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I'm looking for clarification on the use of letter case.

The two examples are:

  • "Duplicate Search" vs "Duplicate search"
    • this is in the context of performing a search of users in order to detect if there are duplicates
  • "Combine Users" vs "Combine users"
    • this is in the context of performing a 'combine' operation of two users accounts in a system

EDIT: Both of the phrases are being used in buttons, as a form action.

I'm just looking for some validation and consistency for the interpretation and use of "sentence case" in UI.

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thanks for the responses so far everyone. to add more context, these phrases are being used in buttons. – chadl Jan 28 '13 at 22:23
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Your recent edit (reverting my title change) helps me understand your needs.

The question can be paraphrased "which of the following is sentence case", and the answer for the two examples is:

  • Duplicate search
  • Combine users

Sentence case is, simply put, capitalising the first letter of a sentence and only proper nouns (like people's names and place names) thereafter.

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thanks Kit! what made this less clear to me is, that on wikipedia it states: "Sentence case: The most common in English prose. Generally equivalent to the baseline universal standard of formal English orthography mentioned above; that is, only the first word is capitalized, except for proper nouns and other words which are generally capitalized by a more specific rule." - except for proper nouns and other words which are generally capitalized by a more specific rule – chadl Jan 29 '13 at 1:02
@chadl "other words" would include things like acronyms (NASA) and initialisms (IBM), as well as single-letter words like "remember the three Rs" and titles like "the Duke of Westminster". Languages like German capitalise all nouns by convention. – Kit Grose Jan 29 '13 at 1:08

The correct capitalization scheme depends on the location of the label and the platform. Here are links to two guidelines for capitalization.


Use title-style capitalization for titles, sentence-style capitalization for all other UI elements. Doing so is more appropriate for the Windows tone.

Exception: For legacy applications, you may use title-style capitalization for command buttons, menus, and column headings if necessary to avoid mixing capitalization styles.


Push buttons

Capitalization style:


  • Add to Favorites
  • Don’t Save
  • Set Up Printers
  • Restore Defaults
  • Set Key Repeat
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Thanks. I'm using this on the Web. My Product Manager here is very adamant about using sentence case for all buttons. These phrases are being used in button context, for submitting forms. – chadl Jan 28 '13 at 22:27
@chadl: Sentence case is the current recommendation for Windows and therefore a totally reasonable requirement. Using title case is the so-called "legacy" style on Windows, and still the recommendation on OS X, so is reasonable in its own right too. – Kit Grose Jan 28 '13 at 22:51

If its a defined button use heading case (all words with caps first letter), but if its just a textual link use sentence case

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We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

thanks Mayank. The Product Manager is very adamant that all buttons be in sentence case. – chadl Jan 28 '13 at 22:26

I personally would be confused by the sentence case on "Duplicate search" -- it makes it seem like I'm making a copy of (duplicating) a search. "Duplicate Search" reads like a proper noun. "Search [for] Duplicates" is even more clear.

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thanks Yamikuronue! both are used in buttons, and are actions performed as part of a form submission. – chadl Jan 28 '13 at 22:25

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