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I've seen all three used and there doesn't seem to be a definitive one that I can find. I'm hedging towards Co-Founder as it's a title, but any clarity would be appreciated.

Edit

If it makes it any clearer, the intended use would be for business cards; so something like:

Name Surname
Co-Founder Some Company

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Updated my answer based on your edit –  hohner Mar 23 '12 at 23:01

3 Answers 3

up vote 16 down vote accepted

All are acceptable, so you should follow your judgement.

British usage generally favours rather more hyphens than American usage; I'd use co-founder since cofounder doesn't look all that natural. I'd omit the hyphen in landowner, though, so it depends.

Longman and Collins tend to prefer unhyphenated while Chambers, predictably, insists on the hyphenated form.

If you're using the word in a title (in which you can capitalize every important word) or at the beginning of a sentence, you should always use Co-founder, not Co-Founder; such as:

The Importance of the Co-founder in Contemporary America

For all other usages, just use co-founder.

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can you explain why you don't capitalise the 'f' in founder? that's pretty much the one thing i'm not sure on –  divillysausages Mar 25 '12 at 21:32
    
Because founder isn't a proper noun. When the hyphenated word (i.e. Co-founder) is not in a title, there's no need to capitalize every main word - you only capitalize proper nouns (names, places, etc.) –  hohner Mar 25 '12 at 21:39
    
excellent, thanks –  divillysausages Mar 26 '12 at 19:57
    
Is possible to write "Co Founder" (or "Co founder") as well? Thanks –  Schovi Aug 15 '13 at 8:31
    
Dear @Schovi: No. –  brookr Dec 3 '13 at 6:17

Is it an actual title of address, like someone would be called, "Co-Founder Jones" in the same sense that someone would be called "Mayor Jones"?

If not, if it's simply the name of a job or role, like "engineer" or "accountant", then it is not capitalized. You write, "Bob is one of our co-founders," not "Bob is one of our Co-Founders".

If it really is a title of address, then it should be capitalized when and only when used as a title before the person's name. Thus, "The meeting was chaired by Co-Founder Jones", but "The meeting was chaired by one of our co-founders". (Well, it would also be capitalized when used as the first word in a sentence, etc.)

If it is capitalized, whether you should write "Co-Founder" or "Co-founder" ... my gut instict is "Co-Founder", but I don't know of any authoritative source to back that up. There's something of an analogy that when you have two-word titles, both words are capitalized, like we write "Vice President Jones", not "Vice president Jones". I think a hyphenated title would follow similar logic, but as I say, I don't have any independent confirmation on that.

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I edited my question to include the intended use. Basically it's for business cards –  divillysausages Mar 23 '12 at 21:46
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In that case, I'd capitalize it because job titles on business cards are generally capitalized. You write "Joe Smith, Senior Accountant", not "Joe Smith, senior accountant". –  Jay Mar 26 '12 at 13:54

Co-founder. Once hyphenated, the word is a single word, so only needs a capital at the beginning of the entire word. If you write Co Founder (which isn't really a word) then you'd capitalize both. co-founder works in a sentence when it's not part of someone's title. So:

Sentence: Elizabeth is the co-founder of the company. Title: Elizabeth Jones, Co-founder

[IMHO and American experience/prior and very ancient education]

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