Does your writing get invaded by the CAPITALIZERS?

Do You Capitalise Every Word In Your Titles And Headlines?

Or do you Capitalise Only the Nouns and big Words in Titles and Headlines?

Why capital letters should not be over used

Or do you, perhaps, capitalise Common Nouns as well as Proper Nouns?

OR DO YOU WRITE LONG PASSAGES ALL IN CAPITAL LETTERS THINKING THAT READERS WILL ASSUME THEY’RE IMPORTANT AND SO PAY ATTENTION?

It’s the invasion of the CAPITALIZERS!

Ironically, many writers and bloggers not only use capital letters in the grammatically correct way, but also, often, over-use them thinking it will beef up the reader appeal and importance of their text.

In fact, though, over-use of capital letters has the exact opposite effect.

So – using capital initial letters may be grammatically correct, but can still be wrong. Why?

Wrongly used but “correct” capital letters can offend the eye.

And when you’re talking online communications like articles/blog posts, social media posts and other elements of communication that may be critical to you and/or your business’s success, offending readers’ eyes is about as useful to you as a f*rt in a spacesuit.

Even more to the point is that reading off a screen is harsher on your eyes than reading from printed paper. So it makes the offense even worse.

Here are the key points we all need to remember about capital letters

Do You Capitalize Every Word In Your Titles And Headlines?

I know this is very popular, especially in North America, because many gurus tell us that a capital letter leading every word makes the whole headline, title, phrase or sentence look more “important.” I disagree. When you read a line all initial capitalized, it makes your eyes yo-yo up and down which a) is distracting and b) slows you down. Which of the following do you find easier to read?

  • Why It Is So Very Hard For Some Bloggers To Stop Using Too Many Capital Letters In Their Headlines
  • Why it is so hard for some bloggers to stop using too many capital letters in their headlines

Or do you Capitalize Only the Nouns and big Words in Titles and Headlines?

This is crazy, pure and simple. At least when you capitalize every word in a sentence, your eyes get used to the yo-yo effect after a while. But here it’s anybody’s guess which words should be capitalized and which shouldn’t depending on which style guide you use, what you were taught at school, and which way the wind’s blowing that day. It’s a visual nightmare.

Here is what my good friends at Grammarly.com have to say about which words deserve capitals and which don’t, and much as they have tried to simplify the answer it’s still as clear as mud:

“The capitalization rules for titles of books, movies, and other works vary a little between style guides. In general, you should capitalize the first word, all nouns, all verbs (even short ones, like is), all adjectives, and all proper nouns. That means you should lowercase articles, conjunctions, and prepositions—however, some style guides say to capitalize conjunctions and prepositions that are longer than five letters.”

Or do you, perhaps, capitalise Common Nouns as well as Proper Nouns?

A number of people I know believe that nouns they think are important deserve a capital letter out of respect / sycophancy etc. This is incorrect, as you’ll see once again in that excellent article by Grammarly. Unless you want to flatter someone’s ego, stick to the rules … your manager, mother-in-law, doctor, dentist, neighbourhood church, accountant, etc. may all merit being made to feel important but whether they like it or not they’re still common nouns.

And because the majority of people know this, to read some text where common nouns are capitalized will jar your readers’ eyes and distract them from what you’re trying to communicate.

OR DO YOU WRITE LONG PASSAGES ALL IN CAPITAL LETTERS THINKING THAT READERS WILL ASSUME THEY’RE IMPORTANT AND SO PAY ATTENTION?

This is the crime of the 21st century if you hang out in online circles because “netiquette” says it’s shouting. Actually it’s not so much shouting as cramming letters into people’s eyes and because we are far more comfortable with a conventional use of upper and lower case letters, these doozies are hard to grasp.

Although it’s still considered shouting to use all capital letters, I do break the rule sometimes (I shout a lot in real life, too) but, only for a word or three. Selfishly I slap a two-word screamer in the subject line of an email, knowing that it will stand out in the recipient’s inbox that’s full of politely written upper and lower case phrases. It usually works. And don’t tell anyone I said that…

For anything other than a couple of words though, don’t be tempted to capitalize every damned word. It’s tough on the eyeballs. Which do you find easier and more comfortable…

  • DO YOU WRITE LONG PASSAGES ALL IN CAPITAL LETTERS THINKING THAT READERS WILL ASSUME THEY’RE IMPORTANT AND SO PAY ATTENTION?
  • Do you write long passages all in capital letters thinking that readers will assume they’re important and so pay attention?

What are your thoughts on the best (as opposed, necessarily, to “correct”) use of capital letters?

Please share!

 

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