Drop caps: help or hindrance? How the eye moves across a page is an issue that editors, designers, and advertisers would like to know more about. While many studies have been conducted on the subject, the fact remains that we continue to design pages in ways that we personally think make the reader move from here to there. One of the most popular tools, of course, is the use of a large capital letter at the beginning of an article, which, when shown in the size equivalent of three or four lines of type, causes the eye to move to where the text starts. Used properly, these can be effective eye-moving devices. However, used in excess, as in four or five within one article, they lose impact and create an “alphabet soup.” Some drop cap tips: Use initials only at the beginning of articles, not throughout the text (subheads are better at breaking up a long article).
Use initials in a size that does not drown out the headline: ideally, three lines of text. Do not use initials for every article on a page. Instead, give it greater importance by using it for the lead item. Use drop caps functionally, not as decoration.