Capital Letters In Headlines

by: SA Author Experience

Seeking Alpha has its own set of standards for article titles, also known as headlines.

We discourage the use of all-caps everywhere, but especially in headlines.

In this article, we explain our thinking and elaborate on the rules.

By Carolyn Pairitz Morris

You may have noticed during your time as an author or reader on Seeking Alpha that we have some rules about headlines, a style guide we follow. (To see the complete style guide, please follow this link.) One you might not have noticed is that we don't allow capital letters in a title, commonly referred to as "all caps". Today, we are going to outline why this is and how small things like capital letters in a title can impact the user experience.

Uppercase letters slow down readers

We aren't just enforcing this rule for esthetics. User experience experts agree that readers comprehend phrases written in small-caps faster than all-caps. As quoted from Miles Tinker, renowned for his landmark work, Legibility of Print, and studies on the legibility and readability:

All-capital print greatly retards speed of reading in comparison with lower-case type. Also, most readers judge all capitals to be less legible. Faster reading of the lower-case print is due to the characteristic word forms furnished by this type. This permits reading by word units, while all capitals tend to be read letter by letter. Furthermore, since all-capital printing takes at least one-third more space than lower case, more fixation pauses are required for reading the same amount of material. The use of all capitals should be dispensed with in every printing situation.

While we aren't as worried about the waste of materials on a digital medium, using lower-case letters does help make a title more accessible.

It reads like you are yelling at the reader

From is the following advice that I think sums this point up exceptionally well:

Yes, it's easier to read the letters when you type them in all capital letters. But you should know: Most people use all caps to denote yelling or sarcasm, and it can seem overly aggressive at the least.

All caps titles can even remind a reader of spam or ad emails, an association that most would not like connected to their investment analysis. Your passion for the analysis should be clear in what you say, not the typeface used.

We want consistent title formatting

Articles are written by individuals from all walks of life, offering their own unique insight, but by maintaining a style guide that all articles follow, the site reads as much more cohesive and clean. As a reminder, here is our outline for titles in the style guide.

Core principle: In most cases, users will make the decision to click through to an article based only on its title. We therefore aspire to achieve two things with our titles: i) Accurately and crisply describe what the article is about (no surprises), and ii) Convey a sense of importance and urgency to the topic.

  1. Titles should be compelling and focus on the key action item for people reading the article.
  2. Titles should be direct rather than cute.

  3. Avoid bombastic titles like "Screaming Buy."

  4. Avoid overuse of titles ending with a question.

  5. Name-dropping is best avoided (e.g., "Why Buffett Would Love This Stock" or "Cramer Hates 'A,' But I Don't").

  6. Editors may make small, cosmetic changes to titles without conferring with authors. Anything that might change the meaning or inference of the title should be changed by suggesting the new title to the author via feedback, and having the author implement the change.

  7. Only primary-ticker articles can make use of title testing.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.