more sources than I have.  Credible sources that quickly arose to the top of the heap to back up my claims are the Iowa Code Style ManualThe Associated Press Stylebook, and the U.S. Government Printing Office Style Manual.  Note that below in a screenshot from The AP Stylebook, only references to Webster's New World College are capitalized.  That's because it is incorrect to randomly capitalize nouns or words related to the duties of notaries public.

SOURCE: The AP Stylebook via

Until next time!

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