We switched to sentence case and here’s what happened

apstyle tweet

Recently our marketing team switched from using title case in headlines and subheads to sentence case. We thought it would be a #ncbu decision (#ncbu = nobody cares but us).

We were wrong. Bedlam. Mayhem. Confusion. We had some ‘splainin to do.

We didn’t realize this change would cause this kind of reaction.

APstyle made this change way back in 2016. For years, APstyle used title case in headlines and such.

Title case looks like this:
22 Professionals Selected for Kansas Leadership Program

Sentence case looks like this:
22 professionals selected for Kansas leadership program

Basically, title case capitalizes all words (nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, and subordinate conjunctions) with three or more letters, and the first and the last word. Title case uses lowercase articles (a, an, the), coordinating conjunctions, and prepositions.

Sentence case means you simply write the headline like a sentence, capitalizing the first word and proper nouns.

The debate made its rounds on the PRSA forums, and Google brings up a long list of articles about this hot topic.

Here’s my reasons for using sentence case:

  • It increases readability:  It’s easier to read because it looks like a sentence.
  • It’s friendly: Capitalization makes text look formal and serious. Brands need to be friendly and using sentence case looks more approachable.
  • It’s less confusing: For writers, sentence case is easier to write because you don’t have to worry if certain words should be capitalized. Saves time!
  • It’s easily re-purposed: We’re not just writing “headlines.” We have to write email subject lines, tweets, Instagram captions, schedule entries and website headings. With sentence case, you can just copy and paste.
  • It follows APstyle: our brand style guide is based on APstyle. While we don’t follow all their rules, we do follow this one.

Next time we make a writing style change, maybe I should ease our staff into the change! 🤣

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