Should street labels/attributes be all upper case or mixed?
We are designing a new database and I am torn as to whether we should make all of our attributes all upper case letters or mixed. Obviously, the results will make the map labels all upper case as well. What is best practice? All upper case attributes can eliminate certain grammatical errors. Please advise. Thanks.
Mapping Center Answer:
First, it's been my observation that the only reason we have databases with upper case names is because they are old data, originating in the days before databases could do mixed case. And now lots of people want to undo that and move to mixed case.
Second, you can always use a UCase() function to display your labels as uppercase; but there is no easy way to convert uppercase to proper or mixed case. We've written a Script Tool to do that; it's main purpose is to manage exceptions for things like directions (NW, SE, SW, and NE) to standard abbreviations (e.g., U.S.) and those are just the cases that commonly occur in the U.S. In a nutshell having mixed case leaves all your options available, i.e., it's the most flexible.
Third, the simple fact is, at some point a human being will need to read what is in your database, and in the age of texting, UPPER CASE HAS BECOME YELLING. (And it's arguably harder to read.)
Also, a related best practice is to not abbreviate within your most official representation of a name--you can always automate abbreviations (Maplex has functionality to abbreviate text so you can customize which style of abbreviations you may want--but it's much harder to get to that point if you are parsing already abbreviated text).
Last, also see this Ask a Cartographer response:
Similar question, but may also be helpful.
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