18

I'm currently in the process of updating the language files for a large web portal. Over time, a lot of inconsistencies have crept in, and so in different places you might see contrasting:

Titles > This is the Title of the Page Vs This is the title of the page

Form Labels > First Name Vs First name

Section Labels > My Dashboard Vs My dashboard

I've looked around have struggled to find a satisfyingly definitive resource on the topic of capitalization in UI text.

Can anyone offer any suggestions?

18

I would suggest using the Microsoft Windows User Interface Text formatting guidelines.

In short it says:

  • Use title-style capitalization for titles, sentence-style capitalization for all other UI elements.
  • Exception: For legacy applications, you may use title-style capitalization for command buttons, menus, and column headings if necessary to avoid mixing capitalization styles.

However a more thorough read is necessary to take it all in.

7

Check your language rules, as it's something depending on culture.

By example, English capitalizes a lot, so we've got The Empire Strikes Back, when in French the academy advises L'Empire contre-attaque.

3

Short answer is: When it comes to headings/titles, words that are important need to start with an uppercase letter. For example, Romans: The Rise and Fall of an Empire.

Check out the blog post titles on A List Apart: http://www.alistapart.com/topics/content/content-strategy/

You can see that words less important words like "without", "and", "of", "an", etc. all start with lower case letters. And the important words start with an upper case letter.

3

My vote is to just pick a direction and stick with it. It's not a matter of what's "correct", but what works for your system. If more caps looks good, go for it. Just keep it consistent, as you already know.

I've found OS guides to be pretty helpful for this kind of thing, particularly the Mac HIG. Gnome's UI guide comes in second for me. I only resort to the Windows guide if I absolutely have to, but it's out there.

Here's a related question that suggests how to do this for the English language.

1

This is the editor in me, not the UXer, but stick with the style of grammar your site has chosen. If you're in AP, you would not capitalize random words unless it's the title of another work (mag, book, etc). If it's not AP style it'll come with it's own set of rules to follow.

More importantly, just be consistent. Set a style and go with it.

1

One challenge with Title Case is that the rules aren't always clear.

I found this site to Convert to Title Case, Sentence Case, etc.

1

Maybe many of you are wondering why we bother to discuss about capitalizing or lower casing our labels in developing graphical interfaces.

Some of us here do suggest that we use capital depending on the context of our developed interface. However, some of you may not be aware of this study on Visual Word Recognition. We read faster if letters are in title or sentence cases. We recognize words by their shape rather then reading them letter by letter. That is why in highways they do most of the signage using title case to indicate the directions of the places we are heading to. It is very rare that interfaces developed uses capital letters if those developers know about this theory. Using title case/ sentence case also make your interface looks professional apart from making it more readable!

Check out this article: https://www.microsoft.com/typography/ctfonts/WordRecognition.aspx

Hope this helps.

  • Interesting, but the question is specifically about title case versus sentence case, not uppercase. – Matt Obee Feb 20 '17 at 9:12

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