Re: Phoenician, Fraktur etc

From: Philippe Verdy (
Date: Thu May 27 2004 - 18:10:12 CDT

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    From: "Peter Kirk" <>
    > This implies that readers are expected to
    > read upper case MORE easily than lower case, at least for short texts
    > like headlines.

    Not true. Capitals are used in head lines because they are easy to read only
    when written with large fonts. For articles, reading a compact text made only
    with uppercase letters at small sizes is extremely difficult for the eyes.
    Readers want to have a fast reading of text, because a trained reader will
    identify most letters by looking only at the upper part of the letter forms.
    That's a good reason why accents are easier to identify above letters rather
    than below.
    If you use only capitals, you need more attention to read each letter in its
    globality. So reading is necessarily slower and more difficult.

    This slower read of uppercase letters is a characteristic of the Latin script,
    and it is used in titles simply because the eye will "stop" on such letters.
    This emphasizes the text, and is pleasant for readers only when it is used
    carefully for small titles. Book titles are most often in uppercase style or in
    small capital style simply to benefit of this increased attention which attract
    the eye. Take a collection of books in a library, where all titles would be in
    normal lowercase style with just a few Capitals for proper names and starts of
    sentences, and you'll have difficulty to get your attention to a precise title.

    So, all uppercase text is only useful for short fragments of text, when you need
    to emphasize it. For paragraphs with several lines stacked vertically and
    justified horizontally, all uppercase text is a nightmare to read, as you can't
    read it fast, and the "color" of the text becomes all "grey". In such style, you
    brain will need more work to separate words or simply to follow the horizontal
    rows of text, and all words will appear "equal". In addition, uppercase letters
    tend to hide the punctuation which helps understanding the semantic and intended
    rythm of the written text...

    Look for example in the "ABSENCE OF WARRANTY" and various "DENIALS" found in
    software licences, and I'm sure that you have experienced slow reading and
    misunderstanding of these long paragraphs, very unpleasant to read... as if
    someone was shouting constantly into your ears to make him heard: you'll hear a
    few words distinctly, then you'll abort and will discard such abusive speech.
    Same thing for emails composed only with uppercase letters, also interpreted as
    someone shouting directly into your ears.

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