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The basics of calligraphy – Part 1: “Let’s talk about (hand)written words”

A look at the typewriter

In today’s age we communicate via WhatsApp, email, Facebook Messenger, Instagram messages and send tweets into the unfathomable universe of the internet. In the digital world we talk to more people than ever before and often at the same time. When did you last pick up a pen and write someone a letter? Handwritten messages have a very special importance today as a result of their rarity.

A look at a pot of fountain pens

Time is our greatest asset and there is probably hardly any other greater proof of our affection than when we take the time to lift our fingers off the keyboard and pick up a pen instead. And now just imagine if you were writing 1-5 words per minute instead of 50-80 words per minute – that’s roughly what it’s like when we hand over calligraphy instead of typed messages.

Instagram and a fountain pen

Calligraphy and lettering have become extremely popular again over the last few years. The handwritten letters are flaunted on posters, in magazines, on websites, postcards and first and foremost: social media. There are many fonts online that imitate this look and yet nothing is as beautiful as handwritten.

Animation, which demonstrates the context-based alternatives


Font vs. Handwritten vs. Lettering vs. Hand lettering vs. Calligraphy

The terms are often used synonymously and have already led to massive confusion online and in real life.

Notebook with handwriting and a pen


A font is a typeface, a collection of ready-made letters (glyphs) which do not change and are always static. We type on our devices using fonts. A specific style of lettering that is written by hand is not a font.

Lettering vs. Calligraphy


The term for letters written by hand. Our normal scrawl we use to write our shopping lists through to calligraphy.


This is term for “making letters”, we are deliberately not talking about our usual handwriting here but either hand lettering or calligraphy.

Lettering vs. A closer look at calligraphy

Hand lettering

This term describes everything to do with “drawing letters”. With hand lettering the letters’ outlines are drawn not written.

Brush pens on the table


Calligraphy is the term for a kind of lettering that is written. Here the lines are in a row from left to right (with western calligraphy).

Brush lettering

Brush lettering is ideal for beginners. This term can stand for hand lettering using a brush pen or calligraphy using a brush pen depending on whether the letters are drawn (here you don’t have to work from left to right but the lines can be made thicker afterwards, for example) or written.


Myriam from halfapx

Myriam calls herself a logophile and cannot stop experimenting with words. It doesn’t matter what form the words take. She loves writing prose for fictional stories, personal blogs and Instagram captions that go way beyond any maximum length. Professionally she is an author of words that dress the Internet, a front end developer, website seamstress, whatever you want to call it. And nearly three years ago she became addicted to beautiful letters in the form of calligraphy. Since then she has been sharing her love of words online with a touch of her enthusiasm for photography and an extra large portion of obsession with coffee in her Blog, on Instagram and on YouTube. She has also dedicated 1,513 words to the topic of calligraphy in her own blog (in English) for anyone who would like to know even more!

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