How to Apply an Initial Drop Cap in InDesign

When starting a new paragraph in Adobe InDesign CC, you can create a drop cap using the drop cap tool to emphasize the first letter, increasing the number of lines it takes up. Here's how to get started.

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The type tool.
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Make sure to have a text box and some text to work with before continuing.

Click where you want the drop cap.
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Usually, this is the first paragraph of a chapter or section. However, depending on the project, you might want to use a drop cap more frequently.

Select either the paragraph or control panel.
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Both options have a field for entering the number of lines the letter will take up, so which you choose is up to personal preference.

Enter the number of lines for your drop cap.
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The letter takes up the number of lines that you specify, including the line it's on now.

Once you do, the first letter drops and you're all set.

A completed drop cap
credit: Image courtesy of Adobe

Tips, Tricks, and Troubleshooting

  1. Make sure to enter a number greater than 1 for the number of lines. If you enter 1, it won't drop. Don't worry, it's not broken. It's just taking up only one line. Always use at least two lines to avoid this.
  2. Formatting makes a difference.
  3. Sometimes separate paragraphs blend together, either because of the length of the last line of one or a lack of indentation in the next. If this happens, the drop cap will appear in the wrong paragraph. To fix this, just reset the number of lines to 0 or 1 and click in the right paragraph.

    1. Don't be afraid to play with settings.

    As you get more comfortable with InDesign, or if you find yourself using a lot of drop caps, you can add keyboard shortcuts to help you change the drop caps faster. Go to "Edit" and then "Keyboard Shortcuts." Then, select "Panel Menus" for product options and scroll all the way down to "Paragraph: Drop Caps and Nesting Styles." You can then set whatever keys you want to bring up the Drop Cap tool.

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