Skip to comments.lower case vs ALL CAPS--some quick net findings
Posted on 12/10/2007 4:50:50 AM PST by Quix
Have not found scientific studies yet . . . but this link has some interesting assertions from the profession:
Evidently . . .
"Lowercase letters are much more legible than uppercase letters. There is no difference in legibility between headlines set in all lowercase and those set in Uppercase/Lowercase.
Display lines set in all capital letters are difficult to read. Body copy set in all caps is totally illegible. [the scientist in me says that's not accurate--hyperbole or some such]
Words set in all caps are read letter by letter. Reading is approximately 15% slower in words set in all caps."
Qx: Perhaps. I'd still like to see the scientific study. And, I'm not sure that slower is automatically, in all cases 100% bad. There are some phrases and sentences I'D LIKE folks to read more slowly.
Then there's the interesting example I'll post at the end.
Programmers are used to writing code in ALL CAPS.
IIRC . . . MILITARY TELETYPES used to be ALL CAPS exclusively or at least most of the time. NO ONE considered it screaming or insulting THEN.
Evidently serif type faces are HARDER to read on monitors and screens than sans serif fonts.
Then there's the solid research which shows that one need only have the beginning and ending letters in their places to be readable--the middle letters can be all dsiarnraged.
Here's an interesting bunch of exchanges about cursive vs block printing:
This link has some curious assertions:
Contrast Text should be printed with the highest possible contrast. Dark text on light background is ideal. However, light (white or yellow) letters on a dark (black) background is acceptable and is certainly more readable than dark letters on a light background.
And this link has some very interesting and probably useful assertions:
People read best with 10 to 12 words per line. A line of text any wider than that causes the reader to have difficulty capturing all the words in a single glance, and makes it hard to keep track of which line is next. Look at a well-printed and well-designed hardcover book, and you will see that it averages 10 to 12 words per line. Young children and old folks might be more comfortable with an average of 8 to 10 words per line. All word processors and Web page editors let you program the page to regulate the number of words per line so that users will find the text easy to read and comprehend.
[the following contradicts what another site said:]
Use a serif font for body text, sans serif for titles. The serifs are the little feet and caps on the bottoms and tops and ends ofthe letters. Georgia is a serif font. Verdana and Arial are sans-serif (without serifs) fonts. Serif fonts are easier to read in standard narrative text in paragraphs. Sans-serif fonts are easier to read in short and single-word titles and signs. Word processors and Web page editors let you to specify and control font display.
[ahhhh the following is interesting . . . BECAUSE THEY ARE USED TO it]
Avoid words set in all caps. The purpose of supper-case letters is to denote the beginning of a sentence or to indicate a person or place-name by serving as the initial letter. They should not be used for anything else, except for single-word emergency warnings such as DANGER or STOP. People read standard lower-case-lettered words easier because they are used to it. Displaying words in all caps makes readers think THAT YOU ARE YELLING AT THEM!
[I disagree that it FORCES readers to think that one is yelling at them--that is a social GROUP-THINK CONDITIONING phenomena that most CHOOSE TO BUY-INTO.]
[The following is very fascinating and affirms something I've sensed, observed for a long time. And, it contradicts, to some degree, the proscribing of CAPS. Fitting use of CAPS would make the following CLEARER and easier.]
Make sure titles contrast with body text. Titles and subtitles make a page of text easier to read, by letting users glance quickly through the material to find the topic they are interested in. This random-access style of reading is far more prevalent on the Web than in newspapers or books, and so more subtitles should be designed into the text that's displayed on the screen. To stand out, the tiles and subtitles should be larger (bigger point size) and heavier (boldface) than the body text on the page. You may also use a contrasting font for the titles if you used Georgia for the body text, use Verdana for the titles. Leave some extra space around the titles, to make them easier to find at a glance.
[My preferences find the following particularly affirming and comforting . . . LOL]
Leave plenty of white space around the text. The human eye needs room to roam while it is reading. It likes white apace above, below, and especially to the left and right of the column of text. It abhors text that is penned in by the edge of the window, surrounded by boxes, or nudged by graphics. A 10-word-wide column of text with substantial white margins will be easiest to read.
[never thought about the following but I think it's accurate]
Build your page around a single axis. Our minds seek order and organization. We like things to line up. We read easier if the page is formatted around an axis, an invisible line to which the text, images, and graphics align. The axis can be near the left, at the center, or to the right, but the page should have only one.
[this is probably truer than I'd prefer to think . . . but . . . still useful in a variety of counter-intuitive ways . . . which shall likely continue to be a preference in many contexts . . . though I do need to simplify my COURSE GUIDE even though the English teachers made a valiant stab at it.]
The simpler the better. Chaos and clutter are the opposites of order and organization. A simple page with a few visual and text elements will be easier to read than a page with a plethora of items competing for the viewer's attention. Keep the number of items on the page as small as possible. Divide the contents into two pages if necessary. One way to make sure that the user pays attention to your text is to keep other distracting items away from it, off the page.
End of that link & commentary
The following link seems like some good sensible advice for web designers though it is largely assertions of preference, taste, opinion.
Some interesting tid bits from here:
There is a connection between these two phenomena the shift from French to English and the effort to simplify legal writing. The Norman conquest of England in 1066 meant that French was imposed as the language of government and law.
The Normans are part of the reason modern English has such a large vocabulary: We have abundances of synonyms, French- and Latin-derived words as well as Anglo-Saxon ones: royal, regal, and kingly, for example. (I suppose we could add "monarchical" as well, but we can't blame the Normans for that.) If the Normans made life linguistically richer, they didn't make it simpler.
As David Elliott, a Canadian lawyer and advocate of plain language, explains,
[T]he scribes of the day had a problem. They wanted to be sure that [legal] transactions were effective but how could they achieve that with a language in transition and a population that clung to English. The answer was simple use two or three words instead of one. Use the Norman word, the English word, and if necessary the Latin as well.
This is the source of some of the familiar paired legal phrases: "free and clear" or "last will and testament." Legal scriveners were paid by the word in earlier centuries, and that, Elliott suggests, was a further incentive to prolixity.
The plain language movement has a manifestation within the US government, the Plain English Action and Information Network, a group of federal employees trying to improve communications within government and especially with citizens. The network's website includes a page of funny headlines, but also, more seriously, one of various government mandates for plain language. It includes a reference to a 1998 legal case in which
...the court found that the forms issued by the Immigration and Naturalization Service were so confusing and affirmatively misleading that they violated a person's due-process rights.
In Britain, there's the Plain English Campaign, which posts a regular "Gobbledygook of the week" feature and gives what it calls "Golden Bull" awards for truly outstanding examples of blather.
Welllllllllllll, I have not yet been able to find solid physiological psychological research articles on the topic.
The assertions I did find were interesting and probably from reasonably seasoned specialists in the field. But that may merely mean that their assumptions, preferences and opinions were more fossilized vs more accurate.
Still, there has been some good food for thought in the adventure.
Terry Reedy wrote: > Difference annoyances for different folks, I guess.
IN MY EXPERIENCE, MANY PEOPLE ON THE INTERNET ARE ANNOYED BY PEOPLE WHO DON'T USE CASE THE WAY THEY ARE EXPECTED. IT ALSO SEEMS TO ME THAT LOWER CASE TEXT IS OFTEN MORE EASY TO READ, AND ALSO THAT IT IS EASIER TO SCAN TEXTS IF CASE IS CONSISTENT. WE DO AFTER ALL SEE IMAGES ON THE SCREEN. EVEN IF WE RELATE "IF" WITH "if", THEY DON'T LOOK THE SAME. MY SON POINTED AT THE WORD "TOYOTA" IN A MAGAZINE AND EXCLAIMED "TOTOTA" WHEN HE WAS ONLY THREE. HE WAS CLEARLY TOO YOUNG TO READ, BUT HE RECOGNIZED THE IMAGE OF THE LOGO HE HAD SEEN ON OLD TOYOTAS. IN GENERAL, PYTHON "TRIES" TO FORCE A PARTICULAR STYLE OF CODING ON PROGRAMMERS. WE HAVE TO INDENT IN A PARTICULAR WAY. THE STYLE OF PROGRAMMING HAS BEEN CODIFIED IN PEP 008, AND COWBOY PROGRAMMING ISN'T REALLY APPRECIATED. YOU ARE NOT "SUPPOSED" TO PROGRAM PYTHON "YOUR WAY". YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO PROGRAM THE RIGHT WAY. IF YOU DON'T LIKE THAT, IT IS PROBABLY BETTER TO USE ANOTHER LANGUAGE. PERL IS MORE OF A COWBOY LANUGAGE. THE FUNNY THING IS THAT EVEN PERL IS CASE SENSITIVE! EXPLAIN THAT!!! IMO IT'S A STRENGTH OF PYTHON THAT PYTHON CODE IS ALWAYS CONSISTENT IN CASE. IT IS PROBABLY A MINOR FEATURE COMPARED TO THE BLOCK STRUCTURES ETC, BUT I THINK IT ADDS TO THE EASE OF READING CODE WHICH HAS BEEN WRITTEN BY OTHERS. I DO ALSO DISLIKE THE ALTERNATIVES. NEITHER CODE WITH INCONSISTENT USE OF CASE NOR THE STUPID "CASE CORRECTING" FEATURES IN E.G. THE VISUAL BASIC IDE SEEMS TO BE ANYTHING TO STRIVE FOR. IF YOU THOUGHT IT WAS ANNOYING TO READ THIS, THEN YOU CAN AT LEAST APPRECIATE THAT PYTHON CODE NEVER LOOKS LIKE SUCH A COMPACT BLOB!
Who am I kidding with this? Everybody knows that case doesn't matter, right? The text below isn't a bit easier to read than the text above, right?
In my experience, many people on the internet are annoyed by people who don't use case the way they are expected. It also seems to me that lower case text is often more easy to read, and also that it is easier to scan texts if case is consistent. We do after all see images on the screen. Even if we relate "IF" with "if", they don't look the same. My son pointed at the word "TOYOTA" in a magazine and exclaimed "Totota" when he was only three. He was clearly too young to read, but he recognized the image of the logo he had seen on old toyotas. In general, Python "tries" to force a particular style of coding on programmers. We have to indent in a particular way. The style of programming has been codified in PEP 008, and cowboy programming isn't really appreciated. You are not "supposed" to program Python "your way". You are supposed to program the right way. If you don't like that, it is probably better to use another language. Perl is more of a cowboy lanugage. The funny thing is that even Perl is case sensitive! Explain that!!! IMO it's a strength of Python that Python code is always consistent in case. It is probably a minor feature compared to the block structures etc, but I think it adds to the ease of reading code which has been written by others. I do also dislike the alternatives. Neither code with inconsistent use of case nor the stupid "case correcting" features in e.g. the Visual Basic IDE seems to be anything to strive for. If you thought it was annoying to read this, then you can at least appreciate that Python code never looks like such a compact blob!
oF cOuRsE, wE sHoUlDn'T aSsUmE tHaT pEoPlE wIlL aBuSe ThE fReEdOm ThEy GeT, bUt I'm RaThEr SaFe ThAn SoRrY! ;^) I'm ReAlLy hApPy ThAt I'lL nEvEr HaVe To SeE aLl-CaPs PyThOn PrOgRaMs!
tHANKS qUIX, hAVE a gOOD mONDAY.
However, entering HTML markup can be a tedious and, when I'm lazy or in a hurry, I frequently use UPPERCASE to EMPHASIZE a particular word.
Other options would be emphasize by denoting the word or phrase to emphasize with punctuation, /like this/ or *like this*.
BUT I'M NOT YELLING WHEN I USE UPPERCASE!!!! YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT??
YOU WANT SOME SMILIES WITH THAT?
:-) :-) :-) :-) :-)
Nope ... Wrong ... Even FORTRAN and BASIC is not written in all Caps anymore. But it is a Pain-in-the-*** to read legacy code in all Caps.
Love it—with or without smilies.
We do seem to be in the minority, though.
Welllll, I confess . . .
the last time I was that close to bread and butter programmers actually doing the work in the same room was back in . . . say 1967 or thereabouts.
My psychologist’s suspicion is
to relate to the ALL CAPS in the LEGACY code
would take away the pain in the kazoo aspect.
Certainly attitude can be very powerful even regarding perception.
Princess Lurkin (daughter) emails in all lower case. It distracts from the communication, IMO.
See FREEPMAIL, please.
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