Written Communication 101: CAPitalizing on ALL CAPS

“There are instances in written communication where ‘louder’ communication or an emphasis on certain words or phrases is required.”

 

Have you ever wondered why some people block print? Or, why typing a message in ALL CAPS supposedly translates into yelling?

I mean, who came up with that rule?

In the early days of the internet, ALL CAPS was discouraged (mainly because it was a sign that the person was a newbie to the online universe).

Okay Boomer.

As it turns out, people who write in ALL CAPS are possibly not actually shouting at you. They may simply want to remain mysterious. According to graphology*, ALL-CAPS writers have some personality traits in common. They are typically uncomfortable talking about their personal lives or do not want others to know too much about themselves. Interesting, right?

*Graphology is the analysis of the physical characteristics and patterns of handwriting with attempt to identify the writer, indicate the psychological state at the time of writing, or evaluate personality characteristics. It is generally considered a pseudoscience. 

Just like in verbal communication, there are instances in written communication where ‘louder’ communication or an emphasis on certain words or phrases is required.  Even though many people believe that writing in all caps is rude, there are times when it’s totally okay to use CAPS.

 

When to Use CAPS

  • In short phrases or strings of words when bolding, underlining or italics is not possible
  • For branding purposes
  • When it is grammatically correct to do so (proper nouns, titles, at the start of a sentence, etc.)
  • For acronyms
  • For contractions (SciFi, short for science fiction, is an example)
  • When filling out a handwritten form (it makes interpretation of the letters easier)

 

Did You Know?

A capital letter in the middle of a name is known as CamelCase* (iPhone, iOS, eBay, PayPal, MasterCard, iSPARK). Since 1950, the humps have slowly begun to multiply in the marketing world. It’s a technique that traditionalists abhor, but innovators crave.

*According to Wikipedia, CamelCase is a typographical convention in which an initial capital is used for the first letter of a word forming the second element of a closed compound. The name derives from  how the letters look like humps.

Pro Tip ⇒ CamelCase can make a url domain name or a hashtag easier to read or more distinct:

www.bobssandwiches.com vs www.BobsSandwiches.com

OR

#sorrynotsorry vs #SorryNotSorry

CamelCase is also highly recommended for passwords.

When Not to Use CAPS

  • Texting (it is harder to read and is most definitely almost always interpreted as shouting)
  • Randomly (ThiS Is An ANNoyInG UsE oF CaPs)

 

Confession from a Lover of CAPS

I have a secret obsession with CAPS. There – I’ve said it. My maiden name is MacLean and it made me crazy growing up when people forgot the capital L. It was an important distinguishing feature in our family that set us apart from the Maclean’s, the McLean’s and the Mclean’s.

Side note – I grew up in Nova Scotia and MacLean (written various different ways) is a fairly common surname.

This obsession is the main reason why I used CamelCase in my company name. People do screw it up from time to time, but I DON’T CARE BECAUSE I LOVE HOW IT LOOKS WRITTEN WITH A LOWERCASE I AND THE REST IN ALL CAPS! 

Yes, I was yelling.

For more communication tips or musings that may or may not involve capital letters, feel free to reach out for a complimentary 15-minute telephone chat.