Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 6th Aug 2016 01:36 UTC
Graphics, User Interfaces

Can you spot the differences with the messages above? The left side has a few more capital letters than the right side. Big O, little o. Who cares, right?

Well, if you write for an app or website, you should care. A little thing like capitalization can actually be a big deal. Capitalization affects readability, comprehension, and usability. It even impacts how people view your brand.

While there are some more objective arguments to be made, most arguments for and against either title case or sentence case mostly come down to whatever you're used to - what you grew up with. Title case looks entirely ridiculous and confusing to me, and makes dialog boxes, text, and other things much harder to read than when it's in sentence case.

The reason? We don't use title case in Dutch. Everything is sentence case. In English, it's mostly a case of preference, and either case type is fine as long as you're consistent.

Interestingly enough, Apple - generally considered the poster child for title case - actually localises its choice for case type. When you run Apple software in, say, Dutch - it doesn't use title case at all, opting for sentence case instead, because that's the norm in Dutch.

Title case also appears to be on its way out - generally, while pre-internet publications use title case, publications originating from the internet generally use sentence case. I wouldn't be surprised to see title case fall into disuse almost entirely over the coming decades in English - including at Apple. There's going to be an inflection point where title case will simply look incredibly out of place in English, as younger generations grow up on new publications that do not use it.

Title case is old - very old - probably because lowercase evolved out of uppercase, and over the centuries, we've been slowly pushing uppercase letters to perform very specific functions in text. Capitals have become an integral and core part of punctuation rules in every (?) language using on the Latin, Greek (?), and Cyrillic (?) scripts, and while there is some variation here and there - e.g. German holding on to capitalising every single noun, not just proper nouns - there's a remarkable consistency between them.

I'm fairly certain English' title case is the odd-one out, and as the internet continues to break down barriers between cultures and languages, title case will eventually disappear from English, too.

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What??
by Brendan on Sat 6th Aug 2016 03:17 UTC
Brendan
Member since:
2005-11-16

In English, it's mostly a case of preference, and either case type is fine as long as you're consistent.


No.

In English "title case" is used for titles, and "sentence case" is used for sentences. It is never a preference unless you prefer to be wrong.

- Brendan

Edited 2016-08-06 03:18 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE: What??
by kwan_e on Sat 6th Aug 2016 03:29 UTC in reply to "What??"
kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

"In English, it's mostly a case of preference, and either case type is fine as long as you're consistent.


No.

In English "title case" is used for titles, and "sentence case" is used for sentences. It is never a preference unless you prefer to be wrong.

- Brendan
"

He's obviously talking about the usage of case in titles, not in general. And in general, whether you use title case or sentence case in TITLES is a matter of preference, and increasingly going in the sentence case direction.

Reply Score: 2

RE: What??
by skeezix on Mon 8th Aug 2016 15:43 UTC in reply to "What??"
skeezix Member since:
2006-02-06

Depends on the style guide you use, I believe. And as someone mentioned below, it apparently depends on the country you come from. I'm working with someone right now who sticks to the Chicago Manual of Style (title case in titles) and those extra capitals drive me crazy. They Just Look Wrong, and a Little Amateurish Too.

So, as far as I can tell, it truly is a matter of preference in English. Wikipedia has this to say about sentence case in titles (emphasis mine):

In English-language publications, varying conventions are used for capitalising words in publication titles and headlines, including chapter and section headings. The rules differ substantially between individual house styles.

The convention followed by many British publishers (including scientific publishers, like Nature, magazines, like The Economist and New Scientist, and newspapers, like The Guardian and The Times) and U.S. newspapers is to use sentence-style capitalisation in headlines, where capitalisation follows the same rules that apply for sentences. This convention is usually called sentence case. [...] Examples of global publishers whose English-language house styles prescribe sentence-case titles and headings include the International Organization for Standardization.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letter_case#Headings_and_publication_t...

Ah, language. That wonderfully fluid thing that we nevertheless all love to have opinions on (myself included). I never get tired of this sort of discussion.

Reply Score: 1

More a US English thing
by oskeladden on Sat 6th Aug 2016 03:34 UTC
oskeladden
Member since:
2009-08-05

Even in English, the preference for title case over sentence case in the print media is a more a feature of US conventions than it is of English per se. Newspapers in Britain and Ireland use sentence case in their headlines, not title case, and have done so for a couple of decades at least. This is also true of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and virtually all newspapers in India. This also goes for most magazines published in these countries. Title case is only used in the titles of books (and chapters), and mastheads.

Newspapers in the US do use title case in their headlines, of course, but that is a rather small portion of the English-speaking world as a whole.

Reply Score: 5

RE: More a US English thing
by ssokolow on Sat 6th Aug 2016 05:10 UTC in reply to "More a US English thing"
ssokolow Member since:
2010-01-21

Even in English, the preference for title case over sentence case in the print media is a more a feature of US conventions than it is of English per se. Newspapers in Britain and Ireland use sentence case in their headlines, not title case, and have done so for a couple of decades at least. This is also true of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and virtually all newspapers in India. This also goes for most magazines published in these countries. Title case is only used in the titles of books (and chapters), and mastheads.

Newspapers in the US do use title case in their headlines, of course, but that is a rather small portion of the English-speaking world as a whole.


Of course, at least in the world of fanfiction, there's pressure in the opposite direction to adopt the North American convention of using "double quotes" rather than 'single quotes' for dialogue for two reasons:

1. It leaves single quotes free to denote thoughts and internal monologues. (Which is especially important in lower-quality fiction since you're more likely to be skim-reading and miss the cue that it's a thought... possibly having to back up a paragraph or two once you realize your interpretation isn't making sense.)

2. Just as commas avoid the risk of having to read a sentence twice (once for structure, then again for content), using double quotes avoids the risk of having to expend mental effort to tell the difference between apostrophes and single quotes in poorly-proofread text.

Reply Score: 3

RE: More a US English thing
by Brendan on Sat 6th Aug 2016 07:31 UTC in reply to "More a US English thing"
Brendan Member since:
2005-11-16

Hi,

Even in English, the preference for title case over sentence case in the print media is a more a feature of US conventions than it is of English per se. Newspapers in Britain and Ireland use sentence case in their headlines, not title case, and have done so for a couple of decades at least. This is also true of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and virtually all newspapers in India. This also goes for most magazines published in these countries. Title case is only used in the titles of books (and chapters), and mastheads.


As an Australian I can say that this is definitely not true for printed media in Australia; and I tend to doubt that you're correct for many of the other countries you've mentioned either.

The only case I do see sentence case is on (some) web sites, where "random whatever" has become normal due to a combination of internationalisation (who knows what's "right" when different countries have different standards) and web designers being used in place of competent editors.

- Brendan

Edited 2016-08-06 07:32 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: More a US English thing
by ssokolow on Sat 6th Aug 2016 08:46 UTC in reply to "RE: More a US English thing"
ssokolow Member since:
2010-01-21

Hi,

As an Australian I can say that this is definitely not true for printed media in Australia; and I tend to doubt that you're correct for many of the other countries you've mentioned either.

The only case I do see sentence case is on (some) web sites, where "random whatever" has become normal due to a combination of internationalisation (who knows what's "right" when different countries have different standards) and web designers being used in place of competent editors.

- Brendan


...and who knows here in Canada. We're too used to following American linguistic and cultural conventions because they shout louder than our standards bodies.

I didn't know most of the differences between American and Canadian spellings until part-way through my teen years when I finally ran into a spell checker that had been configured for Canadian English.

As for title vs. sentence case, I follow the American approach and, as I'm a bit of an obsessive perfectionist, I tend to work things like case-correction into my creations.

For example, if I can ever get back to working on it, this little hobby project uses a modified str.title() which only uppercases (to avoid ruining already-correct acronyms) and has a specialized exceptions list bolted on to handle things like common roman numerals.

https://github.com/ssokolow/game_launcher

(Many of my games get read in via the heuristic backend which has to deal with source strings like "beatblastersiii". I rely heavily on automated testing to prevent regressions as I improve the heuristics for guessing titles from filenames.)

Edited 2016-08-06 08:48 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: More a US English thing
by mdsama on Sat 6th Aug 2016 09:39 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: More a US English thing"
mdsama Member since:
2005-07-08

Check the Sydney Morning Herald or the Globe and Mail (or many others) - their headlines are in sentence case.

I think there's a good chance that names - book titles, organisations, etc. - will remain title case, even with its slightly complicated rules for short words.

But headlines are a strange in-between case, including grammatically (e.g. leaving out words, stilted phrasing...). Kind of makes sense there's no consensus on whether they're titles or sentences.

The linked article talks about using title case for things that aren't titles at all, though, like dialogue messages, website blurbs and button labels, which you'd think would make no sense... I guess that's why it lists confusion about when to switch to title case as one of its disadvantages.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: More a US English thing
by Brendan on Sat 6th Aug 2016 11:19 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: More a US English thing"
Brendan Member since:
2005-11-16

Hi,

Yes - headlines are a messy grey areas for multiple reasons.

The linked article talks about using title case for things that aren't titles at all, though, like dialogue messages, website blurbs and button labels, which you'd think would make no sense... I guess that's why it lists confusion about when to switch to title case as one of its disadvantages.


For dialog boxes; to me they seem unfinished without both a title and a description (which would also help to make it clear what to do with capitals). It's the "title and description merged into one thing" that causes confusion.

- Brendan

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: More a US English thing
by Alfman on Sat 6th Aug 2016 14:04 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: More a US English thing"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

ssokolow,

For example, if I can ever get back to working on it, this little hobby project uses a modified str.title() which only uppercases (to avoid ruining already-correct acronyms) and has a specialized exceptions list bolted on to handle things like common roman numerals.


Wow, this sounds very similar to a mainframe web conversion application I developed for work. I took the existing 3270 application screens and developed algorithms to "beautify" them on the fly. The originating data was all uppercase, so one change was to heuristically recase the words using sentence structure and a dictionary. Mainframe input fields got converted into HTML text boxes. Another change was to detect PF (function key) button shortcuts that are common to mainframe apps and convert them into standard HTML buttons. All in all a user might not even recognize that a mainframe session was driving the webapp.


https://github.com/ssokolow/game_launcher

(Many of my games get read in via the heuristic backend which has to deal with source strings like "beatblastersiii". I rely heavily on automated testing to prevent regressions as I improve the heuristics for guessing titles from filenames.)


That's a pretty cool project. I always love reading about what others are doing, and yet we so rarely hear about it since the usual tech giants have a monopoly on headlines, regardless of case.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: More a US English thing
by OilCan on Sat 6th Aug 2016 13:41 UTC in reply to "RE: More a US English thing"
OilCan Member since:
2016-08-06

I totally agree with you, Brendan, in regards to "'random whatever'" becoming the norm as per [internationalisation].

Who knows what's correct? Unfortunately, many don't know. So, sentence case versus title case doesn't mean much, now -- even for those who should have known better. Even using lower case for proper names may be "cute", sometimes, as in movie credits. But even using lower case for everything, now, has gotten out of hand. But, then, isn't that "random whatever"?

Imagine the proper case used in a name, for instance, Peter McWilliams. Now, it may be peter mcwilliams; or even worse, it might be mangled on the internet and appear as Peter Mcwilliams, with the "w" in Williams being lower case and not the correct upper case "W".

More a US English thing? No, no, no! It's more random whatever.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: More a US English thing
by Alfman on Sat 6th Aug 2016 14:49 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: More a US English thing"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

OilCan,

Who knows what's correct? Unfortunately, many don't know. So, sentence case versus title case doesn't mean much, now


Haha, I'm very bad with it. I can't defend my use of case, but it is interesting to step back and study it. The only thing guarantied to be upper case in my non-formal writing is the beginning of a sentence and abbreviations. I DON'T DO THIS TO SENTENCES, but rarely I'll do it to WORDS. I almost never uppercase company names. Personal names usually aren't either unless it's someone present in the discussion.

In emails, I'll address people with proper case for names, however I've found that whether or not my correspondent will get my name right is statistically linked to their rank in the company. Low ranks always get it right, and high ranks will often not only omit uppercase but also completely misspell it as though they're hamfisting the keyboard/touchscreen.

None of this is good english, yet I just don't seem to care that much. The spellcheck even flagged the last sentence, and yet I'm not going to fix it.

Edited 2016-08-06 15:00 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: More a US English thing
by oskeladden on Sun 7th Aug 2016 20:48 UTC in reply to "RE: More a US English thing"
oskeladden Member since:
2009-08-05

Hi,

Even in English, the preference for title case over sentence case in the print media is a more a feature of US conventions than it is of English per se. Newspapers in Britain and Ireland use sentence case in their headlines, not title case, and have done so for a couple of decades at least. This is also true of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and virtually all newspapers in India. This also goes for most magazines published in these countries. Title case is only used in the titles of books (and chapters), and mastheads.

As an Australian I can say that this is definitely not true for printed media in Australia; and I tend to doubt that you're correct for many of the other countries you've mentioned either.


The Age, The Australian, and the Sydney Morning Herald all use sentence case in their headlines in their print editions, and they do so consistently. So does the New Zealand Herald and the Globe and Mail (Canada). In Britain, the Times, the Guardian, and the Daily Telegraph do the same as do, in Ireland, the Irish Times and the Belfast Telegraph. Contrast that with the New York Times (for example).

Where do you see title case used in newspapers in Oz?

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: More a US English thing
by Brendan on Mon 8th Aug 2016 01:04 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: More a US English thing"
Brendan Member since:
2005-11-16

Hi,

Where do you see title case used in newspapers in Oz?


I'd expect all of those newspapers use title case for titles (just not for headlines because headlines are not titles).

- Brendan

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: More a US English thing
by ssokolow on Mon 8th Aug 2016 01:34 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: More a US English thing"
ssokolow Member since:
2010-01-21

because headlines are not titles


I suspect that's where American and Commonwealth English disagree.

Intuitively, I think it makes sense for headlines to be titles, but I'm willing to be convinced otherwise.

Edited 2016-08-08 01:37 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: More a US English thing
by oskeladden on Mon 8th Aug 2016 07:42 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: More a US English thing"
oskeladden Member since:
2009-08-05

because headlines are not titles

I suspect that's where American and Commonwealth English disagree.

Intuitively, I think it makes sense for headlines to be titles, but I'm willing to be convinced otherwise.


Thank you. That is the precise point I was trying to make about the distinction between US English and the sort the rest of the English-speaking world uses. As anyone who works with both variants of English knows, US English uses title case far, far more extensively than British / Irish / Australian English. Going by the tenor of Thom's post, a fair bit of what he is reacting to is specific to US English.

Edited 2016-08-08 07:42 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: More a US English thing
by M.Onty on Mon 8th Aug 2016 14:51 UTC in reply to "RE: More a US English thing"
M.Onty Member since:
2009-10-23


The only case I do see sentence case is on (some) web sites, where "random whatever" has become normal due to a combination of internationalisation (who knows what's "right" when different countries have different standards) and web designers being used in place of competent editors.
- Brendan


Partly it is because, as you say, while the newspapers' print versions are properly designed and edited, the newspapers' websites are put together by people who regard a passing knowledge of CSS3 as a background in typography (I've been guilty myself).

But its also deliberate, for functional reasons. Print headlines want to stand out on a newsagent's shelf, website headlines want to please the algorithmic gods of Google.

Print headlines are catchy and resemble titles, therefore tend to me written in title case, whereas web headlines are long descriptive sentences, therefore tend to be written in sentence case.

Example from memory from print copy of The Sun (Britain):

"Wam Bam, Sam Cam a Mam"

Which on their or any other website would probably have been something like:

"BREAKING NEWS: Prime Minister's wife Samantha Cameron announces she's pregnant"

EDIT: Because once you start its hard to stop, here's another one from The Sun to try and translate: "Super Caley Go Ballistic, Celtic Are Atrocious"

Edited 2016-08-08 14:55 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: More a US English thing
by darknexus on Mon 8th Aug 2016 15:20 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: More a US English thing"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

"Wam Bam, Sam Cam a Mam"

Wow, and I thought texting shorthand could be hard to comprehend. ;)

Reply Score: 2

Varying ideas of "serious"
by Trenien on Sat 6th Aug 2016 10:50 UTC
Trenien
Member since:
2007-10-11

<div class="cquote"><p>Just as title case looks more formal and serious, sentence case looks more casual and friendly.</div>
Really?

From where I stand (not a native English speaker), I always feel that in such cases, it's rather sloppier and much less elegant altogether - it feels as if written by an over-enthusiastic second-grader.

Actual titles are a different thing, of course.

Edited 2016-08-06 10:51 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Tilte case will never go away
by yerverluvinunclebert on Sat 6th Aug 2016 11:36 UTC
yerverluvinunclebert
Member since:
2014-05-03

As title case provides a type of emphasis that is not provided by the grammar and form of the language it provides an extra bit of function and flexibility. I don't see something useful disappearing in a hurry.

Title case on the web is not so prevalent because titles are often created automatically by a CMS from an article heading. I will create a download for instance, give it an appropriate and descriptive name and that download name will become a title for a web-page where the download is displayed. My reasons for creating the name are different, I want to create a less apparent emphasis through the use of keywords that are visible to webspiders/crawlers. If I wanted to provide that emphasis to human readers then I might use title case as well.

Reply Score: 3

rklrkl
Member since:
2005-07-06

I've never liked the trend of designers to put headings either all in upper case or all in lower case. I get particularly upset when all the letters are in lower case for a proper name, which should *always* have a capital letter.

I call it the "designer's broken caps lock key syndrome" and it's a far worse plague than the subtle distinction here between title and sentence case. Designers do it because they claim they like to see the tops and bottoms of letters "line up", which is the biggest load of garbage excuse I've ever heard.

Reply Score: 2

Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

rklrkl,

I've never liked the trend of designers to put headings either all in upper case or all in lower case. I get particularly upset when all the letters are in lower case for a proper name, which should *always* have a capital letter.


I say to each their own. What I find interesting is that you've opted for an all lowercase name here on osnews.

Reply Score: 2

Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

And you didn't capitalise any of the letters in OSNews, is that because people disagree on how to capitalise it ? ;-)

Edited 2016-08-07 00:24 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Gargyle Member since:
2015-03-27

But surely you know it should be OSnews, not OSNews, right? It's in the website header.

I would rather write OSNews, since I think one should capitalise every word in the demi-abbreviation, not just the abbreviated letters.

Reply Score: 1

Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

But surely you know it should be OSnews, not OSNews, right? It's in the website header.


But it's 'OSNews' in the website title....

Reply Score: 2

dionicio
Member since:
2006-07-12

Small things like
center alignment,
double space between sentences,
item separation,
profuse punctuation,
concept analysis, etc...

Help me a lot.

Reply Score: 2

dionicio Member since:
2006-07-12

Think English language internationalization is -indeed- accelerating at this Century.

Reply Score: 2

dionicio Member since:
2006-07-12

[A two-way process].

Reply Score: 2

ssokolow Member since:
2010-01-21

Double-spacing between sentences outside of a <pre> element annoys me greatly because, not only is it abuse of a convention developed for monospaced typefaces (ie. typewriters), it generally indicates that a WYSIWYG editor widget abused the non-breaking space entity to circumvent HTML whitespace normalization.

(Don't get me started on abusing empty P elements to add blank lines.)

Reply Score: 3

dionicio Member since:
2006-07-12

...are the 'file format converters'. Dismaying results. Should be forbidden!

Reply Score: 2

Tiltle Case Is for Titles
by softdrat on Sun 7th Aug 2016 01:17 UTC
softdrat
Member since:
2008-09-17

Well, I recently submitted an article for publication to a US-based organization, and it insisted that the title (yes, a proper, first-class title) be written with sentence-case. Why? It defeats the purpose of a title in the first place - to advertise your work to people would be interested in reading the article if they knew it existed. Titles written in sentence-case are boring.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Tiltle Case Is for Titles
by kwan_e on Sun 7th Aug 2016 01:51 UTC in reply to "Tiltle Case Is for Titles"
kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

It defeats the purpose of a title in the first place - to advertise your work to people would be interested in reading the article if they knew it existed. Titles written in sentence-case are boring.


The purpose of title case should be defeated. We have bold fonts and layout now.

Reply Score: 2

dionicio
Member since:
2006-07-12

...As a quick & dirty trick to define META conversation. My most common usage of [Lock CAPS] is to denote [what I see as] a pivoting|unfreezing word of the argumentation line.

I'm not 'yelling'. [That's too much caffeine -at the reader side].

On formal writing the META has to be 'formulated'. {Sorry about the pun} ;)

Reply Score: 2

Just on a playing ground...
by dionicio on Sun 7th Aug 2016 14:40 UTC
dionicio
Member since:
2006-07-12

...And remembering of cuneiform alphabets. States prefer of strong, straight lines.

This powerful one is from Xerxes:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Trilingual_inscription_of_Xerxes,...

Curved alphabets and glyphs are born of inks and perishable supports.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Just on a playing ground...
by dionicio on Sun 7th Aug 2016 15:07 UTC in reply to "Just on a playing ground..."
dionicio Member since:
2006-07-12

As a footnote: Cuneiform is so easy to OCR ;)

Reply Score: 2

Title case all over OSNews
by aidan0000 on Sun 7th Aug 2016 23:51 UTC
aidan0000
Member since:
2016-08-07

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't there title case all over OSNews Thom?

You did say "Title case looks entirely ridiculous and confusing to me, and makes dialog boxes, text, and other things much harder to read than when it's in sentence case", but:

Looking at this post screen alone, I see:
"Advanced Search"
"News Archive"
"Comment Votes"
"Submit News"
"Your Email Address"
"Sign Up Now!"
"Comment Title"
"Your Comment"
"Bold Selected Text"
"Italic Selected Text"
"Preview Comment" (then strangely "Submit comment")
"My Account"
"Friends & Fans"
"OSNews Privacy Statement"
"Notice to Bulk Emailers"

and even this one, where every word is capitalised (not just Title Case):
"Sign Up For The OSNews Newsletter"

I don't really care, I just thought that it was humorous ;)
... and it was probably just Eugenia back in the day ;)

Reply Score: 4

You Guys Can Do What You Like...
by burnttoys on Tue 9th Aug 2016 09:44 UTC
burnttoys
Member since:
2008-12-20

When I write for myself I use no upper-case at all.

My character set as a..z - _ ; . , ' 0..9

I use / for /emphasis/

=If I really need it I use '=' =

i spent /way/ too long working with librarians. then i spent way to long working on tiny 8 bit machines. both sent me 'over the edge'.

Edited 2016-08-09 09:44 UTC

Reply Score: 1