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Re: [css-inline] Summary of drop-caps/initial-letters discussion

From: Tony Graham <tgraham@mentea.net>
Date: Wed, 21 May 2014 09:44:54 +0100 (IST)
Message-ID: <39369.95.45.132.7.1400661894.squirrel@squirrelmail.webfaction.com>
To: "Dave Cramer" <dauwhe@gmail.com>
Cc: "James Clark" <jjc@jclark.com>, "fantasai" <fantasai.lists@inkedblade.net>, "www-style@w3.org" <www-style@w3.org>
On Tue, May 20, 2014 9:01 am, Dave Cramer wrote:
> On Tue, May 20, 2014 at 4:14 PM, James Clark <jjc@jclark.com> wrote:
>> I'm not clear on how this computes the sizing/alignment of the dropped
>> letter. For example, if I have 10pt font size with 2pt gaps, then IIRC
>> "initial letters: 3" will make something be 34pt.  What?  Neither
>> bounding
>> box nor font size will give the right alignment.
>
> The letter needs to extend from the baseline of the third line of text to
> the top of the cap-height of the first line. So the height of the initial
> letter is 12pt + 12pt + Cap Height of 10pt letter. If the cap-height is
> 70%
> of the font size, then the initial letter is ~31pt high, which would mean
> a
> font size of ~44pt.
>
> It does depend greatly on the particular font metrics.
>
>> From the few examples of Arabic I've found, it seems more common to drop
>> the first word rather than the first letter. OpenOffice.org drop caps
>> feature has a "whole word" option which handles this.  With this
>> proposal,
>> the first word would have to be wrapped in an element to handle this,
>> right?
>
> Correct. I wonder if there's interest in a ::first-word pseudo-element.
> The
> books we publish often set the first three words of each chapter in all
> caps; ::first-n-word(3) would be nice ;)

So if the first word or three of the first line is in small-caps, the drop
initial can be expected to line up with the cap-height of the small-caps
(nominally the x-height of the normal font)?

If there's markup around the first word or three and you specify a
small-caps font, then, from your explanation above, it could just happen
anyway, though it might need more explanation if you get there from
::first-n-word(3), font-variant, and the small-caps synthesised from the
normal font.

When a reason is provided, reasons given why people use small-caps after
an initial capital include "as a bridge between versal and normal text"
(Bringhurst, also referring to caps and boldface), "reduces the contrast
between the drop cap and the text and can add to the effect" (Book
Typography, Mitchell & Wightman), and more prosaically from the
letterpress era, "When it is difficult to get type and initial to align
head and foot, try setting the first word of the text in even small
capitals instead of the usual capitals" (Printing Design & Layout, Steer).

Regards,


Tony Graham                                         tgraham@mentea.net
Consultant                                       http://www.mentea.net
Chair, Print and Page Layout Community Group @ W3C    XML Guild member
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Mentea       XML, XSL-FO and XSLT consulting, training and programming
Received on Wednesday, 21 May 2014 08:45:16 UTC

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