We have upper case and lower case in English — Letter case

Examples: UPPER CASE, lower case.

We have word lengthening/ word elongation.

Examples: Nooooooooooooooooooooo, hiiiiiiiiiiii, hellooooooooooooo etc.

There are many other cases such as sentence case, camel case, snake case, lower camel case etc.

We also have random intermittent capitalisation like 'hOw aRE yOU' (mostly used in social media sites and chatting platforms, excessively used in Discord).

I quite often see them used on Discord and many other chatting platforms. I call them 'sporadic caps', but I wonder if there's a specific name for it.

Does this kind of capitalisation have a name?


7 Answers 7


After digging for a long time, I finally discovered the name of this kind of capitalisation. It's called studly caps or sometimes sticky caps.

Studly caps:

Studly caps is a form of text notation in which the capitalization of letters varies by some pattern, or arbitrarily (usually also omitting spaces between words and often omitting some letters), for example, StUdLyCaPs, STuDLyCaPS or sTuDLycApS. Such patterns are identified by many users, ambiguously, as camel case. The typical alternative is to just replace spaces with underscores (as in snake case).


According to the Jargon File, the origin and significance of the practice is obscure. Arbitrary variation found popularity among adolescent users during the BBS and early WWW eras of online culture, as if in parody of the marginally less idiosyncratic capitalization found in common trade and service marks of the time. Programming style guides, meanwhile, began to codify common StudlyCaps patterns for computer programmer populations, who are constrained by rules on the placement of whitespace that are incompatible with natural-language usage.

Unlike the use of all-lowercase letters, which suggests efficiency as a motivation, StudlyCaps requires additional effort to type (and read), either holding and releasing the shift key with one hand while hunting-and-pecking, or intermittently pressing one shift key or the other while touch typing.

This method (without actually named "studly caps" or else) was extensively used since the 1980s in the BBS-world and warez scene (for example in FILE_ID.DIZ and .nfo files) to show "elite" (or elitist) attitude, the often used variant was using small-caps vowels and capitalised consonants (THiS iS aN eXCePTioNaLLy eLiTe SeNTeNCe.) or reversed capitals (eXTENDED kEY gNERERATOR pRO). The iNiQUiTY BBS software based on Renegade had a feature to support two variants of this automatically: either all vowels would be uppercase or all vowels would be lowercase, with the consonants as the other case.

Messages may be hidden in the capital and lower-case letters such as "ShoEboX" which spells "SEX" in capitals and "hobo" in lower-case. The webmail service Hotmail was originally stylized as HoTMaiL, which spells HTML in upper-case.

A meme in early 2017 called "Mocking Spongebob" used studly case to convey a mocking tone.

Studly caps is commonly used in social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and in chatting platforms such as Discord, WeChat and WhatsApp etc.


There's also a site that generates Studly caps online.

Toolpage — Studly caps generator

Results from Toolpage:

  • stAcK ExchANgE
  • ranDOm inTErMiTteNT caPItALiSAtIOn
  • HeLlo. how ArE you dOing?
  • 5
    'Ransom Notes' is an example of a typeface designed to mimic the cut-and-paste demands for money kidnappers seem to use in TV dramas. They typeface is a fixed mixture of upper and lower case. Commented May 4, 2020 at 13:53
  • 11
    @Laurel But studly caps are random. Camel case or Pascal case is NotRandom (or perhaps notRandom).
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented May 4, 2020 at 14:34
  • 10
    I think there is a significant difference between random capitalization (as in the OP's question), and mixed capitalization as in camel, snake, studly, or Pascal case for that matter. Even the examples in this answer are described as not random patterns of capitalization, rather they following some specific (if esoteric) pattern. As someone who as an adolescent spent a lot of in dial-up culture, and as an adult has worked in dozens of coding conventions, I feel there is something here that devalues the expressive power of mixed-cap schemes by saying they are random.
    – Myk Willis
    Commented May 5, 2020 at 0:39
  • 1
    [iNtEReStINg](youtube.com/channel/UCAzKFALPuF_EPe-AEI0WFFw) Commented May 5, 2020 at 12:23
  • 1
    My favorite pattern of mixed upper- and lower-case lettering is the following, which works only if the upper-case letters are printed in small capitals equal in height to the lower-case letters: aBcDeFGHIJKLmnoPQrsTuvwxYz. Get it? Commented May 5, 2020 at 17:32

When used in the context of memes, you can refer to it as Spongebob case.

See for example:

  • 5
    This is likely how most young folks will refer to it due to their exposure to it from Spongebob memes. +1 Expect to see this use rise on n-gram over time at the expense of the other names above.
    – TylerH
    Commented May 5, 2020 at 13:46

One name for this case is alternating case. A text converter that uses the form (Alternating Case Converter) explains:

The alternating case converter converts text, so as a result the initial letter is a capital one and from there on the cases alternate between uppercase and lowercase. For this, a text needs to be entered into the form. Alternating case writing is particularly common on the Internet and is used by those who think it looks "cool". It is also known as Alternating Caps and Troutspeak.

Other converters (like this and this) also call it alternating case.

This usage is also attested in published work on typography and reading. Mary C. Dyson and Ching Yee Suen in Digital Fonts and Reading (2016) describe a study that assessed reader eye movement when reading alternating case.

McConkie and Zola [1979] presented passages of text in aLtErNaTiNg CaSe then on specific saccades the case alternation was switched (AlTeRnAtInG cAsE). The astonishing finding was that fixations following a case switch were no longer than fixations that did not follow a switch. [...] However, as you might guess, reading alternating case is more effortful than reading all lower case or all uppercase text [Rayner, McConkie, and Zola, 1980; Juhasz, Liversedge, White, and Rayner, 2006; Reingold, Yang, and Rayner, 2010]. It may be that alternating case disrupts normal word identification processes [Coltheart and Freeman, 1974] [... ]

These sources cited by Dyson and Suen show that scholarship in the mid-1970s was already using the term "alternating case." Here is the first study mentioned from 1979, McConkie, George W., and David Zola. "Is visual information integrated across successive fixations in reading?." Perception & psychophysics 25.3 (1979): 221-224, from the abstract:

College students read a passage presented in AlTeRnAtInG cAsE on a CRT while their eye movements were monitored. During certain saccades, the case of every letter was changed (a became A, B became b). This change was not perceived and had no effect on eye movements. Apparently visual features of the type which specify the difference between upper- and lowercase letters are not integrated across fixations during reading.

And here is the earliest study mentioned, Coltheart, Max, and Roger Freeman. "Case alternation impairs word identification." Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society 3.2 (1974): 102-104:

The prose passage was on the left page of a booklet, in upper case, lower case, or alternating case.

This experiment, then, has shown that the alternating-case condition does, in fact, lead to impaired word identification, even when character size is the same for upper- and lowercase characters.

So alternating case specifically describes the case of switching case with each letter, whereas words like studly case more generally describe the introduction of case internal to words or without spaces through a predictable pattern.


See also the below for non-strictly-alternating capitalization:

  • "Erratically capitalized", as in NY Mag:

    (The idea, so far as there is one, is that the erratically capitalized line is meant to represent a sort of mocking imitation of the original line.) This is now the canonical format of the Mocking Sponge meme.

  • "Randomcase", as in Unit Conversion:

    With random case the rules of grammar that determine upper and lower case do not apply. Upper case or capital letters appear in a random sequence. Lower case letters also appear in a random sequence. Random refers to a pattern or series that has no pattern. This can be helpful for creating security codes. The random qualities can be unique. Randomness traditionally was generated through devices such as dice but computed randomness today can easily create randomness for statistical sampling, simulations, and cryptography.

  • 2
    'Randomcase' might be a correct answer, but 'erratically capitalized' is just a pairing of words, not even a loose collocation. Commented May 5, 2020 at 18:47

Another name is Ransom Note font; from the trope of ransom notes made by cutting and gluing random words and letters from newspapers, to foil attempts at analyzing the kidnapper's handwriting.

As decapitated_soul points out, enter image description here

  • 1
    I had used some 'ransom notes' in my answer but I then deleted. You can make 'ransom notes' using Ransomizer Commented May 5, 2020 at 21:32

It is also called arbitrary capitalization.

From Tech Republic:

1: Even if you're wrong, be consistently wrong Unless your goal is to produce a whimsical ransom note effect (and what boss doesn't love that in a report or memo), arbitrary capitalization is distracting and annoying. And stupid looking. If you're not sure whether it should be Enterprise Resource Planning or enterprise resource planning, at least pick one and stick with it. (Note: There's really no good reason to capitalize that term unless it's part of a title. It's not a proper noun. Some people think that anything with an associated acronym requires capitalization, but that's not true.)

Also here, in a comment by Phil Radler, at Daily Writing Tips:

Arbitary CapiTALization hAs GoT tO sTOp! It’s more than just distracting, or peculiar, or annoying; in standard English, it’s plain wrong.
This error induces some of the most strident conflicts I encounter when editing; people can’t seem to distinguish between something that is appropriately capitalized due to a well-defined set of rules, and something they want to capitalize because it’s “important.” (Sorry, folks, but that ain’t the rule.) Bill Walsh has a marvelous rant on the topic in his book, “Lapsing into a Comma”; a version also appears here: . I commend it to the attention of anyone who is interested in producing well-crafted prose.


It's also called Anarchy case.

Other names for studly caps:

  1. StUdLyCaPs

  2. Sticky caps

  3. Anarchy case

  4. Altcaps

  5. Alternating caps

DB Pedia

  • @DecapitatedSoul, No sorry. the link in my answer is the only reference.
    – user382280
    Commented May 19, 2020 at 12:19

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