Drop cap in another font

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I keep trying Scribus and ending up not using it because I want drop caps in a different font from the text font. I know you suggest styling the drop cap as a character, but that's the wrong way to go. Style and content should be separate. The paragraph style should be drop cap with a specific size in a specific font, etc., as in all the other DTP apps I've used over the years. I don't want to have to go back and remove styling from the character that was first and apply styling to the character than became first if I edit the text in a way that happens to change the first character.

Meho R.

Drop caps are decorative elements and aren't used on every page (read: too often) in a document, so you could actually separate them completely from text, use another text frame, use whatever paragraph/character styles you like and position the frames where appropriate manually. This way you'll have complete control over them and be able to do fine-tuning which drop caps need. Automatically positioned drop caps are, if not in all then in most cases, just another example of bad typography which we see all too often.


Meho, you're telling me Scribus is not for me.

I produce a monthly 8 page newsletter that has at least one drop cap in each article, and I settle for bad typography because most of my readers don't notice it (even though I do). I use drop caps because I want to avoid the look of monotonous text. I don't fine tune because I don't have time; I'm an unpaid volunteer well into what's conventionally called retirement.

I'm not setting a book. I would agree that when you're setting a book, the content is fixed before you set it and you can apply styling without worrying about changing the content. A book does use drop caps sparingly; one to begin each chapter, perhaps; no more. Monotonous looking text is not something to avoid because the content must speak for itself. A monthly newsletter is a different animal altogether.

Incidentally, if you're concerned about bad typography, I can see only two logical alternatives. One is to arrange for automatic drop caps to respect kerning and take account of the parameters of each font so that the drop cap is correctly positioned without manual fine tuning. The other is not to provide automatic drop caps at all, as in some older DTP apps I've used, and let the user put the drop cap in its own frame separate from the text. What Scribus does, providing some but not all of the features of an automatic drop cap, satisfies the needs of neither bad typographers nor good ones.


hi marty,

styling of the drop caps is planned...

but, as you may have noticed there are more urgent things to do, though...

but if you can provide a detail specification of how the drop caps should work (mockups of the dialog and features) this would help us to implement it correctly.

just be warned that we can't just copy how other do it!


Meho R.

I understand all you said, marty39, and I cannot comment on your particular case, but in general, there are always ways to make your work easier and finish the job faster. For example, you can plan and design an ideal drop cap, using attributes you like (e.g. set default text flow around frame attribute) and, when it's ready, put it in the scrapbook (I do assume that you already created a template for your newsletter). Inserting drop caps later is just a matter of drag-and-drop. Also, to make sure drop cap stays with a text frame if you moved it, group the frame containing drop cap and the text frame below it.


marty39 I love drop caps, I have 2 annual volumes of the old magazine going back to 1841 &1845, they used drop caps in that, the way they did it was just 1 Drop cap at the start of a story.

I have often thought to make a collection of them and use them as an image in books.

Sorry that was a diversion, but I love them, it would be nice to see a peace of your work using them.



Sorry, Wena, I have nothing very fancy. It's all black on white, and I usually use a contrasting face for the headline and use the headline font for the drop caps. Recent issues of the newsletter can be found at http://www.heartsofjersey.org/news.html - the PDF duplicates the look of the print edition. Don't look at the web edition; typography is not its strong point.

Thanks, Meho. You gave me some ideas. I don't want to use a separate frame for the drop cap, at least not at this time, as it would seem to require manually positioning the frame. But I can create a character style as well as a paragraph style for the drop cap, and apply the character style to the first letter of the paragraph. That would make it easier to cope with content changes that change the first letter. With the same effort I can also apply outline and shadow to the drop cap. Other DTP apps have options to raise the drop cap a certain number of lines as well as size it to a certain number of lines. I haven't been doing that, but I could get the same effect in Scribus by reducing the height of the drop cap in lines (in the paragraph style) and increasing the point size all done (in the drop cap character style).

The drop cap is still more effort in Scribus than in the DTP app I'm using now, but it no longer looks like a deal breaker.


I think that your  paper is well set out, a very nice template, choice of fonts are ideal and the graphics are excellent.

I do understand why you are concerned about the drop caps, not that I am an expert at Sribus but there is a simple solution within the programme to overcome that difficulty.

If you where to set a bounding box underneath the drop caps.  or make yourself. It your drop caps it a font you would I think need to make a small text box for it.

Alternatively make yourself a vector shape that you can adjust the size and shape, it would keep the text from intruding on. You could do one in Inkscape (that's another free peace of software. "Text round box" setting.

I really think your type setting is of a professional standards.