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Why Should I Avoid Capital Letters in Email Addresses and Other Online Forms?

Leaving on the caps lock button and writing in all capitals can make it seem like shouting and make sentences difficult to read.
Most passwords are case-sensitive, meaning entries first entered as capital letters must remain that way.
Online writing rendered in all capital letters is considered the online equivalent of shouting.
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  • Written By: Michael Pollick
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 24 October 2014
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The rules of Internet etiquette are not universal, but using all capitals in online communications is discouraged for both technical and social reasons. Some online forms may ask specifically for responses in all caps, often to keep responses consistent, but this is relatively uncommon. When addresses or form responses are written in capital letters, it can be difficult for the recipient to read and give the reader a negative perception of the writer. Certain online forms may also be case-sensitive, which means any capitals typed during the creation of a password or email address must remain that way later.

One of the main reasons why the use of all capitals is discouraged is social in nature. It is difficult to convey emotions, irony, or sarcasm in most electronic communications, so many emailers and chatroom participants use capital letters to express anger or other strong emotions. THE EFFECT IS THE APPEARANCE OF SHOUTING, which may not be the sentiment you wish to convey. Other typographical effects, such as emoticons, can convey more subtle emotions, but the use of uppercase writing is perceived as far from subtle.

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Another reason many online form users dislike all capitals is general readability. Early computer programs had difficulty recognizing lower case letters, so the use of all capital letters was the norm. As more advanced word processing programs became available, fewer computer users felt the need to use all capitals in their electronic communications. Some online forms still request responses this way, but often only when the responses are relatively short and the recipients seek a level playing field without improper lower or upper case typos affecting their decisions.

When a form does not require the use of all capital letters and you answer this way anyway, it can make your responses stand out from those of other people — but often not in a good way. People who are new to online communications or who are not comfortable with the Internet may use capital letters more than they should, so filling out a form this way or even using all caps in your email address can make it look like you are inexperienced.

Lengthy passages written in all capitals can very difficult to read. EVEN A SIMPLE EXPLANATION OF WHY USING ALL CAPITAL LETTERS IS NOT ADVISABLE CAN QUICKLY TURN INTO A BLUR OF LETTERS OVER TIME. Capitals do have their place in electronic communications, especially as headers and titles, but most readers prefer to see electronic text as a form of typewritten material, with familiar upper and lower case fonts. The use of all capital letters can negatively affect a reader's reading speed or an editor's proofreading ability.

Writing in all capitals should only be used to express very strong emotion or in response to short online form queries. Be sure to check the website's rules concerning the use of letter case before submitting your information electronically.

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Discuss this Article

anon298392
Post 21

I believe the use of capitals is acceptable when discussing something. It is used to make a point to the reader.

lighth0se33
Post 20

Some people don't even seem to notice that they have their caps lock on when typing. When I accidentally push this button and my letters start showing up in capital form, I am immediately startled.

That's just how powerful the effect of capitalization can be. The letters just jump out at a person and say, “BOO!”

The only time I use capital letters in an email address is when someone has specified that part of their address needs to be capitalized. The only time I use them in online forms is when my password to a certain website has to include capital letters. Some sites specify that your password has to include both lowercase and capital letters, as well as numbers.

Kristee
Post 19

@giddion – You are right about all capital letters conveying emphasis. I don't necessarily think that the words are always being stated in anger, but I do perceive that the writer wanted to emphasize certain words or thoughts if he has placed them in all caps.

It's kind of like when you are reading an instruction manual, and most of it is written in regular upper and lowercase letters, but the most important parts are capitalized. Usually, these are sentences warning the user about the dangers of the product. The manufacturer really wants the reader to see this part, even if they skim over the rest of the manual.

giddion
Post 18

When I read an email, text, or any piece of writing that has been scripted in all caps, I can actually hear the writer shouting the words in my mind. It's crazy how something visual can have such a strong auditory effect.

I guess it doesn't work this way with everyone, since there are some people here stating that they don't perceive all caps as shouting. However, I think the majority will agree that it is bothersome and does convey anger or emphasis.

feasting
Post 17

I have never seen an online form that required all capital letters. Maybe I just haven't been around the internet enough, or perhaps it's because I only started using the internet to do all my work and pay all my bills a few years ago. Forms requiring all caps might have been more common in the early days.

burcinc
Post 16

It's very rare for people to type in capital letters these days. I only know of one website that requires it and that's my bank. But the site automatically makes my email address capitals, so I don't even have to type it that way.

I once organized an event for my job and I did receive several forms online for the event where the applicant had used all capitals. It was so difficult to read! I really hated it!

literally45
Post 15

@anon101183-- I think the article was referring to email addresses, not what's written in the body of the email.

As far as I know, the part of email addresses that come before the "@" sign are case sensitive. So it is possible to send an email to the wrong address if you capitalize the email address when it's not supposed to be. That's why they recommend everyone to use all lower letters when getting new email addresses.

fBoyle
Post 14

@anon158338-- That's a great point. Most email providers allow us to increase the font of what we're writing in our email. So if you really need to emphasize something, you can just do that by using a bigger font or making that word or sentence bold.

I don't think that difficulty seeing or reading is a good excuse to use all capital letters in forms and in emails because you can zoom in on the web page you are on to make things bigger. If you use all capitals, your email might not reach the recipient or the recipient just won't receive the message well.

I'm sorry if some haven't heard that capital letters means shouting, but it's true, that's what it means.

anon258237
Post 12

Is it offensive to just type headers and surnames in a short email.

anon234398
Post 11

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but CAPITALS will never hurt me.

anon231581
Post 10

I agree with the philosophy. Read any business writing book or article, and you will soon feel silly for using all caps.

anon158338
Post 8

For anyone over 40 that wishes to type in capitals because it's easier to read: Why not just make the font size larger on your emails so by default you can view/type emails without using capital letters!

anon151902
Post 7

After all these years in writing in caps and then this week to get a reply back from a e-mail to say i was yelling is just unheard of. Maybe an excuse to say i did something wrong. Where does this rule come from?

anon148176
Post 6

email addresses in some cases *are* case sensitive. I have had Barracuda block emails with capital letters, but not block the same address in all smalls. I'm saying that Barracuda is a piece of crap.

anon144038
Post 5

Caps are indeed easier to read especially for over 40 eyes. However, caps are an excellent way when mixed with small letters to "shout," your point, which can be necessary in email communications.

anon131210
Post 4

Personally I like capitalization. To assume that if the letter are big the sender is angry or emotional is a stretch. I send them all the time and sometimes get back a FYI that reinforces your contention, but for the most part I really don't think the majority of people care. Can we let this go and concentrate on something important.

adalbert
Post 3

I am afraid that I would not agree with this, since I believe that capital letters are much more readable than simple letters. I think the majority would agree with me. And in case of e-mail, we all know that if we misread even a single letter, the whole mail address is invalid. So why to take a risk of losing your mail?

anon101183
Post 1

Just an observation regarding the first paragraph above: passwords are case sensitive but e-mails aren't.

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