Take the 2-minute tour ×
User Experience Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for user experience researchers and experts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Why are all the letters (A, B etc) and all the writings (Home, Page Up etc) on the keyboard, capitalized?

keyboard

Especially, the letters, because a new user could rightly expect uppercase letters to be entered upon pressing those keys to find the contrary.

share|improve this question
    
What would they press to make to make lowercase letters then? –  VoronoiPotato Feb 4 at 19:19
    
I don't understand how it that relevant to the question. Essentially my question is why is it printed F instead of f, Alt instead of alt etc? –  Bleeding Fingers Feb 4 at 19:21
    
Just responding to the new user's expectation, which is why I made it a comment not an answer :) –  VoronoiPotato Feb 4 at 20:03
1  
I think most of your question can be answered here: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/48636/… –  mawcsco Feb 4 at 20:13
    
My keyboard (link to Wikimedia) has many lowercase letters, though :) –  tohecz Feb 4 at 23:11

2 Answers 2

  • It's a rule in English language to capitalize captions, thus we have "Page Down" (or "Pg Dn") instead of "page down" - see http://libraryonline.com/?pID=48
  • Uppercase letters are easier to differentiate (especially I and L) that the lowercase ones
share|improve this answer
    
But the words on my Apple keyboard are all lower case ("enter", "caps lock", "delete"). I can also easily distinguish lowercase 'i' and 'l' without issue. –  Evil Closet Monkey Feb 4 at 19:30
5  
In this particular case, I would rather say it's matter of visual design, which Apple puts a lot of focus into (and probably the result fits their style, also distinguishes them from the others), rather than usability. –  Grzegorz Janik Feb 4 at 19:34
    
However, this has nothing to do with English. Letters were capitalized on typewriters, too. In all honesty, this was a long time before English was the world's first language. –  tohecz Feb 4 at 23:12
    
An Englishman Henry Mill was the first to patent the typewriter in 1714. Also, think of word "caption"; what I meant is capitalizing the first letters of expressions like "Page Down", not just single characters on the rest of the keyboard. The second reason is an answer why the single letters are capitalized as well. –  Grzegorz Janik Feb 4 at 23:17

It's actually due to ISO 9995.

Depictions on the keytops
According to ISO/IEC 9995-1, the level is indicated by the row where the character is depicted on the keytop:
* Level 2 (“shifted”) above of Level 1 (“unshifted”)
* Level 3 (“AltGr”) below Level 1 (“unshifted”).

The group is indicated by the column on the keytop:
* The first or “primary group” at the left keytop border
* The second or “secondary group” at the right keytop border
Additional groups (if existing) in between.

When letters on a case pair are associated with a key, only the capital character need to be shown on the keytop for the primary group, while the lowercase character only is shown for the secondary group.

ISO/IEC 9995-3:2010 applied to the US keyboard layout ISO/IEC 9995-3:2010 applied to the US keyboard layout

share|improve this answer
    
While this is mostly correct (albeit the exact same answer as you posted on another related question), it doesn't cover why the keys such as Scroll Lock and Caps Lock are presented in capitalized Title Case. (Admittedly that is probably a harder reason to identify) –  JonW Feb 6 at 12:15
1  
Capitalizing the first character of each word gives a clear indicator as to the start of each word. Think PrtScn as opposed to prtscn, or PgDn and pgdn. It might not matter to an experienced user, but a less experienced user might appreciate that clarity. Single word keys then capitalize their first letter for consistency. –  caackley Feb 6 at 12:50

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.