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Do I have to capitalize each cell in a table, or only be consistent throughout the table?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Drew, tchrist, ScotM, Kristina Lopez, oerkelens Apr 21 '15 at 10:44

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There is no universal rule for formatting the entries in individual cells of a table; capitalization of those entries is strictly a style issue.

I checked three widely respected style guides (Chicago Manual of Style, Oxford Style Manual, and Words Into Type), and none of them has anything to say on this particular point. At the magazines where I've worked, the house style was to lowercase single-word and short-phrase cell entries, and to initial-cap (and end-punctuate) sentence-length entries. Nevertheless, this was strictly an in-house style decision; I've seen many instances where table cell entries are initial-capped even if they consist of a single word like Yes or No.

Both within a table and across multiple tables (if applicable), consistency is important, since it helps readers negotiate the sometimes challenging presentation of ideas that a complex or very succinct table may entail. Chicago, fifteenth edition (2003) has this to say on that point:

13.69 Consistency. However neat and orderly a table may appear, it must be checked not only internal consistency but for conformity to the text and to other tables in the same work. Column heads and stubs [entries in the leftmost column of the table] must match one another in style across a series of tables. Spelling, capitalization, punctuation, abbreviations, and symbols must likewise be regularized.

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This might be better answered on the User Experience SE site. The general rule is "consistency": capitalize everything consistently.

  • I was refering to a printed report, not an app, but I guess it's the same :) – Sparkler Mar 19 '15 at 20:08

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