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01-06-2010

I’ve been watching a recent Top Gear episode and learnt the reason behind a little usability rule about capital letters. Top Gear were interviewing Margaret Calvert who worked on the design of Britian’s road signs in the 50’s and she described a little about the typography used in signs.

On road signs you will rarely see words written in only CAPITAL letters. It is easier to recognise a complete word if it starts with a capital, followed by lowercase letters.  This is because lower case letters are significantly more different to each other than capitals.

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6 Responses

  1. I also heard that people recognise the shapes of words easier/faster when they are normal sentence case too.

  2. I watched the same episode and share your thoughts. It reminded me very much of the work performed by Susan Kare in designing the icons for the mac way back in 1983 or so (http://www.kare.com/). Two women who have had a profound (but didn’t know it at the time) impact on UI.

  3. Thanks Les, great connection of designers. They have impacted so many lives Globally. Perhaps even saved them?!

  4. Thanks James! Makes sense, of course! It’s all about pattern recognition.

  5. The research doesn’t bear this out. I wrote a blog about the research on all caps:
    http://bit.ly/btx9t9

  6. Thanks Susan, I’ll check it out!

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