S. McCloud, in Making Comics (p. 156), gives reasons to use or not use all caps in comic-book lettering.


  • About 98% of all English-language comics in the last 100 years have used it, including nearly all of the comics now considered classics. If it ain’t broke, why fix it?
  • Capital letters are easier to letter by hand.
  • Caps fill the space more efficiently [that is, less efficiently – fewer characters use more space].
  • Caps blend better with pictures.
  • Caps look better with frequent bold/italic type.


  • There are a lot of things comics have rarely done in the last 100 years, including nature themes, subtle characterization, and sophisticated artwork; that’s no reason not to try them.
  • One of the most popular comics in history, Tintin, uses upper- and lower-case lettering, as do other European comics, and it looks great.
  • Easier doesn’t equal better.
  • A little whitespace never hurt anyone.
  • If upper- and lower-case letters don’t blend with pictures, how do we explain five centuries of illustrated books?
  • Bold type is overused and melodramatic [not that we were talking about that].

Missing from this list: Everything else you read all day is in mixed case, including every other book you have ever read.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2007.06.03 13:50. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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