The Best Fonts for Tattoos

Written by izzy barden
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The Best Fonts for Tattoos
Script tattoos can have a variety of meanings. (Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

All tattoos break down into two main categories: personal and memorial. A scripted tattoo can be one word or several sentences that either symbolise a personal aspect of your life or memorialise a loved-one or hero. It can be a generic slogan, such as "carpe diem," a quote from your favourite book, a personal string of words or an important name. You can choose from literally hundreds of font and styles when selecting a scripted tattoo, but there are certain details, such as placement on your body and tattoo size, that you should take into account.

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Most calligraphy scripts are large and highly detailed letters that flow together and match the intrinsic meaning of the words with visual beauty. The more words in the tattoo, the less detailed the scripts should be, to stave off a jumbled appearance. Calligraphy script is not ideal for vertical words or places on your body where the letters must be separated, such as your knuckles. Instead, consider large flat surfaces for calligraphy, such as your back, chest or stomach.


Traditional script is sometimes referred to as "sailor" script and consists of simple block letters separated from one another. You can choose to fill these letters in with black or other colours, either completely or partially shaded; just remember, solid colours appear to lay flat while shaded ones have texture. These scripts are ideal for horizontal and vertical tattoos and for knuckle placement, but their simplicity can be overbearing for larger tattoos.


Ancestral script varies for each individual, since it is determined by your unique background. Trace your ancestral past back to a nationality that embraced a different character alphabet than the traditional ABCs. For example, if you are of Swedish dissent, consider Viking runes as a script. This is a way to combine the personal nature of a tattoo with memorial meaning, paying homage to your ancestors. The particular style of the letters will dictate the appropriate size and placement for the tattoo.


A personalised script is a style you develop yourself. You can write the letters on a piece of paper several times until you find the perfect one and have an artist transfer the image into tattoo form. If it is a memorial tattoo, consider having the person you are memorialising design the font. For instance, if you want to tattoo your wife's name, think about having her exact signature tattooed instead of a generic font. This choice can add additional sentiment to an already meaningful tattoo.

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