We don’t need Caps-Lock (really, we dont)

IF I TYPE IN CAPS LOCK, YOU PROBABLY FIND IT MORE DIFFICULT TO READ THAN NORMAL TEXT. YOU MAY ALSO THINK I’M SHOUTING!

(Back to lower case now – isn’t that better?)

Caps Lock is a function whose usefulness is highly debatable in today’s online communities. Overused by some, inappropriately used by others. Always hated by anyone who has to read upper-case text for more than a word or two at a time. Caps lock was originally intended to provide emphasis on text but with bold, italic and even colored text present in most text editing applications (even those within a web browser), its place is now being questioned.

In the process of reading text, the human eye, together with the brain not only uses the line of the character to identify it, but also the sillhouette. In uppercase, the silhouette is almost identical or very similar for each character, however in lowercase, differentiations can easily be made. Lowercase text translates to an easier reading experience than uppercase. Take the following example; two lines of the same text, each in a different case. Which do you find easier to read?

– NOW IS THE TIME FOR ALL GOOD MEN TO COME TO THE AID OF THE PARTY.

– Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party.

Aside from the poor aesthetics of uppercase text, in an online community, the case and punctuation of text, together with other characters (smilies, for example) is used to convey the mood or feeling of the writer at the time of writing. Uppercase conveys a feeling of being loud and demanding attention – which is fine when used appropriately. However, frequent use – or indeed pages – of uppercase text to convey a mood or feeling will quickly lose significance. Sporadic and infrequent use of uppercase provides the emphasis when required, but ensures that the user will not tire of the emphasis, nor take offense at overly loud communication.

Just like every key, caps lock has its place. As with all types of communication, its use should be carefully considered and only used where appropriate in published text.

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