Calligraphy Lettering Styles

Updated April 17, 2017

The word calligraphy comes from Greek and means "beautiful" and "writing." An ancient art of beautiful writing, its origins can be traced back 4000 years to China; however, calligraphy is found all over the world and some of the best known calligraphy styles include Japanese, Islamic and Western European. Calligraphy is a highly skilled art form and is used in anything from invitations to book covers to writing letters. There are many lettering styles to choose from but the popular ones in use today are from the Western European calligraphy fonts.


Roman style calligraphy font has thin and thick lettering styles. Roman style script divides into two distinct categories, the Antique Roman and Capital Roman fonts. Antique Roman style font has capital letters much larger than the lower case letters. Capital Roman, as the title suggests, uses all capital letters. Roman calligraphy fonts use clear and traditional lettering styles.


Gothic calligraphy style has two other names; Blackhand and Old English. This type of writing featured heavily during the Renaissance and stems from as far back as the Middle Ages. Typically the writing has highly decorative features and uses a narrow writing style.


As a famous example of the font style, the Coca-Cola company logo uses Spencerian Script. A writing style popular in America between 1850-1925, it has wide spaces between letters and is commonly referred to as a graceful lettering style. Spencerian calligraphy was widely replaced in popular use from 1900 by a more modern lettering style developed by N.A. Palmer.


Uncial comes from the French word "oncial" and got its start in Europe during the Middle Ages. It has a broad style with disconnected letters. Later Uncial evolved into a script called La Ronde which France used widely until the mid-1940s in its official documentation.


The Declaration of Independence uses Copperplate script. It derives its name from copper plates on which to etch the script for reproduction. An elegant and cursive writing style, it has become a particularly popular font for wedding invitations today. Commonly, 18th and 19th century writing styles used Copperplate script.


Italic script derives its name from its Italian origins. A popular font in modern use, it has a clear lettering style used to especially emphasise words and sentences in text. In Italic font the letters slant to the right. Lucinda Calligraphy Italic, the more cursive of the Italic fonts, mimics an ornamental handwriting style. It belongs to the Chancery category of scripts of the Renaissance era.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Kris Helen became a freelance writer in 2008 and has never looked back. She has written reviews, news and interviews for such online publications as The Neave and Blogcritics, and has also written a regular music blog. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Columbia College Hollywood.