Capital letter  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Capital letters or majuscules (Template:Pron-en, Template:IPA-en) are the larger of two type faces in a script. In the Roman alphabet they are A, B, C, D, etc. They are also called capitals (caps) or upper case (uppercase). The latter name comes from the antique age of setting type for printing presses, when printers kept the type for these letters in the upper drawers of a desk or in the upper type case, while keeping the type for the more frequently-used smaller letters in the lower type case. This practice could date back to Johannes Gutenberg, but nobody really knows.

Capital and minuscule letters are differentiated in the Roman, Greek, Cyrillic, Armenian, and Coptic alphabets. Many less widely-used writing systems (such as those used in the Georgian language, Glagolitic, Arabic, Hebrew, and Devanagari) make no distinction between capital and lowercase letters – a system called unicase. Indeed, even European languages, except for Ancient Greek did not make this distinction before about the year 1300. Both "majuscule" and "minuscule" letters existed, but the printing press had not been invented, yet, and a given handwritten document could use either one size/style or the other. However, before about 1700 literacy was very low in Europe and the Americas, hence even handwriting was not used or understood by more than about one percent of people. Therefore, there was not any motivation to use both upper case and lower case letters in the same document: all documents were for the use of a few scholars, anyway.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Capital letter" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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