Posted in Editing

Minimal Capitals

I’m used to the following terms:

  • small capitals
  • title case
  • sentence case
  • lower case
  • upper case

This one (in an editor’s style sheet) threw me: minimal capitals.

At first I thought she meant small capitals, and checked with the other editors, who said they didn’t know what was meant. I looked on the internet for some examples but didn’t have much luck. As far as I can make out, it is a vague way of saying “as few capitals as possible.”

I didn’t think she meant that – she was differentiating between ‘bold capitals’, ‘minimal capitals bold’ and ‘minimal capitals without bold’. As for small capitals, nobody was using them in the entire document. I decided that’s what she probably meant anyway, but my sister thinks it’s supposed to mean ‘sentence case’. That sounds more likely… but what’s wrong with just saying ‘sentence case’?

It doesn’t actually matter, as all that’s wanted at this stage is consistency, and nobody bothered to follow the style sheet. But it bothers me. Is it a recognized term, ‘minimal caps’? Sometimes I prefer working on my own, it’s less confusing…



I live in the UK with two cats -- Samson and Delilah.

5 thoughts on “Minimal Capitals

  1. … or could it mean that she’s more of an e.e.cummings fan and wants the minimum amount of capitals allowed? or does it mean that she understands the needs for capitals, but she doesn’t want the ones used to me too big? VERY STRANGE, Shu said, capitally.


  2. I think, like shussmallworld, she must be an e.e. cummings fan 🙂

    I was just reading a news article about the flooding in the Midewest of the USA. It said that so-and-so was the director of homeland security and something else, all small letters. I thought ‘hmmmm, I might have capitalized those’…but maybe the website has a policy like the one of which you write: when possible, don’t.

    I am always thrown by APA style reference lists. Only the first letter of the phrase and proper nouns are capitalized. It looks really weird…but that is the standard.

    I’d ask for clarification, and while I was waiting I’d get back to that novel set in Turkey…heh heh…

  3. toujours gai said mehitabel minimally toujours gai

    The world has become allergic to capitals.

    I can read the Turkey novel while waiting for someone to shoot the report back to me. 🙂

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