How to Design a Tattoo in Font

Written by elizabeth chaplin
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How to Design a Tattoo in Font
Design a font tattoo with a few basic guidelines. (ovunque tatuato image by marcofocus from

According to Michigan State University, scientists believe that tattooing has been around since 3300 B.C. In 1992, the body of a 5,000-year-old man, who had over 50 simple tattoos adorning his body, was discovered in the Alps. Nowadays, designing your own tattoo allows you to customise the ink on your body. Tattoo artists put the clients' designs on a special skin transfer paper, then transfer the design onto your skin to use as a guide. Some people opt for simple custom text tattoos. When designing a lettered tattoo, use online guides and other techniques to determine what font you would like. It is also a good idea to check with the tattoo artist before going under the needle.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Tape measure

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  1. 1

    Visit an online tattoo lettering tool such as or Enter the text into the designated area and select a font from the list provided.

  2. 2

    Measure the area on your body, such as your leg, arm, back, hip or ribs, to determine the size and layout of the tattoo. Design the tattoo specifically for the area on your body.

  3. 3

    Look for a font that is legible, with lines that are not too thin or close together. Show a cursive font to a few friends. If they struggle to read the word or phrase, the chances are great that most other people will, too.

  4. 4

    Narrow the fonts down to the top three or top five.

  5. 5

    Meet with the tattoo artist before your appointment and show them the design variations. Make sure the artist is comfortable with the font chosen.

Tips and warnings

  • Bodies have curves and lumps. Arm and leg text tattoos will curve, while flat areas like the chest, belly or back have more leeway. Either wrap the text or design the tattoo to go vertically down your arm or leg.
  • Roman serif fonts are more formal, and typically more difficult to tattoo because of the straight lines. Cursive is more whimsical, while fonts like Old English have a more traditional tattoo appearance.
  • Presenting the tattoo artist with a variety of fonts will allow the artist to tell you which fonts will work better for the area you are tattooing.
  • Some tattoo artists do not specialise in textual tattoos, so it is important to find someone who has tattooed fonts before.
  • Take the tattoo artist's advice seriously; after all, they are the professionals.
  • Tattoos bleed over time, and lines that are very thin and close tend to do this faster.

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