Cabinet 17: Alignment of Initials
"As fancy and diverse as initial letters can be, there are only two ways to use them – dropped into the text or raised above it", so writes Allan Haley. The basic principles of initial alignment have remained constant from the earliest manuscript initials to today's modern press productions.
Dropped initials fit within the text copy. The justification of dropped initials depends upon the printer, who must take into account the effect the size and shape of the initial will have on the reader's eye. In Printing Art 4(1) it is suggested that "irregular indentation of lines being preferable to excessive white spaces".
Raised initials typically align with the baseline of one of the first few lines of text and are taller than the top line of text.
The four books on display illustrate the variety of alignments combining regular and irregular indentations, and initial sizes.
Thomas Hardy, Jude the obscure. London: Macmillan, 1906. Brasch PR4746 1906
Edward Conze [translator], The Buddha's law among the birds. Oxford: B. Cassirer, 1955. Brasch BQ7616.BZ74
Julian Huxley, The living thoughts of Darwin. London: Cassell, 1942. Brasch QH365.Z9 H8 1942