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intial cap set in an italic typeface

Example of an adjacent style of initial cap set in an italic typeface and a different color from text. | Design & Layout | Type & Fonts | Alpha Index of Full Glossary:

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Oversized letters at the start of some paragraphs are known as initial caps. The more common term is drop or dropped cap, although drop caps are just one style of initial cap. These enlarged letters may be set in the same type style as the accompanying text but are often a different, sometimes highly ornate, decorative letter. The purpose of initial caps is to draw attention to the text and draw the reader into the narrative. They serve as a visual cue to the start of a new article or chapter or section of a longer text.

Styles of Initial Caps

Creating Initial Caps

Depending on the style of initial cap, the letter is 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 letter can be an actual text font or it may be a graphic image.

Fine-tuning Initial Caps

Some letters fit neatly into the square space that most automated drop cap scripts create. Others don't line up so nicely and the initial cap and its accompanying text may need manual manipulation to improve the appearance and the readability of the text.
Also Known As: drop caps
Terms Related to Initial Caps

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