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Drop Caps or initial caps, decorative first letters have been used for centuries as chapter-opening devices. Today they are used to signify the beginning of articles in magazines and newspapers. There are relatively few rules involved with creating a Drop Cap, we can really do whatever we want. Our only restriction is that of common sense. So I have several different treatments for drop or initial caps, and I'm now going to come to my Layers panel where I will turn on the beginning layer and here we have the starting state, and I am just going to run through how I created these.
So to start with a basic three line Drop Cap. I'll insert my cursor in the text, make sure I am in the Paragraph Formats and enter in the number of lines that I want the character to sink into the paragraph, 3 right there. Now I can also come and change the number of characters. I don't need to in this instance, and rarely do I need to, but I could if I wanted, may be put in 5 right there, and it'd have that effect. Next up, the same approach to begin with a three line one character Drop Cap, but then I am going to select that character, and I am going to increase its point size, which incidentally you'll notice is the same size as the body copy, it doesn't actually give you its true scaled up size.
I am going to press Command+Shift, or Ctrl+Shift, and the More Than key to increase the size of that first character. Now in addition to applying a Drop Cap to the first paragraph, you'll see that both of these instances also have small caps applied to the few words that follow, and this is a common convention just to ease the transition between the big first character and the upper and lowercase of the body text. So I can select these characters here.
I could come and click on small caps right there, but instead I have a character style already prepared, I am just going to click on that. One other change I might want to make, in this particular instance, is I have now opened up quite a big amount of space between the T and the characters that follow, and I'd like to reduce that amount of space. So I am going to insert my cursor between the T and the H and then press Option+Left Arrow, or Alt+Left Arrow, to kern that space tighter.
And you can see that it's very gradually moving those words closer to the T. If I wanted to go in larger increments, I could also hold-down the Command key, or the Ctrl key. The third example is a simple initial cap or stickup cap, it's not a Drop Cap at all, this just involves highlights in the character and making it bigger, nothing more to it than that, also applying small caps optionally to the few words that follow. Note how the leftmost edge of the T is sticking out beyond the left edge of the text frame, and that is because we have Optical Margin Alignment turned on, which I think is a very useful thing in general.
But especially when working with drop caps if I were to turn that off, watch the position of this T. You'll see that it's now confined within the bounds of the text frame. And I think it's preferable to create a strong vertical alignment along the vertical stem of the T so that's the purpose of Optical Margin Alignment. Another common treatment is to begin with a large indent, which involves combining, in this case, an initial cap. So I am just going to increase the point size there and then adding in quite a large First Line Indent, let's say something like that, and then once again we have got the first few characters in small caps.
Now we come to some slightly more tricky examples, and this example right here. I am just going to turn off the Guides for a second. We can see that the initial cap is hanging out into the margin and is actually separated from the text frame and placed in an independent text frame, which is in turn anchored to the main text frame so that should that main text frame move, this will move with it. So how do we do that, we need to highlight the first character, cut it. Click-and-drag to make a separate text frame, paste it in there, change whatever formats about it we want to change.
In this case we are working with a contrasting Sans-serif font, so I will quickly change it to Myriad Pro, and I am going to make it Condensed. Now I want to fit my frame to my content, actually before I do that I am just going to make the content a little bit bigger. Command+Shift+More than, then I am going to fit the frame to the content, that is Command+Option+C, or Ctrl+Alt+C. So now I have the frame tightly fit around that first character.
I can position it wherever I want it to go, and I'd like it to go right there, three lines down, and then I am going to hold Command+Shift and scale that up, scaling it proportionally, however big I want it to be, I'll make it a little bigger this time, and I can nudge it over into position. And if I wanted to I could, in this case, I am going to select the Formatting Effects Text icon right there, I already have a Tint Swatch that I can apply to it to make it a little less overwhelming in the context of the body text.
Now the only problem with things as they stand is that should I move this, it's not going to move the Drop Cap with it, so I am going to select that Drop Cap, and in InDesign CS5.5 and above you will have this solid rectangle, that is in the color of whatever color layer you are on. You can just drag this to whatever point you want to anchor it in the text. Incidentally its color changes in this particular context, because I'm anchoring it in a text frame that is on a blue coded layer. Were you to be doing this in InDesign CS5 or earlier then you need a slightly different approach, for which we start in the same way.
Cut the character, paste it into its own separate text frame, make it bigger, horizontally center it, Command+Shift+C, Command+B, or Ctrl+B, to go to my Text Frame Options, vertically center it. And then I am going to come to my Swatches panel where I'll make its color paper, it now disappears. But then I can switch back to my Selection tool, I have the frame selected, and I can make the frame gray. I can then resize the frame as necessary, giving a tight fit around the character to resize both Command+Shift and click-and-drag.
And now I can just put that wherever I want it to go, I want it to be three lines high. Good idea to get it nice and big, so you can see exactly what you are scaling to. Now normally I would cut-and-paste this as an anchored object. I'm not going to do that in this context because anchored objects behave strangely when combined with text wraps. If you want to combine an anchored object with a Text Wrap, this item would need to go in the paragraph above this paragraph. There is no paragraph above.
So for that reason I am not going to anchor this. But I will come to Text Wrap and then click on Wrap around bounding box and increase that offset as necessary. I want to make sure that I avoid this kind of problem here. I am going to break the link on the Text Wrap offset, and then I'm going to remove the offset from the bottom so that we bring that fourth line underneath the text. Now I said I would show you how to create an anchored object in CS5.5 or earlier and here it's how.
I'll just backwards engineer this one, I am going to cut that from there, paste it so that it's now an independent non-anchored frame. And then to anchor it rather than dragging from this solid rectangle, which you won't have, I am going to cut it, Command+X, or Ctrl+X and set my cursor where I'd like it to be anchored to, paste it, come and select it, Anchored Object > Options, make it into a Custom object, and there. So as long as we don't have Prevent Manual Positioning turned on, we can now come and just position it wherever we want it to go, except that it won't let me drag it up.
And I have got a feeling that has something to do with this one, Keep within Top/Bottom Column Boundaries, let's turn that one off. And we now see it's disappeared all the way up there, and we can drag it back down in position, and finally get it where we want it to go. All right, now that seems like a lot of work, didn't it? And sometimes these anchored objects can be a lot of work, so once you have invested the time in creating one, save it as an Object Style, thereafter you'll just be able to apply the Object Style to this separate frame, and it will remember all of these settings, so you don't need to go through that again.
But obviously you can see there that the anchored objects have been much improved in later versions of InDesign. So I do have two more examples to show you. Let me just show you this other instance first of all in the separate document. And all I'm pointing out here is that sometimes these drop caps can be really, really big. You can make them as big as you want, and if you look at some magazine layouts, you'll even find drop caps that take up virtually the whole page, and sometimes this can be a very beautiful thing, if you're working with a graceful character.
Back now to this, the last instance that I'm going to do and what we have here is a contoured Drop Cap where the text is actually wrapping around the shape of the initial character. So as with before I am going to cut that, I am going to paste it into a frame. I am going to size it up a bit, and then I am going to fit the frame to the content, I am going to drag it into position, all this stuff that you have already seen me do. This time we want to go four lines in.
I am going to scale it up, position it, and I'm deliberately letting it hang out beyond the left-hand edge of the frame. And then at this point I am going to add a Text Wrap to it, but I am going to choose Wrap around object shape. So then, and it's where it gets interesting. I now choose my Direct Selection tool, and I hold the Text Wrap offset line in so that the text actually sculpts around the shape of the Drop Cap.
That needs a bit more finessing, but you get the idea. So, there we have several different approaches to working with drop caps and initial caps.
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