The Script Typeface

By Jennifer Farley

Script Continuing our series on typeface categories, today we’re looking at Scripts. Fonts that fall into the script category are those that have the appearance of hand lettering with a brush, calligraphy pen or pencil. They can be further broken up into the very elegant or formal style that looks like traditional calligraphy and the more rough and ready casual style.

Formal Script
Many formal scripts are based on the letterforms of the three Georges. George Bickham, George Snell and George Shelley were master calligraphers who wrote with a quill or metal nib in the seventeenth and eighteen century.

Bickham Script Pro, based on the engravings of George Bickham.


Snell Roundhand, is a contemporary font by Matthew Carter based on the work of George Snell.


English font, based on the work of George Shelley.


There are literally thousands of formal script typefaces available, both free and commercial. They’re used a lot for invitations, scrolls and situations where elegant typography is called for. They are not suitable for large amounts of body text but can look really beautiful in large sizes when used in headings and in logos.

One of the most important rules to remember when using formal script fonts is to never, ever set them in all caps. Ever. They become nearly impossible to read when all the letters are in capitals. The other thing to remember is to use them sparingly.

Casual scripts
Casual scripts look like more regular handwriting and are less formal. They can still have strokes that vary in width but are not as sophisticated looking as the formal scripts. Some examples are

Kaufmann Bold




Zephyr Script


The same rules apply for the casual script fonts. Use them sparingly and mainly for headings or very short pieces of text.

What other script fonts do you use in your design work?

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  • jamieappleseed

    Agree, scripts are great for headlines in print material. They can’t really be used online (unless you of course do a workaround with images, or flash or something like that which I think is rarely advisable).

  • Matthew Magain

    One rule worth keeping in mind for script fonts—NEVER use all caps with a script font.

    I ride past a shop that is called S.S.J. every day on the way to work. The logo is a cursive font and it drives me crazy every day because it looks so terrible and is so illegible.

    Oh, nice post Jennifer btw :)



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