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Inscription of the Trajan Column ( Capitalis monumentalis )
Text example capital letters.png
Capital letters
Text example capitalization.png

Uppercase, uppercase, uppercase or capital letters denote a font (example: CAPITAL LETTER) as well as a type of font, e.g. As for headlines, the only capital letters (uppercase, in the printer language and capitals called) used and no small letters (lowercase).

An example of a capitals font is the Capitalis monumentalis , which existed in the Roman Empire until around 100 BC. Trained. It served as the basis for the development of today's capital letters.


The concept of capitals is only used in fonts that know a difference between capitals and minuscules, for example the Latin , Cyrillic , Greek and Armenian alphabet , but not in the Chinese script . Uppercase or all caps thus denote the consistent capitalization of all letters, whereas capitalization normally means the use of uppercase and lowercase letters.


Capital letters can be used to achieve a uniform typeface, for example in headings, in company names, on posters, signs and inscriptions. Capital letters are also often used in longer, legally important texts such as general terms and conditions (“small print”).

On IDs such as ID cards , the information is usually in capitals.

Individual words or phrases in capital letters in an otherwise normal text should emphasize them. However, the use of capitals in direct written speech , for example in chats and Internet forums , is generally considered to be shouting at or around , unless otherwise indicated beforehand, and consequently contradicts the rules of well-groomed tone .

Some abbreviations consist of a series of capital letters, for example the abbreviations of parties like the SPD , organizations like UNESCO or companies like BMW .

In handwritten fonts, uppercase letters are mainly used in block letters and are then called block letters . Block letters are often required when filling out forms because they are easy to read . It is also used in the handwritten speech balloons of comics , especially in English-language comics. In the script Versalschrift is except for abbreviations used sparingly.

For more comfortable entering text in Versalschrift found on typewriters and computer keyboards , the shift lock .

Special features in German

Spelling of ß in capitals as 'SZ' on a Bundeswehr ammunition box, 2007

For German, it should be noted that the capitalized 'ẞ' - the capital ß or "capital sharp S" - has only officially existed as a capital letter since June 21, 2017. Until then, each 'ß' had to be replaced by 'SS' (for example, 'white' became 'white'). Deviating from this, in order to avoid confusion, 'SZ' and in documents (e.g. in Germany in personal documents and the income tax return) the lower case 'ß' could also be used for capital letters (Heinz Große → HEINZ GROßE).

In some cases, the German umlauts , which do not appear in the original Latin alphabet, are omitted in capital letters , for example in inscriptions , and AE, OE, UE or a ligature such as Æ is written instead of Ä, Ö, Ü .

Historical capital letters

Historical capitals are divided into four epochs:

Greek capitals (9th to 3rd centuries BC)
in contrast to the Greek uncials (3rd century BC to 12th century AD) and the later Greek minuscule
Roman majuscules ( capitalis ) (7th century BC to 5th century AD)
Uncials (4th to 8th centuries AD)
which is also a capitals, semi-uncials as a transitional form and minuscule
Gothic majuscules (13th and 14th centuries)
a purely epigraphic script, with early Gothic (late 11th to 13th century), Gothic (14th century) and late Gothic (16th century) minuscules on inscriptions.


Descenders in JQ, and Ç in
Trajan font

The letters in capitals - in contrast to small caps - basically all have the same height, but occasionally some letters can also have descenders (especially in the case of the uncial, but also otherwise as a descender in J or Q) or protrude beyond the ascender (see system of lines in the typography ). In order for capitals to fit harmoniously into a text as a markup , it should be around ten percent smaller and slightly blocked ; as a result, a uniform gray value of the text is achieved or the successive capitals do not appear larger than with the other normally set words. The same can be applied to abbreviations in capital letters.

See also


  • Brigitte Labs-Ehlert : Capitalization in Old High German language monuments. A contribution about the beginnings of capitalization in German taking into account the history of writing . Kümmerle, Göppingen 1993, ISBN 3-87452-794-8 .

Web links

Individual evidence