# When a Period Immediately Follows the Lettrine --- A Typography Question

Because of the usual manner in which the French word Monsieur is abbreviated, I have often encountered a chapter beginning something like this:

M. Nom

In typesetting such (making use of a lettrine), I get, what seems to me to be a somewhat large amount of space between the period and the word immediately following; for example, consider the output produced by the following code:

\documentclass[12pt]{book}
\oddsidemargin 17pt \evensidemargin 18pt \topmargin 35pt \headheight 25pt \textheight 8.5in \textwidth 5.75in \headsep 40pt \marginparwidth 35pt
\usepackage[T1]{fontenc}
\input GoudyIn.fd
\newcommand*\initfamily{\usefont{U}{GoudyIn}{xl}{n}}
\usepackage{lettrine}
\usepackage{color}
\definecolor{olivegreen}{cmyk}{0.64,0,0.95,0.40}
\renewcommand{\LettrineFontHook}{\initfamily{}}
\setcounter{DefaultLines}{3}
\renewcommand{\DefaultLoversize}{.47}

\begin{document}
\thispagestyle{empty}
\large

\lettrine{\color{olivegreen}{M}}{. Vianney} comprit qu'{\{a}} son z{\{e}}le s'opposerait un ennemi redoutable: toute la force d'inertie de gens ancr{\'{e}}s dans leurs habitudes.
\end{document}


QUESTION: Typographically speaking, is there a rather large amount of space between the period following the lettrine and {\scshape{Vianney}}? If so, how may I uniformily reduce the horizontal space to something more appropriate for all such instances in a document (without resorting, say, to the use of forceful negative hskips)?

Thank you.

• See the manual under findent and nindent — but the result is likely to look odd with Goudy’s initials. “For all such instances” may not be possible unless you have an initial M only in this context. Jan 27 at 20:50
• @Thérèse But, with the initial M, are you saying that it might be OK with Goudy? That is the letter for which a period follows most frequently for me when using lettrine. Jan 27 at 21:06
• Without knowing the text and the typeface you’ll use for its main body, I can’t offer useful advice, but it would probably be more satisfactory if you had a font for the drop caps which included some punctuation marks. When I get a moment, I’ll see if I can find a pleasing model in my French books. I’m going to guess that the period is often omitted. Jan 27 at 21:17
• Your problem may be due to . being treated as the end of a sentence instead of an abbreviation. .\space and {.} result in a smaller gap. Jan 27 at 21:32
• @JohnKormylo Neither would work as you say. .\@ would. Jan 27 at 21:41

The lettrine makes a box and after a box the space factor is set to 1000. So the period is treated as sentence ending. Add \@ after the period.

\documentclass[12pt]{book}
\usepackage[T1]{fontenc}
\input GoudyIn.fd
\newcommand*\initfamily{\usefont{U}{GoudyIn}{xl}{n}}
\usepackage{lettrine}
\usepackage{color}
\definecolor{olivegreen}{cmyk}{0.64,0,0.95,0.40}
\renewcommand{\LettrineFontHook}{\initfamily{}}
\setcounter{DefaultLines}{3}
\renewcommand{\DefaultLoversize}{.47}

\begin{document}
\thispagestyle{empty}
\large

\lettrine{\color{olivegreen}{M}}{. Vianney} comprit qu'\{a}
son z\{e}le s'opposerait un ennemi redoutable: toute la force
d'inertie de gens ancr\'{e}s dans leurs habitudes.

\lettrine{\color{olivegreen}{M}}{.\@ Vianney} comprit qu'\{a}
son z\{e}le s'opposerait un ennemi redoutable: toute la force
d'inertie de gens ancr\'{e}s dans leurs habitudes.
\end{document}


On the other hand, you should use babel-french, so the problem would not pose. Besides, French hyphenation would be used.

\documentclass[12pt]{book}
\usepackage[T1]{fontenc}
\usepackage[french]{babel}

\input GoudyIn.fd
\newcommand*\initfamily{\usefont{U}{GoudyIn}{xl}{n}}
\usepackage{lettrine}
\usepackage{color}
\definecolor{olivegreen}{cmyk}{0.64,0,0.95,0.40}
\renewcommand{\LettrineFontHook}{\initfamily{}}
\setcounter{DefaultLines}{3}
\renewcommand{\DefaultLoversize}{.47}

\begin{document}
\thispagestyle{empty}
\large

\lettrine{\color{olivegreen}{M}}{. Vianney} comprit qu'\{a}
son z\{e}le s'opposerait un ennemi redoutable: toute la force
d'inertie de gens ancr\'{e}s dans leurs habitudes.

\lettrine{\color{olivegreen}{M}}{.\@ Vianney} comprit qu'\{a}
son z\{e}le s'opposerait un ennemi redoutable: toute la force
d'inertie de gens ancr\'{e}s dans leurs habitudes.
\end{document}


As you see, the two paragraphs are typeset the same.

A note: bracing accented letters is wrong, because it disables kerning:

ancr\'{e}s


is correct, whereas

ancr{\'{e}}s


is wrong. Not in BibTeX files, but that's a different situation.

• Thank you for posting this answer. A question if I may---would you say with the addition of \@ the space between the period and "Vianney" is sufficient; or might it be reduced a little bit more? Thanks again. Jan 27 at 21:56
• @mlchristians Try comparing with the simple \textsc{M. Vianney} Jan 27 at 22:06
• Many thanks @egreg. Jan 27 at 22:08

Personally, I would think of the "." to be part of the initial. Now the font used doesn't have anything "dot", so one would need to hunt for one from some different font. I use cmr here but something square or otherwise special might be better. Anyway, very "low-level" this would be my approach:

\usepackage{fix-cm} % because cm doesn't scale to arbitrary size
...
\lettrine{\color{olivegreen}M%
}{Vianney} comprit qu'\{a}
`