Introduction | Capitalization of Screen Elements | Quick Guide to Capitalization in English at SAP


Various studies of internet scenarios and usability have determined that the interface of Web applications must also support users in their work. Consistency in the texts on the user interface is an important part of how users perceive our software. This applies not only to terminology, but also to writing style, to ensure that SAP's software has a professional appearance and a consistent look and feel. Users should not notice whether the texts they see are the original language of the interface or a translation, and should see no difference in style regardless of whether the texts were written in Germany, the United States, India, or wherever.

While capitalization is not something that end users pay much attention to, consistency of capitalization not only improves the look and feel of the software but also can help to save costs considerably. English, for example, is the source language for 10 other languages at SAP. If the same text is written in two different ways, even if the difference is only in capitalization or punctuation, it becomes two distinct texts for the languages that translate from English. This slows down translation and increases the risk of inconsistent terminology in those languages, which can confuse the end users.

If you write system texts in English - regardless of whether you are a developer, technical author, or translator - you can help to ensure a consistent interface and keep costs down by adhering to the capitalization guidelines below.


Capitalization of English Screen Elements at SAP

The English language generally distinguishes between two styles of capitalization - title case and sentence style. (Title case is also often referred to as "initial caps", "init caps", or "headline style".)

Title Case

Title case means that the first letter of each word is capitalized, except for certain small words, such as articles and short prepositions. For more detailed information about what is meant by title case, see the Quick Guide to Capitalization in English at SAP below.

Use title case for the following screen elements:

  • Menu options and pushbuttons
  • Field, checkbox, and radio button labels
  • Frame, screen, and dialog box titles
  • Tab descriptions
  • All hierarchy nodes and folder names (IMG, roles, and so on)
  • Possible entries, options in drop-down lists
  • Column and row headers
  • Titles of reports and lists
  • All technical short descriptions (names of programs, function groups, transactions, CUA statuses, and so on)

Sentence Style

In sentence style, only the first letter of the sentence or phrase is capitalized. All words after that are written in lower case, except for proper nouns.

Use sentence style for the following texts:

  • Error messages
  • Status messages
  • Complete sentences and questions on the user interface (such as Do you want to save? or All unsaved data will be lost.)


Quick Guide to Capitalization in English at SAP

These standards apply to all cases, in all documentation, where "initial caps" are to be used ("headline style") as opposed to sentence style (first word of sentence or phrase capitalized only), regardless of the specific type of title, heading, header, or interface text.


  • Nouns
  • Verbs (including is and other forms of be)
  • Participles
  • Adverbs (including than and when)
  • Adjectives (including this, that, and each)
  • Pronouns (including its)
  • Subordinating conjunctions (if, because, as, that)
  • Prepositions and conjunctions with five or more letters (between, without, during, about, because, through)1
  • First and last words, no matter what part of speech they are
  • Prepositions that are part of a verb phrase (Logging On, Setting Up)
  • Both elements of hyphenated words (How-To, Country-Specific)2
  • Words and phrases in parentheses as you would capitalize them if they did not appear in parentheses
  • Any words, phrases, fragments, or sentences after a colon or semicolon

Do Not Capitalize

  • Coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or, nor, for)
  • Prepositions of four or fewer letters (with, to, for, at, and so on)
  • Articles (a, an, the, some) unless the article is the first or last word in the title
  • The word to in an infinitive phrase
  • Case-specific product names, words, or phrases (, README file, e-Business, and so on)


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Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) rule is not to capitalize any prepositions.

2 This rule differs slightly to the CMS rule but is more appropriate for our documentation and user interfaces.


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Source:  SAP Reference Lists