Possible Duplicate:
Which words in a title should be capitalized?

Why are some book titles written with all letters in all words capitalized, while others choose to capitalize some words in the title? I mean, for example, when it comes to publication, what is the difference between "THINKING IN JAVA" and "Thinking in Java"?

  • 3
    It's entirely a matter of the publisher's house style. – Barrie England Feb 1 '13 at 13:16
  • But I heard from someone that if all letters are capitalized, it is because we are showing respect to the author, who has probably passed away or is respectable. Is that so? – Stepin2 Feb 1 '13 at 13:21
  • @FootStep That is not so. – deadly Feb 1 '13 at 13:23
  • @FumbleFingers not really. They thought a typographical decision might be related to the matter of that question, but I don't think the explanation that it isn't need be included there. – Jon Hanna Feb 1 '13 at 15:13
  • @Jon: I don't follow you. Are you saying there's a difference between asking which individual words should start with a capital letter, and asking whether it matters if you capitalise every letter in every word? In the context of a title as printed on the cover of a book, I don't think it's meaningful to conflate full capitalisation there with the same typographic choice in, say, a sentence within a blog or email. – FumbleFingers Feb 1 '13 at 15:33


It's ugly (and the longer you do it, the uglier it gets) it loses any meaning conveyed by capitalisation, but when it comes to the writing of words, it's allowed.

Most of the time, it would be a bad idea. With more than a few words it so stymies legibility as to be downright rude to the reader.

It's most appropriate in cases like road signs, where the increased visibility is important, and the decreased legibility minor as the effect is lessened with short passages.

The case of book titles on covers is one where we use text both for the information conveyed through language, and as a graphical element in a picture. Hence choices like colour, size, typeface used, positioning relative to other graphical elements, and so on, all come up more pressingly than with most text. One of the options the graphical designer has, is to transform the text to all-caps (or all-miniscule, where "thinking in java" would be used, but this is a much rarer choice that for both linguistic and visual reasons is less often appropriate).

In such cases, you should think of the title as being "Thinking in Java", with the all-caps being a visual effect rather than an aspect of language.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.