Disturbing New Punctuation Changes in English!

Chicago Tribune No Longer Captializing Important Words in Titles

Those of us who are teachers have spent many years teaching kids to capitalize important words in titles.  Now it all seems to be changing.

The Herald Sun (Australian Newspaper) No Longer Capitalizing Important Words in Titles

Over the past year, I’ve begun to see many titles  like this (with no capitalization of important words)–it’s driving me crazy!   Here are some examples:

Richard Branson prepares to take Virgin banking to the high street

In tech’s golden age, why the black box?

Air France crash investigators will be able to ID bodies

War-weary lawmakers push Obama to end Afghan war

Toronto Star No Longer Capitalizing Important Words in Titles

Has anyone else noticed this???   It looks like a trend to capitalizing only the first word, and any proper nouns.  The trend is by no means universal yet.  I’ve  noticed that some large newspapers (such as the Chicago Tribune) have gone exclusively to this style, whereas the New York Times (so far) has stayed in the traditional style.

The New York Times Continues to Capitalize Important Words in Titles

It looks like British papers such as The Guardian (top headline above)–have already gone to the new style.

The Guardian (British Newspaper) No Longer Capitalizing Important Words in Titles

I don’t know where this trend started,  if American papers are following the British lead, or vice-versa.   It seems to be happening throughout the native English-speaking world.  It’s even moving into blogs now.

These changes just don’t look right to me.   Does anyone else feel this way?  The only possible reason I can think of for this change is that editors feel it “saves time” by being faster to type.  (I hope the real reason is not  that younger journalists never learned these rules!  But somehow, I don’t think that’s the reason.)

Does this trend bother anyone else as much as it bothers me?  Does anyone happen to know when, where, or why this started?

–Lynne Diligent

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

10 Responses to “Disturbing New Punctuation Changes in English!”

  1. Happy Elf Mom Says:

    Perhaps because in the old Days many Nouns would be capitalised for no apparent Reason, we associate too much Capitalisation with Stuffiness. And with texting, everything is in lowercase type. Perhaps younger people are used to reading about everything in lowercase type.

    Often each paper decides whether it will follow the AP Stylebook (sort of a journalism Bible) or not. But even the AP Stylebook has gotten wack in the last few years. There is a whole section on how to deal with “transgendered” people… you’re supposed to refer to some creampuff dude who dresses up like a girl as “she” out of respect… sigh.

    Just me, or are some of these headlines “sentences?” Back in the dinosaur age when we had to COUNT type (M is worth 2, m 1 1/2, l is 1/2 and so on and then you had so many spaces per column) that one had to just type a few salient words. Noticing more columns taken up with one “main” story on front pages as well instead of clogging the front with several as used to be done.

  2. Floyd Russak MD Says:

    I think the trend is partly to allow for my space and partly because captilizing is considered “shouting” by young people, who may now be editors. I will ask my brother-in-law who is editor of the Columbus Daily Dispactch.

  3. 100swallows Says:

    Do you indent the first line of paragraphs any more? Internet writing has gotten us all used to not doing it. And uncapitalized headlines except for the first word (or book titles or those of poems or articles) don’t disturb me any more after years here in Spain. Spanish never did that. Remember how Carlyle under German influence capitalized all those English nouns in the nineteenth century? I’m glad that didn’t catch on.

  4. Lynne Diligent Says:

    Yes, I do indent paragraphs, and do still teach that to students. Just the other day I had some students arrive at my house with a lesson to do on learning to captialize important words in titles. So they are still teaching that, as well.

    In the mid-70’s when I attended secretarial school, they were teaching the “block” format (no indenting, but does double-space between paragraphs), which they said was becoming more standard. I never liked it. But have you noticed that in WordPress, you cannot even indent paragraphs? It does bother me.

  5. sdesportes Says:

    I think ‘shouting’ is if all letters are capitalized. Not capitalizing all letters is considered proper email etiquette anyway. THIS WOULD BE CONSIDERED SHOUTING.

    I wouldn’t doubt on the space consideration though. That makes sense from a practical standpoint.

    Grammar, like language and the dictionary is evolutionary, so change is inevitable, I believe.

  6. Alan Carter Says:

    I’m sorry people, but a lot of grammar is merely style and not necessarily to aid meaning and, therefore, what we learnt at school could have been merely our teacher’s preference or just the trend at the time. In examples given, the use of bold makes it very clear that these are headings. We shouldn’t be doctrinaire about trends but only that grammar that affects getting the message across.

  7. Chadden Tipton Says:

    The practice of capitalizing the first word in a title sequence and only proper nouns thereafter comes from the American Psychological Association style manual. Perhaps this style is becoming quite influential in other fields?

  8. Alan Carter Says:

    Perhaps another way of looking at this is to determine the point of punctuation. What is the aid to communication in capitalising each important word in a heading? As newspaper headings are often part sentences perhaps initial sentence letter makes more sense.

    A more worrying trend for me is the capitalisation of “important” words. I have recently been told by a business studies lecturer that you should use capitals for titles such as executive, director and even manager when used in a general sense. So why not foreman, supervisor etc.?

    • Lynne Diligent Says:

      Actually, capitals have ALWAYS been used for titles when in front of names, for example: President Reagan, Mrs. Bush, Mr. Jones, Supervisor Joe Black, Foreman Tim Mills, etc. But they are not used when following a name, such as, Ronald Reagan, president of the United States; Joe Black, supervisor of the accounting department, etc.

  9. Roberto Paolo Riggio Says:

    just fyi, most other languages do not capitalize all “important” words In A title, only The first letter — unless it’s A language like German That requires capital letters grammatically. personally i think it would be more interesting If we capitalized only The so-called less-important words. no one Ever sticks Up For them.

    But seriously, one thing I’ve never understood, and therefore never do it, is why you will begin a letter “Dear so-and-so” followed by a comma, and then begin the rest of the sentence with a capital letter. To me, the sentence starts at “Dear,” and just continues after a space.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: