Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

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24-Hour Proofreading Service—We proofread your Google Docs or Microsoft Word files. We hate grammatical errors with a passion. Learn More

Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

Your Pain Is Our Pleasure

24-Hour Proofreading Service—We proofread your Google Docs or Microsoft Word files. We hate grammatical errors with a passion. Learn More

Treatment of abbreviations and superscript items in full capital case

I am working on a documentary film and have hit upon a conundrum that we hope one of the fabulous Pain in the English grammarians can solve. We are using the full capital case (”all caps”) to identify our experts, in a text box that pops up below them during their appearances on screen; for example: JOHN SMITH, HISTORIAN. One of our experts has a name that includes a superscript letter (e.g.: JANE MCDONALD) and another has the abbreviation Jr. after his name (e.g.: WILLIAM DOE, JR.). 

Question: Should those superscripted and abbreviated letters stay in all caps, too? Or should they be treated differently, either lower case or small caps? (e.g.: JANE McDONALD / WILLIAM DOE, Jr.) I’ve searched the Chicago Manual of Style and the Government Printing Office’s online manual, and have found no guidance in either.

Thank you for your help!

Susan

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Comments

I used to design a lot of "lower-third" titles for video/film, and occasionally I've encountered this situation. I don't think this is a grammar issue, and I would not expect to find answers in style manuals. I think this is a graphic design issue.

Any textual elements to be designed shouldn't fall under such rules or standards. However, if the same treatment were to be repeated, you would want it to be consistent with your own rules.

When using all caps, I do lowercase names like McDONALD and do so consistently, primarily for readability. (I would not lowercase "JR." My rule would be that I lowercase a letter only if there are more letters following it without a space. In computer programming, it's called "CamelCase.") If you do so inconsistently, it would appear to be a mistake. If you never use lowercase letters ("MCDONALD"), I wouldn't consider it wrong as long as you do so consistently.

I also see designers lowercase all letters, like "mcdonald," for stylistic reasons. If you want, you could capitalize the last letter, like "mcdonalD, or capitalize random letters, like "mCdoNaLd," as long as the randomness is consistent. That is your artistic license as a designer. The key is consistency.

Dyske Aug-22-2022

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