Some Reasons To Avoid All Capital Letters

July 7, 2011

I still remember the day I set foot in a typing class back in 8th grade. Part of that class was learning the rules of typography as they applied on a typewriter. Many people still follow those rules even when laying out type on a computer.

There are some things that still drive me crazy. Typewriters needed two spaces after punctuation. Only one is required now on the computer. Italics didn’t exist, so underlines were used. Bold didn’t exist, so all capital letters were used. It is the latter that I want to talk about today.

Again, all capitals made sense when we didn’t have a bold font to add emphasis to a block of text. Certainly they can still be used in a logo or a short headline. But using all caps in a block of text makes it incredibly hard to read. The folks at Upper & Lower Case Magazine had a recently article on this. Part of their argument is that we use word shapes to help us read. Go ahead and read their post and look at the examples they present.

There is another use of all caps they mention briefly and that is in online communications. It is considered SHOUTING and really should be avoided. Yes, I’ll make one word in all caps if there is no way to make the text bold.

Whether you are communicating online or you are laying out text for a project, be mindful of using upper case (underlining, extra spaces, etc.) and you’ll find you get better responses (online) and a better looking project.

Post Discussion

3 Comments

  1. Mark

    While I am in general agreement, it is useful to note certain special conventions, i.e. requirements: amendments added to draft legislation are always presented in all caps [and deletions employ strikeouts].

    Reply
  2. Foster D. Coburn III

    Mark, there are certainly instances where all caps is correct. There are just a lot of cases there they are used incorrectly and hopefully this post will help users understand the right and wrong times to use them.

    Reply

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Foster D. Coburn III

Foster D. Coburn III is author of 13 best-selling books on CorelDRAW and has been a contributor to numerous technology and graphics-related magazines. Foster has taken many projects, including this Web site, from the early design stage through to a finished piece. He has been a featured speaker at many graphics conferences. His first Web site was built in 1995 and he has been working exclusively in WordPress since 2013.

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