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Product names and capital letters

A handful of technology brands insist their names are all capitals. In recent days I’ve seen Asus and Gigabyte push this idea. There are others.

Companies can write their names however they want.

They don’t need to worry about being literate, sensible or easy to read. Although all of those things might help them.

Journalists should not write company names in capital letters. The goal is to make information easy to understand.

This means ignoring demands to spell company names in capitals unless there are good, practical reasons to do otherwise. I’ll look at these in a moment.

Readers come first

Journalists serve readers, not markets nor companies. We do this by making information easy to get and understand. Messing around with capitals interferes with that role. Capitals are the reading equivalent of speed bumps, they slow a reader’s flow.

The flip side of that argument means companies have an incentive to insist on using capitals in brand names. Words spelled out in capitals stand out in text passages. They leap out from a page or screen.

Editors who nod through product names in capitals knowingly or unknowingly put brands’ interests ahead of their reader’s interests. Some readers will realise this and learn not to trust the publication.

When company name are capitals

We pronounce names like HP or IBM as a string of letters. It makes sense to write them as capitals. This doesn’t apply when company names are acronyms forming a pronounceable word.

Published by Bill Bennett

Not actually a geek, more a chronicler of geekdom. Still mainly a journalist, sometimes a blogger.

2 replies on “Product names and capital letters”

  1. Excellent and most timely. I have forwarded this post to a client in the hope that they will follow our advice. If they do, I’ll share a decent bottle of red with you.

  2. “Capitals are the reading equivalent of speed bumps, they slow a reader’s flow.” I couldn’t agree with you more.
    Will be tweeting a link to this article soon!

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