All caps


All caps

In typography, all caps (short for "all capitals" or "all capitalized") refers to text or a font in which all letters are capital letters. All caps is usually used for emphasis. It is commonly seen in the titles on book covers, in advertisements and in newspaper headlines. Short strings of words in capital letters appear bolder and "louder" than mixed case, and this is sometimes referred to as "shouting".[1] All caps can also be used to indicate that a given word is an acronym.

Studies have been conducted on the readability and legibility of all caps text. Some 20th century scientific testing indicates that all caps text is less legible and less readable than lower case text. Colin Wheildon stated that there is an "apparent consensus" that lower case text is more legible.[2]

Contents

Usage

Print media

Bilingual sign in Ireland. The eclipsis of P to bP uses lowercase in an otherwise all-caps text.

Before the development of lower case letters in the 8th century, texts in the Latin alphabet were written in a single case, which is now considered to be capital letters. However, the shapes of words set in lowercase provide a valuable cue to readers that helps speed the process of reading; type in all caps forms a rectangular shape for every word, which makes distinguishing words harder. As a result, text in all caps is not widely used in body copy, as it is difficult to read in extended passages. The major exception to this is the so-called small print in legal documents.

Capital letters have been widely used in printed headlines from the early days of newspapers until the 1950s. In the 1990s, more than three quarters of newspapers in the western world used lower case letters in headline text. Discussion regarding the use of all caps for headlines centers on the greater emphasis offered by all caps versus the greater legibility offered by lower case letters.[3] Colin Wheildon conducted a scientific study with 224 readers who analyzed various headline styles and concluded that "Headlines set in capital letters are significantly less legible than those set in lower case."[4]

Computing

All caps typography was common on early computers, such as certain early Apple II models and the ZX81, which had a limited support for lowercase text. This changed as full support of ASCII became standard, allowing lowercase characters.

With the advent of the internet, all caps in messages became closely identified with "shouting" or attention-seeking behaviour and is considered very rude. As a result, netiquette generally discourages the use of all caps when posting messages online. While all caps can be used as an alternative to bolding for a single word or phrase, to express emphasis, repeated use of all caps can be considered "shouting" or irritating.

In programming, writing in all caps (possibly with underscores replacing spaces) is an identifier naming convention in many programming languages that symbolizes that the given identifier represents a constant.

Surnames

A practice exists (most commonly in Francophone countries)[5] of distinguishing the surname from the rest of a personal name by stylizing the surname only in all caps. This practice is also common among Japanese, when they spell their names in roman letters.[citation needed]

Readability

Miles Tinker, for his landmark work, Legibility of Print, performed scientific studies on the legibility and readability of all-capital print. His findings were as follows:

All-capital print greatly retards speed of reading in comparison with lower-case type. Also, most readers judge all capitals to be less legible. Faster reading of the lower-case print is due to the characteristic word forms furnished by this type. This permits reading by word units, while all capitals tend to be read letter by letter. Furthermore, since all-capital printing takes at least one-third more space than lower case, more fixation pauses are required for reading the same amount of material. The use of all capitals should be dispensed with in every printing situation.[6]

According to Tinker, “As early as 1914, Starch reported that material set in Roman lower case was read somewhat faster than similar material printed in all capitals.”[7] Another study in 1928 showed that “all-capital text was read 11.8 per cent slower than lower case, or approximately 38 words per minute slower,”[8] and that “nine tenths of adult readers consider lower case more legible than all capitals.”[9]

A 1955 study by Miles Tinker showed that “all-capital text retarded speed of reading from 9.5 to 19.0 per cent for the 5 and 10 minute time limits, and 13.9 per cent for the whole 20 minute period.”[10] Tinker concluded that, “Obviously, all-capital printing slows reading to a marked degree in comparison with Roman lower case.” [11]

Tinker provides the following explanations for why all capital printing is more difficult to read:

Text in all capitals covers about 35 per cent more printing surface than the same material set in lower case. This would tend to increase the reading time. When this is combined with the difficulty in reading words in all-capital letters as units, the hindrance to rapid reading becomes marked. In the eye-movement study by Tinker and Patterson, the principal difference in oculomotor patterns between lower case and all capitals was the very large increase in number of fixation pauses for reading the all-capital print.[12]

All caps text should be eliminated from most forms of composition, according to Tinker: “Considering the evidence that all-capital printing retards speed of reading to a striking degree in comparison with lower case and is not liked by readers, it would seem wise to eliminate such printing whenever rapid reading and consumer (reader) views are of importance. Examples of this would include any continuous reading material, posters, bus cards, billboards, magazine advertising copy, headings in books, business forms and records, titles of articles, books and book chapters, and newspaper headlines.”[13]

Colin Wheildon stated that there is an "apparent consensus" that lower case text is more legible, but that some editors continue to use all caps in text regardless. In his studies of all caps in headlines, he states that, "Editors who favor capitals claim that they give greater emphasis. Those who prefer lower case claim their preferences gives greater legibility." Wheildon, who informs us that "When a person reads a line of type, the eye recognizes letters by the shapes of their upper halves," asserts that recognizing words in all caps "becomes a task instead of a natural process."[14] His conclusions, based on scientific testing in 1982–1990, are: "Headlines set in capital letters are significantly less legibile than those set in lower case."[15]

John Ryder, in the Case for Legibility, stated that "Printing with capital letters can be done sufficiently well to arouse interest and, with short lines, reading at a slowed speed is possible – but in principle too many factors of low legibility are involved."[16]

Other critics are of the opinion that all caps letters in text are often "too tightly packed against each other".[17]

In CSS

All caps can be specified in CSS using "text-transform: uppercase;". For example, the HTML

<span style="text-transform: uppercase;">Jane Doe</span>

renders as

Jane Doe

In many cases, this is better than typing text directly in capitals, because one can easily change text style—such as replacing all caps with bold or a colored font—if deemed necessary.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Ilene Strizver (2011). "ALL CAPS: To set or not to set?". Fonts.com. Monotype Imaging. http://www.fonts.com/AboutFonts/Articles/SituationalTypography/AllCaps.htm. Retrieved 21 June 2011. ; Cohen, Noam (4 February 2008). "Is Obama a Mac and Clinton a PC?". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/04/technology/04link.html?em&ex=1202274000&en=dfad4f3ac1f773cf&ei=5087%0A. Retrieved 29 January 2011. "Jason Santa Maria, creative director of Happy Cog Studios, which designs Web sites, detected a basic breach of netiquette. “Hillary’s text is all caps, like shouting,” he said." 
  2. ^ Wheildon, Colin (1995). Type and Layout: How Typography and Design Can Get your Message Across - Or Get in the Way. Berkeley: Strathmoor Press. p. 62. ISBN 0962489158. 
  3. ^ Wheildon, Colin (1995). Type and Layout: How Typography and Design Can Get your Message Across - Or Get in the Way. Berkeley: Strathmoor Press. p. 62. ISBN 0962489158. 
  4. ^ Wheildon, Colin (1995). Type and Layout: How Typography and Design Can Get your Message Across - Or Get in the Way. Berkeley: Strathmoor Press. pp. 65, 74. ISBN 0962489158. 
  5. ^ Laura K. Lawless (2010). "Capitalization of French Titles and Names". About.com. The New York Times Company. http://french.about.com/library/writing/bl-capitalizationoftitles.htm. Retrieved 9 July 2010. 
  6. ^ Tinker, Miles A. (1963). Legibility of Print. Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University Press. p. 65. ISBN 6316674. 
  7. ^ D. Starch, Advertising, 1914, Chicago: Scott, Foresman, quoted in Miles Tinker, Bases for Effective Reading, 1965, Minneapolis, Lund Press. p. 136.
  8. ^ M.A. Tinker and D.G. Paterson, “Influence of Type Form on Speed of Reading.” 1928, Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 12, 359–368, in Miles Tinker, Bases for Effective Reading, 1965, Minneapolis, Lund Press. p. 136.
  9. ^ Miles Tinker, Bases for Effective Reading, 1965, Minneapolis, Lund Press. p. 136.
  10. ^ M.A. Tinker, “The Effect of Slanted Text upon the Readability of Print.” 1954, Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol. 45, 287–291, quoted in Miles Tinker, Bases for Effective Reading, 1965, Minneapolis, Lund Press. p. 136.
  11. ^ Miles Tinker, Bases for Effective Reading, 1965, Minneapolis, Lund Press. p. 136.
  12. ^ M. A. Tinker and D.G. Paterson, “Studies of Typographical Factors Influencing Speed of Reading: IX. Reduction in Size of Newspaper Print,” 1932, Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 16, 525–531, quoted in Miles Tinker, Bases for Effective Reading, 1965, Minneapolis, Lund Press. p. 137.
  13. ^ M.A. Tinker and D.G. Paterson, “Readability of Mixed Type Forms,” 1946, Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 30, 631–637, quoted in Miles Tinker, Bases for Effective Reading, 1965, Minneapolis, Lund Press. p. 138.
  14. ^ Wheildon, Colin (1995). Type and Layout: How Typography and Design Can Get your Message Across - Or Get in the Way. Berkeley: Strathmoor Press. pp. 62–64. ISBN 0962489158. 
  15. ^ Wheildon, Colin (1995). Type and Layout: How Typography and Design Can Get your Message Across - Or Get in the Way. Berkeley: Strathmoor Press. p. 74. ISBN 0962489158. 
  16. ^ Ryder, John (1979). The Case for Legibility. London: Bodley Head. p. 72. ISBN 0370301587. 
  17. ^ Squire, Victoria; Willberg, Hans Peter; Forsmann, Friedrich (2006). Getting it Right with Type. London: Laurence King Publishing. pp. 59. ISBN 9781856694742. 

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • all-caps — adjective Written in all caps, with all letters capitalized …   Wiktionary

  • all caps — visos didžiosios statusas T sritis informatika apibrėžtis ↑Rašyklės komanda, visoms pažymėto teksto dalies raidėm pakeisti didžiosiomis ↑raidėmis. atitikmenys: angl. all caps ryšiai: dar žiūrėk – raidė dar žiūrėk – rašyklė palygink – visos… …   Enciklopedinis kompiuterijos žodynas

  • all caps — noun Text or a font in which all letters are capital letters …   Wiktionary

  • All caps (disambiguation) — All caps may refer to:* All caps, text in all capital letters * ALL CAPS (song) …   Wikipedia

  • ALL CAPS (song) — Infobox Single Name = ALL CAPS Artist = Madvillain from Album = Madvillainy Recorded = circa 2003 Genre = Hip Hop Length = 2:10 Label = Stones Throw Records Producer = Madlib ALL CAPS is a single by the hip hop duo Madvillain from their debut… …   Wikipedia

  • Curls/ALL CAPS — Infobox Single Name = Curls / ALL CAPS Artist = Madvillain from Album = Madvillainy Released = 2004 Format = 12 inch single (Commercial / Spray painted) Promo CD (Spray painted) Recorded = 2003 Genre = Hip hop Label = Stones Throw Producer = MF… …   Wikipedia

  • Caps lock — The caps lock is a key on a computer keyboard. Pressing it will set a keyboard mode in which typed letters are capitalized by default and (on some computers) in lower case when the shift key is pressed; the keyboard remains in this mode until… …   Wikipedia

  • All the World's a Stage (album) — Infobox Album | Name = All the World s a Stage Type = Live album Artist = Rush Released = September 29 1976 Recorded = June 11 13, 1976 Genre = Heavy metal, hard rock, progressive rock Length = 1:19:32 Label = Anthem (Canada), Mercury Producer =… …   Wikipedia

  • Caps for Sale —  Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business is a 1938 classic children s book by Esphyr Slobodkina. It s a sly take on the saying, Monkey see, monkey do. ummaryBased on a folktale, the story follows the life of a… …   Wikipedia

  • Caps (drinking game) — Caps is a drinking game commonly involving two cups of beer or water, two teams (of two players each), and bottle caps to be thrown into the cups. The origins of the game are disputed, but it is believed to have originated somewhere in the USA… …   Wikipedia