Caps misunderstanding

Subject: Caps misunderstanding
From: Margaret Gerard <margaret%mailhost -at- TOSHIBA -dot- TIC -dot- OZ -dot- AU>
Date: Thu, 28 Apr 1994 15:31:53 --1000

Hi Techwriters,

Over on framers -at- uunet, a fellow posted an amusing article from the Wall Street
Journal of 1st March. The article consisted of anecdotes gleaned from help
desks providing support to PC users. I was particularly interested in one
which I have quoted below:

........Seemingly simple computer features baffle some users. So many people
have called to ask where the "any" key is when "Press Any Key" flashes
on the screen that Compaq is considering changing the command to
"Press Return Key.".........(end quote)

My reaction was - well of course the user will look for a key labelled "Any"
because it is represented (in the message) with its initial letter uppercase,
this means that it is a specific key. It is interesting that the proposed
replacement correctly, to my mind, uses caps to indicate a specific key when
in the original the same use of caps does not indicate a specific key. Didn't
the person who designed this message know the difference between the Return
keyand any key? Why were they surprised when the user misunderstood?

I constantly get documents to edit in which the writer plays fast and loose
with initial caps. Any ideas as to why this is so?

Margaret Gerard email: margaret -at- toshiba -dot- tic -dot- oz -dot- au
Toshiba International

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