Small Caps

In typography, capital letters designed to match the x-height of a particular typeface and size.

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Since many fonts today do not have small caps, they are created by reducing the point size by two sizes (or 80%), setting capital letters, and then returning to the original size. These are not true small caps, however, and may be lighter than the caps and look out of place. True-cut small caps are the same height as the x-height and are usually equal to the normal cap width: they are slightly expanded because they were on the same hot-metal matrix as the capital character and had to have the same width as the wider character. Digitized typesetting devices have the advantages of being able to reduce size in smaller increments and to electronically expand characters horizontally to form small caps.

Words in text that are specified as all caps could look better (in terms of the typographic color of the page) in small caps. This is also true of lining figures: they look best slightly smaller. Old Style figures look best with small caps. Also, the use of full-cap initial letters with small caps is not advised. All small caps is better. Small caps should be used for abbreviations of awards, decorations, honors, titles, etc., following a person's name.

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