Section 35. Setting Up Drop Caps and Nested Styles

#35. Setting Up Drop Caps and Nested Styles

Look at the first paragraph of a story in just about any magazine. Usually, at least the first letter is enlarged and embellished in some way to pull your eyes into the paragraph. In graphic design, this is referred to as a drop cap. In addition to the drop cap, the first few words or the first line might look different, with all caps or small caps a common choice, although a font switch is becoming more common. InDesign refers to this as a nested style.

Although they appear to be applied to specific characters, both drop caps and nested styles are paragraph formats. The benefit of this is that you can use a paragraph style to apply both formats with a single clickand the formats are not dependent on any specific text. You can edit text and even delete the first character of a paragraph, and the drop cap remains, for example. The nested style formatting might be set up to change the font of the first four words or to the end of the first sentence. Again, changing the text will not remove the nested style formatting.

Creating Drop Caps

To create a drop cap:


Click in a paragraph with the Type tool to select it.


In the Paragraph palette (Type menu) or the Paragraph panel in the Control palette (Figure 35a), locate the Drop Cap Number of Lines and Drop Cap One or More Characters fields.

Figure 35a. The Paragraph panel in the Control palette provides control over how many characters are treated as drop caps and how deep they drop into the paragraph.


In the Drop Cap Number of Lines field, enter the number of lines you want the drop caps to drop into. For example, if you enter 3, the drop caps become large enough to drop down into the first three lines of the paragraph.


In the Drop Cap One or More Characters field, enter how many characters you want to become drop caps. Generally, you will only see one-character drop caps, but sometimes the number is adjusted based on the context. For example, it might be modified so the entire first word of a paragraph becomes the drop cap (and therefore you have to set the value for each paragraph). Or, if you usually use one drop cap but the first character in a paragraph is an open quotation mark, you might adjust that paragraph to have a two-character drop cap.

Using Paragraph Styles

For quick and consistent application of drop caps and nested styles, save the settings in a paragraph style. Be sure to create any character styles you will need first (for additional drop cap formatting or for the nested style formatting). In the Paragraph Style Options dialog box, use the Drop Caps and Nested Style panel to set up how the first few characters and/or lines of the paragraph should look. See #29 for more information about paragraph styles.

Once you have created drop caps for a paragraph, you can still highlight those characters and apply character attributes or a character style. It's pretty common to see a font or color change in a drop cap.

Creating Nested Styles

In addition to creating drop caps manually, you can create them through the Drop Caps and Nested Styles dialog box (Figure 35b). This not only lets you specify how many characters should drop and how many lines, but you can automatically apply a character style as well. In addition, you can apply a character style to the beginning of the paragraph, for example, to change the first line or first sentence to all caps.

Figure 35b. The Drop Caps and Nested Styles dialog box lets you easily apply formatting to the beginning of paragraphs, including drop caps and style switches such as small caps or bold.

To set up this formatting, create any character styles you will need for the drop cap and for the nested style. Then click in the paragraph and choose Drop Caps and Nested Styles from the menu in the Paragraph panel in the Control palette or the Paragraph palette.

  • Drop Caps area: Set up the drop cap in the Lines and Characters fields. To apply additional formatting to the drop caps through a character style, choose it from the Character Style menu.

  • Nested Styles area: To specify formatting for the beginning of the paragraph, click New Nested Style at the bottom of the dialog box. Select the character style for the text first, and then use the next three fields to specify how much text to apply it to. For example, you might apply a bold font to the first three words in a paragraph. Or, you might apply a different color up to an em space. You can create more than one nested style for a paragraph, which is helpful for formatting single-line paragraphs in a table of contents, for example.

Note that you do not have to use both drop caps and nested styles: The dialog box lets you set up one or the other or both.

Adobe InDesign CS2 How-Tos(c) 100 Essential Techniques
Adobe InDesign CS2 How-Tos: 100 Essential Techniques
ISBN: 0321321901
EAN: 2147483647
Year: N/A
Pages: 142

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