Quit overusing capital letters

Writing Well: Tips to help you to improve your writing

Why do People keep Overcapitalising words that Don’t require capital Lettters?

As the first sentence demonstrates, it’s hard to read text when random words are capitalised. Why then do so many people use capital letters incorrectly?

Often people will use a capital letter for a word to signify its importance. In business writing people will refer to their ‘Clients’ or to ‘Employees’ as they are important to the bushiness. However, neither word warrants a capital letter unless it starts the sentence.

What then are the rules for using capital letters?

The first rule is the easiest – capitalise the first letter of the word that starts a sentence.

Proper nouns

Proper nouns such as place names (Brisbane), a person’s name (John) and company names (Woolworths) all start with a capital letter.

Job titles

It gets a bit trickier when you’re writing job titles. It depends on the style your company uses but a common rule for a lot of organisations is to capitalise a job title when used with the person’s name, for example Senior Training Manager Jane Smith. However, if you’re describing a type of job use lower case. For example: “The safety manager visited the job site to conduct a full inspection.”

Departments within organisations

Many organisations treat department names such as Human Resources and Legal as proper nouns and therefore use capital letter when referring to their in-house teams. If this is the case in your organisation, make sure that you have a consistent approach to capitalising department names and job titles.

Don’t shout!

The final tip is never write whole sentences in capital letters. ONCE AGAIN DO NOT WRITE A FULL SENTENCE ALL IN CAPS. Writing in all capital letters is the written version of shouting at someone so it’s not only difficult to read, it’s also rude.

Next time you have the urge to capitalise every significant word in the document you’re writing, consider whether the word really does require a capital letter. If not, keep in lower case.

This is a case of less is more. The less you use capital letters, the easier it is for your readers to comprehend your writing.

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