Submitted by: denise cox on Tue, 02/01/2007 - 13:31
I’ve just finished reading Debbie Weil’s The Corporate Blogging Book. It’s fantastic! She really got my creative juices flowing and gave me loads of ideas about blogging … I’ll post my thoughts and highlights from the book soon.
Right now I want to mention this most interesting little nugget of a stat that I gleaned from the book’s resource section: Jakob Nielsen‘s Weblog Usability: The Top Ten Design Mistakes. It’s an extremely useful article – as usual with Jakob. But it was this particular bit that jumped out at me.
“In browsing weblog headline listings to extract these examples, I noticed several headlines in ALL CAPS. That’s always bad. Reading speed is reduced by 10% and users are put off by the appearance of shouting. “
There’s something deeply annoying about all caps – it feels like shouting and feels very spammy. But I didn’t have a factoid to back up these ‘feelings’ … and here it is – they reduce reading speed by 10%. All Caps act as a big STOP SIGN to the brain. They create a speed bump. Going heavy on the caps means your readers may stop reading altogether.
Jakob is referring to blog titles, but really this is 110% applicable to subject lines in emails – and RSS/Web feeds for that matter. The VERY sparing use of them for emphasis can work – but tread carefully.
2 Responses to Why using ALL CAPS in a subject line is a bad idea
in email terms SUBJ_ALL_CAPS is bad. the popular spamassassin scores it between 0.4 & 1.16 source: http://spamassassin.apache.org/tests_3_1_x.html
i use netvibes.com as an RSS reader. I have 100+ feeds in 8 tabs (including your own!)
the title is all that there is to draw me in to read a post (unless i filter or search) so ALL_CAPS does draw in the eye. Alas the majority use of ALL_CAPS is wanting to seek attention it really does not deserve, this as you point out is called shouting.
I have to concur with your health warning on CAPS in titles, I would say use it sparingly 1:100 or 1:200 if the need arises, otherwise its the blog that cried wolf.
happy new year.
interesting point about the filter scoring.. didn’t think of that one. another reason to avoid all caps.
emergency use of all caps is right. sparing use can be clever in emphasising a keyword that will be of interest to the reader…
happy new year to you too.