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Saw this pamphlet about lightning safety:

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As you can tell, every sentence in the pamphlet has every single word capitalized. Is there a scientific reason that every word would be capitalized? Is this merely to annoy the reader, or is this to gain the reader's attention quicker? Is there a specific term for this or a specific reason words are capitalized such as this?

  • People working in the government love what office word can do, here is a typical example :) notice the bold underlined title! just be happy they don't print in color – Ayyash Oct 2 '15 at 11:30
  • also be thankful they haven't found the 'word art' button, if that even still exists (it certainly did in my school IT classes, which is pretty much all we did - a sad indictment of British IT schooling) – Toni Leigh Oct 17 '15 at 16:23
  • also, is this not to do with fonts, aren't fonts the design of the individual letters rather than their use? – Toni Leigh Oct 17 '15 at 16:24
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To start with the simplest question, yes this style has a name, it's called: "Title Case". It's a traditional way of capitalizing titles, it's normally not to be used in articles (though nobody really prohibits it) - there Sentence case is the most widely used. In some regions it's considered more academic and thus could give a higher esteem to the writer.

So the usage in that pamphlet appears to be wrong as this, for starters, decreases legibility. It also lowers reading spead, since everything looks like the start of a sentence or an important name or place, that negates the possibility of scanning. I think most of it can be backed up by looking at the more popular research done regarding ALL CAPS and readability. this article also talks about how capital letters decrease reading speed because they're not as common. Another clue can be found in the overpopular meme of the ease of reading scrambled words, in which the first and last latters stay the same; although the middle letters are not random, it does identify that the first (and last) letter in a word are important enough to allow such an effect.

With that last fact in mind, that could of course be the exact reason why the author did just that: to lower the reading speed so people would actually read it - however, that is just suggestive and unless we talk to the author, we'll never be 100% sure.

Another reason could be that he merely messed up a setting in his WYSIWYG editor (MS word has this option) , that made sure every word was capitalized; this either because of a mistake or he just tought that it was more stylish to do so. But again, that is just guessing!

Anyway, in the end it's mostly just a styling consideration.

On a sidenote, there doesn't appear to be any rules discussing what "Title Case" is, some do it on every word, while others suggest that "tiny" words shouldn't have an upper case.

Sources

  • While those are interesting links, they really only cover off what Title Case is as a concept, and not whether or not it is appropriate for body copy of articles themselves. The StickyContent article has a brief paragraph that is relevant, by stating that: "Too much title case kills legibility" - and that isn't backed up by evidence either. While it may well be bad to write all in Title Case, it's dangerous to base decisions entirely on pre-existing assumptions. – JonW Oct 2 '15 at 9:10
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    I agree, most of it is based upon assumptions, however, I've edited my answer to show some more research toward what caps do to reading speed, although they discuss just "all caps" vs "sentence caps", some rules seem to apply for either case. - However, as said, in the end it's probably more a choice of style as one could be biased towards one type of casing over another, due to precedence in the reader's life. – Xabre Oct 2 '15 at 9:33
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    Not to nitpick, but title case is when the primary words are capitalized, excluding words like conjunctions, articles, and prepositions. Capitalizing every word is something else, looks like a terrible accident, and should never happen. Edit: (Like you described in your final sentence.) – Ken Mohnkern Oct 2 '15 at 14:41

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