You know about random acts of kindness. Or random acts of violence. Well in content you’ll have come across what we like to call random acts of capitalisation.
Should that be Random Acts of Capitalisation? No. Not unless we’re going to make it the title of our next book.
This post from Erbut (article no longer available) looks at this (mal)practice from the point of view of bids. But the argument holds for just about every type of writing and editing…
Bid proposals are important documents. After all, there are often millions of dollars in business at stake, as well as lots of people’s jobs.
So it’s understandable that companies preparing bids want to convey the importance of those documents as much as possible… Sometimes by Capitalising every Word they consider Especially Important.
Take another look at the second half of that last sentence. Did capitalising all those words really add anything of value to the sentence? Or did it just make it odd looking and harder to read?
Experts in typography – which Merriam-Webster defines as “the style, arrangement or appearance of typeset matter” – say overuse of capitalisation slows readers down. One reason for this is that people tend to read word by word, rather than letter by letter, and recognise words by their shape. Capitalising a word that is not normally capitalised changes that word’s shape and, thus, its readability.
Overcapitalisation also looks antiquated, according to the Guardian’s style guide…
We’ll be bringing you more in the Collective Content series on style and grammar soon.
(Disclosure: Collective Content (UK) director Tony Hallett is also a senior partner at Erbut.)