:first-letter pseudo-element for drop cap

By , July 19, 2011 17:03

If you want the  first-letter  of a <p>aragraph to look like Drop Cap (old fashion newspaper style), with a bigger letter floated to the left every browser shows up something different.

The main problem is to align in vertical the letter to the top of the text,the property vertical-align apply on the first-letter pseudo-element only if the float is set to none, that is a waste, the target I want to reach is big Letter with text around.  if I dont float the results, it shows a line break after the first line high like the height of the first letter.

Mozilla Firefox is the only one understanding a margin or padding from the top, so thumb up for this browser.

The developer tools presented in other browsers than Firefox dont allow me to edit the CSS in live, in order  to see faster which solution I can take.  for the other browsers I used the edit & try option of http://www.w3schools.com


This pretty article http://www.satzansatz.de/cssd/pseudocss.html discusses the classic IE behavior for typo and spacing errors,  IE6 requires an empty space between the class/id name and the comma and a space between the class/id  and the {} to read the properties

SOLUTIONS: Lets fight the Browser compatibility

  1. Using spans: create a span around the first letter is the mostly compatible solution, frequently used in the past, but does not work for dynamic created content, at least it does not without a script that add the span automagically
  2. insert line height and work on margin-bottom!
  3. Use a specified font for the first letter , where the uppercases are positioned into the font editor 4 pixel down to the bottom line (simply crazy for mostly common low payed jobs!)

thanks to this article (http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~arcus/html/dropcaps.html) I noticed that the margin bottom on the contrary of the margin-top it works in many browser!

Important is also the line height which forces the browser to think about the first letter like if was height like the text.

the results are still really different for each browser, that terrifies me and the letter  is frequently higher than the line. but acceptable.

/*TODO check IE6*/

float:left; /* Make the text flow around the letter */

margin:4px 4px 0px 0px;/*for firefox that is the only one reading the margin-top*/
margin-bottom:-0.25em;/*for the other browsers, Chrome, Opera*/
line-height:0.97em; /*Adjustment mainly for IE , help position the letter on the same height then the text,  that has 0.97em line-height/

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