why i write in lowercase

2023/06/02 by huck boles

the first reason is that i don’t believe that distinguishing capital letters adds much to the information i’m trying to convey. having a different version of a letter at the start of a sentence is purely a stylistic convention, and doesn’t change how we say or think about it.

not using uppercase letters in general makes them stand out even more when i do, basically giving me another variety of emphasis i can use in my writing, beyond italics, bold, or underlining. my favorite difference is that this emphasis is in the text itself, rather than the rendering of said text.

this means that it can be conveyed in simple plain text. it doesn’t matter if you’re looking at it in a fully featured web browser or the tty of an old dusty server, its easily and directly communicated that there’s something different about this set of letters.

one place i often use capital letters is talking about programs, and generic input, it allows me so implicitly give both the structure and type of arguments, without needing extra markup. by writing foo --arg FILE it’s easy to understand that FILE is a placeholder.

this is mostly unconnected to another more personal and practical reason i avoid capitalization.

it takes mental energy to figure out where to capitalize.

there’s a lot of places where you need to make decisions on capitalizing or not, and by removing the option entirely, it makes writing much smoother for me. if i capitalize things, i end up continuously rewriting different portions as i change my ‘capitalization requirements.’ i try to make my writing very homogeneous, and end up rewriting vast portions of my website or long papers as i change my mind on how i’d like to capitalize headers, or places, or programs, or any other thing that gets written about.

so now, i just don’t do it. saving me time and energy that i can spend much more productively elsewhere.

funnily enough my handwriting is entirely uppercase letters, for similar reasons. i began doing this in college during my engineering degree, as it helped me separate notes and equations visually. i chose uppercase for my handwriting because it’s easier to read, both for myself and others. but the benefits remain the same, less mental energy spent, along with more unique and consistent handwriting.

i’m not trying to convince anyone that they should stop using uppercase letters or capitalizing their sentences. i still do it when communicating with others or presenting something, as i am aware of the connotations that relaxed capitalization gives. but in any personal writing, i rarely use them, for the reasons mentioned above.