Writing in All Caps Is Like Shouting

Netiquette says to stop writing in ALL CAPS

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One of the cardinal rules of writing online, whether in email, forums or instant messages, is to never just use all capital letters. This is known as writing in ALL CAPS. If you make this mistake, you might quickly be told to stop shouting or even booted out of a game or forum.

When you write in all capital letters, it looks to most recipients as if you are shouting. You should use all caps sparingly.

It is a strong effect and should remain one, but this does mean that there is a place and time to use all caps.

When to Write in All Caps

Just like with spoken words, it's sometimes necessary to make your text "sound" louder, either for emphasis or when you're genuinely upset and would yell those same words in person. Then and only then is it acceptable to use all uppercase letters.

Text in all uppercase is significantly more difficult to read than lower and mixed case text. It's best to write online in sentence case or mixed case, with proper nouns capitalized as well as the first letter of the first word. That is how people are used to reading printed material.

It is best used only for short strings of words rather than full sentences. You could choose instead to use italics or bold to set off text for emphasis.

If you type in all caps because you find it faster and more convenient, consider using lowercase only.

You will annoy some people, yes, but all lowercase seems more widely accepted than all caps.

The History of All Caps Writing

Old-time teletype machines and some early computers used all caps. In newsrooms, reporters and on-air announcers were used to reading wire service stories, police and weather bulletins that were transmitted in all caps.

The Navy hung onto using it in their messaging system until 2013, and the National Weather Service didn't switch to mixed case in its bulletins until May of 2016.

However, early in the internet era, use of all caps on bulletin boards and in email was discouraged and those who used them were accused of shouting. For many years, it was regarded as a sign of being a newbie to the online realm to compose in all caps.

It is harder to use all caps when texting with a mobile device since there isn't an easy caps lock button on every mobile virtual keyboard like there is with physical computer keyboards. However, use of random capitalization, especially in names, was for some years considered to be edgy and fashionable among younger users.

Types of Cases

  • All Caps: THIS IS AN ALL CAPS SENTENCE.
  • Mixed case or sentence case: This is a mixed case sentence with only the first word and proper nouns such as John Smith capitalized.
  • Title case: The First Letter of Most Words Is Capitalized in Title Case.
  • All lowercase: this is sentence written all in lowercase letters.
  • Random mixed capitalization: ThIs mEaNs you wRitE UsiNg capiTals aT RanDom.
  • camelCase: This is not usually used for sentences, but rather for branding, with a media capital in the middle of a name, such as iPhone, iOS, etc.