Blackletter (sometimes black letter), also known as Gothic script, Gothic minuscule, or Textura, was a script used throughout Western Europe from approximately 1150 until the 17th century.[1] It continued to be used for the Danish language until 1875,[2] and for German, Estonian and Latvian until the 20th century. Fraktur is a notable script of this type, and sometimes the entire group of blackletter faces is incorrectly referred to as Fraktur. Blackletter is sometimes referred to as Old English, but it is not to be confused with the Old English language (or Anglo-Saxon), which predates blackletter by many centuries and was written in the insular script or in Futhorc.

Latin script (Blackletter hand)
LanguagesEuropean languages
Time period
12th – 17th century
Parent systems
Latin script
Child systems
FrakturKurrentschrift, including Sütterlin
ISO 15924Latf, 217
  1. Fraktur and blackletter are sometimes used interchangeably.
  2. With some exceptions; see below


Piers plowman drolleries
Page from a 14th-century psalter (Vulgate Ps 93:16–21), with blackletter "sine pedibus" text

Carolingian minuscule was the direct ancestor of blackletter. Blackletter developed from Carolingian as an increasingly literate 12th-century Europe required new books in many different subjects. New universities were founded, each producing books for business, law, grammar, history, and other pursuits, not solely religious works for which earlier scripts typically had been used.

Rudolf Koch gebrochene Schriften
Various German language blackletter typefaces
Gebrochene Schriften
English blackletter typefaces highlighting differences between select characters
Old English typeface
Modern interpretation of blackletter script in the form of the font "Old English" which includes several anachronistic glyphs, such as Arabic numerals, ampersand (instead of Tironian et) and several punctuation marks, but lacks letter alternatives like long s and r rotunda, scribal abbreviations and ligatures and contains several modernised letters such as x.

These books needed to be produced quickly to keep up with demand. Carolingian, though legible, was time-consuming and labour-intensive to produce. Its large size consumed a lot of manuscript space in a time when writing materials were very costly. As early as the 11th century, different forms of Carolingian were already being used, and by the mid-12th century, a clearly distinguishable form, able to be written more quickly to meet the demand for new books, was being used in northeastern France and the Low Countries.


Page of a rare blackletter Bible, 1497, printed in Strasbourg by Johann Grüninger. The coloured chapter initials were handwritten by a rubricator after printing.

The term Gothic was first used to describe this script in 15th-century Italy, in the midst of the Renaissance, because Renaissance humanists believed this style was barbaric. Gothic was a synonym for barbaric. Flavio Biondo, in Italia Illustrata (1531), wrote that the Germanic Lombards invented this script after they invaded of Italy in the 6th century.

Not only were blackletter forms called Gothic script, but any other seemingly barbarian script, such as Visigothic, Beneventan, and Merovingian, were also labeled Gothic. This in contrast to Carolingian minuscule, a highly legible script which the humanists called littera antiqua ("the ancient letter"), wrongly believing that it was the script used by the ancient Romans. It was in fact invented in the reign of Charlemagne, although only used significantly after that era, and actually formed the basis for the later development of blackletter.[3]

Blackletter script should not be confused with either the ancient alphabet of the Gothic language nor with the sans-serif typefaces that are also sometimes called Gothic.



Textualis, also known as textura or Gothic bookhand, was the most calligraphic form of blackletter, and today is the form most associated with "Gothic". Johannes Gutenberg carved a textualis typeface – including a large number of ligatures and common abbreviations – when he printed his 42-line Bible. However, the textualis was rarely used for typefaces afterwards.

According to Dutch scholar Gerard Lieftinck, the pinnacle of blackletter use occurred in the 14th and 15th centuries. For Lieftinck, the highest form of textualis was littera textualis formata, used for de luxe manuscripts. The usual form, simply littera textualis, was used for literary works and university texts. Lieftinck's third form, littera textualis currens, was the cursive form of blackletter, extremely difficult to read and used for textual glosses, and less important books.

Textualis was most widely used in France, the Low Countries, England, and Germany. Some characteristics of the script are:

  • tall, narrow letters, as compared to their Carolingian counterparts.
  • letters formed by sharp, straight, angular lines, unlike the typically round Carolingian; as a result, there is a high degree of "breaking", i.e. lines that do not necessarily connect with each other, especially in curved letters.
  • ascenders (in letters such as b, d, h) are vertical and often end in sharp finials
  • when a letter with a bow (in b, d, p, q) is followed by another letter with a bow (such as "be" or "po"), the bows overlap and the letters are joined by a straight line (this is known as "biting").
  • a related characteristic is the half r (also called r rotunda), the shape of r when attached to other letters with bows; only the bow and tail were written, connected to the bow of the previous letter. In other scripts, this only occurred in a ligature with the letter o.
  • similarly related is the form of the letter d when followed by a letter with a bow; its ascender is then curved to the left, like the uncial d. Otherwise the ascender is vertical.
  • the letters g, j, p, q, y, and the hook of h have descenders, but no other letters are written below the line.
  • the letter a has a straight back stroke, and the top loop eventually became closed, somewhat resembling the number 8. The letter s often has a diagonal line connecting its two bows, also somewhat resembling an 8, but the long s is frequently used in the middle of words.
  • minims, especially in the later period of the script, do not connect with each other. This makes it very difficult to distinguish i, u, m, and n. A 14th-century example of the difficulty minims produced is, mimi numinum niuium minimi munium nimium uini muniminum imminui uiui minimum uolunt ("the smallest mimes of the gods of snow do not wish at all in their life that the great duty of the defences of the wine be diminished"). In blackletter this would look like a series of single strokes. Dotted i and the letter j developed because of this. Minims may also have finials of their own.
  • the script has many more scribal abbreviations than Carolingian, adding to the speed in which it could be written.


Schwabacher was a blackletter form that was much used in early German print typefaces. It continued to be used occasionally until the 20th century. Characteristics of Schwabacher are:

  • The small letter o is rounded on both sides, though at the top and at the bottom, the two strokes join in an angle. Other small letters have analogous forms.
  • The small letter g has a horizontal stroke at its top that forms crosses with the two downward strokes.
  • The capital letter H has a peculiar form somewhat reminiscent of the small letter h.


Fraktur is a form of blackletter that became the most common German blackletter typeface by the mid 16th century. Its use was so common that often any blackletter form is called Fraktur in Germany. Characteristics of Fraktur are:

  • The left side of the small letter o is formed by an angular stroke, the right side by a rounded stroke. At the top and at the bottom, both strokes join in an angle. Other small letters have analogous forms.
  • The capital letters are compound of rounded c-shaped or s-shaped strokes.

Here is the entire alphabet in Fraktur (minus the long s and the sharp s (ß)), using the AMS Euler Fraktur typeface:


Cursiva refers to a very large variety of forms of blackletter; as with modern cursive writing, there is no real standard form. It developed in the 14th century as a simplified form of textualis, with influence from the form of textualis as used for writing charters. Cursiva developed partly because of the introduction of paper, which was smoother than parchment. It was therefore, easier to write quickly on paper in a cursive script.

In cursiva, descenders are more frequent, especially in the letters f and s, and ascenders are curved and looped rather than vertical (seen especially in the letter d). The letters a, g, and s (at the end of a word) are very similar to their Carolingian forms. However, not all of these features are found in every example of cursiva, which makes it difficult to determine whether or not a script may be called cursiva at all.

Lieftinck also divided cursiva into three styles: littera cursiva formata was the most legible and calligraphic style. Littera cursiva textualis (or libraria) was the usual form, used for writing standard books, and it generally was written with a larger pen, leading to larger letters. Littera cursiva currens was used for textbooks and other unimportant books and it had very little standardization in forms.


Hybrida is also called bastarda (especially in France), and as its name suggests, is a hybrid form of the script. It is a mixture of textualis and cursiva, developed in the early 15th century. From textualis, it borrowed vertical ascenders, while from cursiva, it borrowed long f and ſ, single-looped a, and g with an open descender (similar to Carolingian forms).


The Donatus-Kalender (also known as Donatus-und-Kalender or D-K) is the name for the metal type design that Gutenberg used in his earliest surviving printed works, dating from the early 1450s. The name is taken from two works: the Ars grammatica of Aelius Donatus, a Latin grammar, and the Kalender (calendar).[4] It is a form of textura.

Blackletter typesetting

While an antiqua typeface is usually compound of roman types and italic types since the 16th-century French typographers, the blackletter typefaces never developed a similar distinction. Instead, they use letterspacing (German Sperrung) for emphasis. When using that method, blackletter ligatures like ch, ck, tz or ſt remain together without additional letterspacing (ſt is dissolved, though). The use of bold text for emphasis is also alien to blackletter typefaces.

Words from other languages, especially from Romance languages including Latin, are usually typeset in antiqua instead of blackletter.[5] Like that, single antiqua words or phrases may occur within a blackletter text. This does not apply, however, to loanwords that have been incorporated into the language.

National forms


Blackletter in a Latin Bible of 1407 CE, on display in Malmesbury Abbey, Wiltshire, England

English blackletter developed from the form of Caroline minuscule used there after the Norman Conquest, sometimes called "Romanesque minuscule". Textualis forms developed after 1190 and were used most often until approximately 1300, afterward being used mainly for de luxe manuscripts. English forms of blackletter have been studied extensively and may be divided into many categories. Textualis formata ("Old English" or "blackLetter"), textualis prescissa (or textualis sine pedibus, as it generally lacks feet on its minims), textualis quadrata (or psalterialis) and semi-quadrata, and textualis rotunda are various forms of high-grade formata styles of blackletter.

The University of Oxford borrowed the littera parisiensis in the 13th century and early 14th century, and the littera oxoniensis form is almost indistinguishable from its Parisian counterpart; however, there are a few differences, such as the round final "s" forms, resembling the number 8, rather than the long "s" used in the final position in the Paris script.

Chaucer's works were originally printed in blackletter, but most presses were switched over to Roman type around 1590, following the trend of the Renaissance.[6] Horace Walpole wrote in 1781 that "I am too, though a Goth, so modern a Goth that I hate the black letter, and I love Chaucer better in Dryden and Baskerville than in his own language and dress".[7] The final uses of blackletter in the 17th century were for printing ballads, chivalric romances, and jokebooks.[8]


English cursiva began to be used in the 13th century, and soon replaced littera oxoniensis as the standard university script. The earliest cursive blackletter form is Anglicana, a very round and looped script, which also had a squarer and angular counterpart, Anglicana formata. The formata form was used until the 15th century and also was used to write vernacular texts. An Anglicana bastarda form developed from a mixture of Anglicana and textualis, but by the 16th century the principal cursive blackletter used in England was the Secretary script, which originated in Italy and came to England by way of France. Secretary script has a somewhat haphazard appearance, and its forms of the letters a, g, r, and s are unique, unlike any forms in any other English script.



French textualis was tall and narrow compared to other national forms, and was most fully developed in the late 13th century in Paris. In the 13th century there also was an extremely small version of textualis used to write miniature Bibles, known as "pearl script". Another form of French textualis in this century was the script developed at the University of Paris, littera parisiensis, which also is small in size and designed to be written quickly, not calligraphically.


French cursiva was used from the 13th to the 16th century, when it became highly looped, messy, and slanted. Bastarda, the "hybrid" mixture of cursiva and textualis, developed in the 15th century and was used for vernacular texts as well as Latin. A more angular form of bastarda was used in Burgundy, the lettre de forme or lettre bourgouignonne, for books of hours such as the Très Riches Heures of John, Duke of Berry.


Fraktur alte schwabacher
Schwabacher lettering. The text reads: "Beispiel Alte Schwabacher: Victor jagt zwölf Boxkämpfer quer über den Sylter Deich." Roughly translated to English, it reads "Example Old Schwabacher: Victor chases twelve boxing fighters across the Sylt dike."

Despite the frequent association of blackletter with German, the script was actually very slow to develop in German-speaking areas. It developed first in those areas closest to France and then spread to the east and south in the 13th century. The German-speaking areas are, however, where blackletter remained in use the longest.

Schwabacher typefaces dominated in Germany from about 1480 to 1530, and the style continued in use occasionally until the 20th century. Most importantly, all of the works of Martin Luther, leading to the Protestant Reformation, as well as the Apocalypse of Albrecht Dürer (1498) used this typeface. Johann Bämler, a printer from Augsburg, probably first used it as early as 1472. The origins of the name remain unclear; some assume that a typeface-carver from the village of Schwabach—one who worked externally and who thus became known as the Schwabacher—designed the typeface.


German Textualis is usually very heavy and angular, and there are few features that are common to all occurrences of the script. One common feature is the use of the letter "w" for Latin "vu" or "uu". Textualis was used in the 13th and 14th centuries, afterward becoming more elaborate and decorated and used for liturgical works only.

Johann Gutenberg used a textualis typeface for his famous Gutenberg Bible in 1455. Schwabacher, a blackletter with more rounded letters, soon became the usual printed typeface, but it was replaced by Fraktur in the early 17th century.

Fraktur walbaum
Fraktur lettering. The text reads: "Walbaum-Fraktur: Victor jagt zwölf Boxkämpfer quer über den Sylter Deich." Roughly translated to English, it reads "Walbaum Fraktur: Victor chases twelve boxing fighters across the Sylt dyke."

Fraktur came into use when Emperor Maximilian I (1493–1519) established a series of books and had a new typeface created specifically for this purpose. In the 19th century, the use of antiqua alongside Fraktur increased, leading to the Antiqua-Fraktur dispute, which lasted until the Nazis abandoned Fraktur in 1941. Since it was so common, all kinds of blackletter tend to be called Fraktur in German.


Gebrochene Schriften klein
The names of four common blackletter typefaces written in their respective styles

German cursiva is similar to the cursive scripts in other areas, but forms of "a", "s" and other letters are more varied; here too, the letter "w" is often used. A hybrida form, which was basically cursiva with fewer looped letters and with similar square proportions as textualis, was used in the 15th and 16th centuries.

In the 18th century, the pointed quill was adopted for blackletter handwriting. In the early 20th century, the Sütterlin script was introduced in the schools.



Italian blackletter also is known as rotunda, as it was less angular than in northern centres. The most usual form of Italian rotunda was littera bononiensis, used at the University of Bologna in the 13th century. Biting is a common feature in rotunda, but breaking is not.

Italian Rotunda also is characterized by unique abbreviations, such as q with a line beneath the bow signifying "qui", and unusual spellings, such as x for s ("milex" rather than "miles").


Italian cursive developed in the 13th century from scripts used by notaries. The more calligraphic form is known as minuscola cancelleresca italiana (or simply cancelleresca, chancery hand), which developed into a book hand, a script used for writing books rather than charters, in the 14th century. Cancelleresca influenced the development of bastarda in France and secretary hand in England.

The Netherlands

Textualis mixed with select use of Antiqua in an 1853 Dutch edition of the New Testament.


A textualis form, commonly known as Gotisch or "Gothic script" was used for general publications from the fifteenth century on, but became restricted to official documents and religious publications during the seventeenth century. Its use persisted into the nineteenth century for editions of the State Translation of the Bible, but had otherwise become obsolete.


Mathematical blackletter characters are separately encoded in Unicode in the Mathematical alphanumeric symbols range at U+1D504-1D537 and U+1D56C-1D59F (bold), except for individual letters already encoded in the Letterlike Symbols range (plus long s at U+017F).

This block of characters should be used only for setting mathematical text, as mathematical texts use blackletter symbols contrastively to other letter styles. For stylized blackletter prose, the normal Latin letters should be used, with font choice or other markup used to indicate blackletter styling. The character names use "Fraktur" for the mathematical alphanumeric symbols, while "blackletter" is used for those symbol characters in the letterlike symbols range.

Mathematical Fraktur:

𝔞 𝔟 𝔠 𝔡 𝔢 𝔣 𝔤 𝔥 𝔦 𝔧 𝔨 𝔩 𝔪 𝔫 𝔬 𝔭 𝔮 𝔯 𝔰 𝔱 𝔲 𝔳 𝔴 𝔵 𝔶 𝔷

Mathematical Bold Fraktur:

𝖆 𝖇 𝖈 𝖉 𝖊 𝖋 𝖌 𝖍 𝖎 𝖏 𝖐 𝖑 𝖒 𝖓 𝖔 𝖕 𝖖 𝖗 𝖘 𝖙 𝖚 𝖛 𝖜 𝖝 𝖞 𝖟

Note: (The above may not render fully in all web browsers.)

Fonts supporting the range include Code2001, Cambria Math, and Quivira (textura style).

For normal text writing, the ordinary Latin code points are used. The blackletter style is then determined by a font with blackletter glyphs. The glyphs in the SMP should only be used for mathematical typesetting, not for ordinary text. They are of limited use for writing German, as they lack umlaut diacritics and the ligature ß.


  1. ^ Dowding, Geoffrey (1962). An introduction to the history of printing types; an illustrated summary of main stages in the development of type design from 1440 up to the present day: an aid to type face identification. Clerkenwell [London]: Wace. p. 5.
  2. ^ "Styles of Handwriting". Rigsarkivet. The Danish National Archives. Retrieved March 26, 2017.
  3. ^ Berthold Louis Ullman, The Origin and Development of Humanistic Script. (Rome), 1960, p. 12.
  4. ^ John Man, How One Man Remade the World with Words
  5. ^ Distler, Hugo (c. 1935). Neues Chorliederbuch. Kassel: Bärenreiter-Verlag. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  6. ^ Pica Roman Type in Elizabethan England (1989)
  7. ^ Caroline F.E. Spurgeon, Five Hundred Years of Chaucer Criticism and Allusion (1357–1900), “Introduction” (London: Chaucer Society, 1923) xliv – xx.
  8. ^ "Black Letter as a Social Discriminant in the Seventeenth Century" Proceedings of the Modern Language Association of America 68.3

Further reading

  • Bernhard Bischoff, Latin Palaeography: Antiquity and the Middle Ages, Cambridge University Press, 1989.
  • Bain, Peter; Shaw, Paul, eds. (1998). Blackletter: type and national identity. Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. Princeton Architectural Press. ISBN 978-1-56898-125-3.

External links

Black letter law

In common law legal systems, black letter laws are the well-established legal rules that are no longer subject to reasonable dispute. Some examples are the "black-letter law" that the formation of a contract requires consideration, or the "black-letter law" that the registration of a trademark requires established use in the course of trade. Black-letter law can be contrasted with legal theory or unsettled legal issues.

Book hand

A book hand was any of several stylized handwriting scripts used during ancient and medieval times. It was intended for legibility and often used in transcribing official documents (prior to the development of printing and similar technologies).

In palaeography and calligraphy the term hand is still used to refer to a named style of writing, such as the chancery hand.

Breitkopf Fraktur

Breitkopf Fraktur is a Blackletter font designed by typographer and German music publisher Johann Gottlob Immanuel Breitkopf (1719–1794). Breitkopf was the son of the publisher Bernhard Christoph Breitkopf, founder of the publishing house Breitkopf & Härtel, a firm that continues to the present day.

Breitkopf supervised the creation of the typeface, produced in his office as early as 1750. The type design was performed by punchcutters Christian Zinck, Johann Michael Schmidt and Johann Peter Astropacus, based on an old fraktur typeface called Neudörffer-Andreä Fraktur, discovered by Breitkopf when he was printing Dürer's Unterweysung. In that sense, Breitkopf Fraktur marks a departure from the overly ornate Baroque shapes popular at the time the time, and a return to the austere calligraphic roots of Fraktur typefaces.Digital versions of Breitkopf Fraktur are available through several digital type foundries.

Carolingian minuscule

Carolingian minuscule or Caroline minuscule is a script which developed as a calligraphic standard in Europe so that the Latin alphabet of Jerome's Vulgate Bible could be easily recognized by the literate class from one region to another. It was developed for the first time, in about 780, by a Benedictine monk of Corbie Abbey (about 150 km north of Paris), namely, Alcuin of York. It was used in the Holy Roman Empire between approximately 800 and 1200. Codices, pagan and Christian texts, and educational material were written in Carolingian minuscule throughout the Carolingian Renaissance. The script developed into blackletter and became obsolete, though its revival in the Italian Renaissance forms the basis of more recent scripts.

Don't Steal My Coat

Don't Steal My Coat is an album by the Japanese noise musician Merzbow. The title is an anti-sheep shearing statement, and the artwork depicts sheared sheep.

The title is mistakenly written as Don't Steal My Goat on the spine. The title is written as Coat on the cover in blackletter on the cover, which can be mistaken as Goat to those unfamiliar with blackletter writing. The title is given as Don't Steal My Coat on the Merzbow and No Music Records sites.

Emphasis (typography)

In typography, emphasis is the strengthening of words in a text with a font in a different style from the rest of the text, to highlight them. It is the equivalent of prosodic stress in speech.

Fette Fraktur

Fette Fraktur is a blackletter typeface of the sub-classification Fraktur designed by the German punchcutter Johann Christian Bauer (1802–1867) in 1850. The C.E. Weber Foundry published a version in 1875, and the D Stempel AG foundry published the version shown at right in 1908.

Fette Fraktur (German for bold Fraktur) is based on the Fraktur type of blackletter faces. This heavy nineteenth century version was developed more for advertising than text, similar to the extremely heavy advertising versions of Didone classification faces like Poster Bodoni, Thorogood, and Fat Face.


Fraktur (German: [fʁakˈtuːɐ̯] (listen)) is a calligraphic hand of the Latin alphabet and any of several blackletter typefaces derived from this hand. The blackletter lines are broken up; that is, their forms contain many angles when compared to the smooth curves of the Antiqua (common) typefaces modeled after antique Roman square capitals and Carolingian minuscule. From this, Fraktur is sometimes contrasted with the "Latin alphabet" in northern European texts, which is sometimes called the "German alphabet", simply being a typeface of the Latin alphabet. Similarly, the term "Fraktur" or "Gothic" is sometimes applied to all of the blackletter typefaces (known in German as Gebrochene Schrift, "Broken Script").

The word derives from Latin fractūra ("a break"), built from fractus, passive participle of frangere ("to break"), the same root as the English word "fracture".

Unicode has a set of Fraktur letters intended for use as mathematical alphanumeric symbols:


𝖆 𝖇 𝖈 𝖉 𝖊 𝖋 𝖌 𝖍 𝖎 𝖏 𝖐 𝖑 𝖒 𝖓 𝖔 𝖕 𝖖 𝖗 𝖘 𝖙 𝖚 𝖛 𝖜 𝖝 𝖞 𝖟

Fraktur (folk art)

Fraktur is a highly artistic and elaborate illuminated folk art created by the Pennsylvania Dutch, named after the Fraktur script associated with it. Most Fraktur were created between 1740 and 1860.

Fraktur drawings were executed in ink and/or watercolors and are found in a wide variety of forms: the Vorschriften (writing samples), the Taufscheine (birth and baptismal certificates), marriage and house blessings, book plates, and floral and figurative scenes. The earlier Fraktur were executed entirely by hand, while printed text became increasingly common in later examples. Common artistic motifs in Fraktur include birds (distelfinks), hearts, and tulips, as well as blackletter (Fraktur) and italic calligraphy.

Today, many major American museums, including the American Folk Art Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art have Fraktur in their collection. Important Fraktur have been sold by major American auction houses and antique dealers for prices in excess of $100,000. The definitive text on Fraktur is widely considered to be The Fraktur-Writings or Illuminated Manuscripts of the Pennsylvania Germans, written by Dr. Donald A. Shelley and published by the Pennsylvania German Society in 1961. In late 2004, the majority of Dr. Shelley's Fraktur collection was sold at public auction at Pook & Pook, Inc. in Downingtown, Pennsylvania for $913,448.

Humanist minuscule

Humanist minuscule is a handwriting or style of script that was invented in secular circles in Italy, at the beginning of the fifteenth century. "Few periods in Western history have produced writing of such great beauty", observes the art historian Millard Meiss. The new hand was based on Carolingian minuscule, which Renaissance humanists, obsessed with the revival of antiquity and their role as its inheritors, took to be ancient Roman:[W]hen they handled manuscript books copied by eleventh- and twelfth-century scribes, Quattrocento literati thought they were looking at texts that came right out of the bookshops of ancient Rome".

The humanistic term litterae antiquae (the "ancient letters") applied to this hand was an inheritance from the fourteenth century, where the phrase had been opposed to litterae modernae ("modern letters"), or Blackletter.The humanist minuscule was connected to the humanistic content of the texts for which it was the appropriate vehicle. By contrast, fifteenth-century texts of professional interest in the fields of law, medicine, and traditional Thomistic philosophy still being taught in the universities were circulated in blackletter, whereas vernacular literature had its own, separate, distinctive traditions. "A humanist manuscript was intended to suggest its contents by its look," Martin Davies has noted: "old wine in new bottles, or the very latest vintage in stylish new dress". With the diffusion of humanist manuscripts produced in the highly organized commercial scriptoria of Quattrocento Italy, the Italian humanist script reached the rest of Europe, a very important aspect which has not yet been fully explored.


Kurrent is an old form of German-language handwriting based on late medieval cursive writing, also known as Kurrentschrift, deutsche Schrift ("German script") and German cursive. Over the history of its use into the first part of the 20th century, many individual letters acquired variant forms.

German writers used both cursive styles, Kurrent and English cursive, in parallel: location, contents, and context of the text determined which script style to use.

Sütterlin is a modern script based on Kurrent that is characterized by simplified letters and vertical strokes. It was developed in 1911 and taught in all German schools as the primary script from 1935 until the beginning of January 1941. Then it was replaced with deutsche Normalschrift ("normal German handwriting"), which is sometimes referred to as "Latin writing".


Lucida (pronunciation: ) is an extended family of related typefaces designed by Charles Bigelow and Kris Holmes and released from 1984 onwards. The family is intended to be extremely legible when printed at small size or displayed on a low-resolution display – hence the name, from 'lucid' (clear or easy to understand).There are many variants of Lucida, including serif (Fax, Bright), sans-serif (Sans, Sans Unicode, Grande, Sans Typewriter) and scripts (Blackletter, Calligraphy, Handwriting). Many are released with other software, most notably Microsoft Office.

Bigelow & Holmes, together with the (now defunct) TeX vendor Y&Y, extended the Lucida family with a full set of TeX mathematical symbols, making it one of the few typefaces that provide full-featured text and mathematical typesetting within TeX. Lucida is still licensed commercially through the TUG store as well through their own web store. The fonts are occasionally updated.

R rotunda

The r rotunda (ꝛ), "rounded r", is a historical calligraphic variant of the minuscule (lowercase) letter Latin r used in full script-like typefaces, especially blackletters.

Unlike other letter variants such as "long s" which originally were orthographically distinctive, r rotunda has always been a calligraphic variant, used when the letter r followed a letter with a rounded stroke towards the right side, such as o, b, p, h (and d in typefaces where this letter has no vertical stroke, as in ∂, ð). In this way, it is comparable to numerous other special types used for

ligatures or conjoined letters in early modern typesetting.

Roman type

In Latin script typography, roman is one of the three main kinds of historical type, alongside blackletter and italic. Roman type was modelled from a European scribal manuscript style of the 15th century, based on the pairing of inscriptional capitals used in ancient Rome with Carolingian minuscules developed in the Holy Roman Empire.During the early Renaissance, roman (in the form of Antiqua) and italic type were used separately. Today, roman and italic type are mixed, and most typefaces are composed of an upright roman style with an associated italic or oblique style.

Early roman typefaces show a variety of designs, for instance characters resembling what would now be considered blackletter. Printers and typefounders such as Nicolas Jenson and Aldus Manutius in Venice and later Robert Estienne in France codified the modern characteristics of Roman type, for instance an 'h' with a nearly straight right leg, serifs on the outside of the capital 'M' and 'N', and 'e' with level cross stroke, by the 1530s.Popular roman typefaces include Bembo, Baskerville, Caslon, Jenson, Times New Roman and Garamond.

The name roman is customarily applied uncapitalized distinguishing early Italian typefaces of the Renaissance period and most subsequent upright types based on them, in contrast to Roman letters dating from classical antiquity.

Rotunda (script)

The Rotunda is a specific medieval blackletter script. It originates in Carolingian minuscule. Sometimes, it is not considered a blackletter script, but a script on its own. It was used mainly in southern Europe.


The German word Schwabacher (pronounced [ˈʃvaːˌbaxɐ]) refers to a specific blackletter typeface which evolved from Gothic Textualis (Textura) under the influence of Humanist type design in Italy during the 15th century. Schwabacher typesetting was the most common typeface in Germany, until it was replaced by Fraktur from the mid 16th century onwards.


Sütterlinschrift (German pronunciation: [ˈzʏtɐliːnˌʃʁɪft], "Sütterlin script") is the last widely used form of Kurrent, the historical form of German handwriting that evolved alongside German blackletter (most notably Fraktur) typefaces. Graphic artist Ludwig Sütterlin was commissioned by the Prussian Ministry of Science, Art and Culture (Preußisches Ministerium für Wissenschaft, Kunst und Volksbildung) to create a modern handwriting script in 1911. His handwriting scheme gradually replaced the older cursive scripts that had developed in the 16th century at the same time that letters in books had developed into Fraktur. The name Sütterlin is nowadays often used to refer to all varieties of old German handwriting, although only this specific script was taught in all German schools from 1915 to 1941.

Vox-ATypI classification

In typography, the Vox-ATypI classification makes it possible to classify typefaces into general classes. Devised by Maximilien Vox in 1954, it was adopted in 1962 by the Association Typographique Internationale (ATypI) and in 1967 as a British Standard, as British Standards Classification of Typefaces (BS 2961:1967), which is a very basic interpretation and adaptation/modification of the earlier Vox-ATypI classification.Vox proposed a nine-type classification which tends to group typefaces according to their main characteristics, often typical of a particular century (15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th century), based on a number of formal criteria: downstroke and upstroke, forms of serifs, stroke axis, x-height, etc. Although the Vox-ATypI classification defines archetypes of typefaces, many typefaces can exhibit the characteristics of more than one class.

At the 2010 ATypI general meeting, the association voted to make a minor amendment to add Gaelic to the calligraphic group in the Vox-ATypI classification, to state that the Vox-ATypI system was seriously flawed, and to create a new working group on typeface classification.


In German orthography, the grapheme ß, called Eszett (IPA: [ɛsˈtsɛt]) or scharfes S (IPA: [ˈʃaɐ̯fəs ˈʔɛs], [ˈʃaːfəs ˈʔɛs], lit. "sharp S"), represents the [s] phoneme in Standard German, specifically when following long vowels and diphthongs, while ss is used after short vowels.

The name Eszett combines the names of the letters of s (Es) and z (Zett) in German. The character's Unicode names in English are sharp s and eszett.It originates as the sz digraph as used in Old High German and Middle High German orthography, represented as a ligature of long s and tailed z in blackletter typography (ſʒ), which became conflated with the ligature for long s and round s (ſs) used in Roman type.

The grapheme has an intermediate position between letter and ligature.

It behaves as a ligature in that it has no separate position in the alphabet. In alphabetical order, it is treated as the equivalent of ⟨ss⟩ (not ⟨sz⟩).

It behaves like a letter in that its use is prescribed by orthographical rules and conveys phonological information (use of ß indicates that the preceding vowel is long).

Traditionally, it did not have a capital form, although some type designers introduced de facto capitalized variants of ß.

In 2017, the Council for German Orthography ultimately adopted capital ß (ẞ) into German orthography, ending a long orthographic debate.While ß has been used as a ligature for the ⟨ss⟩ digraph in early modern printing for languages other than German, its use in modern typography is limited to the German language. In the 20th century, it fell out of use completely in Swiss Standard German (used in Switzerland and Liechtenstein), while it remains part of the orthography of Standard German elsewhere.

ß was encoded by ECMA-94 (1985) at position 223 (hexadecimal DF), inherited by Latin-1 and Unicode (U+00DF ß LATIN SMALL LETTER SHARP S).

The HTML entity ß was introduced with HTML 2.0 (1995). The capital variant (U+1E9E ẞ LATIN CAPITAL LETTER SHARP S) was introduced by ISO 10646 in 2008.

Types of handwritten European scripts
and medieval
Typographic units
Digital typography

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