Something I've always wondered. You've probably noticed that in some newspapers or books, the first few words of a chapter/story are bolded or capitalized, similar to initials. For example:

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This image isn't from a real book, it's from an SE puzzle parodying a newspaper. It should convey my point though.

I've heard that this is a typesetting convention and it is not the writers who capitalize these words. However, what is the point? Is it recommended in publishing? Does it actually help readability, or is there some historical reason?


3 Answers 3


That's called a lead-in. The general idea is to use special formatting (e.g. all caps, small caps, italics) to gently guide the reader to recognize where the text begins (or resumes after a break).

If sections are marked with headers, guidance like that isn't strictly necessary. In those cases, the use of lead-ins is a style choice.

And, yes, that kind of formatting is the publisher's job, not the writer's.


As D-H E noted, that is the publisher's job, not the writer's. Of course, if you are a self-publisher, then it is your job!

It is strictly a matter of style. Nothing else. In some cases, where text is packed with non-texts (such as magazine ads) it is a visual cue to where an article begins. In other contexts, such as a printed novel, it is merely a way to focus the reader's attention.

In the case of fiction (novels), it works best if the author's writing lends itself to this opening style. Some authors have a catchy lead-in for each chapter. Others don't.

Note: In the unlikely event that you use LaTeX, the magazin package does this.


This type of formatting is the precursor to modern day click bait from titles such as Buzzfeed. Through highlight using a line and sinker, it leads the reader in to read further. This is not very relevant in writing unless you are directly targeting an audience.

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