Drop Caps – Are They Worth the Trouble?

I love drop caps. Especially drop caps in color or illuminated or illustrated!

A drop cap is a extra-large and/or decorated letter that may start off a page or paragraph, BTW.

But they sure can be tricky on the web! The particular WordPress theme is on offers a shortcode for drop caps and I’ve been trying it out. Alas! While the drop code looks decent on the blog pages, it doesn’t translate well to excerpts! I jumped through a few hoops to make them work, but still not quite successfully.

I felt both better and worse when I read this illuminating 🙂 AND instructive article on Smashing Magazine: Drop Caps: Historical Use And Current Best Practices With CSS by Laura Franz. If you are a typography aficionado, you may like to read the whole thing. (Or, just look at the pictures. We know that’s what most of you are really going to do!)

Unlike their historic counterparts, drop caps on the Web don’t add value in terms of usability or readability—and they are hard for Web developers to control, often rendering differently across browsers.

I think I will just drop drop caps from the blog pages for now, but maybe keep them on other pages which don’t use excerpts. I had no idea how much their rendering varied! Coupled with the excerpt issue, I think I’ll back-burner this particular style.

What about you? Do you like drop caps? Or do they just get in the way?

2 Responses to Drop Caps – Are They Worth the Trouble?

  1. Patricia May 14, 2012 at 10:09 pm #

    I attempted that recently on my blogspot blog and it was a nightmare so I gave up. Glad to know it wasn’t just my lack of knowledge on making it work.

  2. Right Brain May 14, 2012 at 10:14 pm #

    Bummer! They can add some color and life to a post without an image, so it’s disappointing to give up. Practicality trumps artistry here, it looks like!