ivman's blague rotating header image loading ... please wait....

Do You Use the Caps Lock Key?

picture of caps lock key

About the only time I use the Caps Lock key on my computer is when I aCCIDENTALLY hit it as I reach my pinky over to hit the A key. Seriously, it has come in handy at times, especially back in the days of typing on my trusty Remington manual typewriter that lacked bold and italics.

picture of search key

Recently I read an article telling that Google is planning to delete the Caps Lock/Shift Lock key on its Cr-48 notebook (laptop), replacing the key with a search button. If users still want to have it be a Caps Lock key, they can do so by tweaking a few settings. The article about this change gives an interesting history of typewriters and keyboards and tells when and why the Shift Lock key came into being and how its use has changed through the years.

The change Google is making on its laptops may be confusing to those who frequently use the caps lock key, but it could also help people avoid being part of something like the following discussion I found online earlier this fall:

picture of caps lock discussion

As a foreign language teacher I have to deal frequently with capitalization and punctuation issues with my students because there are many differences between the usages in French and English. It seems to be becoming more of a challenge all the time because students are used to texting and e-mailing without ever using the shift key, let alone the caps lock key. And so today's students are not even comfortable with proper usage in their own language.

It would be interesting to know what the poet e.e. cummings would have done if he were writing his poetry today. Here's something he wrote that illustrates his eccentric style:

picture of ee cummings poem

I don't know if avoiding capitalization would have been avant garde enough for him since his young contemporaries would all be doing that already.

I think it's interesting that his tombstone is totally in caps and not in all lowercase letters.

picture of ee cummings tombstone

Lest we underestimate the power of capitalization, coupled with punctuation, here's an example of how differently two strings of identical text can read.

Examine these two "Dear John" letters:

Version 1:

Dear John,
I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior.

You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we're apart. I can be forever happy — will you let me be yours?


Version 2:

Dear John,
I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior.

You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever. When we're apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?



What do you think about the absence or presence of a Caps Lock key? Do you usually try to use proper capitalization and punctuation?


"We live in a world that's always talking, with little time to think." β€” Drew Conley

=^..^= =^..^=

Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.

Print This Post Print This Post

If you enjoyed this post, to get updates when I post to my blog, sign up for your preferred method below — RSS, Twitter, or e-mail.

19 Comments on “Do You Use the Caps Lock Key?”

  1. #1 Ron
    on Dec 27th, 2010 at 8:45 am

    There are times that I find the Caps Lock key a valuable tool, but more often I find it a pain as I mistakenly hit it and end up with a mess. With that said I would still vote to keep it. Now, the Num Lock key is another story.

    Rob adds: My wife said the same thing, Ron, when she looked at my post. She said she uses the Caps Lock key all the time with some things she does in her job. I also like the Num Lock key, except when it’s set as the default on laptops booting up, with the number pad as part of the “right-hand letters” — in terms of the touch method of typing.

  2. #2 Ron
    on Dec 27th, 2010 at 8:48 am

    I just noticed your quote by Drew Conley. A more modern version of that might be “We live in a world that’s always texting, with little time to talk.”

    Rob adds: So true, Ron. πŸ™‚

  3. #3 Susan
    on Dec 27th, 2010 at 8:50 am

    Yes, I do use proper captialization. No doubt there are times when I don’t but that is just ignorance and I am clueless. Now punctuation is a whole nother ball of wax, never did get that fine tuned in school.

    With your blog post I find that I don’t consider what I write on facebook, board emails, heck, general emails to friends the same as writing on paper for the “outside” world.

    I will be up a creek on the cap letter thing as I have passwords that are all cap…. the cap lock was on when I set them up…. and believe me that number “caps” are hard to do without that lock. In fact, when I was in Europe and wanted to check my email…. I could not. Their keyboard has different symbols on the numbers. I still do not know what the symbols are for each USA number…. but will write them down if I ever go to Europe again…..

    Rob adds: About the European keyboard thing, Susan … we have a friend who couldn’t check his e-mail or Facebook last summer in Europe because his password contained a dollar sign ($) and that wasn’t on the keyboard of the computers in the cybercafΓ©s. International travelers, beware of either of these situations!

  4. #4 Elizabeth
    on Dec 27th, 2010 at 11:35 am

    Texting is an informal means of communication. Even though I’m an editor, I don’t cap most words when I text. Communication should always be clear, and most text messages are clear without the need to cap.

    Rob adds: And a fine editor you are, Elizabeth! I’ll take it from you, then, that it’s OK to decapitate words when I text. Vive la guillotine! πŸ˜€

  5. #5 JohnMatzko
    on Dec 27th, 2010 at 11:44 am

    Although the following paragraph on Cummings and punctuation comes from Wikipedia, the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed., agrees that his name can be treated normally in print.

    “Cummings’ publishers and others have sometimes echoed the unconventional orthography in his poetry by writing his name in lowercase and without periods. Cummings himself used both the lowercase and capitalized versions. According to his widow, he did not (as reported in the preface of one book) have his name legally changed to “e e cummings”. On the contrary, he wrote to his French translator that he preferred the capitalized version (“may it not be tricksy”). One Cummings scholar believes that on the rare occasions that Cummings signed his name in all lowercase, he may have intended it as a gesture of humility, not as an indication that it was the preferred orthography for others to use.

    Rob adds: Thanks as always, John, for the historical perspective you add. That is interesting. I found an example of Cummings’ signature (or at least one version of it…) online when I first started thinking about doing this post. Here it is:

    picture of signature

  6. #6 Jason
    on Dec 27th, 2010 at 11:46 am

    I received a CR-48 notebook a week or two ago, and I find I miss the search key when I use another computer. When surfing the web, it effectively opens a new tab, which is nicer to be able to do without having to reach for the mouse. My brother said he missed the caps lock key when he used my computer, so to each his own I guess.

    Rob adds: That’s great, Jason! I would love to see your notebook and give it a try. Do you like all aspects of it? We may be needing a new computer in the new year. Should I consider that kind? I love the contrast of you and your brother too. πŸ™‚

  7. #7 Kathleen
    on Dec 27th, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    I cAn nEvEr mAnAgE tO cApItAlIzE prOpErly. sOMETHING always GOES WRONG. iT’S ReaLLy QuiTe aGGRaVaTiNG. πŸ™‚

    I don’t use the Caps Lock key that much. I’m still getting used to this keyboard, and sometimes I hit it when I’m after the Shift key. There are a few things I sometimes use it for, but it’s far from being the most useful key on my keyboard. And I usually try to punctuate everything correctly as well. However, I neither text nor facebook, maybe that is the reason.

    Rob adds: I both text and Facebook, Kathleen, and I try to use proper capitalization and punctuation. Ah, the joys of being slightly OCD!

  8. #8 JD Surrett
    on Dec 27th, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    I heard this at a recent missions conference:

    Woman without her man is nothing.

    Now, how do you punctuate it?

    If you are a man: “Woman, without her man, is nothing.”

    If you are a woman: “Woman. Without her, man is nothing”

    Rob adds nothing! It SO speaks for itself…. Thanks JD!

  9. #9 Caroline
    on Dec 27th, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    i almost never use the caps lock key, except when i accidentally bump into it while typing something else. and… i usually use proper capitalization… but on my blog i only capitalize proper nouns. i don’t really know where that came from, but once i started it, i just continued it. e e cummings is one of my favorite poets. πŸ˜›

    rob adds: thanks for your youthful perspective, Caroline! πŸ˜€

  10. #10 Jason
    on Dec 27th, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    I really like it. It’s a great computer for living “in the cloud,” but don’t expect to do any photo editing or anything like that with it. The CR-48 isn’t actually going to go on sale, it’s a beta unit, but several manufacturers are announcing Chrome notebooks in January.

    Sorry for sounding so geeky in this comment!

    BTW, I’m writing a review of it on my blog; I’ll send you a link when I post it.

    Rob adds: I don’t mind the geekiness, Jason — remember that in the summers I’m a PC tech at IT on campus. πŸ™‚ So how did you get a CR-48? Are you a beta tester? I’d love to do that! I look forward to your post about it.

  11. #11 Jonathan
    on Dec 28th, 2010 at 7:41 am

    Love this post — I’m also one of those “weirdo’s” (or so I’m told) who uses proper grammar and punctuation in e-mail, texts, etc. About the only use I have for Caps Lock is when I’m typing a VIN number at work. On my personal laptop, that key only gets in the way. Number Lock, though, is an entirely different matter — must have it!

    Computers — “C’est la guerre!” (This computer has a caps lock, but doesn’t have letters with the little French accent marks. πŸ™‚

    Rob adds: Ah, a kindred spirit!!! And not to worry about the French you used … not accents needed in any of those words. Does Welsh have accent marks? πŸ™‚

  12. #12 Valerie
    on Dec 28th, 2010 at 8:20 am

    I always capitalize and punctuate correctly, although I’m doing less of it when texting these days. The character limit gets me every time!

    Research shows that the human brain can read scrambled words as long as the first and last letter are correct.

    Consider this:
    “Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, olny taht the frist and lsat ltteres are at the rghit pcleas. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by ilstef, but the wrod as a wlohe.”
    Well, I don’t know if it’s real research, but I’m an avid reader, and I have no trouble with that paragraph.
    That doesn’t save any time or characters, though. Most vowels can also be missing, and things will make sense in context.

    “I gss you cn rd ths txt wtht vwls.”

    This seems to be the essence of speed reading, and definitely saves characters.

    One last thought: I work in the sciences, and when I type, I use symbols like “degrees” and some Greek letters a lot more than the caps lock key. I have set up my own short cut keys in Word to get these symbols “on the keyboard” so to speak, and it saves me a lot of time.

    Rob adds: Thanks for your comment, Valerie. You might want to reconsider using “always” in your first sentence since you don’t do the same thing in texts. πŸ™‚ I’d seen that thing from the “Elingsh uinervtisy” before. Interesting stuff. I’m with you in having to use other characters more than using the caps lock key. In Windows’ Regional and Language Options I have added the United States-International keyboard which allows me to add easily accent marks to letters. For example, by typing an apostrophe ‘ then the letter e I get Γ© with that keyboard. Love it!

  13. #13 Jason
    on Dec 28th, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    Google is giving these CR-48 computers away to random people as part of their “Pilot Program” for Chrome OS. Last I heard, they’ve given out 14,000, and they eventually want to give out a total of 60,000. How they can afford to do that, I have no idea … but I’ll take a free computer any day!

    Go to http://www.google.com/chromeos/pilot-program.html, and click on Apply Now. They’ll ask some information, like who you are and why you deserve a computer, your shipping info, etc. They said they’d send a confirmation email before you get a computer, but I got the computer before I got the email.

    Hope this helps, and hope you get one!

    Rob adds: Wow! Jason, how cool is that?! I just applied and will let you know if I get selected. I will undoubtedly blog about it. πŸ˜€ Thanks for the info!

  14. #14 Bobmo
    on Dec 30th, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Hi Rob, your blog was a delightful find and one of the few humor-related sites that I can recommend without reservation!

    Are you familiar with this old punctuation puzzler?

    James while John had had had had had had had had had had had a better effect on the teacher.

    I encountered this in a BJU English class before the days where one could Google the answer! πŸ™‚

    Rob adds: Wow, Bob! That puzzler was too much for my early morning brain. I went straight to Google and found it in an article on Wikipedia. For others who stumble across this post and the comments, here’s what I saw on Wikipedia:

    James, while John had had “had”, had had “had had”; “had had” had had a better effect on the teacher.

    The meaning could thus be rendered “It was the case that while John used ‘had,’ James used ‘had had.’ The teacher preferred ‘had had.'”

    Phew! Thanks for sharing, and glad to hear you enjoy my blog. Happy New Year! πŸ˜€

  15. #15 Ann M
    on Dec 31st, 2010 at 10:30 am

    I’ve only skimmed through these comments as there are more than I have time to read, so this may have already been posted. Dealing with the caps lock problem is very easy.

    In Vista: Control Panel > Ease of Access > Ease of access center > scroll down to “make keyboard easier to use.” On the next page, go down to the third listing “Turn on Toggle Keys.” Select Turn on Toggle Keys. Click Apply and then Save.

    Once Toggle Keys are turned on, every time that you turn on CAPS LOCK, NUM LOCK, or SCROLL LOCK, the computer will beep. No more accidentally typing a whole paragraph in UPPER CASE πŸ™‚

    Toggle Keys is also available in Win XP. However, it has been so long since I have used XP, that I don’t remember what the steps are.

    I was listening to a sermon recently. The speaker asked, “Where would man be without woman?” Answer: “He would still be in the Garden of Eden!”

    Rob adds: Thanks for the tips, Ann. And thanks for the quotation. Loved it!

  16. #16 Donna Lawrence
    on Jan 3rd, 2011 at 11:21 am

    In high school, I decided to save time in taking notes by leaving out all of the vowels. Guess I was just ahead of my time, since that’s what texters do now!

    Rob adds: Nothing new under the sun, I guess.

  17. #17 Jason
    on Jan 5th, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    Hey, I just put up my review of the CR-48, thought you might be interested!


    Rob adds: Interesting review, Jason. I have not really explored Google docs, but by the very nature of my work as a teacher and as secretary of the deacons, I currently have to do a lot with Word documents that I have to make available to others. I would have to do some re-tooling and re-thinking, but I’m game. I’ll let you know if they contact me about being a beta tester for them. I applied the same day you sent me the link. I wonder if any of my other readers have given the Chrome OS a try. πŸ™‚

  18. #18 Carrie
    on Jan 8th, 2011 at 3:58 am

    I’m another one that uses the caps lock key mainly by accident. I also use capitalization and punctuation, and am not a texter. I’m sure it’s partly my age, but also my upbringing. πŸ˜‰

    Rob adds: In my mind, I still lump you with the younger crowd, Carrie.

  19. #19 Connel
    on Jan 20th, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    I also rarely use caps, and dont bother much to fix punctuation in texts/emails with the exception of the word I I cant stand seeing I like this — i. must be OCD or something lol

    Rob adds: We just all have our limit of what we can tolerate, Connel. That must be yours. πŸ™‚