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Have Fun Using Initial Caps

Try out variations on the basic styles


initial caps

A variety of treatments for initial caps.

© J. Bear
Beyond the raised, dropped, and adjacent styles of initial caps, a hybrid style is sometimes the best and most creative choice. Ornamental initial caps can serve both as reader cues and as clip art. Some publications use a specific style of initial cap that echoes the theme of the book or newsletter. However, as with the basic styles, there are sometimes adjustments that need to be made for best appearance.

With some decorative letters all characters are square. Each letter fits nicely into the same space. However, while the decorative letters attract attention, they can be even more difficult to read than plain, enlarged caps. Help to compensate for their elaborate or intricate stylings by using these decorative letters at large sizes.

Script text can make lovely initial caps but they don't always blend easily with other body text. In the sidebar example, a large script L is placed adjacent but also behind the paragraph. Of course the color has to be light enough that the text on top remains readable. This mix of script and other type is best used sparingly.

The bottom example in the sidebar illustration shows another variation on an adjacent cap. Notice how the first line of the paragraph extends outside the column to the left to meet the initial cap. This adds interest and helps tie the letters of the first word more closely to each other.

Explore more ways to incorporate initial caps into your page layout including tips for a better composition and ideas for alternatives to the standard single big letter.

Take time to notice the use of initial caps in publications that cross your desk. Did the designer take the time to fine-tune the initial caps? In your own publications, strive to achieve a balance between readability and artistic flair when using initial caps.

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