Contact US

Log In

Come Join Us!

Are you an
Engineering professional?
Join Eng-Tips Forums!
  • Talk With Other Members
  • Be Notified Of Responses
    To Your Posts
  • Keyword Search
  • One-Click Access To Your
    Favorite Forums
  • Automated Signatures
    On Your Posts
  • Best Of All, It's Free!

*Eng-Tips's functionality depends on members receiving e-mail. By joining you are opting in to receive e-mail.

Posting Guidelines

Promoting, selling, recruiting, coursework and thesis posting is forbidden.

Students Click Here

Upper Case Lettering on Calculations

Upper Case Lettering on Calculations

Upper Case Lettering on Calculations

I've been noticing a lot of engineers using lower case lettering for their calculation sheets.  I never saw this before when working for pivate engineering firms, but now that i work for the government it seems rather common with gov employees.  Is this common?  Any comments?  I personally don't like the look of it, but that is not to say the calculations are in any way inferior.   

RE: Upper Case Lettering on Calculations

I generally use lower case lettering for calculations and sketches.  I don't work for the government.   

RE: Upper Case Lettering on Calculations

Legibility is what matters.  I am an upper case guy, but that is just because I had to do a lot of lettering when I started, and the company did it that way.  Style on drawings was a concern in those days, but not anymore.

RE: Upper Case Lettering on Calculations

Definitely upper case here too, mainly because I buy all my old engineering reference books from "Upper Case Books" in Snohomish.   

Mike McCann
MMC Engineering

RE: Upper Case Lettering on Calculations

Almost all of the calculations I have done in 32 years working and before that in school have been done using lower case lettering. I would guess it has been 100% lower case for the last 20+ years. Except for one summer interning at Caltrans, all of my experience has been on the private side.

I have two problems with all upper case lettering: it's harder to read and it can be ambiguous once in a while. I would also prefer to use lower case lettering on drawings,  but most people prefer all upper case lettering. I think this goes back to hand lettering and LEROY lettering, where using only half the available characters materially improved efficiency. I think the gain now is getting close to zero.

"Is it the only lesson of history that mankind is unteachable?"
--Winston S. Churchill

RE: Upper Case Lettering on Calculations

fel3...I think you're right about the origins.  I was taught in drafting classes to use both upper and lower case.  We were required to use all upper case in some instances and lower case in others.  One thing I noticed with doing Leroy lettering is that it was better if you dropped a pen size when using lower case to cut down on ink blobs, and you had the longer pull to get to the lower case on the template plus you had to clean the pens more often...less efficient.

RE: Upper Case Lettering on Calculations

Just my opinion, but to make my calculations more readable, I use upper and lower case, just like writing a letter. First word of a sentence is capitalized, proper names, etc. I always try to write a narrative and to make it easier to understand, I write sentences. All upper case makes it harder to follow.

RE: Upper Case Lettering on Calculations

Jed, that's why highway guide signs are going to title case lettering.

RE: Upper Case Lettering on Calculations

Moment always "M"
PLF load always "w"
inches = "in"
Feet = "ft"
Foot-lbs = "ft-lbs"

Etc, etc.

Just depends on what you learned or grew up with!!

RE: Upper Case Lettering on Calculations

@MiketheEngineer:  Doesn't "M" mean Mega?? - Guess its an SI vs English thing . . .

All drawings our company ever did was in upper case; my dad taught mechanical drafting and it was always upper case, too.

RE: Upper Case Lettering on Calculations

Just how I grew up with at college!!1

RE: Upper Case Lettering on Calculations

I don't know how you guys can get by using only upper or lower case variables, don't you run out?  :)

In hydrology, big Q and little q mean different, related things.  (runoff in inches, flow rate in cfs)  I've never in my life seen someone use a big N for Manning's roughness, I've never seen a lowercase P for rainfall, and I've seen both big and little Ts for time of concentration.

In my opinion, engineering is too complicated a game to go switching things back and forth just because your caps lock is on.  Find out what the industry standard is and use that.


Hydrology, Drainage Analysis, Flood Studies, and Complex Stormwater Litigation for Atlanta and the South East - http://www.campbellcivil.com

RE: Upper Case Lettering on Calculations

That's because a lower P case will never give you max. run-off.

RE: Upper Case Lettering on Calculations

I just did a search through ASME Y14.5-2009, and the issue of case is never addressed...


RE: Upper Case Lettering on Calculations

Mike... I haven't grown up yet... but:
M moment
Mf factored moment
q Klf
Q total q
P point load, and Pf...
" inches
' feet
'K foot kips
'lb foot pounds
usually... and anything a word or so longer in written script... and I waste lots of paper...


RE: Upper Case Lettering on Calculations

We haven't grown up, but we have grown out...

out of our clothes, our budgets, and our houses... to name a few things.

Mike McCann
MMC Engineering

Red Flag This Post

Please let us know here why this post is inappropriate. Reasons such as off-topic, duplicates, flames, illegal, vulgar, or students posting their homework.

Red Flag Submitted

Thank you for helping keep Eng-Tips Forums free from inappropriate posts.
The Eng-Tips staff will check this out and take appropriate action.

Reply To This Thread

Posting in the Eng-Tips forums is a member-only feature.

Click Here to join Eng-Tips and talk with other members! Already a Member? Login


Low-Volume Rapid Injection Molding With 3D Printed Molds
Learn methods and guidelines for using stereolithography (SLA) 3D printed molds in the injection molding process to lower costs and lead time. Discover how this hybrid manufacturing process enables on-demand mold fabrication to quickly produce small batches of thermoplastic parts. Download Now
Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM)
Examine how the principles of DfAM upend many of the long-standing rules around manufacturability - allowing engineers and designers to place a part’s function at the center of their design considerations. Download Now
Taking Control of Engineering Documents
This ebook covers tips for creating and managing workflows, security best practices and protection of intellectual property, Cloud vs. on-premise software solutions, CAD file management, compliance, and more. Download Now

Close Box

Join Eng-Tips® Today!

Join your peers on the Internet's largest technical engineering professional community.
It's easy to join and it's free.

Here's Why Members Love Eng-Tips Forums:

Register now while it's still free!

Already a member? Close this window and log in.

Join Us             Close