Hi all at Solana
What is the possibility of providing a rather dumb tool to ensure that sentences always begin with capital letters?
This would be a tool that you might run on a finished document, which would throw up errors so they could be corrected, then starting again from the correction point.
I would prefer a dumb tool, i.e. one which simply threw up the occurrences of possible errors, rather than risk automatic changes which might introduce errors.
The importance of getting capitalization right makes it worth spending a little time on it so manually clicking through and making the decisions is worthwhile. Just one uncapitalized sentence makes the editor/writer look a fool. The reader has to think, "If they can't get something as simple as initial capitals in sentences right, what authority do they have on any subject?" Unwanted capitalizations after abbreviations are just as bad. They reek of "computer", which makes people downgrade the text and content, too, I believe. Certainly, either suggests to the reader that they are not being shown proper respect.
The basic rule would be that there must be at least one space, a tab or hard or soft return after the full stop.
Next, the first letter which follows that/those space(s) or hard or soft return(s) would have to be an alpha character.
If these two criteria were met, that alpha character should be capitalised. Kino, over on the Dartmouth list, has provided a Powerfind Pro expression that finds these cases.
To cut down on false positives, there would have to be exceptions: this rule would not apply to alpha characters following abbreviations such as etc., e.g., Inc., Co., Pty. Ltd., Jr., Mfg. and so on. These can be specified by the fact that they are in the dictionary.
Some exceptions to the Exceptions would be where the full stop to mark the abbreviation was also used as a full stop to end a sentence. There would be some situations where the double use of the full stop was obvious, so these would be exceptions to the exceptions. For example, when the intervening characters between the full stop and the next character was filled non-alpha characters including:
* One or more hard or soft return(s) to start a new paragraph.
* A conjunction IF etc. was followed by a space (if the construction was that a conjunction started the next sentence, the user would normally put in the capital initial and if they made an error, it wouldn’t matter except for a slight loss of emphasis).
Obviously non-alpha characters would be excluded, such as a figure or an element of punctuation, e.g. a dash, or whatever. Things like email addresses and URLs would be passed over because they would not have spaces after the full stops/dots.
That last brings up another possibility -- the case of the lack of a space after a full stop and before the start of the next sentence. What we would be looking at there would be to find all cases of a full stop followed by a capital without a space between them.
Geoffrey Heard, Business Writer & Publisher
"Type & Layout: Are you communicating or just making pretty shapes" -- Revealed! The secrets of how you can use type and layout to turbocharge your messages in print. See the book at http://www.worsleypress.com