Help with drop initials: from Joan Brees | Brooks & County Chronicle

EARLY THIS MONTH, I received an email from Joan Brees, owner/publisher of the Brooks & County Chronicle in Alberta. Joan is a subscriber to my column and hints (are you?) and her note was in reaction to a recent series of hints I had created on drop caps.

Here’s what she said:

“Good morning Ed,

I’ve been a ‘follower’ of yours for over two years now (years ago that would have been a ‘groupie’ I believe – boy, doesn’t that put my demographic into perspective!). I purchased your design book when you first introduced it and found it concise, thorough, easy to follow and implement ideas. It also has a nice crossover complement for both editorial and design stand points.

I tack your column ideas up in my newsroom so that everyone can learn from your expertise and question me on why we do things the way we do them. It’s a good use of interaction and sharpens up my people who may not have even thought of those gems of knowledge. I own a small weekly newspaper in Alberta and your mentoring tips (and humour!) are invaluable to my business and staff.

I have been following your Drop Caps series I, II, III. I have a small, niggly concern about the use of drop caps in text. I don’t remember if you covered this before, but the current series doesn’t address it.

Quite often the right side descending stroke on a drop cap letter will interfere with the first letter in the formatting; this is really prevalent when using serif faces. My style rule on all drop caps is to increase the kerning 20 pt. after the drop cap. This design use of white space is pleasing to the eye, sets up the drop cap’s prominence and thankfully maintains enough space that the ‘tail of the Q’ (for instance) doesn’t implant itself into the rest of the line of text.

Thanks for allowing me to send you kudos and feedback!

Joan Brees”

I was delighted with her note (I like groupies!) and I asked Joan to send along an illustration of how she handles drop caps.

Her example and note follow.


“Hello Ed,

I’m attaching a pdf sample. It’s straight forward—not at all as creative as yours, but it makes the point.

Yes, you may use my note on the blog; I’m not even going to look for residual income for praising your services! LOL (I’m learning this new language from my son who’s in college and texts me when he needs something—usually money!)


Thanks, Joan! I appreciate the effort.

Any reax from the rest of you? What tricks do you use in these circumstances?


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