Thursday, February 5, 2015


I just read this sentence in my graduate student's essay:

"I was selected to work on a project for the open source software Moodle, the best Learning Management Software according to most of the reviews."

It might be the best LMS, but when you write it out, it is called learning management software.  

It is confusing to writers that so many upper-case abbreviations become lower case when written out.  The upper-case abbreviations are called "initialisms," an unpalatable word that I would never say out loud.

If UI is always capitalized, why is user interface lower case?

If HCI is always capitalized, why is human-computer interaction lower case?

If CEO is always capitalized, why is chief executive officer lower case?  

Most initialisms, like CD and ATM, are pronounced letter by letter.  Perhaps the capital letters make that pronunciation more likely:  

"cee-ee-oh" rather than "ceeyo"
"eh-tee-em" rather than "atem" 

Occasionally, the acronym is both capitalized and pronounced as a single word.  One example is WYSIWYG.  However, should you write that acronym out you would write it in lower case:  what you see is what you get.

Bottom line:  Use lower case when writing out a common acronym, unless words are normally capitalized.

Bottom-Bottom line:  Chief executive officer, when written out, is lower case.  All jobs are lower case unless they appear in a signature file at the bottom of a letter, like this:

Stephen Harper
Former Canadian Prime Minister

In a sentence one would write, "Stephen Harper is the former Canadian prime minister."

There are many more opportunities for capital confusion.  Stay tuned, if you want to write better (dammit).

Which is right?
  1. CD          compact disc or Compact Disc
  2. GDP        gross domestic product or Gross Domestic Product 
  3. BIOS      basic input/output system or Basic Input/Output System
  4. USSR      union of soviet socialist republics or Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

There are more errors in the student's sentence above.  Rewrite the sentence correctly.

Fix capitalization in this sentence:  While working as a Graphic Designer, I was asked by our Creative Director to give some feedback to Joe, the company's Brand Manager.


Quiz 1
1-2-3, lower case.
4 - upper case. 

Quiz 2
I was selected to work on a project for the open-source software, Moodle, the best learning management software according to most of the reviews.

Quiz 3
Delete all capitals on job titles.

1 comment:

  1. HAHAHAHAHAHA "Stephen Harper
    Former Canadian Prime Minister"

    Epic! Cool prediction.


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