Letter case

Letter case is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally majuscule) and smaller lowercase (or more formally minuscule) in the written representation of certain languages. The writing systems that distinguish between the upper and lowercase have two parallel sets of letters, with each letter in one set usually having an equivalent in the other set. The two case variants are alternative representations of the same letter: they have the same name and pronunciation and are treated identically when sorting in alphabetical order.

The lower-case "a" and upper-case "A" are the two case variants of the first letter in the English alphabet.

Letter case is generally applied in a mixed-case fashion, with both upper and lowercase letters appearing in a given piece of text for legibility. The choice of case is often prescribed by the grammar of a language or by the conventions of a particular discipline. In orthography, the uppercase is primarily reserved for special purposes, such as the first letter of a sentence or of a proper noun (called capitalisation, or capitalised words), which makes the lowercase the more common variant in regular text.

In some contexts, it is conventional to use one case only, for example, engineering design drawings are typically labelled entirely in uppercase letters, which are easier to distinguish individually than the lowercase when space restrictions require that the lettering be very small. In mathematics, on the other hand, letter case may indicate the relationship between mathematical objects, with uppercase letters often representing "superior" objects (e.g. X could be a mathematical set containing the generic member x).