Update: Potental Riders Vote on How Many Capital Letters Belong in RocketRail

December 15, 2015, 2:05 PM by  Alan Stamm

We were kidding (not kidding) over the weekend about a dizzying dilemma posed by clashing capitalization choices in coverage of a pending new name for M-1 Rail.    

The Woodward project's lead corporate daddy, Quicken Loans, gets to brand it in exchange for ponying up $10 million. It recently trademarked a name. By using all upper-case letters in its federal filing, the mortgage lender sparks a style skirmish.

Some Detroit media go with RocketRail (our preference), some use Rocketrail and a couple flip back and forth.

Our call-out poking fun at the inconsistency (below) generates a Curbed Detroit reader survey. Michelle Goldchain, filling in as acting editor from Washington, D.C., embraces what she calls this "nitpicky" issue in the spirit we share:

Is it more trouble than it's worth? Or is it super-important and people need to get their act together? . . .

Regardless, Curbed wanted to bring the issue to the public and ask which do you prefer: Rocketrail or RocketRail?      

So let's go to the scoreboard:

  • RocketRail: 75.8% (483 votes)
  • Rocketrail: 19.7% (126)
  • Who cares?: 4.4% (28)

If that seems like a somewhat small sampling of Curbed Detroit readers, consider this: It's  637 more people than have been on Detroit's new streetcars.

We encourage you to vote here on this urgent urban issue.

Original article, Saturday afternoon:

This may seem like arcane minutia reminiscent of a third-grade grammar lesson. (Not in a good way.)

And yes, if Woody Allen or Larry David come to mind, we get it. But details do matter, and we sweat them so you don't have to. (You're welcome.)

Headlines from the Freep on Saturday (left) and MLive a day earlier.

A pressing question before the court of capitalization involves the sponsored name for Woodward Avenue's streetcar line: Is it Rocketrail or RocketRail?

Who cares because you hate it and won't use it, much less type it, right? True as that may be, a capitalization clash has surfaced and cannot stand -- not as long as style nerds roam the Earth (not earth). 

After all, if civilized readers tolerate interchangeable use of Rocketrail and RocketRail by Detroit media, what else would be accepted? Saint Clair Shores or St. Claire Shores instead of the correct St. Clair Shores? Mt. Clemens in place of the proper Mount Clemens?

Down that path lies anarchy, make no mistake.

Already we see a dizzying example of what could be ahead if this remains unresolved.

Crain's Detroit Business broke the news Friday that Quicken Loans, the project's lead corporate underwriter, "trademarked the name RocketRail last week." After that style choice in the first sentence comes a reference to Rocketrail in sentence two. The article by Robert Snell and Kirk Pinho uses the name four times with two capital Rs (including the headline) and twice with just one upper-case letter (including a caption).

Crain's uses RRs in the head and first sentence, then switches to Rocketrail in the second sentence and a photo caption.

An accompanying photo of the trademarked logo is no help -- all 10 letters are captalized, as companies love to do.

Our linked summary of the Crain's scoop uses RocketRail, as does another pickup Friday afternoon at MLive.  

But as they catch up Saturday, the city's two daily papers go with Rocketrail -- despite the double-take that causes at first glance. (Does that odd-looking word refer to something called Rocke Trail or Rocket Rail?)     

We'll stay aboard the RRs route, which echoes the shorthand for railroad.

As lifelong carriers of OCSS (obsessive-compulsive style syndrome), also known as DCD (deranged consistency disorder), we're eager for a decree from Dan Gilbert or his CCO (chief capitalization officer).

Leave a Comment:

Photo Of The Day