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CamelCase

Programmers have always liked CamelCase, but now marketers are making it trendy.

By
Mignon Fogarty

CamelCase

CamelCase (also known as medial capitals, intercaps, humpbacking, CapWords, and BiCapitalials, among other names) is the practice that has now become trendy of promoting a letter in the middle of a word to uppercase.

CamelCase Examples

Most often the capital letter in the middle seems to result from squishing two words together that would normally be separated by a space (e.g., MySpace), but occasionally the capital just seems to pop up at a convenient syllable (e.g., OutKast).

CamelCase History

Although the phenomenon can be traced back to at least the 1950s, it gained steam among computer programmers (probably because spaces are often discouraged or disallowed in programming, so a convenient way to highlight multiple words in a file name or variable is to capitalize the first letter of each squished-together word). More recently, marketers decided it was a trendy way to make a company name stand out.

CamelCase Use

If a formal company name uses CamelCase (e.g., YouTube, PayPal, TiVo), use that form in your writing; but other than honoring official names, leave the camel at the zoo--don't go around calling a plain old help desk a HelpDesk. It's UnNecessary!
 

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About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of the Quick and Dirty Tips network and creator of Grammar Girl, which has been named one of Writer's Digest's 101 best websites for writers multiple times. The Grammar Girl podcast has also won Best Education Podcast multiple times in the Podcast Awards, and Mignon is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame. Mignon is the author of the New York Times best-seller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing" and six other books on writing. She has appeared as a guest on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and the "Today Show" and has been featured in the New York Times, Business Week, the Washington Post, USA Today, CNN.com, and more. She was previously the chair of media entrepreneurship in the Reynolds School of Journalism in Reno, NV. She hates the phrase "grammar nazi" and loves the word "kerfuffle." She has a B.A. in English from the University of Washington in Seattle and an M.S. in biology from Stanford University. Mignon believes that learning is fun, and the vast rules of grammar are wonderful fodder for lifelong study. 

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