Talk:Capital letter

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Name Change[edit]

I belive we should swich the name of the article from Capital letters to Majuscule. --Domthedude001 21:25, 8 June 2006 (UTC)

I concur! Mindman1 00:35, 25 July 2007 (UTC)
I don't really think so - won't the vast majority of English-speakers search for Capital letters to get to this subject? Wikipedia:Naming conventions (common names) recommends using (within reason) a common name for a subject.

However, I think we should change the name from Capital letters to Capital letter, as in general, when naming articles, the singular form of a noun is preferred. Thanks very much :) Drum guy (talk) 18:16, 21 February 2008 (UTC)

Only Majuscules?[edit]

Some languages use only majuscules.

What exactly does this mean? I assume it to be a reference to the fact that most writing systems do not have a majuscule/minuscule distinction, in which case it seems meaningless to say that they use majuscules. --Brion 23:25 Aug 19, 2002 (PDT)
I agree. I've edited the sentence (and the following one) accordingly. I've also stuck in a reference to the use of uppercase and lowercase in computing circles (where people generally don't talk about majuscules or even capital letters). Magnus 12:42 Apr 24, 2003 (UTC)
I would be interesting to describe here the capitalization rules for titles in English. Avernet 04:25, 23 Nov 2003 (UTC)

versaali gemena[edit]

I wonder where the names "versaali" and "gemena" for majuscules and minuscules come from. The forms I cite are Finnish, but they're not Finnish words, they're borrowed from somewhere, probably Latin. -Leo 18:12 Nov 28 2004 (UTC)
Swedish probable equilants "versaler" "gemena"--Seas 05:32, 24 May 2005 (UTC)

upper/lower case?[edit]

Um, the business about Gutenberg and the upper and lower cases seems suspect. Is there something to back this up? It sounds like a faux etymology.

'Tis true. OED case, n.^2 9. -
In ordinary printing the compositor has two such cases before him on a slanting stand, the upper case containing the capitals, etc., the lower the small letters, ordinary spaces, etc.
mholland 16:31, 8 August 2005 (UTC)
It is incontravertable truth. Ask any typophile or typography historian. The upper and lower cases gave their name to majuscules and miniscules. When moveable type came into existence the names were changed to upper case/lower case. Arbo 22:38, 3 April 2006 (UTC)


We're missing history here. When did Latin split upper and lower case? Wasn't the case with Greek similar, with inscriptions being in all capitals? — Hippietrail 02:47, 11 July 2005 (UTC)

I'm writing a history of Western typography right now in the typography article. The split happened when Carlovingian miniscule was mated to the roman capitals by Venetian printers shortly after Gutenburg's moveable type system----a decade or so after 1455.
Yes, ancient Greek was all-caps too, but they changed that when they invented uncial unicase about 300 B.C. Arbo 22:33, 3 April 2006 (UTC)


I find the following part of the article more opinion than fact: "spans of text in all uppercase are harder to read because of the absence of ascenders and descenders found in lowercase letters" My mom prefers caps because for her it is easier to read. Also you may want to add to the article that for some people caps is considered cyber "yelling" or "screaming" and others just cannot understand why these other people think this way and continue to type in caps because they believe the others who think it is yelling are wrong. Who is correct? Is it yelling or is it simply larger text? The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk • contribs) .

There are several empirical studies which support the assertion that text in all-caps is more difficult to read than text in the usual mixed case. The most well-known researcher seems to be Miles Tinker, but here is one study which uses US Navy e-mails to make the point (because they are all sent in block caps). - mholland 15:39, 15 January 2006 (UTC)

Thanks, that's an interesting site. I still believe it is personal preference :P

For some people—a minority—caps versus lower case is a matter of personal preference. Actual readability depends on the individual's reading experience, including what kind of writing system(s) they've been exposed to, how often they read, the kind of material they read, and their own personal reading hardware (eyes, brain etc) and the reading firmware (shaped by axon-modelling according to reading experience) that programs the hardware. Eg: people who spend their lives reading text set in the Cyrillic alphabet find reading things set in the Latin alphabet difficult, even assuming no language barriers exist, because their reading hardware has been axon-modelled by the experience of reading Cyrillic letters and word shapes; pre-conditioned to process those forms and not Latin forms. The same person can re-program their reading hardware by remodelling their axon patterns thru Latin reading experience.
Individual perception of how easy a given sample of written forms are to read is also a factor.
Technically, after many different studies, lower case typography is easier to read than all-capitals, because the oddball lower case forms with ascenders and descenders create distinctive word shapes. And the fact is, when we read, we don't read letters, we read words---whole words---which we recognize as specific word shapes. Word shapes include single letter words like a and I.
People don't realize this because we read rapidly and the reading process itself is taken for granted. If we did read text letter-by-letter, reading would be extremely slow. In reality the brain's reading hardware skips a step in processing; reading letter by letter is too inefficient, and instead the brain recognizes higher level patterns in text---word shapes.
Arbo 22:19, 3 April 2006 (UTC)

Better legibility?[edit]

In typography it's taught that capital letters are less legible due to the fact that visually, an unrecognisable box is formed by them while lowercase letters form quickly recognised organic shapes.

Correct! Arbo 22:28, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
Actually, "legible" is not quite the right word. What they and you mean is "readability", as in: "Words set in capitals are less readable because the square capital letter structures form uniform word-shape boxes that are difficult to distinguish, while words set in lowercase letters form quickly recognised organic shapes".
This is not mere semantic quibbling BTW. Readability embodies a different concept to legibility. Legibility refers to the clarity of individual letters; readability concerns ease of reading typeset matter. The difference between letters and word shapes is fundamental too, because on the whole we don't read letters, we read words. Otherwise, yes, you are absolutely correct. Arbo 22:28, 3 April 2006 (UTC)

In support of this notice that road signs (where instant readability is obviously critical) are written in lower case! (At least in the the UK). 14:53, 11 April 2006 (UTC)

"capitals are used for...
3. Better legibility, for example on signs and in labeling, and..."

Point three should be removed, or explained better.

I think signs and labelling are examples where capitals are used for emphasis, for technical or logistical reasons (e.g. only capital-letter stencils available), or possibly in the misinformed expectation of better legibility. At a given type size or in a given amount of space, I doubt that capitals are ever more legible than professionally-set lowercase or mixed-case type.

In fact, with the right amount of letter-spacing and leading, in most fonts you can reduce the size of type and still improve the split-second legibility of road signs or the readability of running text by setting it in lowercase. Michael Z. 2006-06-29 22:06 Z


I think it would be relevant to mention that all-caps typing on the internet is often considered the equivalent of yelling. 03:08, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

decline in use[edit]

there might also be mention of the recent extinction of capital letters (i'm typing like this intentionally and humourously by the way). Richard001 06:29, 26 May 2007 (UTC)

Translation of five types[edit]

I translated the section of the five types of majuscules from the German WP, but I don't know, where to merge it into the English article.

Historically, majuscules are divided into five eras:
  • Greek majuscule (9th - 3rd century B.C.) in contrast to the Greek uncial script (3rd century B.C. - 12 century A.D.) and the latter Greek minuscule
  • Roman majuscule (7th century B.C. - 4th century A.D.) in contrast to the Roman uncial (4th - 8th century B.C.), Half Uncial, and minuscule
  • Carolingian majuscule (4th - 8th century A.D.) in contrast to the Carolingian minuscule (around 780 - 12th century)
  • Gothic majuscule (13th and 14th century), in contrast to the early Gothic (end of 11th to 13th century), Gothic (14th century), and late Gothic (16th century) minuscules.

Tirkfltalk 13:18, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

Nice example[edit]

I really like the silly additional "at home" proof that roman capitals are older than minuscules: due to the fact roman capitals came from older alphabets which could be written straight or mirrored none of the letters coicide if mirrored or flipped (W is a medieval ligature of VV), while the newer curvive and uncinal cannot (e.g. b, d, p, q). (Ok, runes can be flipped too, hence bind-runes like bluetooth logo, as they come from the Old italic alphabet). Can that be fitted anywhere?


The tone of this article is problematic. It reads more like the transcript of a lecture than an encyclopedic entry. For example:

"However, realize that before about 1700, literacy was very low..."


"This practice could date back to Johannes Gutenberg, but nobody really knows."

Almost nothing is cited either. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:09, 6 October 2010 (UTC)