Crusading against random Capitalization

Letter A by cheesy42, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  cheesy42 

I’m taking a break from marketing-related subjects to launch a campaign against random capitalization in the middle of sentences.  It’s a tough job, but apparently someone has to do it.

Some subset of the population has a compulsion to capitalize random words for little apparent reason.  It’s almost as if they have a memory from some long-ago German class about capitalizing nouns.

If someone’s not a professional writer, I don’t complain much. But too often I see random and inconsistent capitalization in signage, in website copy, or from other people who should know better.

Capitals are acceptable for names that could be trademarks, such as Acme Analysis Engine. But if you take this path, you need to be consistent and capitalize it every time, not just periodically. And it doesn’t work for something generic, such as “our Reporting capability.”

For most of us readers, capitalization within a sentence implies some kind of proper name. To plop it into the middle of a sentence for no good reason gives the brain a micro-second freeze that interrupts comprehension.

Perhaps people think that if they capitalize something, the reader will feel that it is inherently important. If you want emphasis, use italics. (Don’t even get me started on underlining….)

4 Comments on “Crusading against random Capitalization

  1. Amen! (But “other people that should know better” shd be “other people who…” and “For most of use readers” shd be “For most of us…”)

    • Ouch! Caught out in my own rant! Thanks for catchings those problems, I have corrected them. Ah, for a good editor….

  2. You must really hate A. A. Milne’s writing, and his bear of Very Little Brain… but I’m sure you recognize that in very rare circumstances, gratuitous capitalization is A Good Thing. 😉

    • Excellent point. And I’m a big Pooh fan from way back. But really, Milne’s use of capitalization was anything but random. Rather like a little drop of honey. If only people used it as thoughtfully as Milne, I would have no complaint!

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