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Write the Right Word: When Not to Capitalize

You’ve probably read an ad, letter, email or other text with all of the words capitalized. Did you find the words hard to read?

If you did, some research can tell you why. Although the writer’s intent was to emphasize the message, the all-caps text actually de-emphasizes it because every letter is the same size. Contrast in letter size make text easier to read.

We’re not used to seeing every letter capitalized, so we have to slow our reading to make sense of what we’re seeing. While readers eventually can decipher the message, why make it hard for people to read? People are busy, and if they have to spend too much time trying to figure out what you’ve written, they probably will give up and move on to something easier to read.

Another reason not to capitalize everything is that all caps can give the impression you are shouting at the reader. People don’t take kindly to someone yelling at them, even in print.

While we’re on the subject of capitalization, stick to uppercasing just the first letter of nouns such people’s names, place and organization names, book titles and some job titles. Don’t  capitalize the first letter to emphasize a common word. Occasionally bolding a word or putting it in quotes gets the job done with less distraction.

, information specialist, (701) 231-5391

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