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Accessibility and Usability Forum

UPPER CASE vs. lower case
What are your thoughts on usage?

WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Msg#: 39 posted 1:16 am on Mar 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

ARE YOU STILL RECEIVING EMAILS THAT ARE COMPOSED IN ALL UPPER CASE? or how about all lower case? sometimes without any punctuation etc?

How do you use U/C and L/C? Do you think that short headlines can be in UPPER CASE? Do you think that legal documents should be in UPPER CASE? Is there a legal precedent that says all that stuff needs to be in ALL CAPS?

At what point are you teetering on the borderline of creating a usability issue? Would you say that anything more than a certain number of characters in ALL UPPER CASE is unacceptable? If so, what would that number be? Is it more of a visual? What type of semantics are behind content that is in ALL UPPER CASE?

I've actually found a very simple workaround for my uppercase blues. I just cannot stand to see paragraphs upon paragraphs of UPPER CASE TEXT, you know, those legal type documents. Or, the client really wants a PARAGRAPH TO STAND OUT, arrrggghhh! So, here's what I've been doing over the years...

In my CSS I have a generic class...


Then, whenever I need something to appear "VISUALLY" as UPPER CASE, I wrap it in a <span class="ttu">UPPER CASE STUFF HERE</span> element and viola, ALL UPPER CASE at the push of a button. ;



WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Msg#: 39 posted 7:36 am on Mar 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

Surely you can manage a less presentational classname that that? ;) But yeah, I use text-transform a lot, particularly as I build a lot of templates. Personally, I think you're better off doing something like:

strong { text-transform: uppercase; font-weight: normal; }

that way you're saying that text that needs a strong emphasis should be ALL CAPS, and the semantics stay in the HTML.


WebmasterWorld Senior Member encyclo us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Msg#: 39 posted 7:03 pm on Mar 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

I find that upper case can help clarity when using very small fonts, but for minor titles in particular rather than large chunks of text. Using
text-transform is ideal as the upper case is almost always presentational, and a later redesign might demand that the text becomes lower case, mixed or small caps.

Using upper case for small text in graphics helps legibility too, for example when using fonts like Silkscreen [kottke.org] (which has no lower case version). Sometimes design briefs demand tiny text, but it is still possible to work with upper/lower case variations to make the text as easy to scan as possible even for users with faltering eyesight.


5+ Year Member

Msg#: 39 posted 2:27 pm on Mar 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

I would say without any research into the matter that about 2 normal sentences is the max amount you can do in uppercase before making it an usability issue. After that people just don't read it anymore for being 'loud'.

I use uppercase occasionally for titles and menu items, if and when this is the case all actual text is done with proper spelling (so capitals for the first letter, and names and things).

And, after the redesign of a site where there was a LOT of uppercase text, and everything changing to proper punctuation and casing I can advise to leave uppercase as a property set by CSS only.


5+ Year Member

Msg#: 39 posted 5:17 pm on Mar 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

There is definitely a limit (especially on the web, to those who know that ALL CAPS mean "i'm ripping you a new a-hole from the comfort of my keyboard") on how much u/c you can use...

Many brand-conscious corporations explicitly outline in their marketing strategy guidelines that you should never use u/c in customer-facing content, or use it only in such-and-such situation. I ain't never seen a stipulation like that for l/c, so what does that tell you?

My experience tells me that any u/c statement longer than one sentence sends mixed signals to internet users. Phrases are fine, short sentences are fine... two sentences or more can definitely be misconstrued as yelling, reprimanding, pontificating, etc.

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