All Caps Format Dropped By US Navy, 160 Years Of Shouting Over

The all caps, or uppercase, format standard in all US Navy communications is to be officially done away with, as announced, ironically, in an all caps Navy dispatch this week.

With text-based communication so much a part of our daily lives, internet savvy users tend to see the use of all caps as a breach of etiquette; SOME PEOPLE THINK IT’S RATHER RUDE. Did you feel like you were being shouted at? Maybe the Navy is working on their manners.

The new policy is being received well by younger Navy personnel, who are more accustomed with texting and email which uses a mixture of upper and lowercase letters. In fact, it might benefit those who do read such things as a part of their duties.

Said James McCarty, the program director overseeing the transition from Fleet Cyber Command:

“[The change] makes the readability better for the folks that are actually monitoring in a chat room or reading messages off a portal site.”

The uppercase-only format was standardized in the US Navy back in the mid-1800s. Early teletype machines had only three rows of keys and were unable to produce lowercase letters, prompting the all caps standard.

Cultural changes and shifting norms, however, sees all caps text as shouting and so does the Navy.

There are some, however, who don’t favor the change, including some of the older personnel.

“[Some] are used to uppercase and they just prefer that it stay there because of the standardized look of it. But the truth of it is, as we move forward, it’s imminent,” said McCarty.

While dropping the all caps format may seem to be a simple change is in some ways significant for an organization like the US Nave prides itself on repetition, standardization, and a conservative view toward altering those things. It took 150 years, but even the US Navy has gotten with the times.

[Image via Pres Panayotov /]