International Caps Lock Day, October 22 and June 28, is a holiday that needs two days on the calendar to be given its due. Software developer Derek Arnold created the original day to poke fun at “typographical conventions.” But it became the day we provoke Internet friends and colleagues and raise awareness that writing in all caps is not proper etiquette. Arnold added the second day in honor of boardwalk-bred Billy Mays, the “As Seen on TV” pitchman, who worked with his volume up. So push the Caps Lock key down and give somebody a shout out.
History of International Caps Lock Day
It was 2000 when Derek Arnold, a software developer in Iowa, chose October 22 as the day when everyone should press the Caps Lock key and type only in upper case letters. He said, “International Caps Lock Day is in fact a testament to the small-mindedness of certain Western individuals: the majority of the world’s population writes in scripts which have no concept of letter casing. Therefore it is advised not to laugh at anyone who invokes this day as an excuse to dismiss local typographical conventions: they are simply making an ass out of themselves.”
Arnold sent a tongue-in-cheek message to everyone who accidentally fat-fingers the Caps Lock key in daily life (U GONNA WEAR THE SAME THING U WORE TO BECKY’S WEDDING TO MADISON’S WEDDING??) or in professional communications on the job (JUST CHECKING IN TO SEE WHETHER YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE THE AMALGAMATED MARSHMALLOW SYSTEMS PROPOSAL READY BY 10 AM THIS MORNING?).
He wanted to remind us that upper case letters look like shouting, which is not nice. Because the recipients of our communications can’t gauge our volume or see our facial expression or body language, they can easily interpret our caps as ANGER, which is also not considered nice.
Before computers and shift-lock, most typewriters only produced capital letters way back in the olden days. During the 1870s, typewriter manufacturer Remington figured out an economical way to type both upper and lowercase letters. It did so by placing two symbols or letters, such as upper and lower case, on each typebar — the piece of metal that struck the letters onto the paper. To switch between the two symbols, writers used a Shift key, which physically moved the entire type bar apparatus.
Now, some people call the Caps Lock key, “the Billy Mays key” — a reference to the infomercial icon with the booming voice who exhorted us to call the 800 number and BUY NOW! So when Mays died on June 28, 2009, Arnold paid homage by adding a second, albeit secondary, day for celebrating International Caps Lock Day to the calendar.
International Caps Lock Day timeline
Remington introduces the typewriter featuring the first QWERTY keyboard, invented by Christopher Latham Sholes and Carlos Glidden, and it types only in upper case letters.
The Remington No. 2, which can type in both upper and lower case letters, debuts.
Derek Arnold adds June 28 as a second Caps Lock Day to the calendar in honor of the late, loud OxiClean pitchman Billy Mays, who always delivered his pitches in a voice that sounded as though the Caps Lock was stuck in his throat.
The Protecting Co., a workplace risk assessment firm in the U.K., compiles a list of reasons for terminations that include sending emails to customers in all upper case letters, using a font in lilac.
International Caps Lock Day FAQs
Where is the Caps Lock key?
The Caps Lock key is located above the Shift key next to the “A” on the keyboard.
Why is my Caps Lock light on?
A blinking “Caps Lock” key can sometimes mean that there is an issue with your battery or AC Adapter. If the power reset and clearing your computer’s ventilation does not work, you may need to take your computer in for servicing or attempt to replace your battery, AC adapter or power supply.
How do I turn my Caps Lock back to normal?
If you ever need to use text in all uppercase, like today, this will work as well. Highlight the text, then press SHIFT + F3 until the text appears in all uppercase. Here is an added tip. If you press CTRL + SHIFT + K, the text will revert to small caps – or just don’t turn it off and correspond with everyone in Caps Lock for International Caps Lock!
How to Celebrate International Caps Lock Day
Practice just in case
Try changing the case of large blocks of text by plugging it into https://convertcase.net/, a handy conversion tool. You can make upper case, lower case, sentence case, title case, capitalized case, and alternating case.
Hit the button
Go ahead, post a tweet in upper case and see what reaction you get. Email your Mom, and see if you feel something that could legitimately be classified as passive aggression. This is the day to hit the caps lock on purpose, even if you're not really enraged. But maybe think about it before you reply to your boss.
See how many acronyms you know
An acronym is an abbreviation formed from the initial letters of the words in a name or phrase and pronounced as a word. Have you noticed how many acronyms there are? Make a list: AWOL, POTUS, FUBAR, MADD, SWAT, AIDS, GIF, RADAR, SCUBA.
5 Facts About The Keyboard That Will Blow Your Mind
We have key keys
The keys used most are the delete key, the space bar, and the letter "e."
Early keyboards saved space
Early typewriter keyboards substituted a lower case "l" and an upper case "o" for the numbers one and zero.
There are keyboards for each hand
There are keyboards made for the left hand only and for the right hand only.
There are novelty keyboards
In 2009, Datamancer made a keyboard of SCRABBLE® tiles.
Some keyboards have "chords"
A chorded keyboard, or keyset, allows you to form characters by pressing several keys together, as in playing chords on a piano.
Why We Love International Caps Lock Day
We have anger issues
Do you have a hair-trigger temper? Do you scream at that creep in the Mazda who just cut you off? Instead of giving him the finger, go home, hit the caps lock, and tell your buddy all about it.
It affirms our power
An IT guy in Iowa created International Caps Lock Day, then felt okay about adding a second piece two it, more than six months apart. If he can do that, what can you do?
It's a teaching moment
Use the day to teach your kids about the proper uses for upper case letters. Introduce them to the concept of stylebooks, like the one from the Associated Press.
International Caps Lock Day dates