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
- Adjacent Caps drop to the side.
- Dropped Caps are the most familiar style dropped into indented lines.
- Raised Caps are simply larger letters at the start of the paragraph.
Creating Initial CapsDepending 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 CapsSome 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.
- Fine-tuning Initial Caps describes how to eliminate gaps with certain letters and improve the overall appearance through alignment.
- Have Fun Using Initial Caps shows how different fonts and styles of initials caps may be mixed for a hybrid treatment.
- Incorporate Initial Caps Into Your Page Layout has a variety of tips and ideas for making these decorative letters look better on the page, including alternatives to initial caps.