Visual Communication — Part 5

Four Deadly Sins that drive visitors away

John CounselBy John Counsel — The Marketing Doctor

Sin #3a. ALL CAPITALS

Trying to read text that’s all in capitals is like trying to make sense of a brick wall. We read words as visual patterns, not as individual letters or syllables. It’s their irregularity that makes words easier to recognise. BY USING ALL CAPITALS, WE ROB WORDS OF THEIR UNIQUE VISUAL IDENTITY. Your visitor has to work hard to comprehend what you’re trying to say.

This simple test demonstrates the difference…

WHICH IS EASIER TO READ?
The top and bottom of the line of type are flat, straight lines that don’t give the reader much indication of the differences between words. Your eyes and brain have to work overtime to try to make the words mean something.

Compare it to these examples: which is easier to read? The cap height (top edge of the words) or the baseline (bottom edge of the words)?

WHICH IS EASIER TO READ?
WHICH IS EASIER TO READ?

Compare it with this example of a line of text in caps and lower case.

which is easier to read?
which is easier to read?
Which is easier to read?
Trying to read the base line (which is flat and even) is much harder than reading the top half of the line, where the irregularities make it easy to differentiate words and their meanings, even with the lower half hidden

If you want to keep your visitors reading happily, and comprehending more, avoid using ALL CAPITALS.

Sin #3b. Initial Capitals On Every Single Word In Your Headline (AKA Title Mode In MS Word)

Remember this? We read words as visual patterns, not as individual letters or syllables. It’s their irregularity that makes words easier to recognise. By Using Initial Capitals On Every Single Word, Like This, We Rob Words Of Their Unique Visual Identity.Your visitor has to work harder to comprehend what you’re trying to say.

Initial Capitals should usually be used only in Headings and — if necessary — subheadings. Their purpose is to give slight emphasis to Important Words in your heading.

When we use an Initial Capital on every word — especially less important words — we rob the more important words of their impact, and remove the irregularity that gives them that impact.

It’s the difference between this heading:

Sin #3b. Initial Capitals On Every Single Word In Your Headline

and this heading:

Sin #3b. Initial Capitals on every single word in your Headline

Which is easier to read? And which is easier to comprehend? (Never forget… you need BOTH: legibility plus comprehension — they’re not the same thing.)

Next… Deadly Sin No. 4 – Verbal Diarrhea