I have a paragraph that is drop capped and begins with the word 'U.K.' Currently, the CSS (cascading style sheet) standard for Web browsers is to include the period following the 'U' in the drop cap, so 'U.' would be in the larger, dropped font, while 'K.' would appear normal. Is this implementation in line with current grammatical standards, or should the period not be larger and dropped? Alternatively, should the periods be eliminated here altogether?

EDIT: I understand this is a style question and not a 'grammatical' question. Can someone tell me what the MLA style guide would tell one to do in this situation? I know the MLA guide mentions drop caps, so I'm assuming they are considered part of writing style, but if the answer really is that the style is ambiguous, I would appreciate hearing that answer as well.

  • 3
    Sorry for the unhelpful nitpick, but punctuation and styling aren't grammar, and English has no standardizing body to decide such things anyhow. I would just skirt the whole issue and write United Kingdom.
    – Cameron
    Jul 27, 2012 at 21:09
  • 1
    I think this is a question on graphic design, not on English Language. No one can precisely answer on dropping the period after the dropped first letter. However, I prefer the dropped period. It is more leggible.
    – Carlo_R.
    Jul 27, 2012 at 21:11
  • I'm checking with a few other sites on the SE network to see if this question would be appropriate for them; if it is, it'll be migrated automatically.
    – waiwai933
    Jul 27, 2012 at 21:49
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    There is no accepted punctuation rule which covers punctuation around drop caps. That would be a house style issue. Might want to bring it up at the Typography proposal at Area 51.
    – MetaEd
    Jul 27, 2012 at 21:51
  • A question about whether or not there should be a period or not would be one about punctuation, but one about where to place it in re. a drop cap is about typography (punctuation states only that one must exist). And as far as MLA style (and style in general) goes, it sort of splits across several different sites in the network, mostly Writing, but my understand is that they don't do typography, so I'm checking with Graphic Design since I don't know how much typography they do.
    – waiwai933
    Jul 27, 2012 at 21:53

1 Answer 1


U.K. can't grammatically start a sentence because it would have to be The U.K. and this is true for all countries that contain the word "of".

England is just England just as North America is North America, but the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland needs the article The just like The United States of America does.

An exception would be if either U.K. or U.S. are used as adjectives. For example, it's correct to say "U.S. citizens are eligible for tax deductions".

As for the typography and design aspect, if you were starting a sentence with an abbreviation you would still only turn the first letter into an initial (drop cap). Typically, you would plan ahead though, and if a main idea caused something like this to occur you would probably not use a drop cap at all, or not abbreviate.

  • I would think that if a section really did need to start with something like U.K. or NATO, that it would be best to make the whole thing a "drop cap" even if that required using a vector-graphics editor to make a composite character [e.g. if one were using a font which includes a box around each character, and wanted to show "U.K.", erase the rightmost part of the "U" and leftmost part of the "K", slide them together, and overlay suitably-placed periods.]
    – supercat
    Feb 20, 2015 at 17:38

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