by Ilene Strizver
What kind of font is best savored one letter at a time? If you guessed an initial font, you’re correct. Often overlooked yet extremely useful, initial fonts are collections of ornamental letters that are designed for individual use. The characters in an initial font are usually too decorative to be legible if set as complete words or sentences, but they’re perfect for setting a single eye-catching letter at the beginning of a sentence, paragraph, article, or chapter.
Initial fonts are as varied as the imaginations of the designers who create them. Some, like Alligator, Catastrophe, and ITC Dinitials, consist of small illustrations. Hibiscus offers highly decorated characters, while ITC Digital Woodcuts and ITC Highlander Pro provide two different takes on reversed boxed initials. Some initial fonts are part of a larger family, such as the boxed letters in Kigali and ITC Anna Pro, while others, like Lotus and Daylilies, are standalone designs. Some initial letters even turn up as part of a dingbat font, such as ITC Stained Glass.
Next time you have a project that needs a touch of originality, try an initial font. These creative, beautiful and often whimsical fonts are a wonderful way to add graphic interest to the words you set.
- Editor’s Note:Ilene Strizver, founder of The Type Studio, is a typographic consultant, designer and writer specializing in all aspects of typographic communication. She conducts Gourmet Typography workshops internationally. Read more about typography in her latest literary effort, Type Rules! The designer's guide to professional typography, 4th edition, published by Wiley & Sons, Inc. This article was commissioned and approved by Monotype Imaging Inc.