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Re: [css-inline] Alignment of Drop Caps

From: Liam R E Quin <liam@w3.org>
Date: Fri, 16 May 2014 03:14:29 -0400
Message-ID: <1400224469.28898.23.camel@slave.barefootcomputing.com>
To: James Clark <jjc@jclark.com>
Cc: Dave Cramer <dauwhe@gmail.com>, "www-style@w3.org" <www-style@w3.org>
On Fri, 2014-05-16 at 12:12 +0700, James Clark wrote:

> They occur in scripts, such as Thai, that do not have capital letters, so
> better to avoid using the term "caps".  I would call them "dropped initial
> letters".

That works for me, although "drop cap" is a pretty common term.
> - When you have an abnormal initial glyph cluster that extends below the
> normal initial letter bottom, there seem to be several reasonable
> strategies:
> a) Align normally, but indent sufficient additional lines to clear the
> bottom of the cluster

> b) Align based on the bottom of the bounding box of the drop initial,
> increase the number of lines and don't change the font size
no - this will look silly or wrong, as if the letter is perched on the
dot or cedilla or whatever underneath it. The strong "natural" alignment
of the letterform should be used.

> c) Align based on the bottom of the bounding box of the drop initial, keep
> the number of lines the same, but scale the font
(this will look ugly if there are several such drop-things on a
double-page spread, for example. the letters should all appear to be the
same size even if some have diacritical marks)

> (I would need to do more research to see which of these three strategies is
> most common for Thai.)

In low-quality print work (jobbing typography, or jobbing printing),
with metal type, a number of pretty awful compromises have always been
made - correct alignment isn't always possible, or would take too much

>  Liam, is this consistent with what you have seen
> for other scripts?  I would guess it's probably correct for Chinese and
> Devanagari, but I have no idea how dropped initial letters work in Arabic.

It's always been hard for me to tell, because the calligraphy of Arabic
letter forms don't have a natural baseline *for me* because I'm
unfamiliar with them. But they clearly do for people who read the
script. I have sent some mail to someone I hope can help further, and
plan to contact some (Arabic) calligraphers I know.

For Chinese, another option I have seen (also Japanese) is to draw a
solid border around the first, larger, character, and fit it to the
grid, and then it fits to the grid rather than to the slightly smaller
character height, but again more research is needed.

On the other hand, the current draft is simply a mess, so improving it
enough that we can get people to give feedback would be worth while.

Liam Quin - XML Activity Lead, W3C, http://www.w3.org/People/Quin/
Pictures from old books: http://fromoldbooks.org/
Ankh: irc.sorcery.net irc.gnome.org freenode/#xml
Received on Friday, 16 May 2014 07:14:33 UTC

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