Re: Heading and Title Capitalization

Subject: Re: Heading and Title Capitalization
From: Jeroen Hendrix <jhe -at- POLYDOC -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 1 Mar 1999 17:15:19 +0100

Lisa Kemp asked feedback on the following:

> Our team is considering adopting a standard to capitalize only the first
> word in a title or heading within our manuals.

As with many things, its a matter of personal taste. Personally, I don't
like it when every word gets a capital. I can't see any reason why.
I believe you should validate every decision when you create a certain
style. So the question you should ask is: why capitalise the initial of
each and every word? I believe there's no reason to do it, it doesn't add
extra value to the text, the reader doesn't gain from it, it's harder to
read, it's more trouble to type, it is easy to occasionally forget , it is
not compliant to grammar, etc.
One of my ground rules is that formatting may never draw the reader's
attention away from the contents. It may never make the reader halt and
think about the used styling. They should appear natural and logical.
Styles must always be applied for a reason and (prime direction) serve the
presentation of information. Styles should be applied to distinguish the
information from the surrounding text, not just because it looks neater
(remember it's technical writing, not marketing writing).
Just one other thing to be aware of: when your manuals or documents are
translated into German, you might get into trouble, as in German every noun
gets capitalised. Readers might get confused by all those capitals.

The only reason to do it is personal taste. If you like it, do it. But be
ware not everyone will agree with you; therefore its better to play safe.


Jeroen Hendrix
the Netherlands

Mail to: jhe -at- polydoc -dot- com

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