Recently, my freelancing has been focused on board game manual editing and indexing of roleplaying games. These would not seem to be very similar types of work, but they do share a formatting pet peeve that has been frustrating me lately, and that is inconsistent capitalization. This inconsistency can have various causes. If the Style Guide does not exist or does not explicitly state standards for capitalization, then the writers and designers are left to their own thoughts and internal consistency (or lack thereof). It could just be typographic errors that lead to the inconsistent capitalization. Or, as I am finding while indexing RPGs, it could be caused by fonts utilized for headers, where the graphic designer decides to utilize a mix of upper and lower case in some fonts to make the word visually appealing on the page. Each of these can create unique challenges for an editor or proofreader.

When words or phrases are capitalized inconsistently, it can cause confusion for editors and proofreaders, especially if there is not a style guide. Without a style guide, the publisher or writer must be contacted to determine what standard to follow in the document, and search and replace all the incorrectly capitalized words. This is especially frustrating when indexing as you are searching for very specific words and phrases to determine page number references. When the word has different capitalization, it likely has varying importance or even meaning. This then requires searching for every possible variant, then determining in context if it is the word or phrase you are indexing. It is the job of an editor or proofreader to resolve these types of issues, but there are things writers and designers can do to make a document more consistent and thus a quicker edit/proofread.

Requests for writers and game designers before submitting your project for editing:

  • Follow the Style Guide, if it exists. In any case, be consistent with your capitalization.
  • Do a Find/Replace of your document for any words you want to be capitalized and confirm they are throughout the document.

Request for graphic artists when you submit your completed layout.

  • If you use a font with oddly mixed capitalization in a word, then let the editor or proofreader know so they can expect this when searching or editing the document.

Have you experienced capitalization issues in projects you are working on?

Proofreader Pet Peeves List #6

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