Ideas for Calligraphy Borders

Written by rochelle leggett
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Ideas for Calligraphy Borders
Calligraphy is an art spread across many cultures and age groups. (Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

"Calligraphy" refers to the art of creating beautiful writing, and many different cultures have their own calligraphic traditions. A carefully written piece of calligraphy is very beautiful on its own, but to make a piece of calligraphy look more like a complete work of art, the calligrapher may wish to add a border for a look of finality. There are many ways to make borders for calligraphy, both simple and complex.


A basic line can serve as a nice border and is very simple to do. Use a ruler and a pencil to lightly measure and mark a line to guide you wherever you would like to put a border. Try using multiple lines and pen widths or different colours of ink to add interest to a plain line. A stencil, like a French curve, is useful for making curved angles rather than sharp angles as the border goes around a corner, if desired.

Geometric Shapes

Geometric shapes, such as squares, hatching, zigzags or checkerboard patterns are all very simple because they can be easily traced onto a page using a ruler and pencil. Geometric patterns are also easily duplicated to make a pattern go all the way around a page. Pens with nibs, rather than brushes, are particularly suited for geometric patterns.


A common way to decorate a calligraphic border is with flourishes, or loops and curves that imitate the writing itself. Many flourish patterns are extremely complicated, involving many layers of symmetrical lines and loops, and such a pattern requires some planning and practice. Using a ruler can help make a more even pattern. However, a simple flourish, like an S-shaped curved line, can be suitable for very simple borders. Adding small dots to a design helps add interest and make the design appear more complex, if desired.


A calligraphic work is composed of words written in a striking way. Bordering those words with more words can be striking, as well, and may lend more depth and meaning to the original work. Words used for a border should be less complex than what they are bordering, consisting of a few words or a simple phrase that emphasises the calligraphic work. A border of words should also be written in a smaller font, preferably different but complimentary to the main font.


Leaves and flowers are traditional for calligraphy borders. These types of borders can be very difficult and complex, but the effects are quite striking. Try drawing out your design on graph paper first; this will help you to plan out an even design that can be duplicated in order to create a border that goes all the way around a piece. With a little practice, it is also possible to freehand a design; this will look more natural and like real vegetation.

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