Toggling Letter Cases

Change Case

Microsoft Word has a handy tool for rectifying inadvertent caps lock: Change Case. This feature will take A PASSAGE LIKE THIS and make it A Passage Like This or a passage like this.

All you need to do to access this feature is hit SHIFT+F3 on a Windows-based computer or COMMAND+OPTION+C on a Mac machine. (Also try ALT+CTRL+C on a Windows machine; that may work as well.) You can also go to Format>Change Case in Word 2003/2004 or find Change Case under Font in the Home tab of Word 2007/2008.

Engaging Change Case cycles through the following formats:

  • Sentence case
  • lowercase
  • UPPERCASE
  • Capitalize Each Word (a.k.a. headline-style caps)
  • tOGGLE cASE

This is exceedingly handy not only when caps lock is left on inadvertently but also when formatting citations. Remember, the APA Publication Manual requires Sentence-style capitalization while Chicago and MLA go with Headline-style Caps (I’m modeling the two styles there). Toggle through all of the Change Case options to format according to your style manual.

Some caveats, though:

  • Change Case cannot identify prepositions and conjunctions, neither of which should be capitalized in headline-style caps.
  • The feature is also blind to proper nouns, which always should be capitalized, even in sentence-style caps.
  • Also, Change Case always treats the second word in a hyphenate as a new word and will capitalize or lowercase it depending on the case selected. But, according to Chicago, the second word in a hyphenate should not be capitalized.

Change Case will therefore not cure every caps-related ailment. But it will can move you closer to your ideal combination of uppercase and lowercase letters. Often, this saves a significant amount of time and minimizes last-minute formatting frustrations.

TRY CHANGE CASE TODAY. See If It Helps You. try it in bibliographies and section headings. bUT yOU wILL pROBABLY nEVER hAVE a nEED tO uSE tOGGLE cASE; iT’S jUST wEIRD.

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