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What Are the Different Types of Handwriting Fonts?

Handwritten fonts give designs a more human feel, and they include several different styles that can generally be separated into two categories: cursive or sans serif. Learn more about their classifications and possibilities.

Ana Parracho March 31, 2021 · 5 min read
Handwriting fonts are fonts made out of writing done with an instrument, such as a pen or pencil, chalk or brush (handmade or digitally). Characteristics of the handwriting can vary widely from one handwritten font to another, including in the shape and size of the letters, the spacing between letters, the slope and thickness of the letters, and the rhythmic repetition of the elements in the different letters. More natural and realistic handwritten fonts have become hugely popular in the last few years, as they give designs a more human and playful feel, and they include several different styles that can generally be separated into two categories: cursive or sans serif.

Cursive Vs. Sans Serif

Cursive fonts (also known as script fonts) are handwritten fonts in which some or all the characters are connected in a flowing manner. The origins of cursive handwriting are thought to be associated with a need to write faster and without lifting the writing instrument (such as quills or steel dip pens) as often. Fun fact! According to a recent The New York Times article, after years of the declining use, the use of cursive handwriting appears to be making a comeback. On the other hand, sans serif handwritten fonts (also known as block letters or print script) are fonts where there is no connection between the individual glyphs. They are often easier to read than cursive fonts (although there are also extremely legible script fonts) and can include both all caps fonts and upper case and lower case fonts. These two broad styles of handwriting fonts can encompass different types of handwritten fonts themselves. Signature, brush, chalk, and monoline fonts are all handwritten fonts that can fall into either category. Let us look further into the main characteristics of these fonts, with the help of some examples.

Signature Fonts

Signature fonts are handwritten fonts that mimic people’s signature handwriting. They can be upright or slanted, and are usually cursive fonts with low stroke contrast, although this will depend on the person’s writing style and writing instrument. For instance, fonts made using pencil and ballpoint pens will result in low contrast (monoline) signature fonts, whereas using brush pens will give the font a higher contrast, with thicker downstrokes. The thickness of the line will also vary with the instrument, with markers producing thicker fonts than ballpoint pens. Thanks to OpenType features such as ligatures, stylistic and contextual alternates and swashes, modern signature fonts include enough variations for each (or each pair of) glyph(s) to make them look as close to natural handwriting as possible. Signature fonts are perfect for personal branding, such as logos, invitations, titles in layouts, among other uses.

Brush Fonts

Brush fonts are handmade fonts that are made using brush pens or brushes and ink. There are as many different types of brush fonts as there are types of brushes: from sleek and cursive to thick and sans serif, from polished fonts with a rhythmic repetition to more casual fonts with a bouncing baseline. They often have a texture that will give it a realistic brush feel, which can be achieved even more thoroughly in SVG fonts (where the glyphs are images and not vectors, like in other fonts). Thicker brush fonts are perfect to make a statement, in posters and signs, branding and packaging, and advertising; while thinner brush fonts are perfect in social media quotes, titles in layouts, and logotypes.

Chalk Fonts

Chalk fonts are fonts made using or made to look like writing with chalk. Their main characteristic is their powdery, grainy texture, and they can cover a range of different styles, from skinny sans serifs to thick cursives. Chalk fonts are perfect for lettering designs that can be used in greeting cards and prints, posters and signs, branding and packaging, and even editorial design. Thinner sans and script chalk fonts will also look adorable in any school-related designs.

Monoline Fonts

Monoline fonts are fonts that have the same stem thickness vertically and horizontally. Monoline fonts can be both script and sans serif fonts, but (in my opinion!) monoline script fonts can be particularly interesting, especially when the lines are relatively thick. They have an eye-catching vintage look that works well in lettering designs and can be used in social media quotes, postcards, prints, and posters.

Calligraphy Fonts

Slightly aside from cursive and sans serif handwritten fonts, there are calligraphy fonts, based on calligraphy, the art of beautiful handwriting using a broad tip instrument, brush, or other writing tools. Modern calligraphy fonts are elegant, romantic, and full of features like ligatures, alternate characters, and swashy initial and final forms, making them perfect for invitations (for weddings and other events), branding and logos, and editorial design.

What other handwritten font options are there?

Artistic Fonts

Handwritten fonts can sometimes come with handy extras such as ornaments, swashes, and even hand-drawn illustrations. These can be especially useful in logotypes and lettering designs, and have the added advantage of ensuring consistency between the text and drawing.

SVG Fonts

I have mentioned SVG fonts before, because of their skill at displaying texture, as well as multiple colors and gradients, in a single glyph. OpenType-SVG fonts are sometimes referred to as “color fonts” and they are perfect to convey extremely realistic pencil, chalk and brush handwritten fonts.

Do You Have a Favorite Type of Handwriting Font?

Now that we have gone over the main types of handwriting fonts, I would love to know: which are some of your favorites? Which handwritten fonts have you found yourself using the most? Please share! I would love to read about it in the comments below.
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About the Author
Ana Parracho

Hi there! My name is Ana, and I love making all styles of fonts, which I have been releasing under the name Ana’s Fonts since 2014. I hope you will find the perfect font for your next design project among them. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about any of my products.

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