Using capital letters

Subject: Using capital letters
From: Chuck Martin <cmartin -at- SEEKERSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 8 Aug 1997 10:56:10 -0700

Why wait for the weekend? It sound like this writer has a somewhat severe
case of Capitalitis. Perhaps she used to be a headline writer when many
newspapers used this style (unfortunately, some still do).

In your example, capitalizing the adjective for LED is in no way called
for. Besides, "red" is far too ambiguous (I'm assuming this LED has a
label). Use the label rather than the color: "The Power Off LED...."

It's difficult to address the second instance without knowing what is being
described. I may or may not capitalize the "p" in "panel," depending on if
it appears in the actual name of the described object. But (relating this
to describing software), I wouldn't say "Alarm Dialog Box;" the dialog box
title would be simply "Alarm," so the correct denotation would be "Alarm
dialog box."

I suppose we should be grateful that she doesn't write "key words" in all

> A question for the weekend.
>A tech writer who recently joined my company uses capital letters in
>a way I can't quite follow and am not very keen about. She just
>handed in a manual with sentences like:
>The Red LED on the Alarm Panel will be lit.
>The Display scrolls through the options.
>When I asked her about it she said that these were key words.
> I can't see what benefit it is the the user
>to have 'red', display or 'alarm panel' et al written like that. I have to
>to get everyone writing in the same style and as most manuals are
>written by engineers feel I'm asking for problems to tell them to
>write the first letter of key words with a capital letter. Then it
>all gets translated into 8 languages, with their associated usages of
>capital letters. And what may only be one word in English can become
>a few in another language. I want a simple life.
>What do others think?

"You don't look American"
"Everyone looks American, because Americans are from everywhere"
- Doonesbury
Chuck Martin
Technical Writer, Seeker Software, Inc | Personal
cmartin -at- seekersoft -dot- com | writer -at- grin -dot- net |

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