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?

  • 3
    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 – Zach Saucier Sep 29 '15 at 13:07
  • 2
    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 – user56reinstatemonica8 Sep 29 '15 at 18:09

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 – Zach Saucier Sep 29 '15 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 Sep 29 '15 at 14:00
  • Yes, but how does that space play a role? – Zach Saucier Sep 29 '15 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 Sep 30 '15 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 May 17 '19 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.

  • 1
    The inconsistency is a bad idea – Zach Saucier Sep 29 '15 at 13:34
  • 2
    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. – Scribblemacher Sep 29 '15 at 13:43
  • 1
    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. – user56reinstatemonica8 Sep 29 '15 at 18:11

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.