Taking a short intermission from the chapter styling, we take the time to look at a time-honoured tradition in the western world, the initial, or drop capital, or lettrine, or uncial, or.... There are, indeed, many forms and variations of these majuscule letters at the beginning of a paragraph, but they still crop up here and there in books everywhere. So, since LaTeX is supposed to be this fantastic typography and typesetting tool, let's have at it then.

Since my artistic skills for drawing custom initials are fairly limited, I will illustrate the functionality by using the initials from House of Lime, who provides linkware TrueType fonts that you can use (be sure to check his policy before you use them, though). Otherwise several other type foundries have professionel initial fonts that you can purchase.

There are two primary packages for doing initials (unless you want to code it all yourself, but we'll save that for some other time), namely dropping and lettrine, where the latter is the more feature complete one, so we'll be using that.

Using Fleur Corner Caps as our initial typeface, we can construct a simple document like this (we'll cover how to get LaTeX to use the font at a later date):

\documentclass[article,12pt,oneside]{memoir} \usepackage[T1]{fontenc} \usepackage[garamond]{mathdesign} \DeclareTextFontCommand{\textfleur}{\fontencoding{T1}\fontfamily{FleurCornerCaps}\selectfont} \usepackage{lettrine} \pagestyle{plain} \begin{document} \lettrine[lines=7,findent=0.5em,loversize=-0.15,nindent=0em]% {\textfleur{L}}{orem ipsum} dolor sit amet... \end{document}

What this means is that we create an initial that occupies 7 lines, where the first line is indented by 0.5em, next lines are indented 0em further, and it's lowered a bit by the negative amount specified with loversize. The first argument to the lettrine command is the initial, the second argument the following text that is typeset in smallcaps. This is rendered as follows:

Fleur Corner Caps illustration

While using a typeface to provide the initial is all fine and dandy this black and white text gets a bit boring. After all, when we look at some of the medieval initials, they are a tad more colourful:

Medieval saint initial

This cannot, of course, be accomplished by fonts, so we'll have to resort to using an image of some sort. Fear not, however, for the lettrine package also supports this! (Amazing, yes). Using my extensive Photoshop skills, I have coloured one of House of Lime's initials, namely the L from Flower and Fairy Alphabet. In order to use the image I have prepared, we add an option to the lettrine command stating to use an image, and the first argument becomes the filename of an image instead of a letter. In the version of the lettrine package I have, there is unfortunately the omission in the package that requires you to include the graphicx package manually, but fortunately this is rather easy. The modified code looks like this:

\documentclass[article,12pt,oneside]{memoir} \usepackage[T1]{fontenc} \usepackage[garamond]{mathdesign} \usepackage{graphicx} \DeclareTextFontCommand{\textfleur} {\fontencoding{T1}\fontfamily{FleurCornerCaps}\selectfont} \usepackage{lettrine} \pagestyle{plain} \begin{document} \lettrine[lines=7,findent=0.5em,loversize=-0.15,nindent=0em,image=true]% {fairy}{orem ipsum} dolor sit amet...

The fairy argument is, indeed, a filename of a PDF-file:

Coloured fairy initial

When the document is compiled, we get the following:

Fairy initial illustration

While this precise image is probably better suited for a children's fairy tale book than a bunch of lorem ipsum, it illustrates the versatility of the lettrine package. For those who wish to experiment even more, the lettrine manual contains descriptions of even more features and functionality, including using the colour packages to colour the initial, globally setting these settings (the ones in [...]) for all lettrines in the document and much, much more.

Last, a small caveat, the initial packages work by computing a box and placing it on the page, meaning that if you have an initial at the bottom of a page, it will hang into the footer rather than break properly to the next page. The only way to solve this is by manually inserting page breaks. This is, of course, a pity to do, so most people settle with using initials at the beginning of a chapter. This seems to work well, in my experience, as using them more often tends to overdo the effect to the point of it becoming vulgar. So don't overdo it.