Many writers use all capitalization and all bold prolifically. I like to think of all capitalization and all bold as tools writers use to make concepts stand out against the rest of their content. Generally, these tools are akin to shouting, which may or may not be appropriately related to the content. Nevertheless, this technique for writing goes against standard writing practices, and many publishers frown upon it strictly for that reason. But, there are other reasons for which I believe writers should avoid using all caps and all bold lettering. We will take a look at that in this blog post.
Most writers are unaware of the challenges editors face in keeping up with writing conventions and marketing efforts. Writers have a style of writing that suits them well. However, some writing styles hinder the marketability of books that publishers may want to have translated. Technology has advanced to a place where translating books can now be done digitally.
This blog post addresses digital translators’ challenges when translating content written in all caps and all bold letters.
Many writers use ALL CAPITALIZED words to call attention to a thought or concept. While this technique brings attention to the content, it poses a problem for translation when using a digital translator.
A digital translator will sense that the capitalized words or sentences are acronyms and sound out each letter as an acronym. This inability to instinctively recognize the all-cap sentence is the main reason why publishers do not like all caps. All caps are typically not translated correctly AND, when a sentence is written with all caps, it is difficult for readers to read.
Regarding reading difficulty, ALL BOLD SENTENCES are difficult for readers to read. All bold lettering causes a reader to stop and take notice, interrupting the reader’s flow of intake. Good advice is to use all bold lettering sparingly. Use all bold lettering specifically if it is your goal to stop a reader in their tracks for one reason or another, but not just because you want to emphasize a word or sentence.
Writers who work with editors will find editors pleading with them to use all caps and all bold sparingly, simply because these styles are difficult to translate for international publications and create a strained reading experience for readers.
As an editor, I wouldn’t say I like to change a writer’s voice; however, I will let writers know that I will correct writing styles against standard writing practices. After all, our reputations are on the line, and we, both, will be scrutinized by the end product.
Editing for National Publishing Houses
When I edit a manuscript, my primary objection is to keep the writer’s voice, and another objective is to edit with the end product in mind. For example, suppose I am editing a manuscript that is to be sent to a national publishing house for submission. In that case, I hold strictly to standard editing practices because a poorly edited manuscript will be thrown into the rejection pile just as quickly as it touches an editor’s hands.
Publishers do not have time to read poorly written or shoddily edited work. Let’s look at some statistics. According to the Book Industry Study Group (BISG), approximately 300,000 books are published by national publishing houses each year. And, studies show that 90% of the books submitted for publishing are rejected. That means 300,000 published books represent 10% of approximately 3,000,000 books submitted for publishing. Writers, this shows that your manuscript has a lot of competition and if it is to be read by a big publishing house, it had better shine above all the other manuscripts vying for a publisher’s attention.
Editing for Self-Publishers
Some writing styles are tolerable, and some are unacceptable. For example, prepositions at the end of a sentence are tolerable, and dangling participles are not acceptable in any way.
And, if I am editing a manuscript that is to be self-published, I am a little more lenient in following standard conventions, so long as the allowance does not veer from a structure that is considered tolerable. No matter how much a writer begs to ignore certain words and phrases, I push back when it means the work will be viewed as unacceptable in any writing world.
In the bible, Proverbs 16:18 (KJV) says, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”
While in life, it is best to be humble; that arrogance causes a person to be careless and fall because they are too busy touting themselves and not watching where they are going. It is good to be proud of the work you produce and show to others in the writing world.
I am humbled when people submit their work to me for editing, and I take pride in the work I produce. My company slogan stands firmly embedded in my heart.
"Polishing words for publication!"
I will polish your manuscript until it shines beautifully for publication.
Resource: Write Better, Speak Better ©1972 The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc.