What is Shouting Often Written In? [Updated for 2024]

Key Takeaways
  • All-caps, once used for emphasis, is now commonly interpreted as shouting in digital communication.
  • Emphasizing text with italics or bold can convey importance without the aggressiveness associated with all-caps.
  • The interpretation of all-caps depends on the context; it can attract attention effectively but may also be perceived as confrontational.

Louder, faster, and higher pitched are common verbal cues we often use when emphasizing something in speech. Similarly, in the digital world, we use ALL CAPS to convey the same idea. However, all-caps can grab attention in the wrong way and can come across as shouting or aggressive.

While some might call it a personal preference, the use of all caps in your everyday conversations can impact how you communicate with others. Whether it’s solving crossword puzzles or showing frustrations, all-caps seem to be the answer to it all and we are here to break it down for you. So without further ado, let’s jump right in!

A dive into all caps and online behavior

The Start of All-Caps and Shouting

Capital letters have been around for decades and were quite commonly used to set apart text and convey importance. But why did everyone suddenly associate all-caps with shouting? Well, part of the blame may go to bloggers who would hash out on old “Usenet newsgroups” — a sort of proto-Reddit — over what capital letters meant.

In fact, in 1984, one user broke this confusing wall when he said, “if it’s in caps i’m trying to YELL!.” Another user, Dave Decot, brilliantly summed up the new use of various emphasizers by saying:

  • Using CAPITAL LETTERS to make words look “louder.”
  • Using *asterisks* to put sparklers around emphasized words.
  • S p a c i n g words o u t, possibly accompanied by 1) or 2).

Fast forward to today when even the Ex-President of the United States is a fan of capitalization to emphasize his point. He tweeted an all-caps response to the Iranian President that perfectly shows how capital letters have made their way as a medium to express anger in today’s online culture.

Donald Trumps’s all-caps tweet

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The History of All-Caps

While this might be quite hard to believe the association all-caps being seen as shouting isn’t a recent internet development. Before the 8th century A.D., people mainly used capital letters in the Roman alphabet, to add importance.

And it doesn’t end there as writers have also used capital letters to convey anger in the early days of typewriting. The Linguist John McWhorter dates the use of all-caps back to writer and pianist Philippa Schuyler in the 1940s. Canadian author L.M. Montgomery used emphasizers like capitals and italics in her writings and a newspaper in 1856 used the phrase “This time he shouted it out in capital letters”.

The writings of L.M. Montgomery | tpl

Professor Paul Luna, director of the Department of Typography and Graphic Communication at the UK’s University of Reading says; “For thousands of years, people have used capital letters to show “grandeur,” “pomposity,” or “seriousness” in written communication, starting from the time of Roman emperors who inscribed their achievements in all caps on monuments.”

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The Science Behind All Caps and Shouting

While the relation of all caps to shouting might seem random the science behind it isn’t. From the visual impact to the irregular nature, let’s break the science behind all caps and shouting.

1. Visual Impact

When we write in uppercase letters, it stands out from the rest. This increased visibility and importance can be correlated to someone raising their voice to demand attention in a conversation. Just as shouting gets our ears attentive, all caps hits the reader’s eyes and creates a sense of urgency.

All-capitals provide visibility—maximum size within a given area. And that works online, too. All-caps in an email looks like shouting because when someone is shouting, you’re aware of the shout, and not the nuance. ALL-CAPS FILL THE SPACE, so there’s an element of feeling that the message is crowding out everything else.

Paul Luna
Looks like someone is shouting at you

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2. Irregular Writing Style

Writing in all caps goes against the usual standards we have in online communication where lowercase text is the standard. A piece of text filled with uppercase letters stands out from the natural rhythm of regular writing.

If you notice closely, we often change up our speech volume and tone to express different emotions and put the spotlight on specific words. Similarly, in the digital world, a mix of lowercase and uppercase provides different sounds to plain text. By eliminating this variation and only using uppercase letters, your text can be interpreted as forceful and harsh.

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Ancient scriptures used capital letters | The Lighthouse

Was All Caps Always Used To Shout?

The use of all caps as a way to shout when texting others has become such a common case that people often forget that it wasn’t always this way. According to Dictionary.com, the English we know today didn’t even have a lowercase form back in Roman script. This uppercase-only script was called majuscule which simply means that they just YELLED ALL THE TIME.

With time, scripts evolved to include the lowercase or minuscule writing we know today, and eventually, the combination just clicked. It not only introduced a way to convey the important bits but also provided an easier reading experience.

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Types of Uppercase Uses

Uppercase letters aren’t only used in the ALL CAPS form and there are several different ways you can add them to your text. Let’s break them down:

  • Mixed case or sentence case: Sentence starts with a capital letter and has proper nouns capitalized, like names.
  • Title case: Most words start with a capital letter.
  • Lowercase: Written entirely in lowercase letters.
  • Randomly mixed capitalization: Using capital letters randomly throughout a sentence.
  • CamelCase: Mostly used for brand names like FedEx or WordPerfect, where a capital letter appears in the middle.

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The FedEx logo follows the CamelCase

Alternatives to Writing in All Caps

Apart from all caps, there are several alternative methods you can use to achieve the same effect. Here are some alternatives to writing in all caps:

  1. Italics: Emphasise text with a slanted style. Italicized text subtly grabs attention while staying easy to read and can highlight importance or emphasis without being too strong.
  2. Bold Text: Highlights important words or phrases with thicker characters that make them visually stand out.
  3. Underlining: Draw attention to the text with a line underneath offering a clear visual indicator without the need for capitalization.
  4. Highlighting: Use different colors or shading that can make content stand out in an eye-catching way.

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Where to Use All Caps Effectively

If we take the negative and aggressive side of capitalization, it surely serves a purpose, and when used properly it can enhance clarity and readability. For instance, when texting someone you can use all caps to get the person’s attention with something like “YOU’LL NEVER GUESS WHAT I JUST HEARD.” Another way is to emphasize a specific word: What if you’re WRONG?

It’s becoming easy to be rude online

While there are several instances where writing in all caps can be used effectively, in most cases of online communication, all caps are often taken with a hint of aggression, undercutting the intended message and potentially damaging online conversations.

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What People Think About All Caps

While capital letters can indicate strong feelings it all comes down to what kind of strong feelings your text evokes. Linguist Maria Health asked internet users to rate the difference between two messages, one was in all caps and the other was in standard capitalization. The results were quite interesting as all caps made some emotions impactful and some just the same.

For happier messages like “It’s my birthday!!!” the use of all-caps made the message even happier with “IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!!!”. However, it didn’t make sad messages any sadder as “i miss u” sounded as depressing as “I MISS U.” When it came to anger, all-caps didn’t always increase the emotion level. Heath explained this as the difference between “hot” anger (“FIGHT ME”) and “cold” anger (“fight me”).

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NYT’s The Mini Crossword | NYT

Bonus: What Shouting is Often Written In? — NYT Crossword

If you are here for the answer to NYT’s The Mini crossword, we are pretty sure you must have clocked it already after going through the rest of the content. However, if you still haven’t figured it out, the answer is CAPS which goes in hand with the modern association of all caps with shouting.

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Wrapping Up

While ALL CAPS have historically been used to emphasize importance, they’re now often seen as shouting or aggression in the digital age. The caps lock or the uppercase key makes it quite easy for us to be rude online and while we don’t always intend to use it in the wrong way it inevitably ends up due to the visual and rhythmic impacts.


Does writing in all caps affect how my message is seen in professional settings?

Yes, using all caps in work emails or business talks might make you seem unfriendly or angry. It can come off as urgent or frustrated, which isn’t great for how others perceive you at work. It’s better to stick to regular writing unless you really need to emphasize something.

Is there a difference between using all caps and making the font bigger for emphasis?

Though both ways try to grab attention, making the font bigger is usually seen as better than using all caps. It’s less in-your-face and doesn’t seem like shouting. Just don’t overdo it, or your message might get lost in the text.

Do all caps mean different things depending on where you post online?

Yes, it varies. For instance, on social media, all caps can show excitement or emphasis, but in formal places like emails, it might seem rude. Just be aware of the platform’s norms to avoid misunderstandings.


Hamid Murtaza

Whether it’s troubleshooting technical issues or breaking down the Internet culture, Hamid is there to make it simple for his readers. With a deep passion for writing, Hamid loves to explore different ways to convey ideas using his words. When not problem-solving, you can find him making streaks on Duolingo.