Lower-case letters

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   Lower case
   The a-family
   The b-family
   The o-family
   The x-family
   The l-family
   The A-group
   The E-group
   The O-group


Italic is an historical style, and has inherited several features from chancery cursive. The descender of the letter f turns to the left, for example.

Chancery cursive is a fifteenth-century style, and needed some adjustments. It was usually written with a broad-edge pen, which makes beautiful thick and thin lettershapes. Nowadays, most people write with pencils and ballpoints and fibretips. That’s why the model is monoline, without thicks and thins.

In our version, the ascenders and descenders are shorter. The letter c is more rounded than it used to be. There are fewer decorative elements. At the end of a word, the letter e used to end with a short flourish. It’s gone. The tops of the ascenders had curves. Only the letter f has one now.

 In Arrighi’s model, the letters j and w were left out. Both are late additions to the Latin alphabet.

The descender of the letter q turns to the left. It can be mistaken for the letter g. Several other lively features haven’t lasted. When it follows the letters c and s, tradition sometimes has the letter t joined to them with a flourish. The letter z was often written very large.

Chancery italic is beautiful, but learning to write like a Renaissance clerk is not for everyone. A simpler model seems in order.




Some people like to write angular letters. Others prefer them rounded. The same writing movements are a foundation for both. Italic is a good start for a personal hand.

What next?
The model is only a beginning. If your write it well with a broad-edge pen, you’re a calligrapher. You can stretch the ascenders and descenders if you like, add flourishes, even go back to historical models.

The first letter g in this example is joined to the second. Beginners shouldn’t join from descenders. But italic is flexible. Once you know how to write it, you can do what you like.

We arrange similar lower-case lettershapes in groups, and call them families. You’ll master them more quickly if you begin by practising them together. (There are other ways of ordering them, probably just as good.)