How to Insert a Dropcap in a Textbox in Microsoft Word

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Drop Cap in Textbox in Word

It’s not easy to insert a drop cap into a textbox in Microsoft Word. (Inserting a drop cap at the beginning of a chapter is easy; doing it in a textbox is another matter.)

If you try the intuitive thing, it doesn’t work: Highlight the first letter of the textbox, go to the Insert tab, and the Dropcap button is grayed out. You can’t click it.

Fortunately, there is a way around this problem.

The trick is to join three textboxes together (actually, I prefer to use WordArt for the drop cap, but in Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013, the distinction is fairly moot).

As long as you’re using a textbox, using three textboxes really isn’t a problem. Just group them together when you’re done and you’ll have a single object for your end result.

Here are the step-by-step directions, then following these you can find some screenshots that illustrate key steps:

  1. Put the first letter in its own textbox. You may prefer WordArt for the single letter. Use Insert > Text Box or Insert > WordArt.
  2. Put the first lines of the paragraph in one textbox. For example, if the drop cap will have a height of three lines, put the first three lines of the paragraph in one textbox.
  3. If the paragraph needs to be justified full, place your cursor at the end of the paragraph and press Shift+Enter to make the last line justified.
  4. Place the remaining lines of the paragraph in another textbox.
  5. Select each textbox and go to Format to set the Shape Fill and Shape Outline to No Fill and No Outline, respectively.
  6. Select each textbox and go to Format > Wrap Text > In Front of Text. (They need to be free-floating so you can position them. Once they are joined, you can change the text wrap to something else.)
  7. You will need to adjust the widths of your textboxes. That is, the lower textbox needs to be longer than the higher textbox.
  8. Position the textboxes to form your paragraph. Align the boxes precisely. You want even line spacing between the two parts of your paragraph, alignment at the right edge of your paragraph, and alignment between the left edge of the dropped cap and the left edge of the lower textbox.
  9. You may need to transfer words from one textbox to the other as you adjust their widths. The last line of the upper textbox can have really wide gaps, for example, if there is room for more words on that line and you used Shift+Enter. If so, transfer the first words of the lower textbox onto that line.
  10. If you used WordArt, you’ll need to format it. If you want to remove the automatic shadow effect, for example, click on the WordArt and go to Format > Text Effects > Shadow > No Shadow. You can manually format the font style instead of choosing a default effect.
  11. Ensure that the formatting of the upper and lower textboxes are identical.
  12. To make a single object, select the three textboxes and go to Format > Group > Group. To select multiple objects, grab one, then press and hold down Ctrl while selecting the others.


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Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

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5 comments on “How to Insert a Dropcap in a Textbox in Microsoft Word

    • Most books don’t inset dropcaps in textboxes, but into the body text for the chapter, in which case you wouldn’t need to go to this trouble; you could just insert a dropcap the easy way. But if you have an infograph or special document that you’re preparing in Word, where you need a dropcap in a textbox, this is one way around the problem.

  1. Thank you for this information. I followed your directions, but ran into trouble because my text boxes need to remain in front of text (I have a newspaper template behind text). Then I realized that I could do the following:
    1. Place the first three lines in the same text box as the rest of the text.
    2. Put my Drop-Capped letter on the spot it will reside.
    3. Move the indentation markers to the right until the text clears the drop cap.
    4. Put a “Return” at the end of the third line.
    5. Use your “Shift-Enter” trick to create a double justification on that third line.
    6. Move the paragraph start indentation for this “Paragraph” all the way to the left.
    Thank You.

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