Suppose you have a document or similar where each section starts with a drop cap.

What's the standard typographical way to do these drop caps when the first word of the section is one letter long? E.g. "A" or "I".

If you do them exactly the same as normal, it'll look like the first and second words run into each other. For example, this post from Viz at first looks like it says "Anotice":

Adding a space before the second word would look misaligned with the second line.

The only other option I can think of is to increase the indent so all the indented lines are one space's width more indented than they'd normally be. Is this a standard practice?

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    I think it's standard to leave a little bit more of a gutter than what you have shown, yes. But I wouldn't worry about it either way. People, after reading the sentence, will understand what you mean Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 13:07
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    I generally take the view that, if my typography makes people do a double-take or requires people to use context to figure out what the text says, my typography isn't working Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 18:09

2 Answers 2


I would suggest looking at the relation between the space below and to the right of the drop cap - whether the drop cap is a word in itself or not. enter image description here

  • Can you explain what you mean a bit more? I'm afraid I don't understand exactly what you mean by just "looking at" the relation Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 13:33
  • The space illustrated by the blue area. Often in typography, it's up to you to evaluate what's needed depending on, in this case, the character combinations. There's no specific measurement-answer as there are too many combinations - and different typefaces will need different treatment.
    – Kjelle
    Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 14:00
  • Yes, but how does that space play a role? Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 14:19
  • It turns poor into good typography by giving the drop cap a balanced and appropriate breathing space, as it were. Of course, there are all sorts of experiments and ways to set type, but if you're looking for a traditional reason how to treat a drop cap, this would be my take on it.
    – Kjelle
    Commented Sep 30, 2015 at 11:30
  • Have a look at the attached guide for drop caps - a few nice tips ... etutorials.org/Adobe/Adobe+Indesign+CS2+Professional+Typography/…
    – Mark Read
    Commented May 17, 2019 at 1:18

This is why it is traditional to set the balance of the word or phrase in small caps.

Agree w/ Kjelle that more space would help this.

Another option here is to use some sort of decorative border behind / around the drop caps — design two, one for use when the text continues, another for use w/ a one letter word.

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    The inconsistency is a bad idea Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 13:34
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    Using small caps to continue to initial few words or phrase is a good suggestion. Not sure if the decorative border makes sense though. Like @ZachSaucier said, it could look inconsistent and weird. Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 13:43
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    I do agree that small caps with drop caps is generally a good idea, but I'm not sure it solves this problem. The given example would be exactly the same if small caps were used - it could only help if people had seen many other paragraphs and had noticed the pattern. Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 18:11

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