Tips and best practices for creating consistent and well-designed capitalisation patterns.
In user interfaces, the more words capitalised, the more time users must spend trying to decipher why things are capitalised or not.
Our goal in product writing is to help users complete their actions. Minimizing the use of capitalised words and phrases helps achieve that goal.
If there's one thing to remember: unless there's a rule to capitalise it, words should be in sentence case.
In sentence case, only the first letter of the first word in the sentence or phrase is capitalized, except proper nouns.
Use sentence case for instructional text, error message body text, dialog body text, and most other text that is grammatically a full sentence.
Use sentence case for almost all content.
Why you should use sentence case:
- Considered the most readable form of text.
- Best for skimming. Less congnitive load.
- Easy for users to distinguish between common nouns and proper nouns. If you have two proper nouns or product names in a sentence, it's easier to read when the rest of it is in sentence case. For example, "Automatic reporting is the latest feature in Payroll, Reckon's flagship product." With the proper nouns being capitalised, the emphasis is on the product and company name.
In title case, each word in the phrase is capitalized, except for articles (a, an, the) and most prepositions (in, on, for, etc).
Generally, if something is a title, header, or subheader, it should be in title case. Use title case for page headers, column headers, table or grid headers, and for button text.
Why you might use title case:
- Creates emphasis. In some UI components, sentence case might seem to have too little emphasis and upper case could come across as aggressive. A button label is a good example of this.
- Brings a hierarchy to different text elements. Easier to differentiate between, say, a header and a paragraph. Because it's a proper noun.
CAPITALIZE EVERY LETTER
Upper case capitalisation should rarely be used.
Why you might use upper case:
- Perceived as an important piece of information. Something unique.
- When you need to shout out an important message. Like a warning note in a how-to article. To break up the styles. Build contrast.