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. Thats 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. Its
gone. The tops of the ascenders had curves. Only the letter
f has one now.
In Arrighis 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 havent 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
The model is only a beginning. If your write it well with a
broad-edge pen, youre 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 shouldnt join from descenders. But italic is
flexible. Once you know how to write it, you can do what you
We arrange similar lower-case lettershapes in groups, and
call them families. Youll master them more quickly if
you begin by practising them together. (There are other ways
of ordering them, probably just as good.)