“Capital Letters Were Always The Best Way Of Dealing
With Things You Didn’t Have A Good Answer To”
– Douglas Adams
When and how to use capital letters can be a problem. When writing casually to friends it’s acceptable to drop capital letters. but if you are writing anything more formal then you need to use capital letters correctly.
We are always amused – and slightly terrified – by people who regularly write their Facebook status updates and other things like entire emails in all caps.
We don’t really know why they haven’t learned yet that WRITING IN ALL CAPS IS EQUIVALENT TO SHOUTING.
Really. It doesn’t matter what you’re saying. You can be the nicest person, writing a perfectly harmless statement, but hit that Caps Lock button, and suddenly you sound like a raging psycho.
So what’s up with that?
Incidentally, those that overuse Caps Lock sometimes also have the habit of writing things in bold too. As in, whole paragraphs. Which is ridiculous because when you write everything in bold, you have missed the whole point, which is to emphasize a specific word or phrase.
We are sometimes guilty of this.
Remember, the whole point of writing is to clearly communicate a message.
Two Reasons NOT to Use All Caps
Reason #1. People don’t really like listening to those that Shout.
You can’t blame us, really. It’s something we learn from the time we’re kids: Shouting = Not Fun. That means we’ve probably in trouble.
So we shut off, don’t really listen, start wondering how to cover our asses in case we really are guilty of something, and hope you’ll calm down sometime soon before you give yourself a stroke.
Message NOT received.
Reason #2. A block of text in all caps is actually more difficult to read.
‘Tis true. Studies have shown that text written in ALL CAPS is 40% less legible than text in Caps & lowercase, or just lowercase.
We’re not exactly sure why – some people say it’s because lowercase letters differ more in shape and therefore provide greater contrast, but personally, we think it’s the SHOUTING. Now we’re back to Reason #1.
So if you’re an incorrigible all-capper, do yourself a favor. Just kill the Caps Lock button and come back down to lowercase with rest of us. we promise you won’t regret it. 🙂
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Then start making these mistakes.
The 5 Rules of USING Capital Letters
Rule 1: To Start a Sentence
There are no exceptions to this rule.
This means that, after a full stop,? and ! you always use a capital letter.
Rule 2: Titles
In titles, capitalise only the important words, not minor words such as ‘and’ and ‘but’.
‘Title Case’, with all the important words capitalised, is rather out of fashion at the moment.
Example: “When to Use Capital Letters”
In title case, in this example, ‘Use’, although small, is an important word in the title, and should, therefore, be capitalised. ‘To’, however, is not important and therefore not capitalised.
Rule 3: For Proper Nouns
Proper nouns (nearly) always start with a capital letter. There are exceptions to this rule and in marketing sometimes lower-case characters are purposefully used for some proper nouns. Examples include iPhone or eBay.
Rule 4: Acronyms
Acronyms generally work like title case.
The easiest way to work this out is to write out the full title, and then you can see which words don’t need to be capitalised.
Let’s make this clear with a few examples:
British Broadcasting Corporation – BBC
Department for Education – DfE
Manchester United Football Club – MUFC
United Arab Emirates – UAE
World of Warcraft – WoW
Rule 5: Contractions
So capitalise the initial letters of words, but not subsequent letters within the same word.
Examples of this include HiFi, which is short for ‘High Fidelity’, and SciFi, short for science fiction.
Following these rules will generally help you to work out when to use capital letters. They definitely did for us.
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