Using Two Characters as a Drop Cap

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated April 11, 2024)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


3

Jenny is an editor and often runs into authors who want to use the drop cap feature. However, many of their beginning paragraphs start with dialogue that includes a leading quote mark. Jenny wonders if Word allows drop capping two characters—both the beginning quotation mark and the first letter of text.

The drop-cap capability of Word can be handy, but it is also a bit quirky. Most people create a drop cap by following these steps:

  1. Place the insertion point into the paragraph you want to have the drop cap.
  2. Display the Insert tab of the ribbon.
  3. In the Text group, click the Add a Drop-Cap tool. Word displays different ways you can format the drop cap.
  4. Select the drop-cap format you want or use the last option (Drop Cap Options) to specify size and positioning.
  5. Word converts the first character of the paragraph into your drop cap.

Word actually creates the drop cap by effectively inserting a text box at the beginning of the paragraph an inserting into it the first character at an enlarged font size. (This box isn't really a text box, as it doesn't fully behave like one. That is fodder for a different tip, however.)

This leads to the first way to handle Jenny's dilemma—once the drop cap is created, you can place the insertion point within the box, just to the left of the dropped cap. Type the leading quotation mark, and the width of the box increases to display both characters as drop caps. You can even format the added quote mark if you find it too big or not looking "just right."

You'll get better results with this approach if, before following the above steps to insert the drop cap, you delete the leading quote mark. If you don't, Word assumes you want just the quote mark as your drop cap, and it formats it using a ridiculously large font. It is better to delete the quote mark, insert the drop cap, and then add the leading quote mark back in.

Remember that I said the drop-cap capability of Word can be a bit quirky? Well, let me explain. You can, if you desire, follow these steps to insert your drop caps:

  1. Select the first two or three characters of the paragraph you want to use a drop cap.
  2. Display the Insert tab of the ribbon.
  3. In the Text group, click the Add a Drop-Cap tool. Word displays different ways you can format the drop cap.
  4. Select the drop-cap format you want or use the last option (Drop Cap Options) to specify size and positioning.
  5. Word converts the characters you selected into your drop cap.

Notice that the only difference between the two approaches is step 1. In this case, you select the characters before inserting a drop cap, and Word converts those selected characters into your drop cap. Cool, right?

Here's the quirky part, though—if the first character of your selection is a punctuation mark (such as a quote mark), then Word ignores what you selected and behaves as if you only selected the quote mark, converting just that one character into a drop cap. In other words, you won't get satisfactory (or expected) results. This "select multiple characters first" approach works only if the characters you select are letters or numbers. If a punctuation mark or space exists anywhere within the selection, all bets are off as to what is actually converted to a drop cap.

Thus, for Jenny's needs of having a leading quote mark as part of the drop cap, it is best to apply the technique described at the beginning of this tip.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (8274) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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What is 4 - 1?

2020-09-27 08:19:47

SpyrosGeorge

Hi Allen,
you say: «Here's the quirky part, though—if the first character of your selection is a punctuation mark (such as a quote mark), then Word ignores what you selected and behaves as if you only selected the quote mark, converting just that one character into a drop cap. In other words, you won't get satisfactory (or expected) results. This "select multiple characters first" approach works only if the characters you select are letters or numbers. If a punctuation mark or space exists anywhere within the selection, all bets are off as to what is actually converted to a drop cap».

Generally speaking, above statement is correct, but if someone insists on this latter method there is a workaround: use 'Modifier Letter Double Prime, character code 02BA', instead of quotation mark. It's almost the same glyph. No one would notice the difference [{fig.}].
Regards
SpyrosGeorge


2020-09-26 11:58:14

Allen

Andrew,

Note my paragraph that begins with "You'll get better results with this approach...". Do yourself a favor and delete the opening quote mark, make the drop cap, and then put the quote mark back in. That is the best way to avoid the problem you experienced.

-Allen


2020-09-26 11:14:20

Andrew Brooks

Thanks for the tip - but how can you reduce the crazy size of the quotation mark? If I select it and reduce the point size, the quotation mark appears lower and lower down the smaller the point size gets. (I understand that this happens because Word is using the same baseline for the quotation mark as for the first letter.) How do I reduce the size of the quotation mark without this happening?


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