Emphasis in Writing

I’ve talked about it to many, many writers on an individual basis. Now, it’s time I share it with the world.

Using all-caps in your fiction should be a complete and utter last resort.

When to use all-caps:

  • When using an acronym such as ASPCA, or FBI.
  • When a character or narrator is screaming and your narrative is not strong enough to convey that volume otherwise.

When not to use all-caps:

  • When a character is talking slightly louder than they were before.
  • When a character is speaking in staccato or with heavy inflection.
  • When you, the writer, want to emphasis something.
  • Whenever you feel like it.
  • For a chapter heading
  • When a character is shouting, but you can tag the dialogue with “she shouted.”
  • When a character is shouting, but your amazing writing skills make it so that your reader totally gets that vibe without the use of irritating all-caps.
  • For signs or letters or fliers written out in-narrative.

What to use instead:

  • For heavy emphasis within the narrative or dialogue use italics.
  • For heavy inflection or staccato speech, Use. Them. Periods. (Not super great, but better than some alternatives).
  • For chapter headings, use larger font sizes. You can use bold typeface, or nothing.
  • Denote excitement or shouting with a single exclamation point and/or descriptive dialogue tags.
  • For fliers or signs written out within your novel, you can use italics or small-caps (sample below)


  • As a second-to-last resort for screaming or shouting, use small-caps, as well.


Worst form of emphasis
Avoid using All-Caps
How to convey emphasis

Happy writing!


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