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Making a case for letter case
By Duncan Hewitt
On Aug 25, 2016
You may not think it but a little thing like capitalisation can be a big deal. We would diplomatically suggest capitalisation is hugely important to your brand and your business. Capitalisation affects readability, comprehension, and usability. It even impacts how people view your brand.
Title case vs. sentence case
In most products and websites today, there are two ways to capitalise words:
Capitalise every word. This Is Title Case.
Capitalise the first word. This is sentence case. If you’re an Apple user, you’ll notice a lot of title case throughout their products. If you’re a Google user, you’ll see a lot more sentence case throughout their products. Differing letter casing is determined by how the brand wants to showcase itself online.
What’s good about the title case?
First, let’s see why you might want to go with the title case.
Some people think the title case looks better because it’s more symmetrical. As long as your phrases are short, title case creates a nice visual rhythm to your words:
More visual prominence
“Visual prominence” is just a fancy way of saying that title case stands out more. Title case is especially useful if you can’t adjust font styles. It helps differentiate your title text from your body text.
Much like the word “gravitas,” title case gives your words a feeling of formality and importance. Sites like The New York Times primarily use title case. It’s Professional. Serious. Established.
What’s good about sentence case?
Next, let’s see why you might want to go with sentence case throughout your product or website.
Easier to read
The biggest reason to use sentence case is that it’s easier to read, especially when the text gets long. Can You Imagine How Difficult It Would Be to Constantly Read Long Titles in Title Case?
Easier to define
One of the main reasons why Google decided to go with sentence case was because it was just easier to explain to designers and engineers.
Just as title case looks more formal and serious, sentence case looks more casual and friendly. I’m a writer at Dropbox, and we intentionally write in sentence case because we want our brand to feel natural and approachable.
Easier to spot proper nouns
Finally, sentence case also makes it easier to read phrases with proper nouns. Proper nouns are words that you’d always capitalise, like your name, New York City, or Microsoft.
Any other cases?
Title case and sentence case are the two most popular styles of capitalisation, but they certainly aren’t the only options out there.
Case in point
On Windows Phone 8, Microsoft used a lot of lowercase text throughout their interface, even for titles and buttons.
Making a case for yourself
Title case and sentence case both have their advantages. Whichever direction you decide to go, just make sure you make an informed decision that makes sense for your brand. The worst thing you can do is to not have any standards at all, which eventually leads to inconsistencies that’ll be a pain to fix later. Once your users start noticing inconsistencies, that’s when they start losing trust in your brand.
What about you? Are you a fan of sentence case or title case? Lowercase or caps? Or are you just a rebel who plays by your own rules?