I want to use the same initial small cap rule of The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. But I still can't figure it out. Some examples:

TALKING HEADS’ Fear of Music is on my record player, so I lower the stylus.

OUTSIDE NATWEST BANK on Milton Road, I run into Brendan.

ON MONDAY, I’LL get a key cut for Vinny’s front door, but today I go the usual secret way.

THE BACK DOOR’S never locked ’cause Vinny’s lost the key.

HOLLY SYKES AND the Weird Shit, Part 1.

BY THREE O’CLOCK, my whole head’s parched, not just my mouth.

AROUND FOUR O’CLOCK I get to a strip of shingly beach by a wooden groyne thing sloping into the river.

I FILL MY lungs with one of Brubeck’s Dunhills. That’s better.

The first phrases of the scene? But then how come the and in HOLLY SYKES AND is also being included? I'm confused.

  • 2
    If it wasn't for the first example, I'd say that it's the first three words.
    – evilsoup
    Apr 19, 2015 at 16:17
  • In the first example the first word of the song title was not set in small caps because that would make it a phrase with the first two words.
    – user5645
    Apr 19, 2015 at 18:32
  • 1
    A better rule is to set the first phrase in small caps as that is less confusing to the reader than an arbitrary fixed number of words that can span into the next phrase. See: theworldsgreatestbook.com/book-design-part-5
    – user5645
    Apr 19, 2015 at 18:45

2 Answers 2


I'm not able to find a sample of the book, but, from what you've posted above, it looks like the author decided to capitalize the first three words of each section, as noted in the comments above. That first one is different because "Fear of Music" needs to be set apart from the artist. I've seen many big authors use this capitalization technique; it's just used to further introduce a new scene.


Looking at a sample of the book it seems obvious to me that the use of capital letters is rather arbitrary. It doesn't enhance the text, in my opinion. Actually, it looks like rather lazy editing to me.

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