15 Replies Latest reply: Jun 7, 2009 6:28 PM by Ramón G Castañeda RSS

    Accents on Capital Letters?

    phyllisj9 Community Member

      Hi,

      Are you supposed to use accent marks on capital letters?  I'm creating a design (for a graphic-design class) about the painter Salvador Dali (the Ii in his last name has an accent mark on it).  I'm going to use the name DALI in all-caps.  I'm not sure if the accent is used in all caps.  Does anyone know?

       

      Thanks, Phyllis

        • 1. Re: Accents on Capital Letters?
          phyllisj9 Community Member

          (I meant i in his last name, not li -- typing too fast)

          • 2. Re: Accents on Capital Letters?
            Jacob Bugge MVP

            Phyllis,

            Are you supposed to use accent marks on capital letters?

             

            Certainly. You might consider capitals and small capitals instead of all capitals as a subtler way to make the name stand out.

            • 3. Re: Accents on Capital Letters?
              phyllisj9 Community Member

              Thanks!!!  I thought I'd read years ago that you didn't use them in all-caps for some reason.  But if that were true, why would there be any?  I don't know where I got that.

               

              Good suggestion on the small-caps.  The accent-mark is making my I too tall, so maybe I'll try that.

               

              Thanks!

              Phyllis

              • 4. Re: Accents on Capital Letters?
                Jacob Bugge MVP

                You are welcome, Phyllis.

                • 5. Re: Accents on Capital Letters?
                  phyllisj9 Community Member

                  Actually, now I'm going through a book on Dali.  I'm noticing that the accent mark only appears on lower-case mentions (when it's all-caps or small-caps, the mark is left off).  Do you suppose it's optional?

                   

                  Thanks, Phyllis

                  • 6. Re: Accents on Capital Letters?
                    phyllisj9 Community Member

                    (Of course the fact that it's in a book doesn't necessarily make it right either. My other book on Dali leaves the accent mark off in all cases....)

                    • 7. Re: Accents on Capital Letters?
                      Ramón G Castañeda Community Member

                      Phyllis,

                       

                      The rule is that, in Spanish, any letter that is supposed to be accented MUST have the written accent regardless of whether it's uppercase or lowercase. NO EXCEPTIONS, period.  It's by no means "optional" but mandatory.

                       

                      The reason that you sometimes see the accent over a capital letter omitted is caused by one or more of these possibilities:

                       

                      • The cheap typeface used lacks the glyph;

                       

                      • It is the product of an uneducated or undereducated individual.

                       

                      • The text was typed on a traditional typewriter.

                       

                      In regard to the latter, some second-rate schools in countries like Mexico propagate the myth that "las mayúsculas no se acentúan" (capital letters are not accented) and that has spilled over to usage by uneducated Spanish speakers in the USA, often semi-illiterate immigrants themselves or their offspring.  It is just plain WRONG!

                       

                      The myth is a leftover from the era of typewriters, when it became common practice to leave accents out in uppercase vowels because the accent was a separate keystroke and often made a hole in the paper as the force of both strokes superimposed on each other was combined on the paper.  Typewriters only had one accent key that situated the accent mark right over the x-line, fine for lowercase, but way too low for capitals.  It has absolutely no place in good typography.


                       

                      Pick up a good Spanish unilingual dictionary, like the DRAE*, and observe the entries of proper names like Ávila, Álvaro, Écija, etc.  The initial capital will always be accented if the grammatical rules require it.

                       

                      DRAE = "Diccionario de la Real Academia Española (de la Lengua)" (Dictionary of the Spanish Royal Academy of the Language).

                       

                      Message was edited by: Ramón G Castañeda

                      • 8. Re: Accents on Capital Letters?
                        phyllisj9 Community Member

                        Hey thanks!  These books are confusing.  And I must have heard that myth about the capital letters somewhere along the way.

                         

                        But darn, it does make it difficult for the design I'm working on -- gonna have to reduce the size of the letters more than I want in order to the fit the accent mark on there.  Sigh.  But I guess that's just the way it goes in design....

                         

                        Thanks!

                        Phyllis

                        • 9. Re: Accents on Capital Letters?
                          phyllisj9 Community Member

                          Anyone know a font that's similar to Futura Extra Bold, only shorter (but not narrower)?  :-)  (Given that vertically stretching doesn't work, I doubt a font that matched that idea would either.)   I love Futura Extra Bold in all caps on this cover.  Small-caps is okay but doesn't look as good to me.  Oh well.  Who knew one accent mark would be such a pain?  It also forces me to have too much margin at the top.  Sigh....  :-)

                           

                          Thanks, Phyllis

                          • 10. Re: Accents on Capital Letters?
                            phyllisj9 Community Member

                            Maybe I'll just skew the accent mark vertically.  I suppose that's allowed as long as I don't go too overboard with it...  :-)

                            • 11. Re: Accents on Capital Letters?
                              phyllisj9 Community Member

                              That is, ultimately, what I ended up doing....  Thanks to you both for the help!!!

                               

                              Phyllis

                              • 12. Re: Accents on Capital Letters?
                                Jacob Bugge MVP

                                Phyllis,

                                 

                                What about shortening the I to make the accent mark fit, using your creative freedom?

                                • 13. Re: Accents on Capital Letters?
                                  phyllisj9 Community Member

                                  Hey!  Tried that too, but it always seemed a little "off" somehow.  Had the best results with scaling the accent mark.  I don't think it looks too odd.  And I sort of liked the smaller type after I got used to it (had to make a little smaller even with the scaling).  I guess this is a good workout on typography...  :-)

                                  • 14. Re: Accents on Capital Letters?
                                    Thomas Phinney Community Member

                                    I will just note that different languages differ on this point. In some, dropping the accents from caps is quite acceptable, perhaps even preferred. So for people reading this thread, don't assume that what is true for Spanish is true for French, Italian, German, or whatever....

                                     

                                    Cheers,

                                     

                                    T

                                    • 15. Re: Accents on Capital Letters?
                                      Ramón G Castañeda Community Member

                                      Thomas Phinney wrote:

                                       

                                      I will just note that different languages differ on this point. …don't assume that what is true for Spanish is true for French, Italian, German, or whatever....

                                       

                                      That may be true "for some languages", Thomas, but I would respectfully disagree with you in the case of the three examples you chose.

                                       

                                      Of course "acceptable" is such an ambiguous, subjective term…