I believe I understand this and I'm looking for confirmation.


It has become a tugging match with the Weird Man shouting, "I'll take you to a taxi... I'll take you." Ahead, a group is gathered on the sidewalk near two ambulances. People clamor to get a look at a BLOODY BODY which lies on the street.

DETECTIVE TAYLOR, 52, stands on the other side of the room, looks through a notepad.

So do they do this because at that moment, the screen focuses on that item, character, or aspect? And/or is it also always done when a character is first introduced?


5 Answers 5


Here's the money quote from the script formatting rules that cornbread ninja linked in the comments:

Some writers also use ALL CAPS when a sound effect appears in Action. Others capitalize important props. This would look like this:

MORTIMER groans and pops a handful of aspirin. The tea kettle WHISTLES. Mortimer pulls out a SUB-PARTICLE SUPER BLASTER and blows the kettle to smithereens.

In my understanding, this use of all-caps writing is meant to signify the introduction of a significant physical element into the scene. You can think of it as a way to mark the cues! Now, a lot of times a cue will be expressed by the camera focusing on the new element, whatever it is - so I understand why you might think that's what the caps means. But remember, a screenplay should generally avoid dictating directorial specifics like camera shots! Instead, it's just telling the reader, "something new enters the scene, right HERE." That might be expressed with focus, but it might not - for example, when the BLOODY BODY is first referenced, maybe the actual film will only show partial glimpses of it for a little while before actually focusing on it. Maybe they'll never focus on it at all.

At any rate, as far as I can tell using caps for emphasis in a screenplay is more of a good practice than a precise science with strict rules. If you understand what kinds of things need to be emphasized, and you feel like you're managing to emphasize those things with the caps, then your precise decision on a handful of cases you're not sure about shouldn't make a big difference one way or the other.

  • 2
    Yes, and also ALL CAPS for the first time a character appears. Jul 29, 2015 at 4:10

When ALL CAPS is used mid-sentence like that it's usually because it's the first appearance of that thing on screen. If you think about it, the focus of almost any scene will be the characters in it, so a BLOODY BODY is unlikely to get much screen time compared to say, DETECTIVE KATE BECKETT.

In some cases it may suggest the focus for the scene - such as "unnoticed by her captors, Beckett slips a KITCHEN KNIFE in her boot" - but ultimately the director will point the camera where he wants to point the camera and if it's a choice between a bloody body and Kata Stanic he's going to point it at the star every time.

  • Who's Kata Stanic?
    – Pitarou
    Mar 27, 2012 at 13:34
  • This is the actual correct answer and should have been selected as the accepted answer. So folks please upvote it as you come across it. It improves the site
    – paulzag
    Jul 28, 2016 at 13:36

A production requires several experts who handle specific elements at the request of the director. The CAPS are specific to help those experts do their task. All props and foley sounds are in caps so the prop director and sound engineer are are alert to their task. CAPs are also used to introduce a new character (though only the first time they appear) and at times to emphasize a certain action. Again, they are not to be used as a mere gesture to emphasize a word, but rather have a very specific purpose JOHN runs in the room and pulls a GUN, he pull the trigger twice to no avail, then finally a SHOT rings out ( this is only correct if John had just appeared in the script for the first time)


To introduce a character for the first time, to draw attention to an element of the script: e.g. The POISON BOTTLE, the TICKING BOMB.

All actual breakdown for department heads will be done by the First Assistant Director (who numbers the scenes -- don't you do that -- and rewrites your sluglines) and the Department Heads (e.g., Prop, Wardrobe, Mechanical Effects, etc.).

So, after introducing new characters, cap anything that makes sense and brightens the page. e.g.:

The RAIN POUNDED the windows scaring FIDO. JENNY, 7, cute, blonde, snuggles next to the now WHIMPERING Fido.

(In this example, you're letting Sound and the animal handler know Fido has to whimper.)

  • People shouldn't number scenes or even capitalise in a Hollywood spec script. But for all that is good and holy, if your script is going into production as an indie, spare your 1st AD, Producer and HoD's a lot of work and capitalise CHARACTERs' first appearance, PROPS, IMPORTANT SET DRESSING, SOUND FX, key WARDROBE and anything else that should be on a breakdown. And ask them if you should number the scenes.
    – paulzag
    Jul 28, 2016 at 13:42

Because capital letters writing is meant to signify the introduction of a signtificant physical element into the scene.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.