Writing Tips and the use of Capital Letters - Please Stop Shouting at Me - Using Caps Lock

Using Caps Lock for Shouting or Emphasis

Typewriters had no Bold or Italics Font
Typewriters had no Bold or Italics Font | Source

It is easy for those who are not familiar with the keyboard, to slip in to the habit of typing in capital letters. Pressing the ‘CAPS LOCK’ key makes it a simple process to write without thinking. For those still trying to find their way around the keyboard, holding the shift key to produce a capital at the start of a sentence may slow them down. It is even possible they are not aware that the shift key exists.

Please Stop Shouting at Me

Unfortunately, for the reader, seeing a block of words in capitals may translate as SHOUTING. While there is nothing pleasant about being shouted at verbally, from the written word, it can imply a number of different interpretations. Used sparingly, it is a reasonable way to emphasise a point, but used throughout a comment or article, leaves the writer with no other way to get the reader to sit up and take notice.

When do you use capital letters?

  • All the time, CAPS LOCK is on permanently
  • Starting a sentence and proper names, only
  • Sometimes for emphasis
  • When I want people to know I'm SHOUTING at them
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Computers Offer More Options

Pay attention to detail for that professional look
Pay attention to detail for that professional look | Source

Using Capitals

The most common explanation for using capital letters in any form, is to draw attention to a particular word or phrase. In days before the computer or word processor, options for emphasis were limited to the underline key or use of capital letters on the typewriter. There was no format for a bold print, nor a choice for italics .

Printed Books and Italics

It is true that printers had various options to stress words and phrases. Newspapers, magazines and books were published with emphasis through use of italics and bold print. Any author sitting at a typewriter, had limited choices.

Is the Author Really a Writer?

The moment a writer deviates from correct protocol there is a loss of credibility. Does this person know what they are doing? Are they really a writer? Typing with the ‘Caps Lock’ key on mode, is fine for anyone simply wanting to write from a personal perspective, but for a professional hoping to sell their content, it can portray shoddy work.

What if the piece is meant to be artistic or a show of creativity from the author? Poetic licence doesn't come in to play here. There are times when all that has been taught can be thrown to the winds. For a poet wanting to vent their passion or a script writer distinguishing dialogue from narration, the use of capitals is acceptable.

Titles Written in Capitals - How old is the Writer?

Protocols and formats for accepted writing styles, evolve over time. It was only thirty years ago, a title for a report would have been written in capitals and accepted as a professional piece. These are the tricks of the trade, taught in schools, for journalists and typists. Using capitals for titles provides the reader insight about the author. They are either older than thirty or not keeping up with the times. Self development is an important aspect of writing. Part of keeping the writing fresh and newsworthy, is ensuring it follows the formula set down in the current trends.

Twitter's International Caps Lock Day

Twitter set up a specific day, named, International Caps Lock Day. This casual approach to writing, may be acceptable for the personal writer or tweeter. It can even be used in sending text messages if you want to shout your message. But is it appropriate for someone who is trying to be recognised for their craft?

Give your Writing that Professional Look

Pay Attention to Detail

Paying attention to detail, gives a professional look to your blog, e-mail or article. The more professional a piece of writing looks, the more chances there are of someone reading your work, past the title or opening sentence. In today’s world of Internet writing, this is essential. Capturing your audience, from those first moments, before they click away to someone else in Cyberspace, has never been more vital.



© 2010 Karen Wilton

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Comments 17 comments

2uesday profile image

2uesday 5 years ago from - on the web, I am 2uesday.

I am pleased someone put together a hub to point this out, just worried now in case I have ever written with the caps lock on in error. Thanks for this.


Karanda profile image

Karanda 5 years ago from Australia Author

Yes, it can happen 2uesday. Hit the send button before you realise you've been in caps lock mode, oops. That's when you can use poetic license and say you were trying to make a point.


attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 5 years ago from Australia

Hi Karanda, useful tips. My writing was child-like fifteen years ago, as i never had a reason to write. Then i decided to have a go at writing and joined a local writer's group. With the help of those wonderful, generous people, i learnt a great deal. I still only guess when i put in punctuation and hope that i don't make too many mistakes. Hubs like yours are really helpful. I think people would benefit from more constructive criticism, but it can be difficult when you don't really know the fellow hubber. Cheers


Karanda profile image

Karanda 5 years ago from Australia Author

There's always something to learn when it comes to writing, attemptedhumour. I was nervous about publishing this in case hubbers took it personally, but it is meant to be helpful to anyone wanting to improve their craft. I'm so glad you read it in that light.


vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 5 years ago from Yucaipa, California

I learned my grammar and syntax rules in a very strict private school. Good ol Sister Rita Ann. But I find myself unsure these days about commas and the like, so it is good to have a refresher on Caps! Or is it CAPS. Or is it a REFRESHER on caps or CAPS, I write in CAPS definitely to shout!!

This was good. We can all use English 101, and I like the emphasis on being a professional writer.

Thanks for another informative and helpful hub. I will watch my caps!

Vern at 6:40 p. m., Pacific Standard time, Sunday night! The year 2010!


Karanda profile image

Karanda 5 years ago from Australia Author

Sister Rita Ann would be proud of you Vern. I don't even know what syntax is and I thought I had the commas under control until an editor cut me to shreds. It's all about the learning process, no matter how much we think we know, there's always more.

Sitting down to lunch 12:00pm Australian Eastern Standard Time, no day light savings where we are. Monday, same year as you.


vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 5 years ago from Yucaipa, California

Hey, I just had an idea for the next time you write a blog about capitol letters, entitle it, AVOID CAPITOL CRIME! Sorry could not resist

Vern

Always a day late!


Karanda profile image

Karanda 5 years ago from Australia Author

Ha, good one Vern, that would bring in more traffic than the capital letters, for sure.


Neverletitgo profile image

Neverletitgo 5 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

Hi Karanda, I don't to write capital letters to all my writing. The only time I use is to begin my sentence and Proper names because I don't need to shout at the people. I use sometimes to format my writing like bold or italics. Somebody made comment about my bold letter and said you don't have to shout at, could you believe change your format. Any way I like your hub and it is very useful. Thanks for your nice article.

Abdi


Karanda profile image

Karanda 5 years ago from Australia Author

The big thing with the English language and writing is that we are learning all the time Abdi. Yes, the bold font is also a form of shouting the same as putting a whole word or phrase in capital letters. Thank you for reading and adding a comment and I am glad you found this useful.


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town

Thanks for clarifying that....

Have you noticed this trend, regarding phone numbers?

It may read like this:

234-654-87ninefour, I asked my daughter if this was some sort of young people speak! She was baffled also.


Karanda profile image

Karanda 5 years ago from Australia Author

Haven't noticed the trend regarding phone numbers. That makes no sense to me at all in a society that is looking to abbreviate everything to use words for numbers seems a step back.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

Hi thanks for this interesting hub, this is what I love about HP the different range of topics is great.

Well done once more

Take care

Eiddwen


That Grrl profile image

That Grrl 4 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

You put in the extra mile by adding that Twitter Caps Lock Day. I love a HubPages post with extras. :)


Karanda profile image

Karanda 4 years ago from Australia Author

Thanks That Grrl, I always try to find an extra so readers can move on to complete the online experience on any given topic.


Tessa Edin 12 months ago

I love writing in CAPS LOCK when I want to EMPHASIZE something. And I don't think it's only me. Surely, there are rules of writing and key elements of writing (e.g. posts from catherineryanhoward.com, http://customwritingcompany.com/blog/key-elements-... etc.) every work should include but to make my paper stand out I will break these rules.


Karanda profile image

Karanda 6 months ago from Australia Author

Definitely! That's my whole point, if you want to EMPHASIZE by all means use the CAPS LOCK.

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