An Overview and Comparison of Lettering Styles

An Overview of Lettering Styles

Pretty much anywhere you look from a cute boutique to Etsy to the newest decor at Target there's some type of stylized lettering being displayed on products. At first glance you might not be able to see a big difference, but there are a few different varieties to fit everyone's home decor and personal style! I thought it would be helpful to go over the most popular styles that you see day to day and explain the differences. Hopefully this can help you determine what is your favorite and also help you know what to search if you're looking online. The last thing worth mentioning is that the specific lettering style used will also determine the amount of time spent creating it and therefore impact the value of a product, but more about that below!

An Overview and Comparison of Lettering Styles: Hand lettering on a Christmas card

Hand Lettering

The first style I want to go over is hand lettering, which is what I started out doing before I even started my creative entrepreneurship journey. I really like hand lettering because there are no real guidelines besides drawing out the letters by hand in any style you want. The name hand lettering is pretty self explanatory! Plus you can also use any type of medium to create the designs so it’s a great way to get started into doing creative work with typography, if you are looking for a creative outlet. Hand lettering styles can be used in pretty much any type of products and a lot of examples tend to give a more playful and child like vibe. I have shared some hand lettering resources in the past if you'd like a little more info about it here.

One thing to note is some of the other styles I mention can technically be called hand lettering, however since they are more specific in how they look I split them up from this category. Also in the products I produce there is a distinct difference in the overall look in my hand lettered pieces versus the other styles.

An Overview and Comparison of Lettering Styles: Hand Lettering, pumpkin spice
An Overview and Comparison of Lettering Styles: Hand Lettering, all is calm
An Overview and Comparison of Lettering Styles: Hand Lettering, warm & cozy
An Overview and Comparison of Lettering Styles: Modern Calligraphy on makeup bag

Modern Calligraphy

The next style that is pretty much my favorite is calligraphy, and more specifically modern calligraphy!

Calligraphy has been around for ages, however, in recent years there has been a modern spin on it that does not follow the rules of traditional calligraphy. And while traditional calligraphy is beautiful, I love the freedom that modern calligraphy brings to the table. Plus there are a ton of ways to create modern calligraphy. My favorite way is using the traditional way with a pointed pen dipped in ink, all the supplies you need to do it on your own are listed here. You can also use brush markers to create this style or even a regular pen or marker to create a faux calligraphy version. I have used all of these mediums in my work depending on the specific project. For example when addressing envelopes I’ll use a traditional dip pen and ink, since it tends to be faster to do it this way, however it also takes more skill and practicing to achieve a professional look. Other times if I'm doing a custom piece with a name or quote I will use a brush pen and do multiple variations until I like the layout and style.

Modern calligraphy is a big hit with weddings and invitations, but is now spreading to pretty much any product or home decor item and is a style that I seriously love and is very evident in my own shop.

An Overview and Comparison of Lettering Styles: Modern Calligraphy, let freedom ring
An Overview and Comparison of Lettering Styles: Modern Calligraphy, fall y'all
An Overview and Comparison of Lettering Styles: Modern Calligraphy, rise and grind
An Overview and Comparison of Lettering Styles: Mixed Style on a thank you card

Mixed Style

The next style I'm discussing is a mix of the first two, hand lettering & modern calligraphy! By mixing these two styles together it creates a unique blend of structure and flow. Personally I use this mixed style in a lot of my work in order to keep my designs fresh and mix up the layout. Combining hand lettering and modern calligraphy is a great way to mix an upscale modern style with a playful twist. The style also gives a ton of flexibility to create designs for pretty much any type of space or item!

An Overview and Comparison of Lettering Styles: Mixed Style, Irish proverb
An Overview and Comparison of Lettering Styles: Mixed Style, sunshine please
An Overview and Comparison of Lettering Styles: Mixed Style, fall in love
An Overview and Comparison of Lettering Styles: Handwritten Fonts

Handwritten Fonts

The last “style” that I want to go over pretty much shows up everywhere. And it may look similar to the other styles, but it's actually handwritten fonts. These fonts are a great addition to create quick and easy designs. But the thing with handwritten fonts are that they are harder to manipulate to create a unique layout. In that case it's easier to hand draw from scratch. Personally I use these types of fonts to add a hand lettered look to my blog graphics and on social media, while saving the other styles for custom designs and products. But they are fun to play around with and there are so many varieties out there from free to paid versions to check out!

An Overview and Comparison of Lettering Styles: Handwritten Fonts, milano sky
An Overview and Comparison of Lettering Styles: Handwritten Fonts, sophia
An Overview and Comparison of Lettering Styles: Handwritten Fonts, saturday champagne

A Comparison of Lettering Styles

Here’s a handy little guide showing the variety of styles: hand lettering, modern calligraphy, mixed styles, and handwritten fonts. Plus how to spot each one and what they are best used for. I hope this is helpful!

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