What’s our stance on using Unicode’s small caps (e.g., for acronyms/initialisms) in posts?

In this question, OP uses small caps for initialisms. Example with "HTML"/"ʜᴛᴍʟ" (first line with small caps, second line with normal capital letters):

Screen reader supporting the load of the ʜᴛᴍʟ cite attribute
Screen reader supporting the load of the HTML cite attribute

(I changed this in an edit, but OP changed it back again.)

  • I've rolled this back for now, and invited him to participate in this discussion. If there's an advantage to these, I'm (genuinely) interested in hearing it :)
    – user46
    Sep 24, 2015 at 3:50

1 Answer 1


In my opinion, the small caps Unicode characters shouldn’t be used for normal text in our posts (unless, of course, it’s about these characters):

  • In the browser search (Ctrl + f, e.g., in Firefox and Chromium), users would have to search for both variants if they want to find all occurences.

  • Users that search for our content in search engines (like Google or DuckDuckGo) would have to search for both variants if they want to find all relevant posts.

  • Stack Exchange’s system that decides which tag to include in the page title "breaks", leading to cases like in the linked question (bold emphasis mine):

    html - Screen reader supporting the load of the ʜᴛᴍʟ cite attribute - Software Recommendations Stack Exchange

    (If normal characters were used, it would display "accessibility" instead of "html".)

  • Consistency. There is no small caps variant for "Q" or "X".

    Poor ꜱQʟ and Xᴍʟ.

  • Searching for ʜᴛᴍʟ works perfectly well. Perhaps you have a browser bug. :) More seriously, I have long lamented the absence of small caps here to make things look more professional, but at the end of the day, nothing short of accessing the real ones on the font proper looks tolerable.
    – tchrist
    Sep 26, 2015 at 1:35
  • 1
    @tchrist: You link to the internal search, but I’m talking about the "browser search" and "search engines (like Google or DuckDuckGo)".
    – unor
    Sep 26, 2015 at 2:41
  • I think they look nice, but since they currently break browser search and search engines, I think using them is not workable at this time. Sep 26, 2015 at 7:02
  • There is no small caps variant for […] "X". – There is: U+0078. It looks like this: xᴍʟ.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Sep 26, 2015 at 7:29
  • 5
    Note that what you call Unicode small caps are not small caps (as in the typographical emphasis) but Cyrillic or phonetic characters that happen to look like Latin small caps. That’s why they are not properly searchable, complete and similar. Also, if your browser resorts to fallback fonts for some reason, it may choose different ones as they are drawn from different character sets (phonetic and Cyrillic). If you want small caps on a web page, you have to use either a designated small-caps version of your font or a font that offers small caps as an OpenType feature (or faux small caps).
    – Wrzlprmft
    Sep 26, 2015 at 7:31
  • @Wrzlprmft: This x is just the normal lower case letter, right? (it says "LATIN SMALL LETTER" instead of "LATIN LETTER SMALL CAPITAL") Using this in such a context would be semantically wrong, I guess (lower case letter for an initialism) -- Re. Unicode small caps: Yes, I know the difference, that’s why I tried to make this discussion only about the Unicode chars, as that’s what was used and what is problematic.
    – unor
    Sep 26, 2015 at 13:30
  • Well, the Latin capital letter X is nothing but a big version of the latin small letter x (same goes for C, O, S, V and Z in most fonts). Sementically this would be much closer to correct than using a phonetic or Cyrillic letter.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Sep 26, 2015 at 13:43

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