Why Is It Important to Use Capitalization in Communications?

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Young woman texting on her phone
Young woman texting on her phone (Image: Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images)

As greater numbers of people use text messaging, social network tools and other short forms of communication, the trend is to ignore capitalization. This bad habit is spilling over into email and other writing. While it might not be critical to capitalize a proper noun in a text message to your best friend, it is a good habit to use capitals in your professional communications.

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Whether you are writing on your own behalf or writing as your company's representative, correct capitalization is important. Demonstrating the proper mechanics of writing shows that you are educated and pay attention to detail. An individual who does not use capitalization in written communications tends to come across as sloppy and uneducated -- hardly the impression you'd like to make. Think about a company that you do business with. If it was to communicate in lowercase letters only, you'd likely doubt its competency. Peers and clients could perceive you in a negative manner if you do not use capital letters.

Readability

It is easier for others to read text that is written in mixed case -- that is, with both capital and lowercase letters. Capital letters break up the text, indicating when a new sentence has begun. They also give cues about important information that the reader should pay attention to, such as names, addresses and dates. Use capitalization correctly in your communications, and people will understand your message more clearly.

Clarity

Are you going to help your Uncle Chase off a horse or help your uncle chase off a horse? The first example indicates that you are helping your uncle, Chase, to get down from a horse's saddle, while the second indicates that you are helping an unnamed uncle scare away a horse. Correct capitalization helps people to grasp the meaning and intent of the words you are writing, which can prevent misunderstandings.

Tips

Always capitalize letters at the beginning of sentences. Capitalize names as well -- not only the names of people, but also the names of specific places and items. For example, capitalize "Mexico" and "Riverside Drive," but do not capitalize general locations such as "the south side of the city" and "the country." Capitalize brand names such as Coke and Kleenex, even though they are commonly used as general terms. The names of religions are always capitalized, as are the titles of books, magazines and websites. One book that can help you to learn the finer points of capitalization is "The Elements of Style," by William Strunk and E.B. White.

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