Greek scripts

paul d hunt's picture

I guess i'm supposing that the Greek script has it's own version of running script, but I'm having trouble tracking down any great examples of one, I found a small sample in Bergling's Art Monograms and Lettering, but I have no idea how typical the forms shown are. If anyone can help point me in the right direction on this, id appreciate any lead. Thnx.

example from Monograms.

Si_Daniels's picture

Are you talking about cursive? If so take a look as Segoe Script in Windows Vista - there are far fewer joining forms than Latin or Cyrillic in the font but there are some.

paul d hunt's picture

yes cursive. i really don't want to have to install vista.... :P

dezcom's picture

My mother's writing is rarely connected. It has a looser feel to it but there does not seem to be a real set of defined script glyphs as you see in Cyrillic. I hope Gerry has a better answer or maybe Panos is still around.


Si_Daniels's picture

>My mother’s writing is rarely connected.

This seems to map onto Jim Wasco's analysis too - that Greek hand writing does not use a lot of joins.

paul d hunt's picture

Greek hand writing does not use a lot of joins

this is kind of what i had expected. i'm still very interested in seeing how formal scripts have been adapted to Greek script.

Nick Shinn's picture

Greek hand writing does not use a lot of joins

Most handwriting doesn't these days, but "power" writers tend to use cursive style, and there are calligraphic traditions in Latin, Cyrillic and Greek script scripts.

John Hudson's picture

Gerry Leonidas has been collecting examples of Greek handwriting from different periods (mainly modern examples, i.e. since renaissance and earlier periods are well covered by palaeography studies). From what I have seen of recent Greek handwriting, most of it is disconnected, but there are some interesting shape distinctions from typical typographic forms, most notably the lowercase sigma, which when written quickly has a shape similar to a loosely formed Latin G.

Microsoft's new Segoe Script font seems to do a pretty good job of imitating modern Greek handwriting.

Gerry has some lovely examples of fine penmanship from earlier in the 20th century.

gerry_leonidas's picture

It is not possible to map Latin hand models to Greek ones in anything approaching a one-to-one relationship. It is possible to see how specific tools lead to corresponding ranges of shapes, but there has been little effort to deal with the question "what forms does this tool give rise to?" There have been sporadic entries for Greek in the "manuals" of writing masters, which are really there to tick the box ("Look Ma, I can do Greek!") but range from the uninformed to the clumsy. An exception is Porson's manual devoted to Greek (see an excerpt below) but it tries to find consistency is some movements where none exists.

More importantly, in addition to the absence of writing manuals generated by an elite (what you could call top-down models) there is a corresponding absence of models for teaching schoolchildren, and by extension adult learners of the script (bottom-up models for wider consumption). This continues through the nineteenth and twentieth century, despite the weight attached to language as an instrument of nation-building. To this day no Greek Ministry of Education or related authority conducted any serious research into the matter, and primary school teachers are left to their own devices. The official books for the early school years differ considerably in their approach (some have script models for copying, some use Helvetica -- I might add: a fantastically uninformed choice that betrays not only cluelessness in matters or writing system acquisition, but also the history of typeface design). Parents and adult learners are left to consume mostly flimsy booklets produced by the numbers, often translated from British editions.

There is only one serious study of the matter, a 1935 work by a Cretan educator, M. Amariotou, but it is as rare as it is important: I have only had sight of one copy (in Klimis Mastoridis' library) and know of no other copy in existence.

So, after this long diversion, the answer to Paul's question is: different script, different models. The script does not lend itself to joining as much as the Latin does, but most native writers join the letters in very imaginative (and often illegible) ways that you wouldn't expect, because people tend to develop highly personal hands.

Of script typefaces out there, Segoe Script is probably the best model for a contemporary informal Greek hand you can find. Jim and Carl did a great job of a difficult brief.

And, just to throw you off the scent, here's an excerpt from a letter (2000, educated male):

dezcom's picture

Thanks Gerry. Do you think Klimis would think about having a facsimile made of his book for study?


Is that your handwriting Gerry?

paul d hunt's picture

thanks everyone for your help thus far. i went back to my initial post and attached an image that shows the model from the book i had referenced there. as i am not one to be able to tell if this is clumsy or uninformed or otherwise, i'd appreciate hearing a critique of that model from those of you that do have expertise in Greek.
Gerry, thanks for weighing in. you always give the best, comprehensive answers on these types of questions. And by the way, Happy Birthday! hope it's good to you.

Nick Shinn's picture

Segoe Script is script more in name than in cursive quality. With its discrete letters, it's closer to block printing.

A formal style based on the Bergling model would be quite appropriate if it were kept tight and "professional" -- in the same way that 18th century Roman scripts still have typographic currency.

However, for the typographer there is the matter of historical allusion, of mixing types from the same era and style to provide an innate harmony. So the question would be, which serifed or sans fonts have the classical gas to run alongside a Berglingesque script? One of the GFS Bodonis, for starters. As with Snell, the capitals would make great initials, so I'd say go for it Paul. The interesting part will be using OT to deploy the alternates, such as the tall tau, which goes in the middle of words only, AFAIK, and tall zeta at the beginning?

hrant's picture

> “power” writers tend to use cursive style

Or impatient ones (like me).


gerry_leonidas's picture

Do you think Klimis would think about having a facsimile made of his book for study?

A non-trivial task in itself; the book is substantial, and in Greek. It needs at least an annotated edition, in the original. Throw in a translation, and you're talking a few years' worth of work.

Is that your handwriting Gerry?

No, mine never appears in any samples I show. I am left-handed and produce supremely illegible squiggles.

dezcom's picture

Thanks Gerry. I was thinking more along the lines of a straight scan and PDF. I didn't realize it was such a large book.


PS: My handwriting is also illegible squiggles and I am right handed but that didn't seem to help :-)

Χρόνια πολλά!

Jongseong's picture

Thanks to Gerry and others for wonderful explanations.

Besides the examples posted here, I haven't seen any examples of formal, connecting scripts for Greek (the elegant kind you associate with copperplate, wedding invitations, etc.) either as typefaces or handlettering. Reading through this thread makes me wonder if there is much to be found. It's interesting that Greek forms seem more flowing and fluent than the Latin and Cyrillic counterparts, yet it's the latter two scripts that have a strong tradition of formalized connecting script forms.

When I was learning to write Greek the one manual I saw was based on upright letterforms, so this was a question I had, too. Have there ever been script models for teaching based on connecting scripts? You know, like for learning 'cursive' for Latin and Cyrillic?

Also, does anyone know where I can see samples of the Segoe Script Greek? Don't have Vista yet..

paul d hunt's picture

Here's a bit of Segoe Greek:

John Hudson's picture

It’s interesting that Greek forms seem more flowing and fluent than the Latin and Cyrillic counterparts, yet it’s the latter two scripts that have a strong tradition of formalized connecting script forms.

It's worth remembering that the dominant Greek writing styles that emerged in the Byzantine empire and which persisted for several hundred years were a mix of connecting and unconnecting forms. The early formal book hand is entirely unconnected, but around the end of the first millennium AD a connected uncial form developed. The letters are still very upright and formal, but there are a lot of x-height and baseline connections and some exciting x-height cross-strokes that connect more than two letters. In Barbour's Greek Literary Hands, almost all the manuscripts between 850 and 1400 are variants on this style. During this period, some writing speeds up, with the usual results of horizontal compression, slant and abbreviation, laying the groundwork for the style that Aldus adopted in print, and which became to dominant writing hand in the Renaissance.

Unfortunately, almost no Greek palaeography texts cover anything after 1600. Still, that's 800 or so years of resolutely connected Greek script.

palama's picture

Thanks Gerry!
I am not a Greek. This is my personal calligraphic hands

Is it not too bad???

akma's picture

I was just about to start a new thread about Parachute's Champion Script Greek glyphs when I saw Paul's query. What do fluent readers think of the letterforms there?

As someone who learned Greek via 19th/early-20th century typefaces, I must admit that the script forms give me some trouble.

peter27's picture


the posts here are about 2 years old, so i hope no-one minds my waking them up again.

i know how to write an approximation to printed greek -- that goes back to my attending maths lectures a long time ago. it's not much different from the "segoe script" shown in paul d. hunt's post 11/apr/07, but that's not at all like the greek script that i've seen written by greeks. what i'm looking for is a cursive form that i can use to make quick notes when watching the greek news on SBS TV. the cursive form shown in paul's earlier post 6/apr/07 is more like it. so tks paul.

quadibloc's picture

A web search led me to a Wikipedia image showing a Greek script nearly identical to that in the original post. Although the script was the same, the image was different.

Its source was Das Buch der Schrift by Carl Faulmann, which was an interesting find on Google Books.

John Hudson's picture

There's a good quality reprint of the Faulmann book, published by Weltbild a few years ago, under the title Schriftzeichen und Alphabete.

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