If reading Marine administrative messages in all capital letters makes you feel like your old drill instructor is screaming a new policy at you, the Navy might be providing some hope for change.
Navy Times reported that the Navy’s personnel chief issued a policy directive likely unique from all other naval messages before it — the bulletin featured lowercase letters. The Navy is shifting to a new message-routing system that is cheaper and easier to operate and has the side benefit of sending messages that are easier to read.
The issue has been getting a lot of attention in recent weeks. The Wall Street Journal cited Navy Times’ reporting in a front page story in their newspaper. Now the question is: Will the Marine Corps do the same?
MARADMINs have a long history with the caps lock key. Early teletype machines, which the military started using in the 1850s, were made up of only three rows of keys and did not allow for lowercase letters. Morse code made transmitting messages faster, but still didn’t distinguish between upper and lowercase.
While it might have been necessary to transmit all uppercase messages in the past, it’s arguably a hindrance today. A typography study from the 1950s at the University of Minnesota showed reading speeds slowed by about 14 percent when reading all-caps messages over a 20-minute period.
Headquarters Marine Corps did not immediately respond to queries about whether the Navy will pave the way for lower case MARADMINs. But at least one public affairs officer sees the potential to step away from the shift key as a positive.
“While I don’t know if there’s been any movement to follow suit, I certainly hope this opens up the possibility,” said Maj. Shawn Haney, a spokeswoman with Manpower and Reserve Affairs. “Our current message format, with all caps and a lack of spacing, is the worst form of document design in terms of readability, comprehension and usability. Changes resulting in an easy to read and useful digital document are desperately needed.”
Tell us what you think. Is it time for the Corps to say goodbye to the all-caps MARADMIN?
Navy Times staff writer Sam Fellman contributed to this report.