Formatting the first letter of a new chapter

I’ve been a Mac OSX scrivener user for many years, but recently I’ve encountered a request for a variety of formatting that I have not been able to duplicate in Scrivener. It requires that the first letter of a new chapter’s first paragraph be enlarged to the extent that it spans the vertical height of 3 spaces. Example attached:
[attachment=0]Screen Shot 2020-11-14 at 2.01.34 PM.png[/attachment]

This essentially a drop cap, but I cannot figure out how it can be accomplished with Scrivener.

Can this be done with Scrivener ‘styles’ and if so, can it be compiled as such?
Thank you in advance

I haven’t used or experimented with this at all. A starting point for you maybe in the following from New Pages, section 24.2.5 of the manual:

If you are looking for a dropcap checkbox or something, I don’t know of one. Drop caps are a fancy typesetting thing, so maybe you should really not expect Scrivener to be providing that in-house. There may be a workflow for you, but it will rely on the capabilities of the file format you are compiling to. And so the answer to your question is definitely going to depend on what format you are compiling to.

For example, if you meant to compile direct to pdf, I should think you are plum out of luck for dropcaps.*

But, as scshrugged suggested, a file format that uses css under the hood to format elements could be made to do it, if you can concoct the css to do it.

Also, since Word has a (crude) drop cap facility, you can presumably make it happen in Word. When compiling to Word, styles can be preserved and will take on the look of Word styles with matching names. So, you can set up a drop cap style in Word to suit and then set up a dropcap style in Scrivener which doesn’t have to do anything /in/ Scriv but mark the items in question, so they take on those styles in Word.

I use something like this approach for producing output for InDesign. I compile to docx then bring that into my InDesign project. I use certain paragraph and character styles in Scriv to merely mark paragraphs and character spans in the source text. These style designations are preserved in compile, so when the doc is brought into the InDesign project, matching character and paragraph styles defined there finally determine the typeset look of those elements — including one paragraph style that does a dropcap on the opening paragraph of each section.


  • Note everything I say about Scrivener’s limits is hedged, because it never ceases to amaze me.

Thank you, But I’d come across that post as well. However, I could not find a means of accomplishing the intended goal with CSS, since my working knowledge of same is limited. As for the intended output, it is for print, and I suppose that I could simply output as a .docx file, although I do not use MSFT Word. I may end up leaving the word art up to the publisher. And speaking of same, I had come across a post that showed a drop down in Scrivener—version not mentioned—with an option for Drop Caps and adjustment of same. But it may have been either an older version or a Windows version.
Here is a link to that page showing Drop Caps:

Nome of the images on that page are from any version of Scrivener, asa far as I can see … they look more like Word or Similar.

That particular tutorial uses MS Word. See here: … AA=Windows

The title atop the page— ‘Learn Scrivener Fast’—is the site name.

I have decided to install MSFT Word 2019, export my Scrivener file as a .DOCX and add the drop caps in word, which is a simple process.
Thank you all for your interest and assistance. It would be nice, however, if the drop cap ability were to be added to Scrivener for publication purposes.

Best wishes.


p.s. You mentioned having a publisher. If you have a publisher publisher who will be typesetting your work, you definitely should not be formatting your typescript with drop caps and such. But if your work is to be submitted in print-ready form, e.g. as a pdf, then I guess it’s up to you.

I have a novel that I’m ready to self-publish. I owned Scrivener already, so naturally my first thought was “can I use this instead of paying someone for layout?” I find the Manual a little difficult, but I can power through that.

However, I’m afraid “no drop caps” is kinda a deal-breaker for me. I want the book to look professional, and even a John Grisham novel has drop cap chapter openings.

In the Facebook group for Historical Novel writers I belong to, one person recommended Vellum, and I’m seriously thinking of trying that instead. Thoughts?

If you can afford it, get it. It’s wonderful and takes all the finagling out of getting your manuscript ready to publish.

thanks @tribalrose. I had a quote from a guy in England of 1,500 pounds to layout my book. So as a benchmark, Vellum has to be cheap and I haven’t even found out the price yet. :frowning:

I’m sure the artiste version will look better, but I think a great cover and a publicity campaign is a better use of money.

Well, if your book is complicated enough to need a 1,500-pound layout, it may not be the kind of thing Vellum excels at, which is fiction. Some people do use it for non-fiction, but I think happiness there is less certain.

From memory the price runs about $200 or maybe as much as $250 if you want the module for paperbacks.

Also, you can download a free trial. Everything works but generating the finished file for upload.

“Even” John Grisham? As a perennial bestseller, I’m sure his publisher assigns their best team to his work.

But in a random sampling of professionally published books on my shelf, some had drop caps, some didn’t. You may like them, but they’re not inherently any more (or less) professional than any other type element.


For those familiar with using LaTeX with Scrivener, here are a few links from that might be useful to create a drop cap and/or a calligraphic first letter for chapters:

For those not familiar with the website, at each of the above links there are additional links in the column on the right-hand side of each web page that may also be helpful, (just click on the green rectangle to go to the linked page) e.g.:
[attachment=0]How to increase the size of first character in a chapter (Drop-Caps).png[/attachment]
I’ve created the calligraphic ‘T’ character shown below with the following LaTeX code in my Scrivener project (see additional Scrivener/LaTeX macro code further below):

\usepackage{kantlipsum} \font\yinit=yinit at 65pt ...
with the user-defined macro ‘\yinitial’ (see additional Scrivener/LaTeX macro code further below) :

\yinitial{T}\textsc{he way we have been looking at energy for well over millennium}

for the following calligraphic ‘T’ image and text as it appears in my final Scrivener PDF document:
[attachment=1]The way we have been looking at energy for well over millennium.png[/attachment]
As a LaTeX /Scrivener neophyte, I imagine there may be additional drop-cap and/or calligraphic options not included in the above links.

I hope some of the links may be useful.


%FM-Dropped Capital (yinitial{D})-Start
% How to produce a dropped capital See:
% … ml#dropcap

% hangindent controls the amount of indentation from left (positive value) or right (negative value)
% See: … -texlatex/
% Also: … nts-gothic for alternative methods
% hangafter controls the number of full-width lines before changing the indent (\hangindent) (*)
% A positive hangafter produces full-width lines at the beginning,
% whereas a negative hangafter produces at the end.
\smash{\lower2.1cm \hbox{\yinit #1}}%

% Usage: \yinitial{D}\textsc{avid uses Yannis’ code},
% Or remove the \textsc and adjust the final \hskip to control where the normal text starts…

% Assumes: \font\yinit=yinit at 65pt % Needed by \usepackage{kantlipsum}
% See: … wer-354413
% See also: … nts-gothic

%FM-Dropped Capital (yinitial{D})-End

Yeah, I’m afraid I can’t get behind this.

I think a case could be made that your use of drop caps will likely end up making your book look less professional, not more.

There simply is not an automated drop-cap system that will deliver to you professionally typeset drop caps. These must generally be hand set to look right, because of the varying geometry of the dropped letters and the variety of ways the opening lines of a paragraph may layout.* A top-flight layout app like InDesign has special facilities for doing this work, drop-cap by drop-cap.

So, assuming you end up using some auto-generated drop-cap solution, the result will almost surely betray the unprofessionalism of your book layout, contrary to your expectation. Hell, even just relying on automated full justification of paragraphs will give the game away, because text flow gets manually adjusted here there and everywhere — in a professionally laid out book.

The bottom line is that drop-caps are a very tricky and quite advanced piece of book design. I think you would be well-advised to avoid them.

If having someone set your book generally commands a high fee, that is probably a good indication that it really takes something to d o and do well. So, if you are rolling your own, you should avoid the tricky stuff!

All Best,

Thanks, all. Would any of you like to trash Vellum? That’s what I’m looking at now.

As for Grisham: I’m forcing myself to read this just to see what bestselling authors can get away with. They might have great typography, but they don’t bother with editors that ask “what is the antecedent basis of that pronoun?” or “would anyone really talk like that?”

Following my initial posting, I did some additional research and fashioned a much simpler Drop Cap demo. Using the “lettrine” LaTeX package, only a single line (\usepackage{lettrine}) needs to be added to the LaTeX preamble of the Scrivener code.


In the body of the Scrivener/LaTeX document, a minimum of change to the Scrivener/LaTeX code is required:

\begin{document} \lettrine[lines=3]{D}{rop Cap} ... more text ... \end{document}
To further document this approach using the “lettrine” package, I’ve included a screen shot of my Scrivener typeset PDF sample document with 4 sample Drop-Caps ranging in height from 2 to 5 lines:
[attachment=1]Scrivener Typeset PDF file.png[/attachment]
The following is a screen shot of my Scrivener/LaTeX source code that produced the above sample typeset PDF document:
[attachment=0]Scrivener LaTeX source code.png[/attachment]
The “lettrine” LaTeX package is highly configurable with over a dozen configurable options such as:

lines=<integer>, depth=<integer>, lhang=<decimal>, loversize=<decimal>, lraise=<decimal>, findent=<dimen>, nindent=<dimen>, slope=<dimen>, ante=<text>, image=true, grid=true, novskip=<dimen>, and realheight=true

Full documentation of the “lettrine” LaTeX package is available at:
Additional documentation is available on Wikibooks at:

Wikibooks mentions that the “lettrine” LaTeX package is “the most mature (LaTeX) package to add initials”.

So far, this is the simplest, yet flexible, Drop-Cap implementation I’ve found.
I hope this helps.

Following up yet again to my earlier posting where I reviewed the “lettrine” LaTeX package to create Drop Caps in Scrivener, I’ve encountered a possible conflict with the wrapfigure package, such as when ‘wrapping’ a graphic while using the includegraphics package.

If/when the conflict occurs, it causes a blank space to appear where the samplegraphic.png graphic should appear.

My experience is the blank graphic will only occur when the lettrine package is called to create a Drop Cap immediately after the wrapfigure package is called, e.g. after \end{wrapfigure}:



\lettrine[lines=3]{D}{rop Cap} … more text …
The issue was discussed on StackExchange at:

A simple fix that I’ve used is to move the call to the lettrine package (along with some associated text) to occur before calling the wrapfigure package, e.g.:

\lettrine[lines=3]{D}{rop Cap} … more text …


Hope this helps,

I find the numerous comments quite interesting, however, despite the apparent dislike of drop caps by some, many publishers use them, in fact, I have an large bookshelf containing many works of well known authors whose printed novels are replete with drop caps. That said, and I am by no means a fan of MSFT products, MSFT Word—latest edition—does a reasonably good job with drop caps, while allowing for varying adjustments of same. However, I have just purchased a copy of Vellum and I am anxious to put the program through its paces on the MacBookPro M1 that had recently arrived.

Just a followup in regards to Scrivener, formatting with drop caps and Vellum. I have been experimenting with a .docx file exported from Scrivener and uploaded into Vellum. The upload is instantaneous and formatting options are formidable and easy to setup. And it appears that once all of the necessary editing is performed in Scrivener, the final export for print and or ebook can be accomplished via Vellum, making for a nice workflow, assuming one requires a print ready end product. Admittedly, this approach might be costly for some, but for those who publish frequently it might be a worthwhile investment.