Re: Can style trump grammar rules?

Subject: Re: Can style trump grammar rules?
From: Lauren <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 30 Jul 2014 14:16:01 -0700

On 7/29/2014 11:42 AM, Shawn wrote:

There are plenty of examples of using an 'all lowercase' style. Examples
include Vitamin water labels, McDonald's uses this format often in their
slogans, E. E. Cummings pretty much pioneered this format, and more.

How important is marketing for your document? Are you marketing a big-name product? If you are doing a tech pub and making it look like a big product, then you should reconsider your style. Gimmicks look great when you are new to documents but they are annoying to the audience who wants to get information they need. You may like this style now, but after a few years of documenting, you will likely annoy yourself.

If I had to read a technical document that began each chapter with a Vitamin water page, I would think that the business providing that document was not serious about its product. Just read through the Vitamin water Facebook page.

The purpose of all lowercase there is to be cute. The purpose of technical documentation is to provide information that the reader will retain. Vitamin water is not interested in memory retention; it is interested in making people tired and thirsty, so they will buy overpriced tap water with vitamins. Reading all lowercase will make a reader tired because there is more work in identifying necessary terms and context. All lowercase also looks weak. This is important for Vitamin water because they are trying to present an image that their product will invigorate its tired and weak users.

What image are you trying to present for your product?

It is considered a stylistic choice that conveys a hipster-like feel. I can
hear the groans! LOL

So you understand it is wrong for technical documentation. Why choose it? What is it about your product that requires a "hipster-like feel"?

When I began using this style (only in the chapter splash pages), I really
liked the look but on Chapter 12, I am suddenly bothered by the notion of
using this style on proper nouns and names (despite the aforementioned

You need to view your document from the reader's perspective. Capitalization provides necessary context for understanding the content of the documentation. It, like punctuation, establishes rhythm and flow, as well as compartmentalization of concepts within the document.

I was seeking confirmation that it is really no big deal.

If your product is no big deal, then proper capitalization is no big deal. If your document is that insignificant, then you can just make it into a graphic novel or comic book, depending on the complexity of your content.

you are all a bunch of stogy old fuddy duds or this is really a big deal. I
kidd! :)

No, you're just being immature.

I think I'll drop this fancy hipster thing, use proper case, and get back
to work. :)
Fortunately, the text is transformed using CSS so it is a simple matter of
changing the property, "text-transform:lowercase;"

BTW, what are your thoughts about all UPPERCASE text? I don't believe there
are issues doing it that way.

Are you trolling this list?

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Can style trump grammar rules?: From: Shawn
Re: Can style trump grammar rules?: From: Robert Lauriston
Re: Can style trump grammar rules?: From: Shawn

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