Re: prepositions & init caps

Subject: Re: prepositions & init caps
From: Chuck Martin <techwriter -at- VNET -dot- IBM -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 28 Apr 1994 10:13:06 PDT

Yes, two for the price of one.

As I remember from my Style in Technical Writing class (thank you Jan S.),
the "rule" against ending sentences with a preposition is anything but.
(The same with the old "split infinitive" thing--"to boldly go" and all
that.) It's one of those things, however, that 3rd grade English teachers
like to harp on--it's easier to teach that way than to keep the attention
of and explain to over-energetic pre-teens the fine nuances of English
usage. In this case, the only "rule" is clarity. As for others willy-nilly
editing your prose, I can only surmise and hope that retribution was swift.

As for the initial caps issue, my favorite resource is the book "Graphic
Design for the Electronic Age," which notes the questionable need for
such a practice (it focuses on headings) on pp. 34-5:

"{The Up-and-Down style} practice evolved in U.S. newspapers in the
last century for technical reasons: they ran out of capital letters for
headlines and had to invent some alternative means to distinguish
headlines from text. With today's technology, such shortages cannot
happen; besides, we now use much larger and bolder type to make
headlines noticeable, so we don't need capitals to bring attention
to the change in typographic structure....

"Our eyes recognize words as letter-groups by scanning the upper part
of the word.

"Capital Initials Impede and Retard Reading Speed Because They Disturb
the Natural Patterns and Relationships of Letters to Each Other....

"To make matters worse, an Up-and_Down style prevents the reader from
noticing proper names and acronyms, both of which use capital letters
as distinguishing characteristics."

That last I think is one of the most important reasons to avoid the
initial caps syndrome.

Chuck Martin
Information Developer, IBM
techwriter -at- vnet -dot- ibm -dot- com
techwriter -at- aol -dot- com
74170,2462 -at- compuserve -dot- com

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