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A drop cap is the first letter of a paragraph that’s of a much bigger size than the rest that follow. The letter formatting is such that the letter “˜drops down’ to cover the few lines following the first one. Drop caps have been extensively used, from the early days of printing to the advent of web publishing.

The thumbnail alongside is from a piece of text that’s more than 550 years old. Today, drop caps are well entrenched in desktop publishing and web design. Cascading Style Sheets is the way with HTML. WordPress even has a plug-in for drop caps.

Drop caps should be sparingly used. It is best used just once where the text starts. The attractiveness of drop caps is such that even a single use calls out attention to the text that follows. A bit of care with that first letter and you may just find readability improving.

The style of a drop cap varies with the document. A professional document does well with a minimalistic styled drop cap using cleaner fonts. A more casual document and you can let your creative juices flow with your choice of formatting.

This post is about creating drop caps in MS Word. There are a few creative ways you can format or embed drop caps in MS Word to enhance the text. And they are all drop dead easy.

Add A Text Drop Cap In A Word Document

MS Word 2007 comes with a Drop Cap button that makes inserting a drop a 2 click process.


Click anywhere on the paragraph or block of text which you want to begin with the drop cap. On the Ribbon, select the Insert Tab. From the Text group, click on Drop Cap and you will get three options to choose from.

For Dropped and In Margin, the drop cap “˜drops’ by three lines as a default.

The default drop of three lines can be changed by clicking on Drop Cap Options and entering new figures. You can also tweak the Distance from text that adjoins it. The first letter that turns into a drop cap is positioned within a text box.

You can use any of the text formatting features to change the look. For example, you can change the color, size, or add a text effect.

You can also use more than one letter for your drop cap. Place your cursor beside the drop cap letter and type the next letters. But that doesn’t look so good.

Add A Stylish Font As A Drop Cap In A Word Document

Drop caps can be visually enhanced by using elegant fonts. For instance, Vivaldi or Old English Text, both should be on your system’s list of installed fonts.

You can also check out capital fonts from sites which allow downloads of free fonts. Check out 5 Excellent Sources To Download Free Text Fonts 5 Excellent Sources To Download Free Text Fonts 5 Excellent Sources To Download Free Text Fonts Read More .

Or Google for drop cap fonts. Some sites keep a small selection of drop cap fonts in their lineup. I found a few at and

Add An Image As A Drop Cap In A Word Document

Small image files can also be embedded as drop caps. They are visually more striking than text drop caps because they bring a more intricate and colorful look. You can make your own graphic file or use the ones that are readily available with Microsoft.

Office Online has a good collection of letter cliparts. You can go straight from the Clip Art panel by clicking on the Organize Clips link. You can search the Clip Art gallery with keywords like letters or alphabets. For instance, type in “˜W’ when you are searching the letter W. Most of the single letter clip arts are located under Symbols in the Clip Art and Media Categories.

Drag the chosen clip art from the Clip Organizer to the drop cap location in your document. Drag the corner handles to resize the letter around the surrounding text. Keeping the SHIFT key pressed while dragging the handles, maintains the proportion of the letter.

MS Word’s wrapping commands now come into the picture. Select the clip art letter, and then click Format on the Picture Tools menu. Select Text Wrapping in the Arrange group and click on Square.

You can do the same by right clicking the image and choosing the option under Text Wrapping. You can also tweak the look slightly by horizontally aligning it to the text (Text Wrapping – More Layout Options).

Subtle use of drop caps can really help to jazz up your documents. We have talked about its use in MS Word, but drop caps are part of every type of document that gets written or designed. That’s quite an impact for a single letter that’s also so easy to put into a document.

Check out some great examples in Jessica Hische’s blog – Daily Drop Cap.

Do you use drop caps? If you haven’t so far, then let this article help to start you off. Drop a few comments below.

The text in the screenshots are taken from the free and downloadable MUO Guide on How To Create Professional Reports and Documents.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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  1. thunsey
    July 4, 2016 at 8:10 am

    why we use drop cap????

    • Saikat Basu
      July 4, 2016 at 3:41 pm

      It's mainly decorative. It calls attention to the text that follows. It is a remnant from traditional publishing and is more than 2000 years old.