NewYearsResolution: Avoid InCaps


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So… you’ve resolved to intentionally misspell the names of products out of spite? Okay, as a writer, that’s your choice, indeed.


Spelling a word in the way a brand would like you to is both free advertising and letting companies dictate language. If you like being a shill for free, that’s your choice.

I avoid capitalisation at all, unless the word falls at the start of the sentence.


I thought case was irrelevant in spelling.


An incap changes a word into a logo, and has no place in journalism or commentary – it’s branding activity that colonizes everyday communications. It’s free advertising. So: “Iphone,” not “iPhone” and “Paypal,” not “PayPal.”

I agree. Here are two other examples of someone colonizing everyday communications with their branding activity:


Placing a logo in the middle of a paragraph is highly disruptive and annoying to the reader.

That said, I find “Iphone” odd, and depending on the font, confusing.


Is the title a play on Woody Guthrie’s inline Initcapping “New Years Resolutions”?

It seems unlikely to achieve the stated goal of clarity, and it will jump off the page to see IPhone rather than iPhone. But sticking it to the brand man when he’s sticking it to us is never a bad call.

“I find “Iphone” odd.”

And only a decade ago, we found i[Device] to be an odd way of capitalizing a product name. Marketing in action!


I’m a bit split on the issue. While I can appreciate the sentiment to not be so beholden to the arbitrary whims of corporations, there’s a definite angle here of trying to be a prescriptionist, which can really rub people the wrong way.

When writing about Spider Robinson, would you refuse to call him as such, as that’s not his birth name, but just an attempt at self-branding?

Or what about someone who prefers to be called “bRy’ann” - are we going to start saying “no, I’m not going to play your stupid game; you’re name’s Brian.”

For what it’s worth, every time I see Boing Boing post about something related to Apple’s “Ios” it immediately stands out to me - not as the site standing up against tyranny, but the site simply being incorrect. iOS.


iPhone and PayPal aren’t ordinary words but proper names. Normal style rules say they should be capitalized, but it seems reasonable to accept the named entity’s preference for how its written. That said, if overdone it can be annoying.


The real question is: will the Boingboing photoshop their image assets in 2014… or will they Photoshop their image assets in 2014?


Branding is indeed something we should be more aware of, but what I find interesting is when people talk about it as though it is never used to alter our views of scientific models. There seems to be a growing awareness that, whether or not you agree with the science of anthropogenic warming, there is a very distinct argument to be had over whether or not it is appropriate to market or brand scientific models, and whether or not this is already happening.

For instance, why do we talk about the endangerment of polar bears if the fact is that polar bear numbers are actually up these days, relative to the past? It seems that the actual endangerment of the polar bears is really an exercise in deep forward-thinking: That we first suppose that the mathematical models are in fact real predictors of the future, and then based upon this presumed accuracy, we must now treat the polar bears as though they are in trouble.

A scientist might rightly wonder why we are talking about the polar bears at all. But – and this is key – a MARKETER, or somebody trying to conceive of a brand, wouldn’t waste their time. It would be obvious to them that the polar bear is simply part of the global warming brand.

This culture of scientism which encourages specialist scientists to only learn about science, to the detriment of a much broader knowledge which includes subjects like marketing, leads to very predictable places – like people who don’t know what marketing is, invoking words like “conspiracy” to try to understand a subject which they have actually tried their hardest to ignore, for many years.


Those are not technically logos, they are trademarks, and there is a correct way to write a trademark. Whenever I see a trademark written other than intended, it just looks wrong. The New York Times for instance writes IBM as I.B.M., which again is not the correct trademark and looks equally wrong.


There is nothing incorrect about calling things by their proper names. Do you also plan to refuse to use names like “Bob” and “Bert” and “Rob”, instead insisting the subject be referred to as Robert?


I loves me some Eff!


How fitting that you refer to Wikipedia. Cory has basically just adopted Wikipedia’s style guide on this subject.

The problem with this concept is that “iPhone” is not a generic word, so changing the capitalization to “Iphone” still leaves you advertising the apple brand, but now you look like an idiot who doesn’t know how to type the name properly. (Not trying to be insulting, there - just pointing out how it comes across.)

That said, after reading your examples, I really want to see a product catalog for, now…


Your example of IBM is not a problem, but some companies, including TOYOTA, have in the past tried to insist that their names should be written in all-caps, which I have refused to do.
The Chicago Style Guide says writers are free to ignore the trademarks if they go against regular rules of capitalization (like TOYOTA) but it’s up to the writer to decide if he wants to capitalize inline, as in iphone.


To stop using InCaps, stop using InCaps:

that is, Incaps.


An incap changes a word into a logo, and has no place in journalism or commentary – it’s branding activity that colonizes everyday communications.

So what? Why is this bad or have not place in journalism or commentary?

It’s free advertising.

So what? Why is this a big deal?