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Should the first letter of an article's title be auto capitalized?

For example, for submissions on a site like Stack Exchange or Yahoo Answers.

Pro: Increased readability while scrolling through the articles. Con: Are there any?

Edit: I mean capitalizing only the first letter of the entire sentence (not title case)

  • You might want to check out some existing UX.StackExchange posts: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/11043/… and ux.stackexchange.com/questions/92592/… – Andrew Martin Jun 15 '16 at 12:33
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    Here's a question title that wouldn't be particularly outlandish on the more technically inclined SE sites: libfoo-1.2.3 fails to compile, error: X. Here, "libfoo" is the name. "Libfoo" would be a lot less recognizable, let alone Libfoo-1.2.3 Fails To Compile, Error: X (which at best IMO does nothing to improve readability of the title). – a CVn Jun 15 '16 at 14:40
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If you stick to the titles, it doesn't make much difference in legibility: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0042698907002830. You could argue that it makes the page more easy to scan because titles stand out more.

There are a few other things to consider though. Language is one of the things computers and algorithms aren't very good in. You can set up some easy rules for 90% of the cases, but those other 10% require a whole lot of work.

For example: CSS can capitalize every first letter of every word within the element. Now that's easy, but I want words like 'the', 'a', 'to' etc not capitalized so we need to make our own implementation. With names it becomes even more interesting. In some countries there are words within the family name that need to be lowercase (Vincent van Gogh) and in other countries they do require uppercase (Dara O'Briain). At this point, the developer is starting to look angry at you.

So, yes. In my opinion there are definitely some cons and they outweigh the pros by far. Why not empower the copywriter and let him or her decide when and when not to use uppercase? It doesn't require more resources and gives the copywriter the feeling of control (imagine the reaction of the copy-writer when he purposely wrote something in lowercase and then the system decides for him it needs to be uppercase).

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  • While your answer is a valid one, I actually meant just the first letter of the entire title/sentence. Maybe the question wasn't entirely clear, I've updated it. – Aphize_ Jun 15 '16 at 12:38
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    Then yes: it should start with an uppercase and end with a point. – Ruudt Jun 15 '16 at 12:43
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Yes.

I don't think it only increases the article's readability but also the legibility of the article.

Depending on if your title's first letters are capitalized or not can also make a psychological change for readers who might go through a list of titles deciding which to choose from. This might not generally be possible for just articles but even stuff like Craiglist posts or Torrent listings.

Which one would you believe more from the below examples?

  1. Nigerian Prince T'Challa Wants You to Receive his $1000000 Fortune.
  2. nigerian prince t'challa wants you to recieve his $1000000 fortune.

I hope you believe in neither of these, but you get the point. The first one is a lot more legible than the second.

Here's another example which compares legible Youtube video titles with illegible ones.

You can find which letters should you capitalize following these Grammar rules. Here's another tool that can help you capitalize your titles

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  • While your answer is a valid one, I actually meant just the first letter of the entire title/sentence. Maybe the question wasn't entirely clear, I've updated it. – Aphize_ Jun 15 '16 at 12:37
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    The first letter should be capitalized. – Swapnil Borkar Jun 15 '16 at 12:39

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