As a scientist, I have to keep up with journals in my research field. For most journals, I get an RSS feed with the title and abstracts of journal articles. There is one journal, however, for which I respect the science, but hate their feed. Because they set all of their article titles in all capital letters:
HOW TO PREVENT CHEATING: A DIGESTIVE SPECIALIZATION TIES MUTUALISTIC PLANT-ANTS TO THEIR ANT-PLANT PARTNERS
EXTREME HOST PLANT CONSERVATISM DURING AT LEAST 20 MILLION YEARS OF HOST PLANT PURSUIT BY OAK GALLWASPS
GENETIC ARCHITECTURE FOR THE ADAPTIVE ORIGIN OF ANNUAL WILD RICE, ORYZA NIVARA
GENETIC DISTANCE BETWEEN SPECIES PREDICTS NOVEL TRAIT EXPRESSION IN THEIR HYBRIDS
Admit it, you didn’t read any of those. You skipped here to pick up the conversational thread, didn’t you? (In fairness, it’s not quite as bad in the RSS reader as they appear here, because there is a little space between entries in the reader.)
When I look at those article titles, I can feel my brain “gearing down” every time. Reading slows to a crawl. The experience drives me nuts. When I’m looking at the feed, most entries are irrelevant to me, so I skim, doing a quick search for topics that interest me.
And that is exactly the same situation I’m in during a poster presentation session. Yet many people insist on setting their poster titles in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS.
Compare the experience of reading this to the above. The titles are the same, and much could be done to improve the distinction between each title. Even so, just setting them in regular sentence case makes them they less likely to cause someone to skip over them immediately.
How to prevent cheating: A digestive specialization ties mutualistic plant-ants to their ant-plant partners
Extreme host plant conservatism during at least 20 million years of host plant pursuit by oak gallwasps
Genetic architecture for the adaptive origin of annual wild rice, Oryza nivara
Genetic distance between species predicts novel trait expression in their hybrids
Putting long sequences of test in all capital letters looks like you’re shouting. It’s as unpleasant an experience in type as it is in person.
If you are clear, you don’t have to be loud.
Questions About All Caps Setting, 29 September 2009, FontFeed blog.