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Sender: "ACM SIGCHI WWW Human Factors (Open Discussion)" <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Thu, 28 Jul 2005 21:15:56 -0400
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Reply-To: Hal Shubin <[log in to unmask]>
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From: Hal Shubin <[log in to unmask]>
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I asked about book title capitalization vs 
sentence capitalization. Some people agreed with 
me that book title capitalization is annoying, 
some liked it in some cases and One Person 
Thought my Example was Extreme (probably right).

Have you ever read any Winnie-the-Pooh stories? 
Book title capitalization reminds me of that. A. 
A. Milne capitalized some words, giving Special 
Meaning to some words or phrases:

     "Aha!" said Pooh. (Rum-tum-tiddle-um-tum.) "If I know anything about
     anything, that hole means Rabbit," he said, "and Rabbit means Company,"
     he said, "And Company means Food and 
Listening-to-Me-Humming and such like.

                                         -- hs

The responses:

From: [log in to unmask]

For the most part I used Book Title Cap for 
labels and and Sentence capitalization for statements.

So in a web context, most "button" links would be 
Title Caps. But title tags, list items, short 
statements (ie 'Check status of your account'), 
and anything which requires more comprehension than scanning.

Book Title Cap seems to be most misused in 
lists.  Most lists are a few words or short 
statements.  Their brevety encourages content 
writers to emphasis words which really have no singular meaning as in a title.

For example, I see stuff like:
* Corrections to Visuals on the June 2003 CD

When it would be better (imho) to say:
* Corrections to visuals on the June 2003 CD

I think a lot of writers get confused on proper style when they mix titles
with statements.

From: Weston Thompson <[log in to unmask]>


My understanding was that "title case" is easier 
to scan, so it is good to use for headlines.  As 
I see it, one of the drawbacks of all-caps is 
that they offer no variation (such as 
upper/lower) that serve to help scanning.  I see 
all lower case as suffering the same 
problem.  So, for headlines, sections headings, 
and the like - I prefer title case.  I would use 
sentence case for sentences or "sentence-like things" that are not headings.

--Weston Thompson
Information Architect
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Online

From: Scott Nelson <[log in to unmask]>

Your example is extreme, using the style inappropriately.

Title case is but one way of differentiating 
headings, and labeling buttons. There are others. 
I see nothing wrong with it, or with other methods. Consistency is good.

I'd suggest the use of caps and title case is no 
different than choosing a typeface, and no less significant.

>Comments to Me and I'll summarize; Discussion to the List.

How about address the tendency of designers to 
use all lower case. My ex-wife did this all the time, drove me nuts.
Skot Nelson
[log in to unmask]

From: Denny Adelman <[log in to unmask]>


When I first moved to France (from the US) I was 
utterly shocked to discover that the French don't 
capitalize titles, but indeed, always use 
sentence format, as you are suggesting. 
Twenty-five years on, I have been converted to 
the non-cap Way. More elegant, more readable.

The nice thing about standards being that there 
are so many of them (etcetc), we note then that 
the french (the french don't capitalize 'french' 
either) have a standard and it is universally 
respected... in the Francophone world. I believe 
other latin cultures (Spain, Italy...) follow this rule too.

Denny Adelman                              "Making the impossible
IT Strategy and Design                           extremely difficult"
Albi, France

From: Paola Kathuria <[log in to unmask]>

I completely agree.

I also prefer sentence capitalisation.

I don't have any evidence for one or the other. I 
just feel that title case is pretentious on web 
sites and that the extra capitals are just visual 
clutter that slow people down.

I strongly enough about this that I make sure 
it's written into the requirements document, 
before the graphic designer starts work. It will 
say that page headings and labels will be in 
sentence case. If the designer then later says 
"oh, but I like title case" or "everyone else 
does labels in title case", I can then remind 
them that sentence case is stated in the 
requirements which were approved by the client.

A search on Google finds these survey results:

And these number of references:

  5,850 results for "sentence case" heading OR label
10,500 results for "title case" heading OR label
    231 results for "book capitalization" heading OR label

Ho hum.


From: [log in to unmask]

No empirical evidence here, but I can tell you 
what we do in our web applications that seems to work out nicely.
For all field labels (i.e. radio buttons, text 
entry, drop-downs), we use sentence style.  For 
column headers in grids, menu items (e.g. Save 
As)and other "header" type labels (e.g. a title 
on a grid header like "Vendor Details"),
we use Book Title Style.  This seems to be a nice 
balance between emphasis where needed and readability.

Hope this helps,
Marcy Walker

[log in to unmask]
Manugistics, Inc.
Rockville, MD

From: Juan Lanus <[log in to unmask]>

Hal, Iagree with you. It's awful. But it seems to 
be the accepted standard. As I see it the only 
advantage BTC (book title caps) has is that it 
can be done by anyone despite his knowledge level 
about the underlying language. Any foreign 
software developer, from a country with a 
radically different language and alphabet can do 
it in English. For example the very succesful 
Eclipse software development IDE (for software developers, 
like me) states in their UI standard that you 
have to use BTC. The German are midway, as they 
seem to capitalize all substantive words. Maybe 
for them this is worse as the capitalized initial 
conveys a grammatical meaning and capitalized verbs will look as nouns to
Juan Lanus

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