Join Ina Saltz for an in-depth discussion in this video Paragraphs, drop caps, and entry points, part of Foundations of Typography.
Inviting the reader into your text is a good thing. Think about the ways you invite people into your home. You can just leave your door open and hope they'll come in, or you can throw open the door, reach out and grab them, you're all welcome and give them a big hug. Magazines are a great place to look for ideas for welcoming the reader into the text. Drop caps and opening paragraphs are opportunities to capture the reader's attention and to motivate the reader to invest more time and attention in your project.
I want to show you some interesting variations on introductory paragraphs and drop caps, those big initials that start a story or a paragraph. As you look at these examples think about where the drop cap is sitting in relation to the opening text. A big drop cap is not only the introduction to the text, it's a great visual element that can add to the dynamic quality of your design. Here the drop cap T is sitting entirely outside the text. The introductory paragraph is in a larger type size, and it encloses the continuing narrative.
In this example, next to the giant S, note that the opening line is italicized in magenta which emphasizes the invitation into the text. In this example the entire word serves as a single drop. Again, the intro paragraph is set off, this time in caps from the rest of the text. Here is another example where the opening drop cap serves as an image. Note the intro paragraph with its bold first line and larger size and a secondary larger drop cap with a bold lead-in.
Here the text is nicely wrapped around part of the drop cap O. the latter partly sticks out of the side and the top of the text block. You can create an extra visual interest by taking the entire first paragraph or a part of it and bumping up the point size and the leading to draw the reader in as in this example. The larger point size makes it easier and therefore more inviting to read. Just remember that everything is relative, so as you're deciding how to scale your elements, make sure that everything is balancing well within your page or on your screen.
To get the reader interested, I encourage you to try some of these simple methods for creating introductory paragraphs and drop caps. It's easy to be a good design host by inviting the reader in. Think of it as offering the reader a tasty cocktail to entice them to hang out at your party. It's a good thing.
- What is typography?
- Differentiating type characteristics
- Using ornamental and decorative type
- Combining typefaces
- Using contrast and scale
- Kerning and kerning pairs
- Choosing the optimum line length
- Aligning and spacing characters, words, and paragraphs
- Understanding factors affecting legibility
- Working with three-dimensional type
- Putting type in motion