The o-family

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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


The o-family has only five letters.

The letter  s doesn’t look much like the other four. But at the outset, practising all five together is useful.

The curved letters fit the width and height of the zigzag. Here’s the path of the letter o.

You begin at the midline, on the right, and make a sideways movement to the left.

Make the left side with a gentle curve. Near the baseline, turn and make a sideways movement to the right. The bottom curve is shallow. The movement continues to the point where you started.

Finish with an upstroke to the starting point. The exit stroke of the letter o is always from the top.

Here are two exercises to get your hand ready for the o-family.

Begin with a line of zigzags. Give the upstrokes less pressure than the downstrokes. Half a dozen at a time are easier than a whole line. Make a few tracings.

Trace a line or two of the letter o. If that’s too difficult, go back to zigzags. But if it’s easy enough for you, try writing a line of the letter o, three joined together, and followed by a gap.

Five more paths
Three letters of the o-family have the left curve in common.

The path of the letter c begins on the right, and goes on like an incomplete path of the letter o.

The italic letter e begins at the midline, right at the top. A movement to the left turns into a curve.

The left side and the bottom are the same as in the letter c. Stop where it ends, and lift the pen. A second stroke begins at the same point as the first.

Begin with a movement to the right. Continue in a tight curve above the middle of the letter. A left sideways movement goes to the first curve. To make an exit stroke, turn back and join to the next letter.

Here’s how you connect from the letter e.

The join retraces the underside of the bowl. It continues as a straight line or as a shallow curve.

A second version of the letter e became popular in the seventeenth century.

If you want to write your letter e as a loop, remember to start high.

Begin above the middle, and move to the right into the bowl. A tight curve goes to the top. The rest is the same as usual.

For historical reasons, the ascender of the letter t is about half the height of other ascenders.

Standing between two letters l, the letter t is clearly lower. There used to be a rule about it: keep the ascender high enough for the reader to tell the letter t from the letter c.

Begin between the midline and the ascender line. Make a stem slightly to the left.

When you get close to the baseline, make a curve to the right, as in the letters c and e. Lift the pen, and move it toward the midline.

Finish with a horizontal bar that starts a little to the left of the stem. It is also the exit stroke.

It looks better if it’s slighly below the midline.

Difficult slant
In the letter s, proportions are important. The lower half should be slightly bigger than the upper.

A slanted line across the letter o is very useful for tracing exercises.

Begin at the midline, on the right, and make a sideways movement to the left.

The middle of the letter s is a straight line with curves on both ends.

The bottom curve is shallow. To make an exit stroke, go back the same way, and connect to the next letter.

The o-family needs plenty of practice. Be careful that the letters don’t turn into circles. They should fit your zigzag.