Aaron

Graphic Design Portfolio

Don’t Fall Into the Trap of Designing (or Writing) in ALL CAPS

I’ve seen a few designs lately that use all caps for their questions or body text. Although this may seem like a good design choice, it may actually be a mistake as far as readability is concerned.

Western Michigan University gives some excellent advice about ALL CAPS and other common typographic principles and mistakes on their website. They write:

Perhaps the most frequently violated rule of readability involves the use of ALL CAPS (capital letters). Designers are often drawn to all caps because it forms neat, uniform, visual elements, or “blocks.” Unfortunately, for precisely that reason, type set in all caps is more difficult to read.

Your brain does not recognize words solely on the basis of specific letter combinations, but on the overall shape of the words. In fact, your brain recognizes whole phrases based on letter shape rather than identifying individual letters and words. Which of the following is easier to read: GOOD OLD DOG or good old dog?” (WMich).

Besides that, don’t forget that emails and phone text messages written in ALL CAPS are the equivalent of digitally SHOUTING at their recipient. Would you really want to be SHOUTING at recipients of your designs?

What about you?

Have you ever fallen into the trap of designing or writing in ALL CAPS? What was the result? Below are some great typography resources. If you know of any other good resources, or design-related resources, please post them as well. We can all benefit from each other and our collective knowledge as designers.

Oh, and by the way, HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY – AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE DAY!!

References

WMich. (2007, May 23) Typography do’s and don’ts. On Western Michigan University’s website. Retrieved June 13, 2010 from http://www.wmich.edu/wmu/writing/typography.html

Another great typography resource is on SitePoint.com at http://www.sitepoint.com/blogs/2010/01/24/typography-readability-and-legibility-part-1/

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