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dropped initial caps

A basic dropped cap. | Design & Layout | Type & Fonts | Alpha Index of Full Glossary:

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Definition:

Decorative initial caps (capital letters) at the start of a paragraph that drop into a space created within the first few lines of the text are dropped caps, also written as drop caps. As with any initial cap, the size and placement of this letter is designed to draw readers into the narrative. The common term dropped caps or drop caps for all initial caps is actually a specific style or placement. Adjacent caps and raised caps are two specific styles or placement of initial caps.

Creating Dropped Caps

Dropped caps are often created using automated scripts or macros found in many desktop publishing and word processing software programs. Space to create the enlarged letter can be created automatically or manually by indenting lines of type or using the text wrap features of the software. The drop cap can be an actual text font or it may be a graphic image inserted as an inline graphic.

Fine-tuning Dropped Caps

Some letters fit neatly into the square space that most automated tools for drop caps create. Less square letters leave unsightly gaps between the dropped cap and its accompanying text. For best appearance and readability these dropped caps may need manual manipulation.

Alternatives to Dropped Caps

Instead of the first letter of the paragraph, create space for a dropped cap but insert an appropriate graphic illustration. Or, drop in the first 2-3 words of the paragraph set in a bold, contrasting font. Try this with short words.
Also Known As: initial caps
Terms Related to Dropped Cap

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