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Tog
2011-Dec-22, 08:24 AM
I asked this in my writer's forum and got three responses with two opposing answers. I'm hoping for some more authoritative tie breaking.

In which of the following should "Inspector" be in caps?

1. When Inspector Paulson walked into the room, he found Richard standing near a small ebony trunk.
2. "Hello, Inspector," said Richard waving him in. "You should see this."
3. The Inspector walked to the trunk and examined markings on the outside.
4. Across town, the villain turned to his chief henchman and said, "The Inspector has entered the room, be ready to spring the trap."

I understand that "Inspector Paulson" should be in caps, as it's his name.
I also understand that it would not be in caps if I were to refer to "an" inspector.
I'm mainly curious about the other three uses, since it's clear that Paulson is the inspector involved, but the way the title is used is in a gray area for me as far as proper noun or uncapitalized honorific.

The answers I've received so far say are two for only 1 and 2, since they serve as the proper noun, and one for all four since they are all identifying a specific person rather than a group or class.

Thanks.

Paul Beardsley
2011-Dec-22, 09:31 AM
I've had similar difficulties when proof-reading. I don't think there's an absolute right or wrong for 3 and 4, but the main thing is, be consistent.

I would take the attitude that because the Inspector is a main character, his title is going to be used as his name as often as not, so capitalise it throughout. If another inspector gets some "screen time", then this other inspector should not be capitalised.

This is, of course, a stylistic choice.

If your main character was a baker, or an accountant, or a swimming pool attendant, I'm sure you wouldn't capitalise their title:

* The Baker strode over to the oven.

But that's because "baker" is merely his job, whereas "Inspector" is who he is.

In conclusion: 1 and 2 definitely capitals, 3 and 4 capitals if you choose to treat his job title as his identity.

I hope that helps.

Strange
2011-Dec-22, 09:33 AM
I think 1 (a title) and 2 (a use) should be capitalized, the others not (as they are just references).

But I'm sure there will be a Gillian along soon to correct us...

Ara Pacis
2011-Dec-22, 11:09 AM
Perhaps #4 depends on whether or not he is commonly referred to by his title in dialogue throughout the story. I think #3 might be either one, and maybe that depends on whether the non-dialogue is being narrated or not, but you might use it stylistically to reduce ambiguity.

Tog
2011-Dec-22, 11:28 AM
Thanks for the replies.

There are two point of view characters, neither is the inspector. One is very formal and would never think of the man as just "Paulson", so all references to him are either "the Inspector" or "Inspector Paulson." In this case, I thought that a capital was the right way to go.

The other character is far less formal and treats everyone as having one name only. To him, the inspector is "Paulson" whether he's thinking about him or talking to him. In this case it's a style choice, but also intended as a personality indicator.

Paul Beardsley
2011-Dec-22, 01:06 PM
I think if the villains referred to "a certain interfering inspector" then it would be lower case. But if they are talking about the main character that we all think of as the Inspector, then capitalise, even if the villains don't know they're doing it!

Strange
2011-Dec-22, 02:22 PM
Hey, you think us villains don't nuffink about grammar or what?

ToSeek
2011-Dec-22, 04:52 PM
The answers I've received so far say are two for only 1 and 2, since they serve as the proper noun

That's how I would do it. If he were the one and only inspector, then I'd do it for 3 and 4; otherwise not.

ToSeek
2011-Dec-22, 04:52 PM
The answers I've received so far say are two for only 1 and 2, since they serve as the proper noun

That's how I would do it. If he were the one and only inspector, then I'd do it for 3 and 4; otherwise not.

Gillianren
2011-Dec-22, 08:43 PM
One and two are capitalized. Three and four are not. It's a proper noun in the first one because it's part of his name. It's a proper noun in the second one because it's in lieu of his name. In three and four, it could be any old inspector. Perhaps not in the context of your story, but in the context of grammar. "The" strikes again.

SeanF
2011-Dec-23, 03:50 AM
I think you're wrong on this one, Gillian. "The Inspector" is the kind of thing that's often used as a nickname, essentially, and it would get capitalized when used in such a manner. Another common example is "the Senator."

In fact, this seems to me to be functionally equivalent to "Bible" in that other thread, where you appeared to think it should always be capitalized (if the book in question is a copy of the Christian Bible).

Rhaedas
2011-Dec-23, 04:51 AM
Separately Gillian would be correct, but context and consistency are important. If you were to stay with grammar rules, then the reader might get an impression that "the inspector" is someone different. Having it always capitalized maintains the reference to the same character. Plus in the framework of the story it seems that it would be a nickname he would go by or be referred to, so that also suggests capitals.

John Mendenhall
2011-Dec-23, 05:28 AM
After Inspecting the posts (sorry, couldn't resist), I agree, 1 and 2 yes, 3 and 4 stylistic, but a trifle stiff. For example, if Preston and Child's noted Agent Pendergast were an inspector, he would certainly be an Inspector.

Gillianren
2011-Dec-23, 06:05 AM
Separately Gillian would be correct, but context and consistency are important. If you were to stay with grammar rules, then the reader might get an impression that "the inspector" is someone different. Having it always capitalized maintains the reference to the same character. Plus in the framework of the story it seems that it would be a nickname he would go by or be referred to, so that also suggests capitals.

I disagree. If you've only mentioned one inspector, logic would dictate that it's either the same inspector or else it doesn't matter. And it doesn't strike me as a nickname; it strikes me as a job title. While it's true that some job titles are reliably capitalized ("President," mostly, if you're the President of a country), "inspector" isn't one of them.

Paul Beardsley
2011-Dec-23, 11:23 AM
In Doctor Who fiction, the Doctor and the Master are always capitalised, because these titles are, to all intents and purposes, their character names, even though they have actual names. This can save a lot of ambiguity - another doctor will be referred to simply as "the doctor".

I've seen it in other fiction too. Not many people know Clarence Cupcake's past, how he was bullied at school and how hard it was for him to climb the military ranks; to most he is simply known as the General. Sometimes the author will highlight the use of the capital; other generals who don't own the story will not be capitalised.

SeanF
2011-Dec-23, 04:29 PM
In Doctor Who fiction, the Doctor and the Master are always capitalised, because these titles are, to all intents and purposes, their character names, even though they have actual names. This can save a lot of ambiguity - another doctor will be referred to simply as "the doctor".
The Doctor from "Star Trek: Voyager" would be another example.

There is (or was) a professional wrestler who went by the name "the Undertaker." It gets capitalized.

Imagine you're reading a story and you come across the line, "'When I opened my eyes,' said James, 'and saw the undertaker leaning over me, I just about had a heart attack.'"

If "undertaker" is not capitalized, it means the other character performs the duties of an undertaker and, more importantly, that James is referring to him in that context. James' fear is most likely due (in part, at least) to the fact that the person engages in those duties.

If "undertaker" is capitalized, then it's the character's name, and James is referring to him as an individual. In this case, while James' fear has something to do with that specific person, it may not have anything to do with undertaking duties (the character in question may not even perform undertaking duties!).

Any English word can function as a proper noun, and it's capitalized when it's used as such. Going back to the OP, whether or not the word "inspector" is capitalized in examples 3 and 4 is dependent entirely on how the author is using it and what meaning the reader is intended to take from it.

Gillianren
2011-Dec-23, 09:05 PM
I think, to clarify, that you can make a stylistic choice to capitalize "inspector" every time it refers to this specific character, but to work, you would have to make sure the readers knew that was just what people call him. Like, yes, the Doctor. However, that is a specific stylistic choice, and I usually find it grating when people make it, because they don't know that it isn't just the right thing to do. Or at least it appears that way to me.

There is this curious belief in some circles that grammar exists to bring you down, and that good style rises above those petty rules. And indeed, being really good at writing includes knowing when to break rules. But there's not this second set of rules which apply beyond grammar. It isn't "grammar says this, but if you're a good writer, you'll do this instead." It's "grammar says this, but if you're a good enough writer, you can do this instead." Or "as well."

SeanF
2011-Dec-24, 01:58 AM
Naming a character is a choice of style, for certain, but I don't see how it has anything to do with the rules of grammar.

HenrikOlsen
2011-Dec-24, 02:15 AM
Naming a character is a choice of style, for certain, but I don't see how it has anything to do with the rules of grammar.
Yep, but how you then write that name does have everything to do with grammar.

Ara Pacis
2011-Dec-24, 05:20 AM
I think, to clarify, that you can make a stylistic choice to capitalize "inspector" every time it refers to this specific character, but to work, you would have to make sure the readers knew that was just what people call him.In other words, it needs to be established and maintained in dialogue for it to make sense in the prose... unless an author's going for outright exposition or has a list of Dramatis Personæ appended to the work.

Gillianren
2011-Dec-24, 07:54 AM
Quite.

Jens
2011-Dec-24, 11:36 AM
I don't think it's really a question of correctness, but of practice. My own take is that 1 and 2 would be capitalized by almost any editor, and I would do the same. 3 and 4 are tricky, and the same issue comes up in terms like the Government, which some people will capitalize and others wouldn't. I would not capitalize 3 and 4 myself, but I would not say it's wrong to capitalize them.

Hornblower
2011-Dec-24, 02:01 PM
I think I remember a style convention in Sports Illustrated decades ago, in which they would capitalize the word for a player's position when placed just before the person's name, in the syntax equivalent of a title such as President. A hypothetical example (my words):

"The turning point in the 1960 World Series was the bad hop that hit Shortstop Tony Kubek in the throat."

I never saw it anywhere else, and if I am not mistaken Sports Illustrated no longer uses it.

Daffy
2011-Dec-24, 02:15 PM
Since personal titles are capitalized only when they precede a name and are not separated by a comma, I have to think only example #1 is capitalized.

swampyankee
2011-Dec-24, 02:59 PM
Well, then there are those people who insist upon very specific case rules for their names: bell hooks (http://www.education.miami.edu/ep/contemporaryed/bell_hooks/bell_hooks.html), k. d. lang, e. e. cummings, brian d foy (http://www252.pair.com/comdog/style.html), etc. (Indeed, brian d foy specifies the font in which his name is written).

Oh, and Gillian is right. Names such as that of brian d foy or bell hooks are exceptions, and titles, by themselves are not capitalized.

Now, we need a person familiar with the rules of languages that do not have capitalization. I believe Hebrew is in this category, so how could a translator deal with a situation such as the OP's?

HenrikOlsen
2011-Dec-24, 03:18 PM
I have a friend whose name is always spelled with pH as the first letters.

Is it a surprise that he used to study chemistry?

Ara Pacis
2011-Dec-24, 05:58 PM
Then there is the case of government documents where some words are capitalized that we wouldn't think to capitalize (e.g. the preamble: "We the People..., in Order..."). Even I'm not sure if that's merely for emphasis or if there was supposed to be some special meaning to the practice.

Gillianren
2011-Dec-24, 07:54 PM
As a child, I had (or had access to, really; it's my mom's) a collection of stories of saints' lives where things would be randomly capitalized for emphasis. This is a stylistic thing I occasionally use myself in a self-conscious kind of way. But I'm not sure there is a US government document later than about the Constitution which does that, because what was fashionable style two hundred years ago isn't necessarily so now.

ToSeek
2011-Dec-24, 10:37 PM
Since personal titles are capitalized only when they precede a name and are not separated by a comma, I have to think only example #1 is capitalized.

"Rule 6.
Capitalize any title when used as a direct address."

- http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/capital.asp

Jens
2011-Dec-25, 04:22 AM
Now, we need a person familiar with the rules of languages that do not have capitalization. I believe Hebrew is in this category, so how could a translator deal with a situation such as the OP's?

I may not be understanding the question. But it seems fairly obvious. If a person is translating from Hebrew to English, they use the English conventions, so would capitalize a position before the name, etc.

if a person is translating from English to Hebrew, obviously they would use no capitals if there are none. In Japanese there is only one case, so a person's name is not treated differently from a regular noun.

Jens
2011-Dec-25, 04:26 AM
Well, then there are those people who insist upon very specific case rules for their names: bell hooks (http://www.education.miami.edu/ep/contemporaryed/bell_hooks/bell_hooks.html), k. d. lang, e. e. cummings, brian d foy (http://www252.pair.com/comdog/style.html), etc. (Indeed, brian d foy specifies the font in which his name is written).


This is addressed in the Elements of Typographic Style, sort of a bible of typography. Basically, things like the typeface are for the typographer to decide. The idea that a person can specify the font their name should be written in is IMHO somewhat ludicrous.

Delvo
2011-Dec-25, 04:36 AM
Now, we need a person familiar with the rules of languages that do not have capitalization. I believe Hebrew is in this category, so how could a translator deal with a situation such as the OP's?It wouldn't be a situation at all.


Then there is the case of government documents where some words are capitalized that we wouldn't think to capitalize (e.g. the preamble: "We the People..., in Order..."). Even I'm not sure if that's merely for emphasis or if there was supposed to be some special meaning to the practice.There's been a bit of linguistic evolution since then, not just in government documents but in general. (For that matter, that document was not written by a government; there wasn't one yet.) It looks like it's following the same rule as German, or something pretty close to that, which is that all nouns get capitalized (and adjectives don't, even when they're adjectivized proper nouns like names of countries).


I'm not sure there is a US government document later than about the Constitution which does that, because what was fashionable style two hundred years ago isn't necessarily so now.I don't see a difference between government and non-government documents there; I see only a difference between the late eighteenth century and the early twenty-first. The only cases I can think of, of documents having anything to do with the law following different capitalization rules from everything else in the same time & place, are actually more recent. Every time I recall having an agreement/contract to sign, various words were capitalized when they stood for specific entities that the document was referring to not by name but by what kind of entity they were (like "lessee", "owner", and "property"). And in most or all such documents it's not just the first letter but the whole word. I believe the purpose is probably to make it quick & easy to find instances of the use of those words by rapidly scanning a page for the capital words. But I don't know how long contracts have been written that way.


I think, to clarify, that you can make a stylistic choice to capitalize "inspector" every time it refers to this specific character, but to work, you would have to make sure the readers knew that was just what people call him. Like, yes, the Doctor.Sometimes things that people might think of as titles or unique monikers in foreign languages are just words. For example, a mahatma is just a "sage" or "wise person", not necessarily the one that it's almoapplied to in the Occident, and when you go on a guided tour in Germany you're shown around the site by a Führer, which is just "guide" or at most "leader". (And it would be capitalized, but only because all nouns are.)


There is this curious belief in some circles that grammar exists to bring you down, and that good style rises above those petty rules. And indeed, being really good at writing includes knowing when to break rules.I know of only one time that Tolkien wrote in sentence fragments instead of complete sentences. It's in his depiction of the moment when the people in a city under attack heard horns blowing from outside the city and knew by their sound that they were the horns of their allies, who had just arrived to charge into battle to help save the city. I've always wondered whether Tolkien chose to break from his usual disciplined style of narrating as a safe third-party observer deliberately, or was so caught up in the relief and excitement of that moment that he lost control and couldn't help himself.

HenrikOlsen
2011-Dec-25, 08:01 AM
Well, then there are those people who insist upon very specific case rules for their names: bell hooks (http://www.education.miami.edu/ep/contemporaryed/bell_hooks/bell_hooks.html), k. d. lang, e. e. cummings, brian d foy (http://www252.pair.com/comdog/style.html), etc. (Indeed, brian d foy specifies the font in which his name is written).
Try MacDonald, van der Hulst and ffolliott for older names that break the "initial letter only is capitalized" rule and where no stylists would be so crass as to insist on following the rule blindly.

My personal rule is that the person named and the persons who named them1 are the only authority on now the name should be written, as long as it doesn't requite extraordinary effort to do so: Misspelling someones name is discourteous but so is making undue demands on how people should write it.

A wish for special case is trivially simple to fulfill, so should be.
Font less so and unless it's a generic such as "monospaced sans serif", likely to be ignored.
A unicode symbol not included in most fonts is enough over the line that you're basically asking to see your name as a string of small boxes in response if you don't just get lumped with...
An invented symbol not existing in any typographical system; which is so far over the line that you'll be forever known as "the guy who used to be called XXX" with the implied subtext "that arrogant git".


1) In many countries the real authority is the (semiliterate) parish clerk who entered the name into the records.

Strange
2011-Dec-25, 11:46 AM
Although, if someone is known only by their title as if it were a name then it might be written in katakana (phonetic characters) to emphasize that. They might even use the English word. In manga, at least, if not "literature".

swampyankee
2011-Dec-25, 01:04 PM
I wonder whether name case has legal meaning: if somebody writes his name "John Macdonald," and changes (for whatever reason) to "John MacDonald," does he have to list the case variant as a different name he had used?

HenrikOlsen
2011-Dec-25, 01:17 PM
Macdonald and MacDonald definitely are different names.

Details on legal stuff depends on country.

ToSeek
2011-Dec-25, 09:45 PM
1) In many countries the real authority is the (semiliterate) parish clerk who entered the name into the records.

In the US a lot gets blamed on the clerks at Ellis Island who didn't want to try to write out names like "Cherstvennikov" correctly.

Gillianren
2011-Dec-25, 10:06 PM
Though that's unfair, as it turns out. A lot of immigrants, one of my own ancestors among them, just wanted "American" names. And I can't help wondering how many times they spelled their new names wrong; in the case of some immigrants, even if you didn't want to change it, you were transliterating anyway. One of my sister's friends from high school was born in Minsk and didn't much care how you spelled her first name, because you were spelling it wrong anyway. Not using the Cyrillic alphabet and all that. (I think it was Minsk. That part of the world, anyway.) For her, it was more complicated than my several-greats grandfather who swapped out "Nelsen" for "Nelson."

Jens
2011-Dec-26, 01:35 AM
I wonder whether name case has legal meaning: if somebody writes his name "John Macdonald," and changes (for whatever reason) to "John MacDonald," does he have to list the case variant as a different name he had used?

I'm not sure what you mean by the question. Henrik's answer concerns trademark, I think. If the name is used as a trademark, then yes. But otherwise, not as far as I know. What does it even mean to "have to list"? By whom? For example, as far as I know, my birth certificate lists my name in all caps, and it is irrelevant to whether it is me or not. Contracts also often use all caps. Originally, a capital letter is just a different style of a letter, in the same way that a small-case "a" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:LowercaseA.svg) is sometimes written with "two stories" and sometimes with just one. So outside of trademark issues, it shouldn't matter whether you use capitals or not.

Jens
2011-Dec-26, 01:41 AM
And adding one thing, there have been attempts to make away with the case distinction in Western languages. For example, there is the typeface (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayer_Architype)designed by Herbert Bayer.

HenrikOlsen
2011-Dec-26, 01:50 AM
The thing is, case distinction increases legibility so it's a really rubbish idea to throw it out.

Bayer's font not only don't have case distinction, it also has no serifs, all lines are the same thickness and there's definitely an attempt to eliminate corners, all things that reduce legibility in body text.
Setting a book in that font would be a very big mistake if you want it to be read rather than appreciated for it's artistry. Setting a newspaper in that font would make sure it dies in a week.

Jens
2011-Dec-26, 02:12 AM
The thing is, case distinction increases legibility so it's a really rubbish idea to throw it out.


Just to clarify, I wasn't advocating throwing it out, just pointing out that majuscules and minuscules are variants of the same letters, and so a name written in all caps is still the same name as one written in minuscules (not in terms of trademark, I mean).

To respond to the rest of the message, I agree with you about the stroke weights and the serifs, though a lot of people don't, as witnessed by the enormous popularity of a certain typeface starting with H, which I personally don't like much. I do personally wish (utopianistically) that we could design a typeface without cases that is very legible, because it would make it unnecessary to keep using the "shift" key when typing.

Ara Pacis
2011-Dec-26, 05:43 AM
There's been a bit of linguistic evolution since then, not just in government documents but in general. (For that matter, that document was not written by a government; there wasn't one yet.) It looks like it's following the same rule as German, or something pretty close to that, which is that all nouns get capitalized (and adjectives don't, even when they're adjectivized proper nouns like names of countries).

I don't see a difference between government and non-government documents there; I see only a difference between the late eighteenth century and the early twenty-first. The only cases I can think of, of documents having anything to do with the law following different capitalization rules from everything else in the same time & place, are actually more recent. Every time I recall having an agreement/contract to sign, various words were capitalized when they stood for specific entities that the document was referring to not by name but by what kind of entity they were (like "lessee", "owner", and "property"). And in most or all such documents it's not just the first letter but the whole word. I believe the purpose is probably to make it quick & easy to find instances of the use of those words by rapidly scanning a page for the capital words. But I don't know how long contracts have been written that way.Perhaps there is no meaning, but I'd be interested in defining a meaning for future use of words in legal contexts, but I won't go into it further since it starts to look like a discussion of governance (which some people around here confuse with politics).

Also, it was too written by the government of the USA, which had been chartered under the Articles of Confederation.

Jens
2011-Dec-28, 12:13 AM
The thing is, case distinction increases legibility so it's a really rubbish idea to throw it out.


Actually I'd think of modifying my previous statement, because I'm not really convinced that it increases legibility. Caps act as a sort of marker of the beginning of a sentence, but we have period/spaces for that already. Having caps in a sense decreases legibility, because the words take on a different shape (for example, an versus An), and so we have to remember two shapes for a single word.

HenrikOlsen
2011-Dec-28, 03:01 AM
But the two shapes happen when the word has different roles in the sentence, so visually distinguishing them helps parsing the meaning.

It's something that increases reading speed once you get beyond reading the words one at a time.

Jens
2011-Dec-28, 03:50 AM
But the two shapes happen when the word has different roles in the sentence, so visually distinguishing them helps parsing the meaning.

In German, maybe, but not in English. In the sentences "Liberty and justice for all," and "Justice and liberty for all," the nouns are playing the same role in the sentence but are treated differently. Maybe you mean "position in the sentence"? If we wanted to indicate role, then it would make sense (maybe it does make sense) to capitalize the subject noun, for example.

the Cat ate the mouse.

Or to capitalize the main verb, or something like that. Then, yes, it might help parsing. But generally in English it's only telling you the word's physical location in the sentence, and you already know that because it comes at the beginning of the paragraph or after a period.

HenrikOlsen
2011-Dec-28, 08:59 AM
Sentence start is also a role and the period is small and easily overlooked.

BTW, you example is interesting because the two sentences are different, not from a grammatical sense but because one of them is recognized from elsewhere.

Jens
2011-Dec-28, 10:30 AM
BTW, you example is interesting because the two sentences are different, not from a grammatical sense but because one of them is recognized from elsewhere.

From where?

grapes
2011-Dec-28, 11:44 AM
Though that's unfair, as it turns out. A lot of immigrants, one of my own ancestors among them, just wanted "American" names. And I can't help wondering how many times they spelled their new names wrong; in the case of some immigrants, even if you didn't want to change it, you were transliterating anyway. This is borderline hijack, but we've been discussing what/how people want others to refer to them, so a personal anecdote: when my great grandfather signed up at the company store, they set up his pay/bank/store account in an almost unrecognizable name. That "name" persisted for decades, side by side with the real name. When my mother married into the family, and was pregnant with me, she insisted on one name only. The clan got together and decided it was easier to legally adopt the "new" name.

The old name was hhEb09'1Mlezcek.

Strange
2011-Dec-28, 12:12 PM
There seems to be almost no good research on the effects of typography on readability. The studies I have seen are badly designed, inconclusive and contradictory. I found quite good overview a while ago. I don't remeber if it said anything about capitalization. I'll try to find it and see what says.

HenrikOlsen
2011-Dec-28, 02:00 PM
BTW, you example is interesting because the two sentences are different, not from a grammatical sense but because one of them is recognized from elsewhere.From where?
The words "liberty and justice for all" are part of the US Pledge of Allegiance and for me they were immediately recognizable as such even though the L was capitalized. (I actually though you picked them from there intentionally)

So that phrase carries information beyond the grammatical because it pulls the Pledge into memory of those who recognize it.

Jim
2011-Dec-28, 05:14 PM
The words "liberty and justice for all" are part of the US Pledge of Allegiance ...

Rats! I was gonna say that was from the opening sequence of the old Superman TV series.

Jens
2011-Dec-29, 12:07 PM
The words "liberty and justice for all" are part of the US Pledge of Allegiance and for me they were immediately recognizable as such even though the L was capitalized. (I actually though you picked them from there intentionally)


I see. I sort of picked them intentionally I suppose. It wasn't for any real reason, but I was looking for a phrase where there were two words that were subjects, so that I could reverse them, and that was the phrase the came to mind. I could have used something like "Bread and butter go well together" and "Butter and bread go well together." It was just a phrase that came to mind quickly, obviously as you probably realize because it was drilled into me as a young child.

Ara Pacis
2011-Dec-29, 06:13 PM
Actually, I do recall reading about a study that concluded that people tend to see words as a unit, identifying it by shape as if it were a logogram.

Strange
2011-Dec-30, 12:32 PM
Actually, I do recall reading about a study that concluded that people tend to see words as a unit, identifying it by shape as if it were a logogram.

But there is no good evidence that the form of the letters makes any significant difference to this.

Here is the overview article I was thinking of: http://alexpoole.info/which-are-more-legible-serif-or-sans-serif-typefaces