Using Drop Caps

Word can easily create large initial capitals, more commonly known as drop caps, that give your documents a distinct, magazine-style appearance. Drop caps work well in newsletters, particularly those formatted with columns.

Figure 16.2 shows an example of a drop cap: One letter has been "dropped into" a paragraph, and the first lines of text in the paragraph have been pushed to the right.

Figure 16.2. A drop cap adds visual spice to a page.


Follow these steps to add a drop cap to any paragraph:

  1. Highlight the letter(s) or word(s) you want to convert to a drop cap.

  2. Choose Format, Drop Cap. The Drop Cap dialog box appears (see Figure 16.3).

    Figure 16.3. Working in the Drop Cap dialog box.


  3. Use the visuals this dialog box provides to select the position in which you want your drop cap to appear. Click either Dropped or In Margin.

  4. If you want, select a different font for the drop cap by clicking the arrow next to the Font text box.

  5. To change the size of the drop cap, enter a new value in the Lines to Drop text box.

  6. To alter the amount of space between the drop cap and the surrounding text, enter a new value in the Distance from Text box.

  7. Click OK to see the result.

Word makes your drop cap by putting your selected text into a frame. To alter your options and get a different look, click the frame with the drop cap and select Format, Drop Cap again. To remove a drop cap, click the frame, select Format, Drop Cap, and choose None.

Drop caps are one of the few remaining Word features that use old-fashioned Word frames rather than text boxes. To format a frame, select it and choose Format, Frame. The Frame dialog box appears (see Figure 16.4).

Figure 16.4. Formatting the frame surrounding a drop cap.


Here you can specify the following settings for the drop caps frame:

  • Whether text wraps around the frame

  • Horizontal and vertical positioning

  • Width and height of the frame (not the letter itself)

  • Whether the frame moves with text or locks (anchors) in place

You can also add borders or shading to a frame by right-clicking on it and choosing Borders and Shading from the shortcut menu. Borders and shading are covered in detail in Chapter 4.


A classic designer's trick is to pick a font for the drop cap that's from a different typeface than the one used for the body of the paragraph. For example, if your paragraph is in a serif font such as Times New Roman, use a sans-serif font such as Arial for your drop cap.

    Part I: Word Basics: Get Productive Fast
    Part II: Building Slicker Documents Faster
    Part III: The Visual Word: Making Documents Look Great
    Part IV: Industrial-Strength Document Production Techniques
    Part VI: The Corporate Word