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Old 02-01-2013, 04:22 PM   #1
cybmole
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epub to epub changes dropcap appearance

it seems that whenever I do an epub to epub conversion ( e.g. in order to regularise margins, styles..), any drop caps look very different before and after the conversion.

e.g. a retail epub has a dropcap that extends thru 1st 3 lines of each chapter.
style:
span.dropcaps3line
{
font-size: 4.6em;
float: left;
line-height: 0.75em;
margin-top: 0.0em;
margin-bottom: 0.0em;
margin-left: 0.0em;
margin-right: 0.05em;
}

after calibre conversion - the drop cap is raised & smaller - it extends above 1st line & does not reach 3rd line

the style is now
.dropcaps3line {
float: left;
font-size: 2em;
line-height: 0.75em;
margin-bottom: 0;
margin-left: 0;
margin-right: 0.05em;
margin-top: 0
}


why has calibre halved the font size ?

as I said at start, this is not an isolated case, but this is the 1st time I have actuully examined both before and after styles.
also, I can't see anything in the above to explain why the drop cap now appears higher than it did before

a typical 1st line of chapter is
<p class="nonindent"><span class="dropcaps3line">T</span>he

all that is different in style nonindent is that I have an extra css line that changes margin bottom from 0 to 0.1em during conversion. I can't see that affecting position of dropcap.
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Old 02-01-2013, 10:57 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cybmole View Post
why has calibre halved the font size?
Probably because you have not changed your Font size key box on the Convert - Look&Feel page to reflect the large font-size of the dropcap.

The Font size key has 8 values and you need to make sure the biggest one is large enough to accommodate your dropcap. My guess is that you have Base font size set to 12pt and the Font size key 8th value as 24 (pt), hence you get font-size: 2em in the output css.
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Old 02-01-2013, 11:27 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jackie_w View Post
Probably because you have not changed your Font size key box on the Convert - Look&Feel page to reflect the large font-size of the dropcap.

The Font size key has 8 values and you need to make sure the biggest one is large enough to accommodate your dropcap. My guess is that you have Base font size set to 12pt and the Font size key 8th value as 24 (pt), hence you get font-size: 2em in the output css.
That makes sense. My key field will still be at default values.

but what causes the upward drift? a source file will have top of dropcap aligned with top of 1st line i.e. it really is a DROPcap - nothing extends upwards.
but after conversion it will typically be vertically re-centered so top of "dropcap" is visibly higher than top of 1st line.

NB curiosity only, I don't much care for dropcaps so I will often remove all that styling anyway, after conversion
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Old 02-02-2013, 06:29 AM   #4
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i did some more tests on upward drift. First, I copied the dropcap3 css from source into target & confirmed that that restored the original layout.

then I progressively lowered the drop cap font size from 4.6em to 4em, 3em, 2em...
eyeballing the opening word, at first I thought "optical illusion" but no.
with the opening word Given and a 3 or 4em G, the front gap of G aligns with the midpoint of i , but with a 2em G, the gap aligns with the dot above the i.

I've not resorted to holding a ruler against the PC screen but it does seem that the drop cap is being rendered higher, when its relative size is decreased - more of the top curve of the G is above an imaginary line drawn across the top of the following lower case characters???

or do I just need new glasses
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Old 02-02-2013, 08:41 AM   #5
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@cybmole,

Oh dear, your 'dropcap conundrum' is making me smile... I went through exactly this kind of faffing about a couple of years ago when I first realised that epubs could display them.

I twiddled the values of line-height, margin-top and font-size until it looked 'just right' on the PC - then realised it didn't look the same on my reader (Sony)... so round the loop again... finally it looked good on the reader...

... then I discovered you could change fonts on the reader. Horrors! the dropcap looked terrible in a different font, the vertical placement was all wrong again.

I wish there was a happy ending but, for me, I decided enough was enough. The ability to switch fonts on a whim is non-negotiable for me so I settled for a set of parameters which looked 'borderline OK-ish' for all the fonts I use.

I think the variation in up/down appearance caused by which font is being used may be something to do with certain capital letters whose glyph descends below the baseline in that particular font. There needs to be room to accommodate those descenders. If you're testing a particular font, try the 'J' and 'Q' as dropcaps.

For myself, I'd almost lost the will to live by this stage. If you find the magic formula, do share... but try not to go mad in the process
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Old 02-02-2013, 09:43 AM   #6
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Part of the problem with a large letter is where it aligns: The Baseline (as Jakie pointed out, this is above descenders)

When you 'Drop' the letter, You offset the baseline from the rest of the FIRST LINE <<< This is the reference line
This offset needs to be scalable as well and not a fixed value.
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Old 02-02-2013, 03:13 PM   #7
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I'm with jackie on this one
"For myself, I'd almost lost the will to live by this stage."

I don't much like drop caps anyway - & google reckons they detract from readability , so it is easier to just delete all the associated CSS & do away with them

( another "make it look like a "book" bites the dust )
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Old 02-02-2013, 05:08 PM   #8
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Don't feel too bad about the decision, there are lots of times with the current standards and tools available where we have to settle.I would imagine things will get much better in the next few years as the hardware and software are more capable and robust.
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Old 04-19-2013, 06:34 AM   #9
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Haha, how I love those stories that use to end up in mere despair! - For own similar experience, of course.
I am up to become a "Drop Cap addicted" right now, not because I would love them, but because it's a good item to get notion on the power of programs and plug-ins, esp. when they are free. I tested so far Sigil, Scribus, Calibre, EPubStar and writer2EPub. I realized that the most valuable way to establish drop caps is still with Sigil, creating my own css style (just as cybmole). It's true what Jackie_W tells on the effect of changing fonts on the reader. Nevertheless, having once inserted a certain drop cap style (or any other nice format) to an ebook, this book becomes very much more familiar to me than any, let's say, printed book, and I enjoy ereading infinitely more, even beeing aware that, in this peculiar case, I should never change any fonts.

But, those are gadgets, for private use only. Never think of it for example for commercial purposes!

My next project, by the way, are running headers.
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