Last week I was asked several times what typing in all caps meant. They were all from onliners on the receiving end of e-mail with only certain portions or phrases typed in all caps and weren’t sure what the sender meant.
“Were they yelling at me?”
“Does typing in red caps mean more than plain caps?”
They’ve read that caps means yelling online — but aren’t sure how someone they know typing that way applies to specifically to them. I then explain that it means they are emphasizing what is capped but without seeing the entire e-mail or knowing the person or their relationship with them, I cannot know what level of emphasis was intended.
See? That’s the rub!
When you cap or bold you leave the level of emphasis up to the recipient! These folks all knew some emphasis was added — but really weren’t sure how much. (I think they knew exactly how much but didn’t like it…)
Formatting e-mail text is a source of many a misunderstanding because senders are not making sure their meaning or intent when doing so is how they want it to be perceived. They assume the other side will just know what level of emphasis they meant. Not so — in my experience the other side will always apply more emphasis than supposedly intended thereby another misunderstanding may now commence!
Many type in all caps, bold and increase font size, then get upset when the other side perceives the intent those actions relay. Since the inception of e-mail (before Judith BTW) typing in all caps was a way of accentuating your meaning. Yelling, screaming, whatever you want to call it, typing in caps was to make a point.
After all these years, it seems folks still do not realize that what words they choose to use and how they choose to type them, does make a difference. Know that when formatting is used it can affect how the intent of your e-mail will be perceived.
When it comes to your e-mails how does the person on the other side comprehend your intent or meaning? By the words you choose, how you use them and how you may decide to format them!
If you bold certain terms, make them red in color and a larger font – what do you think the person on the other side is going to perceive? That you are making a point — a very big point! So don’t get miffed when their reply assumed you were doing just that.
I guess the bottom line is whether you like it or not – these perceptions will be there. I am of the belief that having a strong vocabulary and command of the English language negates the need for any formatting.
“Nihil est in intellectu quod non fuit prius in sensu.”
(“Nothing is in the understanding,
which was not first perceived by some of the senses.”)