Uppercase this!

One thing that irks me about some subject matter experts is that they love to capitalize words that are near and dear to their hearts.

Accountants explain that Vendors must include a Purchase Order number on the package or the Invoice will not be paid.

Energy industry professionals tell us that Natural Gas and Crude Oil are important fuels.

Lawyers put it over the top by including terms in quotation marks and parentheses:
Our Company (“Company”) will lobby Members of Congress (“Members”) this month.

Bill Walsh wrote cleverly about this annoying problem of arbitrary capitalization.


5 Responses to Uppercase this!

  1. David Farbey says:

    that’s why you always need to create and follow a style guide – sorry, I meant Style Guide!

  2. Lyn Dupre, in her book “BUGS in Writing”, calls this the “Pooh-bear mode of writing”, “in which Everything Takes on Great Importance, which may be all right for Children’s Books, but is Not Appropriate in Formal Writing.”

  3. This is somewhat a cultural thing. German, for instance, loves to capitalize nouns in general. I just ran the translator on my blog and had it render the blog in German and the level of capitalization increased noticeably. I know that “down-styling” is the current trend in American technical communication, but I don’t know what other English speaking cultures are doing–maybe David Farby could jump back in and comment on that. And in our case, I am waiting for the style guides in the next decade to say that we should us headline style capitalization for headings to provide greater contrast with the body text. Been There Done That 🙂

  4. Connie Winch says:

    The reason lawyers put words in quotation marks and parentheses is not to be pretentious. It’s to indicate that the quotation-marked word is what the remainder of the document uses to indicate that entity. 🙂

    P.S. Hi, Michael, 🙂 and congats on receiving the STC fellowship!

  5. hharkness says:

    Connie, I realize the need for that convention in legal documents, but they have a tendency to do it in any written material that passes through their hands: training manuals, Web site content, etc.

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