Lowercase legibility (was Re: Date format)

Subject: Lowercase legibility (was Re: Date format)
From: Dick Margulis <margulis -at- fiam -dot- net>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 29 Jun 2000 18:34:53 -0400

"MacLemale, Laura A. (LNG-MBC)" wrote:
> Hi Gilda:
> We use the lower case letter format for dates, because lower case
> letterforms tend to be more immediately recognizable (for whatever reasons) visually.


The reason lowercase forms are more recognizable is well understood.
Uppercase letters are all the same height and none have descenders
(except the occasional Q). Therefore the shape of a word set in
uppercase is always a rectangle.

The shapes of words set in lowercase, on the other hand, vary
significantly. When we read, we tend to recognize the shape of a word
and only resort to looking at the letters inside the word to resolve
ambiguities. This is one of the reasons it is so hard to proofread your
own work well. You know what to expect and therefore you see what you
expect to see.

The moral of the story is this: use an all-caps style judiciously. It is
suitable for major headings, where you want the reader to pause and read
slowly. Otherwise, it tends to hinder. And if you do use all caps for
something, consider letterspacing.


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