Website Writing Guide

Web writing and presentation style

Capitals in headings

Use sentence case for all menu headings and other headings unless the heading is a proper noun.

  • About us - sentence case – only the first letter of the title is capitalised.
  • About Us - initial case – first letter of each word capitalised.
  • ABOUT US - capital case – upper case for all words.

 

The main heading on this page, Website Writing Guide, is in initial case because it is a proper noun - in this case, the name of a publication. The heading, Capitals in headings, is in sentence case because it is not a proper noun.

There are good reasons for preferring sentence case:

  • "IT IS HARDER TO READ TEXT IN ALL CAPITALS BECAUSE CAPITALIZATION RENDERS EVERY LETTER THE SAME SHAPE AND SIZE THEREBY REMOVING THE DIFFERENTIATION WE USE TO DISTINGUISH WORDS. IT SLOWS US DOWN BECAUSE WE HAVE TO CONCENTRATE ON EACH LETTER RATHER THAN SIMPLY RECOGNIZING THE WORD."
    – Jacob Nielsen, Designing Web Usability, p. 126.
  • Initial case letter headings (Headings Like This) are more difficult to read than sentence case (Sentence case) because the capitalisation disrupts the reader’s scanning of the heading – see Lynch and Horton, Web Style Guide, p. 85.
  • The use of initial case (Initial Case) signals a proper noun. If all options in a menu are in initial case (Initial Case), any options that are proper nouns are indistinguishable from the other options. This can lead to confusion and misinterpretation.
  • Using initial case often leads to awkward headings where the small words in the heading (for, an, the,a) may or may not be presented in initial case.
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