Handwriting font for a book of letters

spirit's picture

Hey everyone

I am designing a book that a friend has written in which every other chapter is a letter. The book is called Cursive.

My friend is very keen to use a cursive/handwritten font for the letters but we both have some concerns about the legibilty of such long passages of text set out in this way.

So - I was wondering if any typophiles might be able to recommend a script that might work for extended reading like this? In the book, the letters are hand written by an American man to his lover in the late 1930's. Historical accuracy with the script would be nice to have, but it is probably not essential - legibility and generally looking good is more important.

My friend quite liked "American Scribe" (which is not particularly appropriate date-wise) but what put him off was the long horizontal crossbars on the t's as he felt they were too intrusive.

If we can't find anything appropriate that works, then the fall-back option is to simply use an italic for the letters. In any other circumstances, I think this would be my preferred option, but as the book itself is called Cursive, my friend feels it is important to have a cursive script and I take his point.

I would appreciate any suggestions you might have


oldnick's picture

The writer of these letters most likely would have learned the Palmer Method of writing, which is eminently legible. Unfortunately, the only Palmeresque handwriting font I could find was Intellecta Design's Spencerian Palmer Penmanship, which is actually self-contradictory, since the Palmer style replaced Spencerian as the norm for American schoolchildren. Samples of true Palmer penmanship can be found here...


JamesM's picture

> every other chapter is a letter

Will you be using artwork to make them look like actual pages of a letter?

nina's picture

Perhaps it could be a compromise to use a font that isn't cursive in structure, but looks «handmade» in finish, such as Dolly maybe?

geraintf's picture

what not write it out by hand?
and then scan.

Si_Daniels's picture

>what not write it out by hand?

Personally, I would go to the nearest nursing home and line up the 90+ year old men. Ask them to write a test sentence, then hire the best to transcribe the letters. Be sure to set a tight deadline and pick a healthy candidate.

Cheers, Si

spirit's picture

Thanks for the introduction to the Palmer method and Spencerian which I didn't know about - while these may be historically accurate, I feel they look far too businesslike and formal - particularly the caps in the Intellecta design font you referenced which seem very OTT. I think the type needs to be less intellectual and more real life/gritty.

Other than using a cursive font to differentiate the letters from the regular chapters - no.

If it was just a book of letters I think that would certainly be a possibility - but as these letter chapters will be interspersed with regular chapters set in roman type (probably Klim's Fejoia), I'm not sure something like dolly would be sufficiently different to give an adequate contrast at those sizes.

ha - you wouldn't say that if you had seen my handwriting...

If there was the time and the budget, then that would be a pretty good idea! Unfortunately there is very little budget (I'm doing the cover and layout for free) and it needs to be up on Lulu.com in 2 weeks in time for the Christmas "rush" - I think my chances of finding a 90 year old that could provide the required 200 pages or so of handwriting in time to hit that deadline are fairly remote - and I wouldn't want to be responsible for their "premature" passing - especially if they hadn't quite finished....

Time constraints more than anything mean that I really do need to use a typeface for this - so I would be interested to hear any more suggestions you may have. One thing I would add is that the script needs to make a reasonably efficient use of space as every page costs money on lulu...

Nick Shinn's picture

I can recommend my Handsome Pro-- it has relatively short extenders, so will make a good book page, not too airy.
Also the Pro version has proper cursive construction, with short exit strokes at the end of words, for sharp word spaces.
(You can examine this by clicking "Contextual Alternates" at the MyFonts type tester.)
And you get a choice of pens.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Disregarding the time period, what about something like FF Seria's upright italic?

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Another option: Joos.

Ale Paul's picture

check some scripts at http://www.sudtipos.com

spirit's picture

@Nick Shinn
Handsome Pro Classic is a good suggestion - it certainly ticks the boxes as far as efficiency and legibility goes - however I find it a little too feminine and friendly for this, it just hasn't got quite the right feel.

Now that is an excellent suggestion. I hadn't considered the upright italics. I love the Seria italic and Joos looks good too. It gives a strong indicator of the pen, whilst being efficient, legible and reasonably comfortable on the eye for extended reading. I'm not sure that Seria italic fits that well with Feijoa though - and Seria is a little to spindly for the main copy, but it would probably work well with Scala for the main text.

Certainly some great scripts there Ale but again, none seem to have quite the right feel for this.

The more I think about it, the more certain I become that the scripts that seem to have the right feel (like American Scribe, Lamar Pen etc) are all going to be inefficient, impractical and hard on the eye given the amount of text that needs to be set in them.

If anyone can think of a script that is as efficient and legible as Nick's Handsome, but a bit more gritty, then I would be interested to hear about it but otherwise I think I am probably going to go down the upright italics route as suggested by Frode.

Thanks for your help on this one guys - much appreciated.

nina's picture

In the way of upright Italics (although more typographic), you might like Odile:

I was also just reminded of our very own Craig Eliason's charming Emi (and its Italic). I'm not sure which stage of almost-finished it's currently on, but you might want to pester him about it if you like it: http://www.typophile.com/node/50618

oldnick's picture

they look far too businesslike and formal - particularly the caps in the Intellecta design font you referenced which seem very OTT

If you re-read my comments, I believe you will find that is exactly what I said: the Intellecta font is NOT representative of the true Palmer style...

Frode Bo Helland's picture

You could try pairing Joos with Dolly. They share a lot.

Tomi from Suomi's picture

If you don't mind this self-promotion, you could try my Suomi Hand:

Alex Kaczun's picture

If you have a particular "look" in mind...

just go to 'myfonts' and click on any related t
'tag(s)' that might be of interest to you...

For example:


hundreds of choices... Good luck.

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