Capitalization crisis regarding font names
Thread poster: Rebecca Holmes

Rebecca Holmes
United States
Local time: 04:49
German to English
Oct 10, 2003

Good morning! I am proofing a corporate design manual and have noticed some strange (but possibly entirely correct) differences in the capitalization of font names. The customer is very picky and I know they will want everything either standardized or a darn good explanation why it is not....

i.e. Eurostile Bold Italic, GillSans Italic, GillSans Italic Bold
but... Arial Bold, Arial bold, Arial 12 pt bold italic

Question 1: Why the variation in capitalization on the Arial font? Should all words in an Arial font title be capitalized (Arial bold italic vs. Arial Bold Italic)?

Question 2: Assuming that all words in the Arial font are to be capitalized, what happens when the font is listed as "Arial 12 pt bold italic"? Capitalizing bold italic here would look a little funny, but if Arial fonts need to be capitalized across the board I don't see any way around it.

Any help would be much appreciated.

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Lesley Clayton
Local time: 09:49
French to English
+ ...
Suggeston Oct 10, 2003

I\'ve just had a look at the list of fonts in my version of Word (2002) and they are listed as capitals: Arial Black, Arial Narrow.

As for Arial 12 pt bold italic, I would get round the problem by putting Arial Bold Italic 12 pt.

However, if your client is so demanding, perhaps it might be an idea to confirm with him.

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Gillian Scheibelein  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:49
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
fonts are proper names Oct 10, 2003

and should be italicised - all parts. If you check google you can find some such as Arial Extra Bold Italic.

If you have fonts without capitalisation then this could be due to negligence of the person preparing the text, or if you are looking at fonts that have been installed on your computer, this could be due to the programmer not capitalising.

Have a nice weekend, Jill

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Local time: 09:49
Dutch to German
+ ...
Not always proper names Oct 10, 2003

According to what I've seen in text, the logic is that 'real' font names like Arial Bold, Arial Bold Italic are italicised. But an expression as Arial 12pt bold italic is not a proper name of a font. As soon as a size appears in it, it turns to a description of how to use a font, so that bold... turn into adjectives instead of proper names. Would be my first guess, at least.

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Klaus Herrmann  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:49
Member (2002)
English to German
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Proper names and attributes Oct 10, 2003

There isn't much to add - Eurostyle Bold (or Gilles Sans Condensed Extrabold Oblique for that matter) is the name of a particular weight of the Eurostyle font family or 'base font'. Hence, it's capitalized and appears in sentences as "We use Crummytype Italic as our logo font". This refers to the font itself.

In your other example Arial 12pt bold italic, bold and italic are attributes of the Arial font family. Lower case is used when it's an instruction, i.e. when specifying what styles to choose from a menu. As a rule of thumb, when you see something like Harting-Schmutz 18pt bold italic, you can tell the end of the font name by the '18pt'. Anything that follows is an attribute and thus uses lower case.I wouldn't rearrange the word order to "Arial Bold 18pt" because to me, this would imply there is a separate Arial font file optimized for printing at 18pt. (There's e.g. a font called Times Roman Ten which has been improved for printing it in 10pt).


Oh, one more thing - I don't know about putting font names in italics. I've used italics for the fonts names here merely to improve legibility, I don't think there's a standard saying font names are to be italicized. As for Gillians remark about font names and programmers, yes, on Windows platforms, the font designer is free to put in the font name whatever he wants. Bold/italic are selected based on an additional file that comes with the font, not based on the font name.

[Edited at 2003-10-10 15:24]

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Valters Feists  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:49
Latvian to English
+ ...
Someone messed it up before you looked at the names Dec 9, 2003

Capitalisation of font names can be regarded as an extranlinguistic issue. You see inconsistency of this in Windows software simply because the maker of the software "messed it up". Software is habitually concatenated from a lot of strings; there was both "bold" and "Bold", not enough money to hire a couple dozen more editors, etc. . .

Personally I hate overcapitalisation (which is so widespread in technical and business English). Why capitalise e.g. "Integrated Services Digital Network" (ISDN)? It looks SO bombastic. Have a look at the "Primary rate" entry of this glossary .
Then go to the "ISDN" entry.

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Capitalization crisis regarding font names

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