As noted in a progress report on the main site, we’ve just put live a big update to the SFE, which now has more than 138,000 words on top of the text we launched with in October. I thought it might be worth discussing one particular change.
In the 1979 and 1993 print editions of the SFE, cross-references to other entries were written in small caps. So, for instance, an entry might say “Heinlein’s novels shamefully neglected discussion of GIANT MUTANT STAR GOATS”, and you’d know that the capitalised phrase was the title of another entry. We carried this convention over into the text that went online in October. In addition, links were underlined and in blue – as is the usual online convention.
There was a very distinct split in the reaction to this. By and large, those who knew the SFE from its previous editions made no comment or were happy with it. Those who didn’t found the presence of capitalised, underlined, blue links too disruptive to their reading.The caps, they said, now carry the connotation of SHOUTING too much. So we took the decision to put the links back in lower case (except, of course, where a sentence dictates that they need capitals). This change took quite a lot of work for our technical supremo David Langford, but has been implemented in today’s update. We hope the result is less SHOUTY without alienating those used to earlier editions.
For the moment, we’re leaving links both in blue and underlined. But comments are very welcome on whether this is something we should look at again.