Random:Name of big characters at beginning of paragraphs

jdat's picture

I feel like an idiot asking this

what is the name for when a large character is used at the beginning of a paragraph.

I don't know the name nor do I know how to do this in any page layout software ... which is why I'm trying to find out the name.

Cheers people :)

attached is my crude creation of what I'm talking about.

AttachmentSize
lorem-ipsum.jpg101.31 KB
ralf h.'s picture

Initials.

Spire's picture

They're called drop caps.

jdat's picture

thanks for the speedy reply people

Don McCahill's picture

Initial cap if they are on the first baseline, drop caps if set into the following lines like the sample. Someone will correct me if I am wrong, but I believe a dropped cap is a subset of Initial caps, and raised initial is a more accurate subset of the other flavour.

(Is there a term for the third option, where the type hangs into the left margin -- Hanging Initial?)

emenninga's picture

Hanging initial sounds good to me. I call the example posted "drop caps" and that is how InDesign refers to it. I would use the term "raised cap" for a large initial letter that is on the baseline (e.g. Harper's Magazine).
We also start talking about "contoured drop cap" to refer to a more fitted look that you might get on the right with some dropped characters (A, V, W). There is also the dropcap that has the first line snug, but the rest knocked out as a block. Don't have a good name for that one. National Geographic Magazine has many interesting examples of all of these.

will powers's picture

>>> (Is there a term for the third option, where the type hangs into the left margin — Hanging Initial?)

Yes. There is indeed a term for a drop cap or a stick-up initial that hangs into the left margin.

This is called GOOD TYPOGRAPHY.

And it is not done as often as it should be. When that large cap is C G J O T V W or Y, you will want to hang it into the margin. How much depends on your overall design, and the types you are using, and your own eye. Even such seriffed caps as E and others with strong vertical strokes may want to be hung out so the edge of the left side of the type block continues up with the vertical, and the serifs are hanging.

As for those "contoured drop caps", that also is not done as often as it should be. Too many large initial cap L or A are too far from the following sorts. Snug 'em up; make some nice-looking type.

I do not know why these things are not done more. Laziness? Not knowing how to do it? Or, hell, maybe it just an aesthetic different than mine.

powers

kentlew's picture

Will --

Not to undermine your perfectly justified rant, but I think Don was referring to those large initials that are obviously and fully hung out into the left margin, completely beyond the text block (usually dropped).

-- K.

Don McCahill's picture

What Kent said. And I agree with Will that certain characters need to kern into the margin. I just wouldn't want those to be called hanging initials.

dezcom's picture

Is there a way to get the dropcap to automatically set its left sidebearing to zero in InD?

ChrisL

kentlew's picture

Using the Type > Story > Optical Margin Alignment will do it, but only if you want optical margin alignment for the entire text. And even then, it doesn't really hang much (depending upon the character), but it'll pull back to zero in most cases.

When optically adjusting the left alignment of a drop cap, I rely on a trick I developed way back in my early days working in Quark:

Instead of setting the Drop Cap parameters on your paragraph to 1 char, set it to 2 char. Then insert a space as the first character of the paragraph. Now you've got something you can kern against. Place the cursor in-between the space and the first letter (your drop cap) and negative-kern away until it hangs out into the left margin just the way you want.

It's a bit of a kludgy, manual operation; but it allows you to get nice, optically aligned drop caps that travel within the text box with your paragraph and will continue to adjust with leading changes, etc. Better than a separate text box with runaround on it for the drop cap and manually sizing and aligning. I also found this trick easier to implement than an anchored box.

Maybe someone knows a better way these days.

-- K.

will powers's picture

Kent:

That's great. I am curious about how you discovered that trick. I came across the same kludge maybe around 1990, and have relied on it ever since [I'm still a Quark guy]. I always set an en space in front of the drop.

It should be pointed out, though, that the part of the sort that falls outside the text box will not show on screen. It prints correctly, but it scares the bejabbers out of others who might look at your Quark file. At least that's always been my experience.

I also use this to hang open quotes when I'm designing a jacket or cover and have to set the blurbs. This way you need not make any other calculations about your text box width and hanging indents, etc.

I have gotten so used to doing this that it is second nature, and no longer seems awkward.

A few years ago I showed this to my typography class, and I called it the "$50 type trick." One student, a career changer about my age, somehow managed to win 50 bucks off his graphic designer son and a bunch of his designer pals, all of whom thought they were hot shots with the fancy type stuff. None of them could follow it.

I'm glad you know this, and I'd be curious to know if others use this.

powers

dezcom's picture

I was hoping there was something in the software akin to hanging punctuation but with your method, Kent, I can still make a style sheet that worked that way and avoid the reflow issues when the inevitable changes came.

ChrisL

kentlew's picture

Will -- I suppose I adopted this technique about the same time as you. I think I started working in Quark around 1989 (Ready Set Go before that). I imagine I would have developed this trick within about a year or so.

How? I don't know; I had a problem to solve and I just worked out as elegant a solution as I could muster.

BTW, in InDesign, text rasterizes completely even when it extends beyond the text frame. That makes this trick easier to manage in InD than Quark. I'm not sure why you set an en space. Shouldn't matter one way or another, except that an en is usually wider than most word spaces, so you just have to kern back further.

Chris -- For a while I was thinking you could go one step further and automate most of this trick with InD's nested styles. You could define one char style for the drop cap and define a secondary char style ("drop space") for the initial space, building in a large negative tracking value to accomplish the kerning (a work-around, since you can't define kerning values in a stylesheet). A single average value would allow you to get all straight-sided caps just right; others would need additional hand-tuning.

Unfortunately, it turns out that InD only lets you assign a single char style to the whole drop cap definition. Any nested styles read past the drop cap and pick up after. You can't get the nested style definitions to affect part of the drop cap. I guess drop cap definitions supercede the nested styles.

Oh well. It was a good idea and a valiant attempt.

-- K.

dezcom's picture

"You can’t get the nested style definitions to affect part of the drop cap."
I was hoping Adobe would make a dropcap style the allowed negative tracking to the left margin by reading the left sidebearing from the font for that glyph and scaling the value down proportionately.

ChrisL

will powers's picture

Just after I made that post about the $50 type trick, I started working on a new book design, using Quark 7. I wanted to hang opening quotes in the first line in the book, so I dropped in the en space and kerned the quotes back to the left.

LO & BEHOLD! I could see the quote marks floating there outside the text box! Finally.

This shows what happens when a book designer becomes a production manager. He or she has less opportunity to do the really pleasurable part of the job: book design. I now "manage" design more than I do it, and this may be the first time I had the opportunity to apply that trick in Quark 7.

As for the en space: It just seemed better to me to apply a fixed-width space than a justifying word space. It may have made no difference, but it is a habit I got into.

powers

charles ellertson's picture

We use the same trick to optically align Drop Caps or hang quotes using InDesign, but rather than a using a justifying word space or an en space to kern against, we use a 0-width space (U+200B). I admit I don't know if the zero width space is in InDesign as a default; I always add 2002 through 200B to a font. You have to go to the General Punctuation region anyway, to make up 2032 (prime/minute/foot), so why not add the extra spacing? The things the foundries forget . . .

As I remember, you can't easily kern more than 1,000 with InDesign, why give up whatever the amount for some other space?

kentlew's picture

I don't think a justifying word space makes any difference in this case. Nowadays in InDesign I usually just use a thin space, because I can enter it easily from the keyboard (shift-option-command-m) and it's less kerning than a word space.

-- K.

emenninga's picture

In InDesign CS3 we added some functionality to improve the placement of dropcaps. In the dropcap & nested style panel there are 2 new checkboxes:
Align Left Edge which adjusts the left edge of the dropcap based on the ink instead of the pen position. So, characters with positive or negative left side bearings are affected. There is a subjective element, I know, but our algorithm places the dropcap's left-most ink at the same position horizontally as that character's ink would be at the body text size. So the cap-J would hang outside the box slightly and the sans-serif H would be indented a tiny amount, but nothing like the original just-scaled version.
Scale for Descenders if the dropcap extends below the baseline (cap-J sometimes, dropped words) then we can scale the dropcap smaller to place the bottom of the ink at the position the same text would be below the baseline in body size. Some designers would prefer to drop more lines to keep the dropcap the same size, and some designers wanted the number of lines to remain constant -- we only implemented the latter.
In the Japanese version we added some additional controls to control the dropcap's relationship to an underlying character grid.
Hopefully, less manual work would be required.

dezcom's picture

Thanks Eric! I will have to take a closer look at my CS3 InD and give that a try. I guess I may be guilty of assumption that aspects of CS3 work as they did in CS2. I don't recal hearing about this feature before though. It seems only the flashy stuff gets press and the truly useful stuff goes unnoticed.

ChrisL

emenninga's picture

Exactly. There are features we call "bullet on the box" which are big & flashy enough to captivate audiences, press, etc. And there's a bunch of smaller stuff that might be more useful to the average user, but is much harder to evangelize. It is also harder for an audience to remember a bunch of little things.

dezcom's picture

Is there a pdf cheat-sheet possible with these seemingly "not important to marketing VIPs" but very valuable to the real user folks who actually use InD to make a living 12 hours a day? Tell the folks who decide on what is “bullet on the box” that their real customers are interested in features that speed up their work instead of whizzbangs.

ChrisL

Dan Gayle's picture

I second the request!

emenninga's picture

I've asked our marketing people about such a list and I think I will have something Monday... hopefully.

dezcom's picture

YOU DA MAN!!!!!

Thanks, Eric!

ChrisL

emenninga's picture

Sorry, I totally lost this post. I have located the list of most every change that was in InDesign CS3 -- a 4 page pdf at CS3 Feature List. Of course, it isn't very detailed. For example, the dropcap side-bearing & descender changes that I described are in the list as "drop cap improvements". Oh well, it is a 4 page list.

dezcom's picture

Thanks Eric!

ChrisL

Syndicate content Syndicate content