Don’t Start Each Word With A Capital Letter In Headings

It’s something I can’t quite get my head round. Some people have an apparent compulsion to capitalise each word in a heading. For them, it’s automatic, and it’s contagious. It’s also not a good idea. Capitals exist for a reason – they communicate semantic information. A capital letter at the start of a word indicates that it’s the beginning of a sentence, or it’s someone’s name, or a brand name, or a placename etc.

Here’s a link to a BBC news story.

BBC headline

It’s easy to spot that ‘Toby Young’ is a person. If it were capitalised to ‘Row Over Toby Young Education Role’, then you wouldn’t know if it meant ‘Row over Toby young education role’. In other words, it could be talking about ‘young education’, or education for the young. Many times I’ve been confused by headings on websites that fall into this trap.

You’d expect that whether or not to capitalise would be set in standards, but Ryanair doesn’t seem to be sure what to do.

Ryanair headings 1

Ryanair headings 2’Ryanair’ of course, would always be capitalised, but are ‘Gift Vouchers’ a proper noun? Or ‘Help Centre’? Why isn’t it ‘Where We Fly’? At least those sites that do consistently capitalise don’t compromise their brand by looking sloppy. Although, I have to admit that sometimes, even if you have standards in place, you can’t police everyone who puts content on a site.

It’s not just headings that get assaulted by a glut of capitalisation. Product names, and lists of items aren’t safe either. Here’s an example from Boohoo. If they wanted to put in a brand name you wouldn’t easily pick it out.

Boohoo products

I have no idea why Apple would capitalise the options in iOS.

iOS options

Apple don’t capitalise everything on their website, although they do have a strange way of putting a full stop at the end of headings.

Some designs go the whole hog, and capitalise everything. This from Uber, a digital agency.

Uber headings

There can be times when all caps works ok. Here’s a post about it from Saadia M. on Medium.

Finally, here’s an example from British Airways.

British Airways headings

This could seem inconsistent, but we had decided that we would ‘brand’ Manage My Booking. It was a judgement call. We thought that by doing so, and making it a ‘thing’, it would make it a little clearer that it was a destination where you could do stuff, rather than just going straight into a process. You may agree or disagree, but I use it more as an illustration of the thinking. If every heading had been capitalised, it wouldn’t even have been an option.

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