How To Make A Drop Cap In Indesign

Adding a drop cap to your layout can help you become more professional, and is an interesting way to add a creative flair. Whether you are using InDesign to create magazines, books, or even posters, this skill can help you stand out. But how can you use it to your advantage and really create interesting typographic layouts?

When trying to add a drop cap to InDesign, you will be happy to know that there is a built-in tool that can help you accomplish your goal. However, there are ways to add to this feature and truly make any design choice stand out with stylistic additions.

If you want to learn how to make a simple drop cap, or are looking to enhance it further, you are in the right place! In this article we will look at making simple drop caps, how to make them stand out, and even using other elements, such as scale and graphics, to create drop caps that give you an edge over your design competition. Let’s get into it!

Creating A Simple Drop Cap

Simply stated, a drop cap is a design element that applies to the first letter of a paragraph or text, and can be a classic way to draw attention to the page. You can use the built-in drop cap feature on InDesign to create this effect. Here’s how it works.

  1. Open up an InDesign document, and create a new text frame with the Type Tool.
  2. Fill up the text frame with the paragraph you want to edit. 
  3. Highlight the first letter, and then find the Paragraph Formatting Tools panel.
  4. From here, select the Drop Cap option, and select the number of lines.
  5. You can also select to apply the effect onto more characters by choosing the values under the ‘Drop Cap One or More Characters’ option. 

Now, you can leave your drop cap like this, or you can carry out a few smaller tweaks to your drop cap to make it look much nicer. Here’s a video explaining this process:

Tweaking Your Drop Cap In InDesign

If you want to create a drop cap that looks more pleasing to the eye, there are a few more tweaks that you can make to make this happen. Here are some ways to do this by adjusting the alignment of the text, so you have a cleaner look for your design. Let’s take a look at each one.

Optical Alignment

The first way to make your drop cap look much cleaner is to adjust the optical alignment. This is a great way to make the whole paragraph much more pleasing to look at, as it takes away the technical spacing to make it look a lot more aesthetically forgiving. Here’s how to do this: 

  1. Navigate to the Window tab, and then choose the option Type & Tables.
  2. From here, select the option Story.
  3. You can now check the Optical Margin Alignment tool to toggle it on. 

Adjust The Kerning

Kerning is another way to make text look much cleaner, as it adjusts the spacing for characters within a text box. This is a great way to rectify the situation if you feel like the text is crowding the letter and that there isn’t a clean separation. 

You may feel like this is especially the case when you use letters with extending bodies, such as an R. 

To adjust the kerning, you will need to follow these steps:

  1. Place your cursor at the end of the drop cap letter and before the body text.
  2. Then, choose the Window tab, and navigate to the Type and Tables option.
  3. From here, enter the Character tab to adjust the character formatting.
  4. You will be able to adjust the kerning value under this tab.
  5. If you increase the kerning, there will be greater separation from the body text.

Shift The Baseline

Another way to make the drop cap stand out is to move the body text so that it frames the bottom of the drop cap. These are the steps you need to follow for this:

  1. Select the drop cap letter or letters.
  2. Now, in the same character formatting table above, focus on the Baseline shift.
  3. If you increase the value, the body text will move further away from the drop cap.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it! With just a few tweaks! You can create a fantastic and outstanding character that drops over the rest of your paragraph. You can also edit and adjust the paragraph and text box to make this even more enjoyable!