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Drop caps offer a dramatic way to format the beginning of a text document. They're commonly used in books, magazine, articles, and other long documents. A drop cap is one or more characters at the beginning of a paragraph that are enlarged and sat beside the text or within the text. You could set the size of the character by indicating the number of lines they should be dropped. You can also specify whether they should appear with the text wrapped around them, which is the most common way to do it, or in the margin. Now if you only want one character dropped, all you need to do is position the insertion point anywhere in the paragraph that you want to put the drop cap.
So I want it in this first paragraph and I'll just click anywhere in there. Then choose Format > Drop Cap. The Drop Cap dialog offers a few options. First, you want to choose whether you want the letter dropped within the text or out in the margin. I want it dropped within the text so we'll try that way first. Next, under Options you want to choose the font, the number of lines and the fistance from the text. The font, you can use any font that's installed on your system, but you don't have to change it.
You can leave it the same. You can also specify the number of lines to drop, which will determine the size of the letter, and the distance from text will give it spacing between the text. We'll try this first one with the default settings. So I'm not going to change anything in there. I'll just click OK. What happens here is that Word takes that first character, makes it large enough to line up with three lines of text, and it places it in a text frame. The frame is then positioned according to whether it should be dropped within the text or in the margin.
The frame box doesn't print. In fact, if you click somewhere else in the document, it just disappears. I need to point out that drop caps only appear in Print Layout View. If you go to Draft View, the character appears in its own line like that. You need to be in Print Layout View to actually see it as a dropped cap. Now let's see what this looks like in the margin. So I'll go back up to Format. I'll choose Drop Cap. This time we'll pick In margin and we'll click OK. You see it shifts it out here into the margin.
Now you can also set up a drop cap with multiple characters. I'm going to undo this twice by pressing Command+Z twice. That takes us back to the way we originally were. This time what we're going to do is select that first word, the word In, pull down the Format menu, pick Drop Cap, and then we'll set some options for it. I'll make it a regular drop cap and we'll change the font. We'll use Calibri for this instead. We'll make it only two lines instead of three and we'll add the distance from text.
We'll make it .1. So it's .1 inches and then I'll click OK. What that's done is it's changed the font. It's only two lines tall now. Let me click elsewhere, so you don't get distracted by that frame box. It's also added some additional space here. Now if you set a drop cap and you change your mind later on, you can always remove it. Just choose Format > Drop Cap and then choose the None option here. When you click OK, it disappears.
Drop caps can add an interesting formatting element within your documents. Although there's nothing to stop you from using drop caps in every single paragraph, I don't recommend it. Instead, use this feature sparingly, perhaps in the beginning of your great american novel.
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