To CAPS or Not To caps?

July 7, 2005
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Being an editor of a major automotive Web site has its perks. I get to cut in front of the line at Piccadilly Cafeteria, for one. And every time I attend an event at a ritzy place like the Bacara Lodge in Santa Barbara, I only have to wash laundry a couple of days to pay for the M&Ms I accidentally liberate from the room minibar. They're like eight bucks, man!

However, with those great rewards come equally great responsibilities. In my magical hands I have the power to accept or reject all kinds of ludicrous grammar foisted on us journos by marketing and PR types. And recently, friends, my pet peeve is the ALL CAPS crowd.

Now, I understand that it helps you "break through the clutter," and "gets you on the radar," and abets all sorts of unctuous prospects that make me grateful I never took Advertising and Society. But it's become so heinously commonplace (and still WRONG) to CAPITALIZE car brand and vehicle names that I'm reverting them back to Title Casing, and in some cases doing a full e e cummings and dumping anything other than lowercase (audi quattro, I love seeing you in type -- you look so sleek!).

I think HUMMER started it all. Now there's a legitimate copyright reason for capping it all - Hummer has become almost colloquial, like Jeep. Then came the MINI, to distinguish it from the purely British Mini. And who could forget the HEMI - which, like the real Hemis from the Sixties, technically isn't a "hemi" at all?

The prime example I can recall - sorry to pick on GM again - is Saturn. First there was the SL1. Fine. That begat the ION, which begat the VUE, and in one notable press release, was coupled to a probably related vehicle called the Vue. Now there cometh the Sky - still officially the SKY, but henceforth at TCC known as the Sky. You know, like the blue one.

Will logic prevail? One day I emailed a Saturn PR person and they told me that they wholeheartedly agreed with me about the whole caps-lock thing. They wanted to stick with the SYSTEM that had been implemented in a previous regime -- but colleagues of mine had begun to whimper and complain, as they usually do when the shrimp bar runs aground, and spelled it Sentence Case anyway. So Saturn went along with it.

Call it a strike against lazy writers and one against bad grammar, too. Just don't call it OKAY, okay?

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