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Published by the 

McGrei'w-Hill Bools^Conrnpaniy 

5ucce5Sor.s io the Book DcptiHnionts of the 

McGraw Publishing Company Hill Publishing 0>mpany 

Publishers of Books for 
Electrical World TKe Engineering' and Mining Journal 

Engineering Record American Macniniit 

Electric Railway Journal Coal Age 

Metallurgical and ClKemical Engineering Power 


r iT T iT iT lT iT .HTiriTTmna 











Cdpyhicht, 1(109, I'.IKI, 1012, by Thomas E. Fuknch and Rdhkut MiuRi.iaoiiN 

Printi-i! and Ehxirolyped 

by The MapU Press 

i'otk. Pa. 

6 b d u 
7 ^^ e 


There are two general classes of persons among 
those who are interested in the study of the subject of 
lettering, first, those who have to use letters to convey 
information on drawings, as engineering students and 
draftsmen, architects, etc.; second, those who use let- 
tering in design, as art students, artists, designers and 
craftsmen. The foundation is the same for both, 
whether the application be on a mechanical drawing or 
a poster. The first class may be concerned mainly 
with legibility and speed, and the second with beauty, 
but there can be no distinction in the principles of the 

There is moreover a constant overlapping of the 
classes thus arbitrarily divided, as for example in the 
case of the architect, who has both to letter his office 
drawings and to design permanent inscriptions. 

One need only to recall on the one hand instances of 
the painful attempts of the engineering student to do 
something "artistic," and on the other the examples of 

designs made by otherwise competent art students, 
which have been ruined by inappropriate, ill-formed, 
childish lettering, to feel that there are some in both 
classes who have failed in the appreciation of lettering 
as an art. 

This book is designed as a general text-book on the 
subject. The draftsman may take up as much as is 
given in the first part, for the ordinary lettering in 
connection with drawing; the designer will need to go 
farther into the study of styles and composition as 
carried on in the later chapters. 

A student in an engineering course must be given 
training in lettering as a necessary requirement in the 
execution of technical drawing, but it is too often true 
that this lettering on account of its application is 
considered to be mechanical drawing. Let it be 
emphasized here at the outset that lettering is not 
mechanical drawing, but is design, based on accepted 
forms and developed freehand. 


We have taken a step farther in sayinjr that there is 
no engineers' lettering as distinguished from other 
lettering. There is simply the adaptation by each 
draftsman of the style suitable to his particular needs. 
The map draftsman, the architectural draftsman, the 
machine draftsman will each select appropriate letters 
for his kind of work. "Engineers' lettering," so- 
called, is kept in bad repute by those who persist in 
making such mechanical caricatures as geometrical 
letters, block letters, etc. 

As there are forms, however, for each branch of 
drawing which are particularly adapted to it, the sub- 
ject should be taught to engineers with reference to 
their chosen branch. The civil engineer, for example, 
will practice the Modern Roman and the stump letter, 
as these have become standard letters in map drawing 
and similar work. The architect, on the other hand, 
will have no use for the Modem Roman, but should 
study in detail the Old Roman of both the early and 
Renaissance periods. 

To the engineering student it may seem to be only of 
general interest, but to the architect, art student, and 
designer, some knowledge of the history of the alphabet 
and the different periods of its development is abso- 
lutely essential. It is not in our province to discuss 
the origin or derivation of the present alphabet, for 
this the student if interested is referred to the standard 
works on palaeography; but a short historical outline 
is given in the first chapter in order that subsecjuent 
references may be understood. 

It will be noticed that in the analytical plates the 
letters have been arranged in their family groups 
instead of in the usual alphabetical order. 

The assistance of Mr. Dard Hunter, Mr. W. A. 
Dwiggins, Mr. Ralph Fletcher Seymour, Dr. Rudolf 
von Larisch, Mr. Alfred Bartlctt, Mr. W. J. Norris, Mr. 
Cree Sheets, Messrs. Curtis and Cameron, John Wil- 
liams, Inc., the Century Company, and others who 
have made drawings for this book, or permitted the 
reproduction of their work, is gratefully acknowledged. 



Preface v 


Historical Outline i 


Letter Construction 4 

General proportions — Optical illusions — The Roman letter 
— Rules for shading — Old Roman — Renaissance Roman — • 
Analysis of letter forms — Geometrical construction — Mod- 
ern Roman — Commercial gothic — Single stroke letters — 
Single stroke vertical capitals — Single stroke inclined capi- 
tals — Reinhardt letter — Inclined Roman — Stump letters. 


Composition and Titles 32 

Principles — Spacing — Titles, for machine drawings, for ar- 
chitectural drawings, for maps — Symmetrical composition — 
P'ull panel — Other title forms — Record strip. 


Selection of Styles 30 

For architectural work — Inscriptions and tablets — For map 
drawing — For signals and signs — For shop drawings. 


Letters in Design 42 

Importance — Old Roman in design — Freedom in composi- 


tion — Broad pen construction — Roman lower-case — -The 
Uncial— The Celtic— The Gothic, or "Text letter"— Steel 
and reed pens for Gothic writing — Italic and script — .Art 


Design .and Composition 64 

Principles — ^The period, purpose and material — Ornament — 
Legibility and beauty — Methods — Spacing — .Appropriate 
letters for different branches of applied design — Suggestions. 


M0N0GR.AMS, Ciphers and Marks 75 

Definitions — Requirements — The period, purpose and 
material — Forms, superimposed, successive, continuous, 
reversible — Method of designing a monogram — De\nces and 
marks — Designs with separate letters. 


Drawing for Reproduction 82 

Photomechanical processes — Materials — Size — Methods of 
enlarging drawings — Color — Corrections — Effects gained 
through engraver's aid. 


Bibliography 85 

Index gi 


Historical Outline 

"If we set aside the still more wonderful 
invention of speech, the discovery of the 
aljthabet may fairly be accounted the most 
diflicult as well as the most fruitful of all 
the past achievements of the human intellect." 

For the general student of history, as well as the art 
student, the study of palaeography is an interesting one. 
Canon Taylor, from whom the above quotation is taken, 
has written a history of the alphabet* in two large 
volumes which is accepted as standard, although some 
of his theories are disputed by other palaeologists; and 
a bibliogra])hy of other works, both historical and 
practical, will be found at the end of this book. It is 
sufficient for us to say that our letters are the result of a 
long evolution probably from the Egyptian and through 
the Phcenician and Greek to the Roman. The forms 
of the letters of our present alphabet (with the excep- 
tion of j, u, w, y, and z) reached their full develop- 

ment about two thousand years ago, and have been 
presen'ed for us on the Roman inscriptions of that 
period. This early letter, which we now call Old 
Roman, is the parent of all the styles, however diver- 
sified, which are in use to-day, and curiously enough, 
instead of being archaic, is the most useful and 
artistic one for the designer. 


* The Alphabet, Its Origin and Development. Isaac Taylor, London. 




Fig. I. — Portion of Inscription on tlie Trajan Coiumu. 

Historical Outline 

This monumental form was used in the earliest 
Latin manuscripts with such modifications as would 
naturally arise from the use of |he pen instead of the 
chisel. A variety known as rustic, although this name 
has nothing to do with its appearance, was in use 
also from the second to the fifth century. This form, 
however, is of no practical value to us. In the fourth 
century there was developed the uncial, a letter with 
beautiful curved outlines and of great value to the 
designer. In the evolution of this form, the Irish 
half-uncial, now known in design as Celtic, reached 
a degree of perfection and beauty never since sur- 
passed. The wonderful book of Kells (early eighth 
century) in the Dublin museum is perhaps the finest 
example of lettering and illuminating extant. 

It will be noted that up to this time there was not a 
separate alphabet of capitals and small letters; not until 
the latter part of the eighth century was this distinction 
made. This period marks an epoch in the history of 
writing. Charlemagne in 789 ordered the revision and 
rewriting of all the church books. In the activity in 
the monasteries which followed, Alcuin of York, the 
friend and advisor of Charlemagne, and who was 
Abbot of St. Martin's of Tours, developed an alphabet 

of lower case letters, which has been known ever since 
as the Caroline (Carlovingian) minuscule. Our 
present script writing is the direct descendant of this 
Caroline letter. 

Figure 2 is a reproduction of a ninth century manu- 
script, showing this letter written, it will be noted. 

^emmixmen msmrabimufterauodrKmao 
facrtc MtCauaBimuf indu^ae • uxprtyruo itl 
rgno^2rt? im» (iuato.munuf hooaaoimuLtaf 
{jtr^jimuf uolwraca 

iT> TuLLi cicen^oNis AJoheiLENNij 
LiBeit pRjfnus e.xpLiciT- 
)ncij>it iiBeiL secuN OuSv 

Fig. 2. — From a Ninth Century Manuscript. 

with a slanted pen. This full round letter gradually 
became more compressed as parchment became more 
expensive, and is known from the eleventh century on 
as Gothic. During all this time, the old Roman 
capitals were in constant use as initial letters. This 

Historical Outline 

Gothic reached its extreme limit of angularity and 
compression in the fourteenth and lifteenth centuries, 
when the curves had given place entirely to angles. 
When the letter is so much compressed that the black 
strokes are wider than the white spaces between, it is 
known as blackletter. The form commonly known 
as Old English is an English Gothic of this period. 

The Italians, who never followed the extreme angu- 
larity of the English and German Gothic, went back 
in the period of the Italian Renaissance (fifteenth 
century) to the Caroline minuscule as a model, and 
designed the Roman small letters, the letter of our 
books of today. The architects of the same period in 
their revival of classic architecture remodeled the old 
Roman capital letters for monumental use. 

At the invention of printing in the middle of the 
fifteenth century, the first types were cut in imitation 

of the Gothic writing of that period, but soon after- 
wards (1468) type was cut on Roman lower rase. 
Throughout the next century books were printed both 
in Roman and Gothic. The Roman finally replaced 
the Gothic entirely, except in Germany, whose modern 
German text is the sole survivor of the mediaeval form. 
In the sixteenth century, the Italic was designed. 
The graceful French script, the letter of the period of 
the Louis' followed. In the eighteenth century the 
modifications which resulted in the modern Roman 
occurred. In the nineteenth century was begun the 
use of the bold letter, which we call Commercial 
Gothic. The present century is witnessing a most 
extensive revival of good lettering. The leaders in 
this movement are the German secessionists and the 
varieties of letters which they are producing may be 
classified under the general term of Art Nouveau. 


Letter Construction 

General Proportions. — Before combining letters 
into words we must be familiar in detail with the forms 
and peculiarities of each letter. Letters vary in their 
proportion of width to height. Not only are the 
widths of the different letters in the same alphabet 
very uncriual, but different alphabets vary in their 
"measure," some being tall and narrow, others short 
and wide. There is a certain proportion or appear- 
ance as in the ordinary printed or drawn letters 
which may be called normal or standard. The 
styles whose widths are less than these in propor- 
tion are called compressed or condensed, and those 
whose widths are greater are known as expanded or 

There is also in the different styles a wide variation 
in the proportion of the thickness of the stem or stroke 
of the letters to their height, ranging all the way from 
1/3 to 1/16. Letters with heavy stems are called 

Bold Face or Black Face, and those with thin stems, 
Light Face. 

There is an optical illusion well known to all design- 
ers, in which a horizontal line drawn across the middle 
of a rectangle appears to be below the middle. In 
order that the divisions may seem to be symmetrical 
such a line must be drawn above the middle. In the 
construction of letters this illusion must be provided 
for in what may be called the "rule of stability." In 
order to give the appearance of stability such letters 
as the B E K S X and Z, with the figures 3 and 8 
must be drawn smaller at the top than the bottom. 
To see the effect of this illusion turn a printed page 
uj)side down and notice the letters mentioned. 

Another optical illusion which must be provided for 
in large carefully drawn letters is that a round letter 
of the same height as an adjacent square letter will 
appear smaller, as it touches the guide line at only one 

Lettkr Construction 

point. In order to give the appearance of equal 
height, the round letters must be extended a trifle over 
the guide line on top and bottom. This is also true 
in regard/to the pointed ends of the angular letters. A 
letter corning to a sharp point at the guide line will 
appear smaller than its companions. The point may 
either be extended over the line, or cut off as in Fig. 14. 

These are delicate refinements and any exaggeration 
of them is much worse than not observing them at all. 

A letter drawn in outline will not appear to have the 
same proportion of stem to height as one of the same 
width of stem made solid, because in the first instance 
the eye sees the enclosed area and in the second sees 
the outside. On this account a letter which is to be 
filled in solid should be outlined in ink so that the 
outside edge of the ink line touches the penciled outline. 

These general proportions and peculiarities arc true 
of all styles. In this chapter we shall consider the 
two fundamental styles, the Roman Capitals and the 
Commercial Gothic. 


The Roman is the foundation letter. Although 
there are countless variations of it, there may be said 

to be three general forms, the early or classic, the 
renaissance, and the modern. The classic and the 
renaissance are very similar in effect, and the general 
term Old Roman is given to both. Type based on 
this form is called by the printers "Roman Oldstyle," 
and that based on the modern form, simply "Roman." 
With the newer faces of type, however, this distinction 
is not so significant. 

The Roman letter is composed of two weights of 
lines, corresponding to the down stroke and the up 
stroke of the broad reed pen with which it was origi- 
nally written; and from this we can formulate a rule 
which will prevent the inexcusable fault of shading a 
letter incorrectly. With twenty centuries of established 
form as precedent, it is, from the standpoint of design, 
as bad to shade a letter on the wrong stroke as it is to 
reverse it or to misspell the word in which it occurs. 
To determine the accented lines, we have then simply 
to draw the letter in one stroke and note which lines 
were made downward. 


Fig. .5. 

Letter Construction 

It will be noticed that all the inclined shaded strokes 
with the exception of Z arc downward from left to 
right (\) which makes a secondary or supplementary 
rule applicable to X and Y. 

(i) Heavy Lines — all down strokes. This includes 
all vertical lines (except as noted above in M, N, and 
U), and all lines slanting downward, left to right. 
(2) Light Lines — all horizontal strokes. All strokes 
upward from left to right (except Z) 

In the Roman letter the heavy line (a) 
is called the stem or body mark, the light 
line (b) the hair line, the cross stroke (c) 
which finishes all free ends the serif, and 
the cur\'es (d) connecting the serifs with 
the stem, brackets or fillets. 


Of the many existing inscriptions of the early Roman 
period, that at the base of the Trajan Column at 
Rome (114 A. D.) may be taken as a typical example. 
Fig. I is a photograph of a portion of the inscription, 
and Fig. 5 an alphabet drawn carefully from this great 
classic example. 


Fig. 4. 


Fig. 5. — Classic Roman. Drawn from the Trajan Column. 

OLD ROMAN (renaissance) 





Fig. 6. — Two Examples of Renaissance Roman. 

Letter Construction 

At the time of the ItaHan Renaissance the architects 
went to the old Roman models for their letters, modify- 
ing and retming them. Fig. 6 illustrates two famous 
examples of Mediaeval Roman, differing widely in 
appearance, the Henry VII having the largest serifs 
that would ever be used, and the Marsuppini very 
small ones. 

The Old Roman is a light face letter, the body stroke 
being one-eighth to one-tenth of the height of the 
letter, and the hair line from two-fifths to two-thirds 
of the width of the body stroke. 

In the proportion of width to height the Old Roman 
alphabet may be divided into two parts, the wide 
letters and the narrow letters, and it is the combination 
of these that gives the variety and beauty to this style. 
The division is as follows: 


Fig. 7. 

In the Renaissance Old Roman the narrow letters 
are sometimes wider in projiortion than those of the 
early period, but the above division is still very evident. 

J, U, Y, and Z arc letters of a later period than the 
rest of our alphabet. J was not diilerentiated from I 
until the sixteenth century, and hence in designing 
strictly classical inscriptions I is sometimes used for J. 
Similarly, the curved U is of later introduction, the 
sharp V being used for it until comparatively recent 
times. In careful Old Roman lettering, therefore, it 
is entirely in keeping to use V for U if the legibility is 
not affected. Its indiscriminate use however, as for 
example on office drawings should be avoided. Such 
use is often pure affectation. Some in order to pre- 
serve legibility without using the U form, adopt the 
manuscript form u, as in Figs. 99 and loi. 

The beauty of the Roman letters depends not a 
little upon the appearance of the serifs and spurs which 
terminate every free end. These originated, probably, 
from a chisel cut made across the end to prevent over- 
cutting, and were copied by the penmen on account 
of the finished appearance which they gave. They 
are connected to the stems by small curved fillets or 
brackets, and great care must be observed in drawing 
these curves. If made even a trifle too large, the 
appearance of the letter is badly marred. Fig. 8 shows 
in detail several forms of these terminals. 

Letter Construction 

(a) is the serif of the classical Old Roman. 

(b) a longer serif as found on some renaissance 

(c) the serif on the hair line of the A, M, and N. 

(d) top and bottom 
spurs on horizontal lines, 
such as E and T. 

The requirements for 
proficiency in lettering 
are, first, an intimate and 
critical knowledge of the <— ' 
letter forms, second, and 
more important, the feel- 
ing for composition, 
which can be gained only 
by continued observa- 
tion and practice. 

Although difficult of execution both in individual 
form and in composition, the Old Roman as the 
foundation letter must be studied first by those who 
are interested in lettering as an art. 

Those who wish only to acquire the ability to letter 
a shop drawing legibly and correctly may use the time 
available with the single stroke letters of pages 23 and 

Fig. S.— Serifs 

26 alone, but with such, even a slight knowledge of 
the historical forms will greatly increase the power of 
appreciation of the beautiful in lettering. 

It is assumed that the student is familiar with the 
use of the ordinary drawing instruments. While 
lettering is not mechanical drawing, a T square, tri- 
angle and dividers are necessary adjuncts. 

In penciling, a very light free sketchy line should 
be employed, and the use of a very hard pencil avoided. 
The beginner's usual mistake is in cutting into the 
paper with hard wiry lines that cannot be erased and 
that hinder the motion of the pen. A 2H pencil 
sharpened to a long conical point is in general the best. 

Figs. 9 and 10 contain a carefully drawn Renaissance 
Roman alphabet. The stems are one-ninth of the 
height of the letter, and the hair lines one-half the 
width of the stems. 

The width of each letter is given in units, the unit 
being one-ninth of the height of the letter. A scale 
should be made by dividing the height into nine parts 
and marking these divisions on the edge of a strip of 
paper or a card. 

The fine-line circles and geometrical construction 
shown on this plate are given for use in drawing the 

I'lG. g. — Roman Alphabet (lirst hallj, with a Method of Geometrical Construclion ior Large Letters. 


Fig. io. — Roman Alphabet (second half) with a Method of Geometrical Construction for Large Letters. 


Letter Construction 

letters to large size for architectural, and other purposes 
and will be described later. 

In studying this alphabet, top and bottom guide 
lines and a center or waist-line should be drawn, 
making the letters not less than one inch high, prefer- 
ably much larger, and the letters drawn in outline, 
freehand, fixing the proportion and characteristics of 
each letter firmly in the mind. 

The letters on this plate are given in their alphabet- 
ical order for convenience, but in studying them it is 
well to take them in their family order as given in Fig. 
13, and learn the relationships. 

jr. ju -5. 



Fig. II. — Typical Order and Direction of StroUes. 

The widths should be marked off from the paper 
scale and the letters sketched, keeping the stems of 
uniform width, following the general order and direc- 
tion of strokes outlined in Fig. 11, always drawing the 
outlines of the main strokes of the letter first, then the 

serifs, and finally the fillets. The analyzed H is 
typical for all the straight letters. The letters with 
inclined sides should have the outside lines made first 
as in the A of Fig. 11. 

In the O family the outside curves of the O, Q, C, 
and D are circles and when done freehand should be 
drawn in two strokes as shown in Fig. 1 1. The inside 
curve is an ellipse, usually tilted at an angle as 

Fig. 12. — Stages of Construction. 

The narrow curved letters B, P and R are sketched 
by first drawing the main stem, then starting the 
horizontal lines, then marking the extreme points of 
the curve. The inside lines of the curved strokes may 
be made before the outside, as the beauty of these 
letters depends largely on the shape of the enclosed 
space of the background. 

In inking the Old Roman as a solid freehand letter, 
a rather coarse writing pen should be used, and it is 



r -<rT7» 



lZ^-.J-.^Aj 1 J. 

-?--'■ ■; 




Fig. ij. — A Shorl Serif Roman Alphalicl, Construe loi on Squares. 



Lktter Construction 

better to ink a broad line down the inside first (using 
a brush for large letters) and build out to the outline, 
as shown in Fig. 12, rather than to ink in the outline 
and fill in. 

The ampersand ( &) is a monogram of the Latin 
word ct. It is made in a great variety of forms, the 
one in Fig. 13 being an early form which shows clearly 
its derivation. 

Fig. 13 is another Roman alphabet, grouped in 
family order, and with the letters enclosed in squares 
to show their proportions. The serifs on this letter arc 
shorter and thicker, suitable for raised letters in stone 
or metal. In drawing them great care must be exer- 
cised to avoid any exaggeration of this shape, and the 
getting of a club-footed effect. 

A description of the method of drawing Roman 
letters in single stroke with a broad pen is given in 
Chapter V, page 44. 

Mechanical Construction. — Occasions will arise, 
such as in the design of inscrijUion lettering, when it 
will be necessary to construct letters accurately with 
drawing instruments. Leonardo da Vinci published 
a book in 15 14 with a beautiful alphabet constructed 
geometrically, and several other noted mediaeval 

architects and writers followed with other construc- 
tions, some very complicated. 

The construction given in Figs. 9 and ro is on the 
order of these great precedents, but is made for 
practical use, and it is believed, will be found very 
easy to follow. 

The modulus or unit is one-ninth of the height and 
all the dimensions are given in terms of this unit. 
The stems, as has been stated, are one unit wide and 
the light lines one-half unit. All the fillets on vertical 
stems have a radius of seven-eighths of a unit. The 
small figure in all the other circles is the radius in units. 
The ellipses of the inside lines of the curved letters are 
made with four centers with the construction shown in 
the dotted lines. The dimensions for this construction 
are shown in the O, Fig. 10, and are the same for all 
the letters, the angle of tilt being 15 degrees, and the 
radii of course being found by marking the thickness 
of the stems from the outside curve, which is always a 

In constructing these letters for execution in stone 
the comment on page 40 should be observed. 

This geometrical construction is given as a close 
mechanical approach to the forms of the letters. No 


Letter Construction 

mechanical construction, however, can impart the 
subtlety and character of the freehand curves. 


In the eighteenth century modifications were intro- 
duced by some of the type founders which resulted in 
the letter in common use now in our books and news- 
papers, and which we have called Modern Roman. 
This modern form has lost all the variety and beauty 
of its old prototype, is essentially inartistic and of 
absolutely no value in design, as in the attempt for 
uniformity it has become only mechanical and mo- 
notonous, but it is the standard letter of our government 
in the bureau of engraving and printing, coast survey, 
topographic survey, and geological survey, and is in 
general use throughout the country for maps and 
similar work; it therefore must be mastered thoroughly 
by all civil engineering students. 

It is generally made with a much heavier face than 
the old Roman, a usual proportion of width of stem 
to height being one to sLx, with comparatively very 
light hair lines and long serifs. This violent contrast, 
while it may give some effect of delicacy or refinement, 
reduces greatly the legibility of the letter at a distance. 

Figures 14 and 15 contain the alphabet and numerals 
of the Modern Roman, drawn in a slightly expanded 
form, which is more pleasing for ordinary work than 
the compressed or even the standard form. Using the 
width of the body stroke as a unit, the letters are sLx 
units high, and the width of each letter is indicated by 
the dimension in units. A convenient scale to mark 
off these dimensions may be made on the edge of a 
card or strip of paper. 

The order and direction of strokes are indicated on 
each letter, and should be followed carefully. As is 
usual in freehand drawing, all vertical and inclined 
lines, and curved lines, are made downward, and all 
horizontal lines from left to right. The strokes of 
each letter should be studied and the letter prac- 
tised over and over until the student is perfectly 
familiar with it. The Roman letter is diflicult and 
it is only by strict attention to details that it can be 

In large letters an optical illusion similar to those 
mentioned on page 4 may be provided for. The 
width of the thickest part of a cuned letter, as the O, 
in order to appear to be of the same thickness as the 
stem of a straight letter, should be made a very little 



c I a 3 4 s 


I— 4j- 






!2 3| 


H^ It 







A "Hd ILJ ^ 


Fig. 14. — Construction of Modern Roman Letters and Figures. 


■ g 3 ■a ^ 6 

5 2| 

)' 1 

^ rrin rii 


i)^ - 

r±ri r'-d rjir\ r^d rij 

riG. 15. — Construction of Modem Roman Letters anil Figures. 

Letter Construction 

wider. This variation is only "the width of a line," 
and must not be exaggerated. 

The curve of the round letters is not circular as in 
the Old Roman. Taking the O as typical the outside 
line is flattened slightly at the diagonals, as if it were 
made up of four curves at the extremities of the axes, 
and these connected by four longer curves, as illus- 
trated in Fig. 1 6. This is characteristic of all the 
curved letters, and the observance will give a grace to 
the letters otherwise not obtainable. 

Curve Shape in Modern Roman. 

The inner line is nearly straight, and connected to 
the outer by a transition curve. Great care must be 
used to avoid the crescent shape of Fig. i6. 

The appearance of the Modern Roman is marred 
oftener by poor serifs than in any other way. Correct 
and incorrect serifs and spurs are shown in enlarged 
form in Fig. 17. This figure also indicates that the 

terminal ball of the J, 2 etc., is a circle joined to the 
stem by a small fillet. 

At (f) is shown the cusp or intersection of the 
curves of R and B, illustrating the rule that two 
heavy strokes must never touch each other. It will 
be noticed that the numerals 2, 5, and 7 are exceptions 
to the rule that horizontal strokes are light. 



Fig. 17. — Modern Roman Serifs. 

In practising the alphabet three horizontal guide 
lines should be drawn, the top, bottom and waist lines, 
as shown in the upper line of Fig. 14 and the letters 
penciled lightly using the 2H pencil, with sharp con- 
ical point, always adding the serifs and fillets last. 
In inking smaller sizes, the same order of strokes 
should be observed. For larger letters the inking 


Letter Construction 

should be done as described for the Old Roman, 
working out from a broad rough stroke between the 

In letters smaller than 1/4" the fillets on the serifs 
of the body strokes become so small that it is best to 
omit them. 

In very careful map work and the like the straight 
lines are sometimes inked with the ruling pen, and the 
curves added freehand. 


There is an unfortunate confusion about the term 
"Gothic" as applied to letters. All paleographers 
and art students apply the word, rightly, to the 
manuscript forms of the eleventh to the fifteenth 
centuries, written with a tilted pen and changing 
from the curved lines of the early or round Gothic 
to the angular of the later forms. But in this country 
the word Gothic is taken universally by printers, 
engravers, lithographers, and sign writers to mean 
the plain bold letter made with uniform strokes and 
without serifs. (In England the letter is called sans- 
serif.) Since the word is in such general favor by 
those who use letters commercially, we have called 

this style "Commercial Gothic." It has sometimes 
been called Egyptian, and in the U. S. Coast and 
Geodetic Sun-ey, it is known as Block Letter. 

This letter should be used wherever boldness and 
legibility are of more concern than finish. Without 
the refinement and delicacy of the Roman, it is more 
easily made, and in "single stroke" form is used 
more on working drawings than all other styles 

Figures 18 and 19 show the letter drawn with the 
thickness of stem one-sixth of the height, and in 
width a trifle expanded. In these plates a very 
slight "spur" has been added. In large brush or 
pen-made letters this spur adds materially in re- 
lieving the stiffness of appearance. 

For very bold, heavy effect, the stems may be 
made one-fifth the height. Strokes much thicker are 
not good except in special cases. 

This letter is best drawn in outline first and filled 
in solid, instead of building it out as the Roman, 
and much care must be exercised in keeping the stems 
to uniform width. Failure to obser\-e this rule results 
in a very unpleasant appearance, as in Fig. 20. 

The order and direction of strokes for the outline 




1 1 1 1 1 1 '^ '^ d 4 

1 2 3 4 5 

iKM Aywxi 

Y Z 

i 4 H >^' 

Fig. 18. — Spurred Commercial Gothic. 



O Q C G P P 

UT^ Usi-I U51-I U54-I U5-J 

01 2 3 4 5 6 

R B S 8 3 2 

U5-1 UaJ u^iJ Iai^ UaiA v-Al^ 

6 9 5 7 & 

U5J U^U L^iJ Uj-J UiJ k5i-^ 

Flc. 19. — Spurred Commercial Gothic. 

Letter Construction 


letter is in general similar to the Roman already 
given, as may be seen from the typical examples 
analyzed in Fig. 21. 

In the practice of this letter, guide lines as shown 
in the upper line of Fig. 14 should 
be drawn. 

It will be noticed that O is 

made a trifle "full" to avoid the 

/ncorrecr bull's-eye effect of the exactly 

Fig. 20. circular shape. This is just the 

opposite of the rhomboidal shape 

of the Roman O of Fig. 16. 


By far the greatest amount of lettering on draw- 
ings is done in "single stroke" or "one stroke" let- 
ters, either vertical or inclined, and every engineer 
must have absolute command of these styles. The 
ability to letter well and rapidly can be acquired by 
any draftsman, but it requires much careful practice 
with strict attention from the outset to the form and 
proportion of each letter, to the sequence of strokes. 
and to the rules for composition. 

The term "single stroke" does not mean that the 

entire letter is made without lifting the pen, but 
that the width of the stroke of the pen is the width 
of the stem of the letter. For the desired height, 
therefore, a pen must be selected which will give 


Fig. :i. — Typical Order and Direction of Strokes. 

the necessary width, and for Gothic letters one 
which will also make the same width of line when 
drawn horizontally, obliquely or vertically. 

Leonardt's ball point 506F or 516F will make a 
line of sufficient width for letters 1/4" high, which is 
as large as would be used on an ordinary working draw- 
ing. For 3/16" letters 516EF or Gillott's 1032 are 
suitable, for smaller sizes Hunt's shot points, Gillott's 
1050, 404 and 604 may be used. 

For single stroke letters larger than 1/4", the Pay- 
zant pens and Shepard pens are useful. The ruling 
pen should never be used for lettering. A coarse letter- 
ing pen may be made from an old ruling pen by rubbing 



|i iH' L W E T N'- N' iK M M' j^ V 
W X V Z *l 0>Q>C;GOUyL P 

a e s s; h 3 2 €> 6 a S i 


u— /' £>,--' >>—/■-' v'^^ "'^—#'2 i!!=r 'v^' ->-•'' 3>. 




THE LETTERS llvl rsiOTES OM DF=!/=V\A'- 



THEiSE l_e:-i — rE:i=?s /^p?e n/I/t^de ii^ /^ 


Fig. 22.^ — Analysis and Composition of Upright Gothic. 

Letti'.r Construction 

its points very blunt and grinding a smooth ball end 
on them. 

Some draftsmen prepare a new writing pen by drop- 
ping it in alcohol, or by holding it in a match iiame 
for two or three seconds, and some break it in fur- 
ther by writing a word or two lightly, on a hard Arkan- 
sas oil stone. 

Single Stroke Vertical Caps. — The upright single 
stroke "commercial gothic" letter shown in Fig. 22 

Fig. 2J. — Position for Single Stroke Lettering. 

is a standard letter for working drawings of all de- 
scriptions. It is the letter of Figs. 18 and 19 with 
lighter face. The analyzed letters of Fig. 22 are 

drawn to such proportion that roughly each fills a 
square space. In the proportion of width to height 
a general rule is that the smaller the letters the more 
extended they should be. A low extended letter is 
more legible than a high compressed one and at the 
same time makes a better appearance. This letter is 
seldom used in compressed form. Before commencing 
the practice of this alphabet, some time should be spent 
in preliminary practice to gain control of the pen. It 
should be held easily as in writing, the strokes drawn 
with a steady, even motion, and a slight uniform 
pressure on the paper, not enough to spread the 

^EE. /////\\\\\CCC3DD 

Fig. 24. — Practice Strokes. 

nibs of the pen. For the first practice, draw in pencil 
the top and bottom guide lines for 1/4" letters 
and with a 516F ball pointed pen make directly in 
ink a series of vertical lines, drawing the pen down 
with a finger riioy^ment in the position shown in 
Fig. 23. This one stroke must be practised until the 
beginner can get lines vertical and of equal weight. 


Lettkr Construction 

Remember that it is drawing, not writing, and that 
all the flourish movements of the penman must be 
avoided. It may be found difficult to keep the lines 
vertical, if so, direction lines may be drawn, as in 
Fig. 23, an inch or so apart to aid the eye. It is 
ruinous to the appearance of upright letters to allow 
them to slant forward. A slight backward slant is 
not so objectionable, but the aim should be to have 
them vertical. When this stroke has been mastered, 
the succeeding strokes of Fig. 24 should be taken up. 
These strokes are the elements of which the single 
stroke letters are composed. After sufficient prac- 
tice with them, they should be combined into letters 
in the order of Fig. 22, penciling in one pattern letter 
and numbering its strokes, then drawing directly 
in ink several beside it. p- 11 Ik yl K I \ A/ f / 
Care must be taken to C PI M IN YV \ L. 

1 11 1 J • Fig. 2=;. — Too much Ink. 

keep all angles and m- ^ 

tersections clean and sharp; getting too much ink on 

the pen is responsible for appearances of the kind 

shown in Fig. 25. 

Single Stroke Inclined Capitals. — The single 

stroke letter inclined to a slope of between Go and 70° 

is preferred by perhaps a majority of draftsmen. 

Professor Follows in his dictionary* says: "The 
writer believes that for mechanical drawing, sloping 
lettering is better than vertical. An argument used 
by those who favor vertical lettering is that there is 
only one vertical as against any number of slopes, 
and that it should therefore be easier to teach and 
get uniformity with the vertical lettering. But as a 
matter of fact, it is probably easier to get a suffi- 
ciently uniform slope than a sufficiently exact vertical, 
because a very slight deviation from the vertical is 
noticeable. In the average mechanical drawing 
there are so many truly vertical lines to compare with 
that the eye more readily detects a deviation from the 
vertical than from any given slope. Then, again, the 
sloping lettering stands out more clearly by contrast with 
the vertical and the horizontal lines of the drawing." 

The order and direction of strokes for the capitals 
of this form are the same as in the upright form, but 
these letters are usually not extended. 

A common slope for the inclined letters is to the 
proportion of 2 to 5, giving an angle of 68° -|-, which 
may be made by laying off two units on a horizontal 
line and five on a vertical line. Triangles of 67 1/2° 

* Universal Dictionary of Mechanical Drawing. G. H. Follows. 1906. 



Order and d'fVCf'On of sfrvi'es used Ib^ 'ef'e rs^ or higher 


^ ^ / i j" '^ I '-air ' "^ 


O/zfer arrd dtnec/ion ofsfrokes for smaller /effers 

jiMiLE'P TMMKmf-mmywx yzm o> o c 

Compressed /br^r? ^ 

AmCDEF6HIJKLMNOP0RSTUVWXYZ abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz 

Fig. 27. — Analysis of Strokes for Single Stroke Inclined Caps and Lower-case. 


Letter Construction 

are sold by the dealers and are very convenient. In 
rapid lettering some find it easier to use a somewhat 
greater slant (as much as 60°). 

If a rectangle containing a 
flexible O should be inclined, 
the cur\'e would take the form 
illustrated in Fig. 26, sharp in 
the upper right-hand and lower left-hand corners, 
and stretched flat in the other two corners. It is 
the observance of this characteristic that is the secret 
of success with the inclined letters. 

D 6 9 

Fig. 28. — Relationships. 

Fig. 28 illustrates this principle with the curs-es used 
in the S family, showing the directions of the major axes 
of the ellipses formed. The close relationship of the 
B , S, 8 and 3 should be noted. The second line of Fig. 
28 shows the relationship of the o, 6, and 9. The 

cipher it will be noted is narrower than the O, and the 
back-bone of the 6 and 9 are made of the same ciu-\-es. 

Fig. 29. — Practice Strokes, witii Direction Lines. 



Fig. 30. — Composition. 

In practising the inclined letters the top and bottom 
guide lines should be drawn, and a sufficient number 


Lettkr Construction 

of direction lines at the given angle to keep the letters 
to a uniform slope. This slope must be observed 
with particular care in the case of the letters with 
sloping sides as ^4, 11', etc., whose lines must make 
ecjual angles on each side of the direction line, as 
shown in Figs. 27 and 29. Fig. 30 illustrates the 
appearance of this letter in paragra]:ih composition. 

Single Stroke Inclined Lower-case. — Thus far 
our discussion has been entirely on capital letters. 
The minuscule or lower case letters of the Roman 
and upright gothic are very rarely used on working 
drawings because of the difficulty of execution. It is 
desirable, however, to have a lower-case letter for notes 
on drawings on account of the increased legibility, 
as we read words by their word-shapes and are more 
familiar with these shapes in lower-case letters. 
Paragraphs printed entirely in capital, letters are 
monotonous in form and hard to read. The one 
letter to use for this purjiosc is the single stroke in- 
clined letter, called the Reinhardt letter in honor of 
Mr. Charles W. I^einhardt of the Engineering News 
whose work has for a generation been admired by 
draftsmen, and who first reduced the style to a system 
in his well-known book "Lettering for Engineers." 

This letter is the minuscule reduced to its lowest 
terms, omitting all unnecessary hooks and appendages. 
It is very legible, and after its swing has been mastered 
can be written very fast. These letters are used 
with the inclined gothic capitals and are made with 
bodies two-thirds the height of the capitals, the 
ascending letters hdfltkll extending to the height of 
the capitals and the descenders gjpqy dropping the 
same distance below. 

Fig. 31. — Basis of Reinhardt Letter. 

All the letters of the Reinhardt alphabet are based 
on two elements — the straight line, and the ellipse 
whose conjugate axes are the slope line and the 
horizontal line, and consequently whose major axis 
is about 45°. Fig. 31. The general direction of 
strokes is always downward or from left to right, and 
their order is given in the last three lines of Fig. 27. 

The effect of this letter depends almost entirely 


Design and Composition 

on the uniformity of slope, and constant care must be the sharp extremities. Then take up the letters as 

given in Fig. 27, noticing the order and direction of 
strokes, and swinging them to a mental count of one, 
two, one, two. 

Fig. 34. — Fractions. 

As soon as the shapes of the letters have been learned 
in this way the entire practice should be devoted to 
their composition into words and sentences. In this 
the one rule must be remembered — Keep llie letters 
close together, and with full, uniform bodies. The 
beginner's invariable mistake is to 

observed to keep the strokes parallel. 

ahedfhopquvN xys ^c 

Fig. 32. 

Draw top and bottom guide lines, and slope lines, 
and practice the O as the basis of the curved letters, 

7776' ''Reinhardf letter is used 
for notes on working drawings, 
and can be made very rapidly. It is 
of especial value on drawings made 
for photo - reproduction. 

When necessary, on account of restricted 
space, it may be very much compressed and 
still be held clear and distinct 

Fig. ^i. — Composition (Drawn by C. W. Reinhardt). 
until a certain rhythm and swing has been acquired, the 
pen moving faster in the middle of the stroke than at 

cramp the letters and space them 
too far apart. Fig. 32. Words ^ 
should be separated to a distance 
about equal to the height of the 
letter. Paragraphs are always indented. 






an example of spacing of letters, words and lines. 
Special attention should be paid to the practice of the 
numerals, getting them round and full-bodied. 
Fractions are made with a horizontal line and extend- 
ing over the guide lines as shown in Fig. 34. 






abc defgh ijklnnn opqrst 
uvwxyz -^ 1234567800 

The stump letter is a sim- 
plified form of the printer s 
italic, and is much used in 
map drawing, patent office 
drawing and similar work. 

Fig. 36. — Inclined Roman, with Stump Letters for Lower-case. 

Letter Construction 

A variation of the Reinhardt letter, known as the 
"pumpkin seed" letter is preferred by some draftsmen. 
In it the curves of abdgpq are pointed instead of 
elliptical, as in Fig. 35. The remainder of the alphabet 
is the same as the Reinhardt. 


The inclined or italicized form of Roman capitals, 
as shown in Fig. 36, is used for water features on maps 
and as capitals for the stump letters which follow. 
It is made with a fine flexible pen, the very small 
sizes in one stroke, springing the pen for the shaded 
lines, the large sizes by making two strokes for the 
stems and following the same orders as in Figs. 14 
and 15. In letters less than 1/4" high, brackets on 
the serifs of the body marks should not be attempted. 
Alternate forms of the numerals, 2, 5 and 7 are shown. 


The stump letter is a simplified form of the printer's 
italic, and is much used in map drawing, patent office 
drawing, and other careful work. It is more difficult 
than the single stroke letter of Fig. 27 and requires 

much more time for its execution, consequently it 
should not be chosen except for display work. A^ 
fine flexible pen should be selected — for letters from 
1-20" to i-io" high, the Gillott 290 and 291, i-io" 
to 2-10" Gillott 170, for larger ones, Giilcm_303,. / 
Except for the smallest letters, two strokeriKould be/ 
used for the shaded lines. In this, as in all tht 
slant letters, the first requirement is uniformity of 
slope and width of line. The hafi- lines may be made 
either with. the same stroke as the body, or added with 
a quick down stroke. This second method is pre- 
ferred by some draftsmen as it prevents the blur in the 
angle which sometimes occurs with a sharp pen and 
paper whose fibre is apt to catch. 

The strokes of Fig. 37 should be mastered before 
attempting to draw the letters. 

mill uiillo 

I a 

%i( l,U^ U U U4 

Fig. 37. — Practice Strokes for Stump Letters. 



Composition and Titles 

After becoming familiar with the forms of the 
individual letters we are ready to compose them 
into words and the words into sentences, and, as 
one reads an entire word or even a group of several 
words at a glance, the necessity for proper spacing 
of the letters and words is evidently of just as much 
importance as the correct formation of the letters. 


In this we shall have to notice (i) the spacing of 
letters in words, (2) the spacing of words, (3) the 
spacing of lines, all of which are design problems in 
the disposition of white and black, and their suc- 
cessful solution depends on the artistic perception 
of the draftsman more than on any rules which might 
be given. 

In spacing letters in words uniformity of effect 

is gained not by spacing the letters at equal dis- 
tances apart, but so that the areas of white space 
between the letters are approximately equal. This 
makes it necessary to consider the shape of each 
letter in connection with the following letter. Take, 
for example, the word LETTERING. In Fig. 38 
the letters have been spaced so that the clear dis- 


Fig. 39. 

tances between them are equal. The eflect, how- 
ever, is not uniform; the first letters appear much 
farther apart than the last ones. But if the word be 
spaced taking the shapes of the letters into con- 
sideration, the L, E and T would be set closer to- 
gether because of the amount of white space in- 
cluded between them, the two T's still closer as 
they have a maximum of white space under them. 


Composition and Titles 

while between the vertical stems I and N would be 
left the widest space, and the G would be set a little 
closer than the IN as its stroke cun'es away from 
the line of the N. 

Thus while no two of the letters are the same 
distance apart, the word appears to be uniformly 

A word or line should be sketched in very lightly 
with all the details of the letters omitted, the effect 
studied and the letters shifted until the appearance 
is uniform. When this is satisfactory, the lino 
should be penciled more carefully and the details 

In single stroke lettering, the letters must be kept 
close together. The snap and "swing" of the pro- 
fessional draftsman's work comes largely from two 
things — keeping the letters full and round and close 
together, and the strokes to a uniform slope. The 
beginner's invariable mistake of cramping the letters 
and spacing them too far apart has already been 

Words should be spaced so as to be read easily 
and naturally. The clear distance between words 
(except in compressed lettering) should never be 

less than a space equal to the height of the letter 
nor more than twice this space. 

For the spacing of lines, no fixed rules can be 
given. In the Old Roman the lines are frequently 
drawn very close together, sometimes closer than 
those in Fig. 6. The clear distance between lines 
of Old Roman may vary from one-third to one and 
one-half times the height of the letter. In inscription 
lettering, it is usually less than the height. 

For single stroke caps the space may be from 
three-fourths to one and three-fourths, and for sin- 
gle stroke lower case and stump letters two to three 
times the height of the body. 

The appearance of notes with several lines is 
improved by keeping the right edge as straight as 
possible, as well as the left. (See Figs. 30 and ^;}.) 

Paragraphs should always be indented. 


Every drawing should have a title, giving the 
necessary information concerning it in a style that 
conforms to its character. This information will, 
of course, vary for different classes of drawings, but 
two items are alwavs necessarv, the names and the 


Composition and Titles 

date. Even the merest sketch should always be dated. 

In general, the title of a machine or structural 
drawing should contain: 

(i) Name of machine or structure. 

(2) General name of parts (or simply "details"). 

(3) Name of purchaser, if special machine. 

(4) Manufacturer; company or tirm name and 

(5) Date; usually date of completion of tracing. 

(6) Scale or scales; desirable on general drawings, 
• often omitted from fully dimensioned detail 


(7) Drafting room record; names, initials or marks 

of the draftsman, tracer, checker, approval of 
chief draftsman, engineer or superintendent. 

(8) Numbers; of the drawing, of the order. The 

filing number is often repeated in the upper 
left hand corner upside down, for convenience 
in case the drawing should be reversed in the 
An architectural drawing would have part or all 
of the following: 

(i) Kind of view — elevation, plan, perspective 
(sometimes put on different part of sheet). 

(2) Name and location of building. 

(3) Name and address of client or owner. 

(4) Date. 

(5) Scale. 

(6) Name and address of architect. 

(7) Number (in the set). 

(8) Key to materials. 

(9) Office record. 

(10) Signed approval of trustees or commission 

for public buildings. 
A map title would contain as many as necessary 
of the following items: 

(i) Kind— "Map of," etc. 

(2) Name. 

(3) Location of tract. 

(4) Purpose, if special features are represented. 

(5) For whom made. 

(6) Engineer in charge. 

(7) Date (of survey). 

(8) Scale — stated and drawn. 

(9) Authorities. 

(10) Legend or key to symbols. 

(11) North point. 

(12) Certilication. 


Composition and Titles 

In each case these items must be "displayed" 
according to their relative importance judged from 
the point of view of the persons who would use the 
drawing, the more important lines being made prom- 
inent by the size and arrangement of the letters. 




\Ca l.S'oo 

Fis. 40. 
The position and shape of the title will depend 
on the space provided or left for it. The lower right 
hand corner of the sheet is from long custom and 
on account of convenience in filing, the usual loca- 
tion, and in laying out a drawing this corner is reserved 
if possible. The shape is a matter of design. The 
commonest form is that of the symmetrical title 

which is balanced or "justified" from a center line, 
and of elliptical or oval outline, as Fig. 42. Some- 
times the wording necessitates a pyTamid or inverted 
pyramid form. 

1 I AW or 


I 1 1 1 1 I 1! I 1/ 

lAi!. OlHIIiq 

[ lAfi Al 111 ({)lllh IK'IIIK 
[.J M M. ^ ^^ cq 



rii lUi i|Kij«, o 





Fig. 41. 

In designing a symmetrical title one would first 
write out the arrangement on a piece of paper and 
count the letters in each line, counting a space be- 


Composition and Titles 

tween words as a letter, and, after making allowance 
for letters of different widths, as I and W, marking 
the middle of each line. Fig. 40 illustrates the 
first layout for the title of Fig. 42. A vertical center 





U. S. G. & F. CO. 





Fig. 42. — Symmetrical TiUe. 

line is then drawn, and guide lines for letters of 
appropriate size for each line. The most impor- 
tant line is then sketched in very lightly, commenc- 
ing on the center line and working to the right, 
making the last half of the line first and drawing 

■ only enough of the letter to show the space it will 
occupy. The length of this half should then be 
transferred to the other side and the first half sketched 
in. Some prefer to work this half backward from 
the center line, but after a little practice the first 





Fig. 43.— a Full-panel Title. 

method will be found preferable. After this most 
important line is satisfactory in size and spacing, 
the other lines may be executed in the same way, 
and the work at this stage will be as in Fig. 41. The 
effect should then be studied, lines or letters shifted 
if necessary and the title completed in pencil. 

As a rule, all letters should be inked entirely free- 


Composition and Titles 

hand. Sometimes, on highly finished maps or draw- 
ings for reproduction the straight lines are ruled 
and the curves drawn freehand, or, for "large letters, 
the curves may be drawn with the compass or French 
curve. To avoid blotting, the strokes should not be 
filled in solid until after the drawing has been finished. 
The general rule, never combine vertical and slant 
letters in the same title, should be observed. 




37 WtiT 34.".5T NYC. 

Fig. 44. — "Left Edge" Composition. 

The full panel title, a variation of the symmetrical 
form, often used in architectural work, is made by 
spacing the letters so that the lines are of equal length, 
no matter how many letters each contains. Fig. 43 
is an example. The Old Roman is the only letter 
that permits of this wide letter spacing. 

Another form often used in architectural and other 
work is illustrated in Fig. 44. This form has a dis- 
tinct advantage in not requiring careful preliminary 

penciling, and is therefore of value for quick sketches- 
Space fillers are sometimes added to give balance, 
but they must be handled carefully for artistic effect. 

Formerly titles were often made with cun-ed lines 
and much elaborate ornamentation. These forms 
are, happily, obsolete, and any decoration or orna- 






OMcmnAn, OHIO. 








Fig. 45. — Boxed Tide. 

ment is now considered as bad form. Letters should 
not be drawn or shaded in an attempt to make them 
appear to have thickness or to stand out from the 
paper. Punctuation marks are not necessary in a 
title except in case of abbreviations. 

The title on a working drawing is usually boxed 

^07 Z^ 

Composition and Titles 

off from the drawing as illustrated in Fig. 45. In 
large offices the parts of this kind of title which are 
common to all drawings are often printed on the 
tracing cloth in order to save time in the drafting 
room. Fig. 46 is the blank form of a well-known 
company. The originals of Figs. 45 and 46 are 
about five inches long, on sheets from 18 to 30 inches. 
A form of title which is growing in favor is the 
"record strip," a narrow strip marked off entirely 
across the lower part of the sheet, containing the 
information reciuircd in the title, and space for record 
of orders, changes, etc. The general arrangement 
of such a title is shown in Fig. 47. In shop draw- 
ings it is often printed in blank on the paper or cloth 
to be used. 

The lettering on all such titles is done very quickly 
in single stroke, often without preliminary penciling. 

The Jeffrey Mfg. Co. 


Engineering DepBTtment, 










I'lG. 46. — A printed Title Form. 


Scale 6=1' 

DRAWN 5-26-^9 


S.O. 1 6^4 5 

© Changed from /O' 

@ Chanpea fi-om I ' 


CAR A-6'e0-09 



5j X 5" 

Fig. 47. — K Record Strip. 


Selection of Styles 

In lettering a drawing the style selected and the 
amount of time spent in its execution must be appro- 
priate to the kind of drawing. A carefully rendered 
map or display drawing will require careful lettering 
and will permit of time for its execution, while a 
shop detail requires only legibility and demands speed. 

For Architectural Work. — There are two dis- 
tinct divisions in the architect's use of letters, the first, 
Office Lettering, including all the titles, and notes 
put on drawings for information; the second. Design 
Lettering, covering drawings of letters to be executed 
in stone or bronze or other material in connection with 

The Old Roman is the architect's one general pur- 
pose letter, which serves him, with few exceptions, for 
all his work in both divisions. Its characteristics 
have been fully discussed and illustrated in Chapter II. 

For titles on finished architectural drawings the 
Old Roman is usually drawn in outline, as in Fig. 13. 
Sometimes emphasis is given by running a center line 

in each stroke as in Fig. 48 giving it the appearance of 
being incised. 

For smaller titles and lettering on working drawings, 
a single stroke Old Roman, Fig. 49, based on the 




Fig. 48.— An Effective Roman Letter. 

center line of the regular letter is much used and is 
very effective. It can be made rapidly and may be 
given much of the variety and beauty of its parent. 
A good deal of freedom may be taken with this 


Selection of Styles 

letter if it is done with a real regard and feeling for its 

For notes on architectural drawings the Reinhardt 
letter is well adapted, as it is simple and legible. The 
key to good form is simplicity. The day of the wild 
letter on which the architects allowed their fancy free 
rein is passed. There is an individuality in lettering 
often as marked as in handwriting, but there must be 


Fig. 49. — Single Stroke Roman. 

no grossncss of exaggeration, nor riot of flourishes, 
nor wandering of free lines. 

JModificatifns »f the proportions, whli^aare legiti- 
mate and sometimes ])lcasing, are often m^B, such as 
the "high-waistecl'lletters of Fig. 50. 

The architect slrould not attempt to desi, 
tions for permanent structures until he is 



familiar with lette^lt their construction ajig spacing, 

and knows the character and limitations pf^e material 

to be used. Letters on stone are generally incised, 
or sunk, in V form, and depend for their effect not on 
the outline but on the shadows cast by the sides. 
Consec^uently the strokes must be wider than for the 
same effect when drawn on paper. This is also true 
for "scjuare-sunk," and indeed for all letters which 
depend on shadow instead of difference in color. 

PQR5T0VV/WXY.^ ^& 


P ClRoSTU W AYZlfc: 

Fig. 50. — Free Modifications. 

The construction of Figs. 9 and 10 may be used for 
accurate drawings for this purpose, keeping the diam- 
eters of fillets and curves as given, but increasing the 
width of the strokes. 

If far above the eye the letters will be made taller in 
proportion to their width and with much wider hori- 


Selection of Styles 

zontal lines than the standard form, to allow for 

In designing lettering for large inscriptions, to be 
cut on public buildings for example, the architects 
will often draw the letters to full size, each on a 
separate sheet, and tack them up on a wall to study 
the spacing. In very careful work model letters are 
sometimes made in plaster and studied in place. 

One rule must be remembered — Never crowd Old 

Bronze tablets are usually made with raised letters, 
either flat-top or modeled round. The body strokes 
of the letters on the tablet illustrated in Fig. 96 are 
1:7 1/2, and the hair lines 2/3 of this width. In 
making full size design drawings for cast bronze work, 
a shrinkage of 1/8" in 10" should be allowed. 

The architect should be familiar with the Uncial 
and Gothic letters as given in the succeeding chapter, 
for use with the appropriate architectural styles. 

For Map Drawing. — The style of lettering on a 
map will depend upon the purpose for which the map 
is made. If for constructive purposes, such as a rail- 
road or sewer map, the single stroke Gothic for titles 
and the Rcinhardt for notes, are to be preferred. 

For a finished map, vertical modern Roman for land 
features, and inclined Roman and stump letters for 
water features should be used. The well-known 
maps of the Geological Survey contain good examples 
of this kind of lettering. 

For signals, signs or other lettering designed to be 
painted in connection with railway or other engineer- 
ing, legibility is the first requirement, and no letter 
but the upright commercial gothic should be 

For Shop Drawings. — On working drawings of 
any kind no time may be wasted on lettering. It 
must be legible and uniform, sized and placed well, 
but executed rapidly. The single stroke capitals, 
either upright or inclined, for titles, and the Reinhardt 
for notes should be used exclusively. Roman letters, 
stump letters, "geometrical" letters, and shipping 
clerks' marking letters are all out of plac%. 

On patent office drawings the lettering is generally 
done in stump letters. Any draftsman who has 
occasion to make patent drawings should send to the 
Commissioner of Patents, Washington, D. C, request- 
ing a copy of the " Rules of Practice," which gives all 
the requirements for drawing and lettering. 


Letters in Design 

The preceding chapters were written for those 
students and draftsmen who use lettering only as an 
adjunct to the "graj)hical language" of their office 
drawings. Lettering in design is a far wider field. 
Here the designer uses lettering not only to make a 
statement — to convey information by the written 
words — but for its own inherent beauty of line and 
composition. He uses it with his ornament, he uses 
it as ornament, to break a space or to fill a back- 
ground. The artist or decorative designer must then 
not only be familiar with the fundamental forms 
explained in the previous chapters and the rules ui)<)n 
which they are based but must have at his command 
other historical and modern alphabets and know the 
appropriateness of each for its place. 

In this chapter the principles and peculiarities of 
the useful letters of different styles and periods will 
be considered. 


Referring to the historical outline of Chapter I it is 
remembered that the Old Roman is the parent of all 

the styles, and beyond all comparison the most useful 
letter for the designer. It will be used oftener than 
all other styles together, and it is safe to recommend 
that the student when in doubt use Old Roman. 

The Old Roman letters have been discussed and 
aiialyzx'd in Chapter II and it will be the first duty of 
the designer to become thoroughly familiar with these 
forms. An early form is shown in Figs, i and 5, 
and some Renaissance forms in Figs. 6, g and 10. 
These are monumental forms of classic beauty and 
dignity. As a pen-drawn letter the Old Roman admits 
of much freer treatment, and in composition not only 
the position, but the size and shape of each letter is 
considered with reference to the adjoining letters. 
They must not be tortured out of shape nor driven to 
do things they do not want to do, but once the artist 
has that real feeling of personal acquaintance and 
familiarity, the letters can be coaxed into doing almost 
anything he wishes them to do. The lower limb of a 
letter may be extended and the following letter, a 
vowel usually, perched on it, the swash lines of the 


Letters in Design 

R and Q may extend almost indefmitely, the top of a 
T may reach above the guide line and allow letters to 
play under it, two letters may have a common stroke , 
round letters may be linked together, serifs may run 
into each other, and feet may be shortened or length- 
ened, all easily and naturally if the designer be on 
sufficiently intimate terms with the family; but the 
Roman in its dignity resents any such familiarity from 

0,UFbD0UBTv5 -AR^ -Tl^AfToRS - 

Fig. 51. — Freedom in Composition. 

a stranger. To make a letter larger or smaller than 
its fellows with no more apparent reason than the desire 
for oddity is pure affectation. 

Fig. 51 illustrates something of the freedom 
referred to. 

Old Roman letters should not be stretched out in 
extended form, but the spaces between the letters may 

be increased indefinitely. They may however be 
condensed if lack of space demands it. In condensing, 
the straight line letters and narrow letters may be 
compressed up to the limit before the O family have 


Fig. 52. 

been squeezed out of round. The expedient of using 
common strokes in monogram-combinations, and of 
linking the round letters will often save the required 
space. Fig. 52 is an extreme example. 

For careful work in design the Roman is to be re- 
garded as a draivn letter, to be outlined and finished 


Letters in Design 

as has been described. It may however be ivrillcn 
effectively, after the manner of the old scribes, in 
single stroke with a broad pen, such as those of Fig. 
72, tilted at a slight angle as shown in Fig. 53 and 
turned for the thin lines of M N W, etc. The figure 
shows also the little extra stroke used to form the fillet. 



Fig. 5j. — Broiid Pen Roman Construction. 

After the forms of the letters have been learned it 
is surprising how they almost shape themselves when 
done in single stroke with the broad pen. 

Larger letters are built up of two strokes for the 
body mark, and for very large ones the full stroke of 
the pen may be made for the thin lines. 

If a reed pen is used it may be cut either scjuare 
across or at a slant, to fit the hand of the writer. Its 

corner may be used for such touches as serifs on 
horizontal lines, etc. 

Large Roman letters may be made easily and rapidly 
in single stroke with a flat sable brush held in the same 
position as the pen. 

roman -written- in 
single-stroke- with 
tie;- pen -turned- for 
thin-l1ne5 - bgj qvxy 

Fig. 54. — Broad Pen Roman. 

The so-called Classic forms of the Old Roman 
consist only of capital letters, and in titles, inscriptions, 
and designs calling for stateliness or dignity of compo- 
sition capitals would be used throughout. A para- 
graph or page of solid caps, however, is not easily 
read, as we read words by their shapes and are accus- 
tomed to these shapes in lower-case letter combina- 
tions, hence in longer sentences, quotations and the 


Letters in Design 

like, a less formal effect and at the same time greater 
legibility is secured by using caps and lower case. 

m^^^mi so^^^^ from which 
M^^M *° *^^^ examples of 
^^^ithis perfected Ro- 
man type^ to wit, the works of 
the great Venetian printers of 
the fifteenth century, of whom 
Nicholas Jenson produced the 
completest and most Roman 
characters from 1470 to 1476, 


Fig. 55. — Jenson Type. 

Referring again to the history, the Roman lower- 
case letter was the final step in the evolution from the 
Caroline, and reached its definite form after the in- 

vention of printing, so for models to combine with our 
Roman capitals we go back to the type forms of Jenson 
and the master printers of the fifteenth centurs". Type 
degenerated so steadily after that period that William 
Morris once exclaimed, "There has not been a decent 
book printed since the sixteenth centun,-." 

But we have the same freedom in our pen-drawn 
small letters as in the capitals, not being limited by the 


Fig. -lb. — A Roman Lower-case. 

size of the type body as arc the printers, and can extend 
lines or combine shapes, giving an individuality to the 
lettered page impossible to the printed one. It is no 
compliment to a designer to say that his lettering looks 
like print. It should look much better, or at least 
very different. 

The body letters are made from one-half to three- 
fifths the height of the capitals, with the ascenders 


Letters in Design 

Cap line - 
Waist line - 




-t" line 



Si7ic)le'5tTokeRomarL writ 
tea witK broad pea is a letter 
oFmuch piTLctical value as it 
b DotK artistic and legible. 

Fig. 57. — Broad Pen Lower-case. 

equal to the caps and the descenders slightly shorter. 
Much care and Judgment must be exercised in hav- 
ing the small letters "fit" the caps; the usual fault is 
in getting them too light. The strokes will be thinner 

Eine Empfindung beseelt 
unsere Herzen: aie Treue 
zu Furst und Land/w/elche 
seinahrhunderlen die 

Fig. 58. — A Light Face German E.itample. 

than those of the caps but are not reduced in the same 
proportion as the heights, and the bodies of the letters 
will at the same time be a little wider in proportion 
than the corresponding capitals. The principal 


Letters in Design 

diiEculty in drawing lower-case letters is in keeping 
the page to a uniform color. 

The simplest spacing for a page' of lower-case 
composition is to divide the sp^^ between base lines 
into three equal parts, making the caps and ascenders 

. with a distinctive, classic 
beauty, named after a famous 
old family of art-craftsmen, 


Fig. 5g. — Delia Rubbia Type. 

two-thirds and the bodies one-third, as shown in Fig. 
57. The dots on the i and j are on the "t line" 
which is half-way between the "waist line" and the 
"cap line." 

The letters of Fig. 57 are wTitten with a broad pen 
held in the same position as for the single stroke 
capitals, turning it when necessary for such letters 

as the w. Much practice must be spent in composi- 
tion, with careful study of good examples, before 
satisfactory results with lower-case can be obtained. 

Fig. 55 is a once popular type face, Fig. 56 a free 
pen-drawn style. Fig. 58 a light face letter from Dr. 
von Larisch's "Unterricht," and Fig. 59 a modern 
type-face of classic beauty. 

The examples of printer's type are given as care- 
fully studied examples of the individual letters. 
Their composition is not to be copied. Far less is the 
writer to try to imitate their regularity. The charm 
of the lettered page is in its freedom and individuality. 

In historical order the next letter for the designer is 
the Uncial, although it is the later or Lombardic form 


Fig. 60. — From a German Bronze. 

that is of particular value and interest. There is not 
in this letter the fixed form of the Roman. It has 
many and wide variations developed by different 




L -^•■l^-J 


Fig. 6i. — Two Practical Uncial Forms. 

Letters in Design 

scribes and in different countries, but its general 
characteristics are easy to remember and the letter is 


Fig. 62. — Compressed Uncial. 

Several practical working examples are given in the 
accompanying figures. The upper alphabet of Fig. 
61 was drawn from German bronzes, and the lower 


Fig. 6;. — E.xtended Uncial. 

not difficult to draw. These letters are sometimes adapted from French sources. The normal square 

called Versals from their use on the manuscript page proportion of these alphabets may be compressed as 

to indicate the beginning of a section or paragraph. in Fig. 62 or extended as in Fig. 63. 


Letters in Design 

Fig. 64 is an American tyj^e form of pleasing design. 
Fig. 65 contains suggestions for treatment of orna- 
mented initials, drawn from various sources. Much 
of the charm of such work, however, lies in the color, 
which cannot be indicated in black and white. 

The Uncial bodies may be made successfully in 
single stroke in the same way as the Roman letters, 
drawing the finer lines with the corner of the reed, 
or with a finer pen. 


Fig. 64. — Missal Type. 

The Uncial may be used in all caps, although some 
regard must be had for the reading public's lack of 
familiarity with it. It is apjjropriate in ecclesiastical 
work or wdth any Gothic design, and is of particular 
value for initials, and as caps for Gothic lower-case 
letters. Lines of Uncial should be kept close together, 

Fig. 65. — Ornamented Initials from Manuscriiits. 


Letters in Design 

always closer than the height of the letter. Fig. 66 
from the shrine of St. Simeon illustrates the extreme 
of this close spacing, and Fig. 67 is a single stroke 
modern example that is well spaced. 





Fig. 66. — Embossed Silver, 13S0. 


The Irish half-uncial of the sixth and seventh 
centuries, known in design as Celtic, is a style that has 
been used recently with good effect. Many of its 

forms are obsolete and rnust be modified to be de- 
cipherable, but it has a primitive strength that com- 

VATGT^ a^s6^^/66^^ 6a bist 
ip ■hicDcneL/GG'heiliqeT 0)613? 
oe oem nBoie/ -zukocnme 
ans oem Reic]i/6ein a3ill6 
Qeschehe cDie im himmeL 
fiLso fiuch fiUF ei^en- qib 
ans heare anseR TfiqLiches 
BROT an6 vGRqiB ans an^* 

Fig. 67. — From Dr. v. Larisch's " Unterricht." 

bines well with the characteristic spirals and interlace- 
ments of the ornament of that period. Fig. 68 is a 


Fig. OS. — Celtic Alphabet. Book of Kells. 

working alphabet adapted from the Book of Kells 
and Fig. 69 is an example showing its derivation from 


Letters in Design 

the Celtic, by Mr. Dwiggins, one of the artists success- 
ful with this style, and whose work for Mr. Alfred 
Bartlctt, the publisher, is well known. 


|N£ da^, with life and 
heaRUT ^ 

Is more than time enough to 
find a woR^d . ldwell 

I'lG. 6y. — Ii\' W". A. Dwiggins. 

The general term Gothic is given to the manuscript 
letters of the eleventh to the fifteenth centuries. They 
are essentially "written" letters made with one stroke 
of the pen, as distinguished from Roman and Uncial 
which may be called "drawn" letters. Their lower- 
case changes from the Round Gothic* following the 
Caroline, to the pointed Gothic or "biackletter" of 
the twelfth and following centuries. 

The biackletter as a printing type was gradually 

* The name proposed by Mr. De Vinne. 

turmun^icmralcm* , 
^imc accepwte famfWumi 
m(ftticoft(tttOttc$ et|o(otau| 
iJtmumDimlo$*6(6na* i 
Sanac ctmt)iuit)ucmmwt5 
jupplor muocotio* ^ 

ientglouatttcoctmtam nW 

Fig. 70. — Gothic Page by Albrecht Diirer, 1515. 


Letters in Design 

displaced by the Roman, and by the seventeenth cen- 
tury Germany was the only country still using Gothic. 
As is well known that country now uses Roman for 
scientific publications, but adheres to the illegible 
©erman ^ractur as the popular type. 

The letter generally known as Wih lEngltsI) 
is to the ordinary reader the most familiar style of 
Gothic. Its bristling angularity shows it to be a late 
form. The capitals of these later forms become more 
compKcated and weak in design, and their only 
advantage is that in such work as engrossing they 

may be made without changing the direction of the 
pen. For all good design the stronger Uncial caps 
should be used with the Gothic lower-case. One 
absolute rule must be obsen-ed — Never use all caps 
in Gothic, 

The Gothic is ^Titten with a broad pen tilted about 
45°. Either a reed pen or a steel "round-writing" 
pen may be used. The steel pens, of which the 
"Sonnecken" are the best, are usually sold in sets 
of eleven numbered in half sizes from i to 6. When 
used alone they will only carry sufhcient ink without 

riiiiiiii!iriiiiriWiPitiTi !iiiiiiyiii!i.aii!iTi.iiii»i ai fMinin'ii^^^ 

K UMiULiNtfliiiiuii inii iairiiiTilTi^^ 

Fig. 71. — A German Bronze, 1514. (Weimar.) 

Letters in Design 

blotting for one or two strokes. A brass clip is 
sometimes sold with them, l)ut a more satisfactory 
ink holder may be made of a rubber band added as 
shown in Fig. 72. The ink is JiUed behind the rubber 
on the under side of the pen. 

Fig. 72. — Steel and Reed Pens, with Ink Holders. 

The reed pen is much more comfortable, as well 
as better artistically. It is cut to shape with a sharp 
penknife or narrow blade surgeon's scalpel and an 
ink holder of annealed watch spring bent and in- 
serted as in Fig. 72. English or Japanese reeds are the 
most satisfactory, although those from India are thicker 
and harder. 

Quill pens made from the wing feathers of turkey 

or goose are sometimes used for smaller writing, but 
the average student has more trouble cutting a (|uill 
than a reed. 

The pen is held as illustrated in Fig. 73, and the 
whole secret is to maintain this position and angle 

Fig. 73. — Position for Gothic Writing. 

throughout, whatever the direction of the stroke. 
The first practice should be the drawing of the ele- 
ments in Fig. 74. When these are mastered letter- 
ing in Gothic will be found to be easy and interest- 


Letters in Design 

ing. Select a pen as large as No. i 1/2, rule guide 
lines three-eighths of an inch apart (ordinary ruled 
writing paper will serve very well), add some vertical 
direction lines and practice stroke i until it can be 
made confidently, always vertical and with its ends 
cut off clean at 45°. 

Fig. 74. — Practice Strokes for Gothic Writing. 

When this motion has been mastered, practise the 
strokes numbered 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, a'nd 7, which are the 
elements of which the small letters are composed, then 
combine them into letters as shown in Fig. 75. The 
terminal blocks on the lower end of such letters as 
the "i" are squares, made by lifting the pressure 
from the pen, and setting it back as shown in Fig. 74, 
and the spikes of the angles, if used, may be made 
with a little side slip of the pen while the stroke 
is being made. 

In combining these letters into words the one re- 
quirement is to keep the letters close together, the 

* ♦ 

space between letters wherever possible being just the 
same as the space between strokes of the letters, which 
in turn should not be much if any more than the width 
of the stroke. A printed page of text letters is al- 
ways unsatisfactory, because the letters cannot be set 

l^fi|fl)p|fte dose tD0flbfp 

Fig. 75. — Analyzed Gotliic Lower-case. 

sufficiently close, and because of the machine-made 
exactness. It lacks the irregularity and spontaneity of 
the written page. 

An alphabet of round forms similar to those used in 
Fig. 70 is given in Fig. 76. The order of strokes will 


Letters in Design 

be evident after practicing the angular. On account of 
the variety in combination this letter makes a more 
interesting page than the angular form. 

The uncial capitals have already been recommended 
for use with the Gothic lower-case, as being much 
stronger in design than the Gothic capitals, but sev- 
eral forms of the latter. are given in Figs. 79, 80 and 
81 and the order of strokes for the typical letters 
is shown in Fig. 77. They may be made with the same 

I ' Fig. 76. — Gothic Alphabet. (After Durer.) 

pen as the small letters, making the small letters 
three-fifths to two-thirds the height of the capitals. 
If the capitals are arranged in their family groups, 
their forms, which appear complicated, can be remem- 
bered without trouble. In the O family the C is the 
foundation letter, and from it the G, O, Q, T, and one 
form of E, U and W are developed as shown in Fig. 78. 

Similarly B, H, I, K, L and R are closely related, all 
having the same beginning strokes. 

The alphabet of Fig. 79 is a usual form of Old 
English. In this th^ spikes, hairlines and flourishes 

'3- -3' 3 

Fig. 77. — Typical Gothic Capitals Analyzed. j 

are added with a line pen after the page has been writ- 
ten, p'ig. 80 is a simpler form, written without re- 
touching, and suitable for rapid engrossing and similar 

Fig. 7S. — Family Groups. 

Fig. 81, adapted from the tomb of Richard II, is a 
letter of much beauty, and popular among designers, 
although not so well known and consequently not so 
legible to the general reader. 


Letters in Design 

Fig. 82 is an old form of Fractur or " German Text," 
which may be of occasipnal value. 

The paramount desii^' in the use of Gothic in design 
is for blackness, i.e., richness and "color," in effect. 
Words should be separated only enough for legibility, 

<-r/^ (rf{ qr'^ rrfj -T^^lV ^'^ /Vl\ Words should be separated only enough tor legibili 

i^mmlUiiiPllili^'iiti' ^^^ jj^^^ ^^^ ^p^^g^ ^jdely. Short lines are often 

^ ^ filled out with space fillers of spots or running figures 

Tff^'fl '^ "t O 1^ /t ^li'7'0 ClfT *° ^^'°'^'^ ^">' ^^'^'^'^ "holes" on the page. 
int M^ l/!Jv ♦vPi'O'^U Flourishes on the ' ascenders and descenders are 

>5J characteristic of the later Gothic, and may be used 

Fig. 79.— "Ofd English." judiciously with good effect. 


Letters in Design 

The Gothic is essentially a letter for ecclesiastical 
and other serious work, and its misplaced or inappro- 
priate use is a grave mistake. 


Fig. 8i. — English Gothic. (Westminster Abbey, 1400.) 

Although Gothic is easier than Roman, it is worse 
maltreated by amateurs and inexpert designers, and 
impossible things in initials and designs are accepted 

as good or allowed to pass, where equally poor Roman 
would be immediately condemned. 

The beautiful letters of Albrechl Diircr, Fig. 70, are 
worth careful study. In the original, which is twice 


Fig. 82.— Old "German Te.\t." 

the size of this reproduction, the initial and the two 
lines just above it are in red, as are also the spacing 


Thus far all the letters considered in this chapter 
have been ujiright forms. In the period of the Italian 


Letters in Design 

Renaissance some of the historians and scribes, prob- 
ably from the habit of writing fast, acquired a slanted 
writing, which became much the fashion. When 
Aldus Manutius in the sixteenth century cut the first 
font of inclined type he selected a carefully written 
manuscript of Petrarch from which to model it. In 



Fig. 83.— Italic. 

its stiff est form now Italic is simply an inclined Roman, 
such as Fig. 36. 

Script, in lettering, is a freer inclined or sometimes 
vertical letter showing its origin from the cursive or 
written form. For the designer the so-called French 
Script of the period of the Louis, a letter full of quaint- 
ness and grace is most interesting and valuable, as it 
admits of a freedom of treatment that gives individual- 

ity to work in perhaps greater degree than any other. 
Its effect is the e.xact opposite of Gothic, giving light- 
ness for blackness and caprice for dignity. The free 
ends of the unaccented strokes in the capitals become 


'e/^m/KL mnop 

grsiuiiMxyx^ &S-&0 

Fig. 84. — French Script. 

swash lines which often tie up with each other and 
with the ascenders and descenders of the small letters; 
but the curves must be spontaneous. A labored 
effect is fatal. 

A general rule has been stated that styles of different 
slopes should not be used together. The notable 


Letters in Design 

exception to this rule is in the case of Old Roman and 
Script used in combination in what is sometimes called 
Colonial Composition, when the Roman is used for the 
display words and Italic or Script for the less important 
words and lines. Fig. 97 by Mr. Seymour, is an 
artistic example. 


Fig. S5. — Script, by RudoLf Koch. 

Italic and Script may be used in all caps or caps and 

In practising inclined letters such as Figs. 83, 84 
and 85, slant direction lines should always be drawn 

as explained on page 27. The angle of slant varies 
widely both in historical and modern examples and is 
a matter of individuality. Some are only a few degrees 
ofT the perpendicular, others are nearly 30 degrees. 
The 2 to 5 slojje mentioned on page 25 is a pleasing 
average. If the Roman has been well mastered, the 

le forma fe SSonfieif eines ^uc6jfaben 

bei denkbar gunjiigjjem ^nfc6faJJ an 

^einen TlacHbar im ^ori= und Satjbifd 

giebt den ^afifiab fur den (cunflferfc/ien 

^ert einer Scfirifi, die dabei afs Qanzes 

kfar und uberfichtfidj zu fefen fein muf. 

Fig. S6. — Script, by Heinrich Wieynk. (Larisch.) 

italic letter will not be difficult, but the script will 
require much practice, probably with discouraging 
results before the curves will come smoothly. 
' The heights of the lower case letters are made in 
the same proportion as the upright lower case, but 
their widths are somewhat narrower. 

There must be careful discrimination and restraint 
in order that the flourishing shall not be overdone. 


Letters in Design 

Fig. 103 is an appropriate and clever example of 
script in design. 


Under this general head we have classified all those 
variations which have been developed in the modern 




Fig. 87. — A Stencil Form. 

school of "secessionists," particularly in Germany. 
Using the old forms as a basis a new life has been 
given them in their adaptation in the characteristic 
style of those artists, who appreciate so thoroughly the 
value of letters as ornament. 

The apparently free or formless character must not 

be taken as a license for carelessness. The lines of 
the letters have been studied with the same seriousness 
as the apparently free lines of the characteristic orna- 


Fig. 88.— .\ Stencil Form, (.\fter Gras.set.) 

ment of this school, which have their "points of inter- 
est" and rules of composition definitely established. 

In range these modern letters e.xtend from forms but 
slightly modified from the historical, through forms of 
good design but not so easily legible because of their 
newness and one's consequent lack of familiarity with 


Letters in Design 

them, tp weird conceptions inspired only by tlie wild 
desire for novelty. 

C7yXTnP:6(ITe nBERO 






Fig. 89. — An Uncial Adaptation. (After Otto Hupp.) 


r IG. 90. — A Free Uncial Adaptation. 

The modern forms of real value are all designed 
with an intimate acquaintance and regard for the 

|lmigun^ettccr3)cnkcr m^t 

Fig. 91. — Gothic, by Rudolf Koch. (Larisch.) 

TT.GcoK^cyXuuiol. EUtJ esX 0'\m se%^- 
meIt^fn.\ncItcnlCll^mo^eKne ct poascOc 
une iiw>i\>i<)iu\lilc hic5 inM'quec. Lcs 
lijjncs inleKKompues <^utflnel^Icn^ dc 
bcMicoup ccfef feT f e $t $t le ^ 

Fio. 92. — In the Style of George Auriol. 

<9^ <0^ ®A tf)^ 
*" V ^w ^w ^\> 


Letters in Design 

historical forms. Figs. 87 and 88 are modern adapta- 
tions of Roman in stencil form, Figs. 89 and 90 show 
their derivation from the Uncial, 91 is a modern Gothic 
and 92 a cursive or script form. 

Fig. 93, an original alphabet by Mr. Hunter of 
East Aurora, is strongly Viennese. It is shown in 
composition in Fig. 98. 

The tall letter of Fig. 94 is a good practical form 
which works well in monograms and marks. 

1234^ iWXYZi 6789 

The "new art" letter naturally suggests itself for 
application in modern craft work in metals or leather, 
in carding, stenciling or needlework, and in posters 
and advertising, but its adoption in any design must 
be considered carefully. An inappropriate use will be 
offensive, and sometimes even a correct and appropriate 
use will be criticized by persons who although pos- 
sibly incapable of judging, feel that they are being 
imposed upon. 

Fig. 93. — By Dard Hunter. 

Fig. 94. — A Compressed Form. 



Design and Composition 

For the general designer or decorative artist the 
designing of lettering does not mean the invention of 
new shapes for the letters, it means simply the selec- 
tion of suitable styles and their composition into 
pleasing form. The general shapes were designed 
long ago, and it would be inordinate presumption for 
an artist to create a new alphabet and through his 
design to say to the public: "This is my letter, you 
must learn to read it." 

Mr. Lewis F. Day, the English designer and author, 
said:* "There are two conditions on which the artist 
may be permitted to tamper with the alphabet: what- 
ever he docs ought, in the hrst place, to make reading 
run smoother, and, in the second, to make writing 
satisfactory to the eye." 

No real letter shapes are ever invented, they are all 
evolutions. The new work of the continental artists 
shows a freshness and variety and beauty of line, and 
an originality of design that may in some cases almost 

♦Alphabets Old and New. 

be called invention, but as has been said these men 
are working with an intimate knowledge of the his- 
torical forms. It is but natural that in the attempt at 
novelty some designs miss the requirement of legibility, 
and others that of beauty, some both; but such forms 
are not to be taken seriously. 

It is scarcely necessary to add here that lettering is 
essentially flat ornament, and that all the misguided 
attempts to make letters appear solid by adding shad- 
ows, by drawing them in perspective, or by making 
them of cobble stones or branches of trees like porch 
furniture, are eminently bad. 

The designer's problem is then to select the appro- 
priate combinations and by arrangement and spacing 
to make a pleasing effect. In this there should be 
considered (i) the period, (2) the purpose, (3) the 

The period or general historical style of the other 
parts of the design or ornament must be noted, and 
the lettering must first of all be appropriate. Gothic 


Design and Composition 

letters for example would of course be out of place in a 
Renaissance or Barocco design. Similarly, if the 

Fig. 95. — "Religion," by E. A. Abbey. 

CopyriHht 1908, E. A. Abbey 
From a Copley Print, Copyright 190S, by Curtis & Cameron. 

lettering is predominant the ornament must fit the 
letter selected even if the ornament be only a border. 

1 tvj i'umc zLKincL >3© a ■■-■■" 

F-aTl^InIC/-? riiG'rinLnjUL 

- rOS QENStC^JJS i£CA.C/ CO; -i iji.'.'-:.- 
Ra-TJj lis BV HJS i/J7£ CrLr.klXyTIL 
fAGi aMI> ^i!S I>AJiC.rlT£R-J5/-i;ii -' 


1 1 

. -a I 

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Fig. 96.— Bronze Tablet, by T. E. F, 


Design and Composition 

On page 72 the letters discussed in Chapter V, and 
some of their appropriate uses have been set forth in 
tabular form and may be studied with profit in connec- 
tion with the choice of letter combinations. 

The purpose of the inscription is again an important 
consideration in the selection of the style. E.xamjjles 
will readily suggest themselves, but the key-word 
again is appropriateness. 

Clearness and legibility are of course fundamental 
conditions, but these are relative terms; they do not 
necessarily mean the property of being read at a glance, 
what Dr. v. Larisch calls brutal legibility. The leg- 
ibility of a sign or advertisement is not necessary nor 
even desirable in lettering used as ornament. Beauti- 
fully designed ornament assumes that the observer 
has time to examine it and enjoy its detail. An 
extreme example is shown in Fig. 95, a reproduction 
of one of the late Edwin A. Abbey's four medallions 
(Art, Science, Justice and Religion), in the Penn- 
sylvania State Capitol. Mr. Abbey, one of the great- 
est of modern painters was at the same time the great- 
est master of lettering in decoration. Not since 
Albrecht Durcr has there been a great master so 
familiar with the details and the beauties of lettering. 








Fig. 97.— Title Page, by Ralph Fletcher Seymour. 

Design and Composition 

The backgrounds of these medallions have not the 
legibility of an advertisement, indeed at first sight of 
the originals one does not notice the lettering at all. 


Fig. 98.— By Dard Hunter. 



Fig. 99. — Roman, by \V. A. Dwiggins. 

The material upon which the lettering is to be done 
must of course be considered. In stone it is the shadow 

and not the outline that defines the letter (page 40); 
the same is true to a lesser extent in wood or bronze, 
or other materials where the surface of the letter is 
the same color as the background. Stubborn mater- 
ials such as beaten silver or copper, or cast metals, 
cannot have the same delicacy of design as engraved 

Fig. 100. — By Rudolf Melichar. (Larisch.) 

metals. Rough paper demands bolder treatment than 
smooth paper. Letters for needlework, or leather, 
or stenciling must be designed strictly with reference 
to the surface and te.xture of the materials used. 

When these three points have been considered the 
designer will begin his problem. After deciding upon 
the general form of the space to be used he will write 


Design and Composition 

Fig. ioi. — Title Page, by Ralph Fletcher Seymour. 

out the inscription roughly, selecting the important 
words or lines for emphasis by size or position, and will 







Fig. I02. — Bronze Tablet, designed by McKim, Mead & White, 


Courtesy of Jno. Williams. Inc., N. Y. 

make a number of miniature sketches, not more than 
an inch or two in height, for composition. This 
arrangement of the relation of white and black is the 


Design and Composition 

important step, and the full size drawing cannot be 
started until a satisfactory scheme of composition has 
been determined. 



103. — Cover Desigt^of "An Unofficwl Lo\'e Story." 
Published by the Century Co. . N. Y. 

When the design in the little sketch seems to be 
balanced and harmonious the final drawing should be 
laid out carefully in the same proportion, penciling 

top and bottom guide lines for each line of letters very 
lightly. If the design is symmetrical the method of 
procedure will be as given under the head of title 
designing on pages 35 and 36, working from the 
center line, and shifting letters and lines until the 
desired effect is obtained. If the design is unsym- 
metrical or massed, suitable treatment will suggest it- 

FlDM far awa^we come to )ou, 
t^e snow in the stRcet: & the win J on the door. 
Xjo tdi ofgReat-tidings strange and tRue — • 
MinstRcZs er maids, stand toRth on the floor. 

Fig. 104.— By \\\ .\. Dwiggins. 

self, but in every case the copy should be \\Tittcn down 
in the adopted arrangement and the letters counted 
for the approximate spacing. 

The artist using letters in design is assumed to know 
the laws of design and will follow the same principles 
in the lettermg as in any other part of the design. It 
is, however, more difficult to bring letters under these 
laws than landscape or figure composition. 

When one has become a master of the letters he may 


Design and Composition 

use them to form ornament, but it is safer for the 
amateur to preserve the historical forms and put his 
ornament on the background. 

On account of the varying widths of Roman letters 
it is sometimes difficult to space a word to a given 
length by counting letters from a center line. Fig. 105 
illustrates a method of spacing, on the old principle of 
similar triangles. 

Suppose it is reqiyred to put the word PROBLEM 
on the line and to the length ab. A line ac is drawn 
from a at any angle, another line ilc drawn parallel 
to it and the word sketched in this space, starting at 
a and spacing each letter with reference to the one 
before it, allowing the word to end where it will. The 
end of the last letter (at c) is connected with b and 
lines parallel to cb drawn from each letter, thus dividing 
ab proportionately. The proportionate height of bf is 
obtained from ce by the construction shown, after 
which the word can be sketched in its final position. 

After one has become familiar with the letters the 
line ac only need be drawn and the proportionate 
widths marked on it starting at a as in the word 

The final adjustment will be secured only after 

Fig. 105. — Method of Spacing to Given Length. 


Design and Composition 

each letter has been adapted perfectly to its surround- 
ings, with the areas of space so balanced that no gaping 
whites nor spots of black mar the effect. Do not 
hesitate to erase a whole line if it is felt that shifting 
it even a sixteenth of an inch would improve the 

At this stage the trained designer can see clearly the 
exact appearance of the finished drawing; the beginner 
is often surprised at the difference in effect when the 
letters are inked, and solid black has taken the place 
of the gray pencil outline. This part of designing 
cannot be taught, it is gained only by experience. 

If the work is a drawing for reproduction, a printed 
cover page for example, a full size sketch on paper of 
the same color and texture as that to be used in the 
printing is a great aid in studying the effect before 
making the final enlarged drawing for the engraver. 

Suggestions on drawing for reproduction will be 
found in Chapter VIII. 

Book covers in cloth are printed with brass stamps, 
and the drawing, made to fmished size in color on 
smooth binder's cloth, of the selected shade, is often 
sent for the die-cutter to work from. 

Designs for execution in stone or bronze are made 

full size in pencil only, on detail paper or tracing paper 
and from this transferred to the material. 

Fig. 1 06 is an alphabet designed with Japanese 
characters (there is no real alphabet in that language), 
for which occasional appropriate use may be found in 

Fig. 106. — .\ Japanese Suggestion, 
connection with Japanese design. It may be used in 
vertical panels. The two fillers on the last line are 
the well-known symbols, or words, for "good luck" 
and "long life." ' 
The following page gives a summary, in tabular 

The Letters and Their Uses 









miamii ® m 

(Caprice) ^-rre/pc/) /cr(pl6^^ 
Roman lower-case 




— The "general purpose letter." P"or classic and renaissance design. All caps for 
architectural inscriptions, corner stones, tablets, signs, titles on drawings, 
initials. All caps or caps and lower-case for posters, book covers, book 
plates, etc. Permits of wide letter-spacing. 

— All caps, or caps and Gothic lower-case. For ecclesiastical work or with anv 
Gothic design. Initials, versals, illuminating, monograms, etc. Lines close 

— Never all caps. Ecclesiastical work, inscriptions, illuminating, engrossing, work 
in medieval design; book covers of appropriate titles. May be etched or 
engraved on metal. Letters must be kept close together. 

— .Ml caps, or better caps and lower-case. For graceful, fanciful, quaint effects. 
Louis XV, XVI, &c., design. Book covers, ciphers, etc. With Old Roman 
for posters, titles, headings, etc. Colonial style. 

— Less formal than Roman cai)itals. A subordinate letter, but words more legible 
than all caj)s, hence should be used for sentences, paragraphs or solid pages. 

• — All caps. Effect crude. Single letters readable at a greater distance than any other 
style. For bold brush-work, titles on working drawings, signs, inscriptions on 
stone, etc. Letters may be much compressed or extended but not widely spaced. 

— For map w'ork — titles and important features, all caps, less important land 
features, caps and lower-case. Water features inclined. Used by sign writers 
and engravers. Inartistic and useless in design. 

— For all work in the "moderne stil." Etching, stenciling, saw-piercing, arts and 
crafts work in general. Monograms, marks, posters, etc. 


Design and Composition 

form, of the letters used in design, with suggestions as 
to the appropriate uses for each style. The character- 
istic designation given to each may seem fanciful, but it 
is simply an effort to " personify " the styles and to aid 
in giving that sympathetic acquaintance which the 
successful designer must feel. 

To attempt to go into detail in any of the branches 
of design in which lettering is used would carry us past 


Fig. 107. — By R. F. Seymour. 

the limits of this book. The lettering on a book-plate 
for example is really the most important part of it, 
but the design of ex libris is a subject in itself. Fig. 108 
is a book-plate in which letters have been used as 

Another special subject into which we cannot enter 
is the art of illuminating, which may be defined as the 
brightening of a page by the use of colors and gold and 
silver. As an art it flourished throughout the Middle 

Ages, and naturally declined ^after the invention of 
printing. In the present revival of lettering, when the 
beauty of the hand-written page is appreciated more 
than at any time since printing was invented, the " Art 
of Illuminating" is coming again to a rightful place 
among the arts. 

Beautiful things may be done easily by the student 
of lettering, on vellum, parchment, Japan papers or 
even "cover papers," by designing a page of writing, 
usually in Gothic or Roman lower-case and illuminat- 
ing the initials and border. In the simplest design it 
would mean only the boxing of the initials as in Figs. 
55 and 65. Real illuminating always implies the 
application of metals in addition to color. Pure gold, 
burnished, should be used, either in the form of shell 
gold, or leaf. Gold and silver bronzes are useful only 
for temporar}' work. 

The student wishing to go into illuminating is 
referred to the books mentioned in the last chapter, 
particularly to " Writing and Illuminating and Letter- 
ing," by Edward Johnston. 

It is recommended that the student in practicing 
lettering for application in any branch of design do not 
simply copy alphabets, but that he set a delinite prob- 

Design and Composition 

lem, as a book cover or title page, and gain from it not 
only knowledge of the letter forms, but experience in 
the far more important part, the composition. 

The figures in this chapter are given to illustrate 
good design and composition in a variety of subjects, 
and should have careful study. 

l''iG. loS. — Book Plate by Thomas Moring. 
From " One Hundred Book Plates." 



Monograms, Ciphers and Marks 

One of the severe tests of a designer's skill and 
originality is in the design of letter combinations in 
monogram or cipher. It requires not only knowledge 
of the laws of design, and intimate and sympathetic 
acquaintance with the letter-forms, but a certain 
ingenuity and inventive ability — a power to devise 
combinations where none are evident. 

A monogram, strictly speaking, is a combination of 
two or more letters in which a part of each letter forms 
part of another. It is common to speak of any com- 
bination of interwoven or superimposed letters as a 
monogram, but if each letter is separate and complete 
such devices are not really monograms, but ciphers; 
and although usage and even some dictionary defini- 
tions have sanctioned the broader use of the word, we 
shall make the distinction, mainly for convenience in 

As a rule the designing of a monogram requires 
more ingenuity than a cipher, and is consequently 
more interesting as a problem, hut the result is often 

not as pleasing as a well designed cipher. A mongrel 
combination of the two, in three letter designs, in 
which two of the letters are monogram and the third a 
separate letter is, however, to be avoided if at all pos- 
sible. It should be pure monogram or pure cipher. 
In this distinction it should not be understood that 
a monogram is better than a cipher as a design. The 
device is for ornament, indeed is ornament and an 
essential requirement is beauty. It is very often true 
that a given combination of letters cannot be made into 
anything but an ugly monogram, it is very seldom the 
case that the same combination cannot be combined 
into satisfactory, if not beautiful, cipher. 

The laws of unity, balance, symmetry, etc., will of 
course apply in this as in any other branch of design. 
Absolute symmetry about a central axis is not at all 
necessary, but balance must be maintained. 

The period, purpose, and material must again be 
considered. The period or style must be appropriate, 
and the letters must all belong to the same stvle. It 

Monograms, Ciphers and Marks 

is absolutely intolerable to mix styles. The desire 
should be for simplicity and purity of line and com- 
position. The florid "Louis XV" designs sometimes 
used by engravers are of no value to craftsmen. Ex- 
cessive ornamentation is an acknowledgment of weak- 
ness. The important letter (the last, in initials of 
persons) is to be prominent by position, size or strength. 
The monogram to be perfect must read in the correct 

The purpose will again determine the legibility. A 
trademark or commercial device must read easily, 
while a private mark may be decipherable with diffi- 
culty but both must be decorative, and hence good 

The material on which the device is to be executed 
will influence the style of letter, the amount of orna- 
ment and the character of the background. 

Monograms and ciphers may be either superimposed, 
successive or condnuous. In the superimposed design 
the prominent letter will be emphasized by its size, by 
the quality of line composing it or by its position on top. 
The successive and continuous designs will read 
naturally from left to right, the continuous being 
formed in one stroke and therefore having only two 

free ends. Sometimes in the successive form the last 
letter is made much larger than the others and placed 
in the middle. 

Care must be taken, especially in three-letter com- 
binations, not to get an "accidental" letter, as such an 
event will destroy the value of the design however good 
it may be. 

It is permissible to reverse any letter but the last. 
The device of the Rookwood Pottery, Fig. 117, is a 
well-known example. Many of these are found in the 
French designs of the seventeenth century, when per- 
fect symmetry about the vertical axis was particularly 
sought for. 

In comparatively rare cases a reversible monogram 
reading either from top or bottom can be made. 
These are of particular value in applied design in craft 
work. Fig. 109 illustrates possibilities with all the 
letters of the alphabet. 

In attacking the problem the shape of the space is 
the first consideration. If the monogram is to be 
enclosed in a circle or other geometrical outline it 
must be arranged to fit the space, and even if to be used 
as free ornament its proportions must be designed for 
the place it is to occupy. 


Monograms, Ciphers and Marks 


Fig. log. — Reversible Monograms and Ciphers. 

The letters to be combined should be set down and 
studied. A H I M O T U V W X Y are symmetrical, 
and several of them reversible (upside down) along 
with N S and Z. If the given letters are included in 
this group it is evident that the first form, a symmetrical 
superimposed device, is an easy solution. Fig. no. 

Fig. no. — Superimposed Forms. 

Pairs such as CD, CO, GD, EB (script) and doubles 
as HH, DC, QD, etc., balance left and right and 
suggest the possibility of symmetrical arrangement in 
either the first, or second, the successive, form. Fig. 1 1 1. 
This form is possible oftener than the first, and is 
usually more legible. 


Monograms, Ciphers and Marks 

If strict monogram is being striven for, a careful 
study should be made to find common strokes. Thus 
in M R L, Fig. 112, the M has four possible lines for 
use as stems for the R and L. Evidently using the 
first stem would give a faulty result, as in (i), reading 
RM L. 

Fig. III. — Successive Forms. 

The free ends of each letter should be studied with 
reference to the possibility of connecting them into 
continuous monogram, Fig. 113. Sometimes free 
ends may be improvised as in E B. A vertical script is 
a useful letter for continuous forms. Fig. 115. For 
autograph monograms the continuous device is par- 
ticularly good. 

After analyzing the letters in this way the designer 
should try the different styles of letter in little sketches, 
beginning with the Roman. This letter does not per- 

FiG. 113. — Continuous Monograms. 

mit of many liberties, it is not flexible, but when one 
does get a good design in Old Roman it is sure to have 
dignity and character. If after a half dozen trials no 


Monograms, Ciphers and Marks 

possibilities seem to suggest themselves pass on to the 
Uncial, which on account of its admitting of more 
variation is much more amenable to treatment; and 
probably with the given letters there will be several 

Fig. 114. — O. S. U. Uncial and Gothic. 

suggested Uncial combinations, in both monogram 
and cipher, Fig. 114. 

Gothic may be tried next. Old English capitals are 
themselves sufficiently complicated as not to invite 
further complication, but the simpler forms can often 

be worked into acceptable design in either monogram 
or cipher. 

The next form, script, is the favorite letter of the 

Fig. 115. — Script, Designed by \. .\. Turbayne. 

engravers. It combines much more easily into cipher 
than into monogram, and allows such freedom that it 
is safe to say that any combination may be done pass- 
ably in it. 

I'lG. 116. — J. R. C. Various Treatments of the Same Monogram. 

The modern, "new art," letters offer the most at- 
tractive field for the ingenious monogram designer. 
The variations of form which they present, and the 


Monograms, Ciphers and Marks 

possibilities for originality and individuality make 
them the most interesting of all to play with. This 
style naturally suggests itself for use in the art-crafts, 
in etched, pierced, and stenciled work. Striking 
effects are secured by cutting the letters from a black 
background. Often a pleasing device, although not a 

It may be a monogram, or initial, or even a device 
without letters; it need not be legible but it must be 
distinctive. The possession of such marks is very 
common among the literary and artistic people of 
France and Germany. 

M. George Auriol is the acknowledged master of 


jesu hominum 

The Studio" 

Fig. 117. — Various Historical and other Devices. 

real monogram may be made by using separated 
letters enclosed with good composition in some shape, 
Fig. 118. 

The modern cachet or mark bears much the same 
relation to an individual that a trade-mark does to a 
business house, being the stamp of individuality with 
which he may mark his productions or possessions. 

I'lG. iiS. — Designs with Separate Letters. 

this decoration, and his published drawings of these 
designs form two most fascinating little books. Fig. 
1 19 shows examples of his style, the lirst device being 
his own characteristic signature. 

The illustrations of this chapter are selected from 
monograms designed by the authors (except as cred- 


Monograms, Ciphers and Marks 

ited), and, with some exceptions, are in actual use; and while some unite easily and others with difficulty, a 

it may be said for the benefit of the beginner who may satisfactory monogram or cipher in some style is pos- 

think his initials are impossible of combination, that sible with any two or three letter combination. 

J.O. JR. '" H B. 

Fig. 119. — Designs by George Auriol. 



Drawing for Reproduction 

As the greatest amount of designed lettering done is 
for reproduction the student should make himself 
familiar with the modern graphic processes and the 
requirements necessary in drawing for them. Line 
drawings are usually reproduced by the jjhoto-mcchan- 
ical process known as zinc etching, in which the draw- 
ing is photographed on a process plate, generally with 
some reduction in size, the negative film reversed and 
printed so as to give a positive on a sensitized zinc 
plate (when a particularly fine result is desired a copper 
plate is used), which is etched with acid leaving the 
lines in relief, and giving, when mounted type-high 
on a wood base, a printing block which can be used 
along with type on an ordinary jirinting press. Wash 
drawings and jihotographs are reproduced in a similar 
way on copper by what is known as the half-tone pro- 
cess, in which the negative is made through a ruled 
"screen" in front of the plate, which breaks up the 
tints into a series of dots of varying size. 

Drawings for zinc etching should be made on com- 

paratively smooth white paper (Bristol board is 
generally used, and tracing cloth works very success- 
fully), in black drawing ink, and preferably larger than 
the required reproduction. If it is desired to preserve 
the hand-drawn character and quality of the original 
the reduction should be very slight, but if a very 
smooth effect is wanted the drawing may be as much 
as three or four times as large as the cut. The best 
general size is one and one-half times, linear. A 
reducing glass, a concave lens mounted like a reading 
glass, is sometimes used to aid in judging the effect of 
the drawing on reduction. If lines are drawn too 
close together the space between them will choke in 
the rej^roduction and mar the effect. 

As suggested on page 71 a sketch the size of the 
finished cut should usually be made to work from. 
The proj)ortions of this sketch may be enlarged to the 
desired size by proportional dividers, or by making a 
paper scale, or by diagonals as illustrated in Fig. 120. 
If a diagonal ab across the original sketch afbg be 


Drawing for Reproduction 



Fig. 1 20. — Method of Enlarging a Drawing. 

extended, lines ci and ce may be drawn from any point 
on it, as c, and will enclose a rectangle adce of the same 
proportion as the original. 

A line of letters, as the block ]ii]h, may be located 
both for size and position by extending its sides to the 
edges of the original sheet and drawing lines through 
these points from the corner a. Where these lines 
intersect the edges of the enlarged sheet will give points 
from which the enlarged block may be located, as 

If more than one color is to be used, for example, if 
some letters or parts of the ornament are to be red , these 
parts may be drawn with an opaque vermilion, which 
will photograph the same as black, or they may be 
drawn in black and the color indicated on the margin. 
The engraver will make two plates from the same nega- 
tive, and will block out the colors on the zinc, giving 
two plates, one for the red and one for the black, of 
exactly the same size, and which will consequently 
register accurately in the printing. 

One ver}' convenient thing not permissible in other 
work, may be done on drawings for reproduction — 
any irregularities may be corrected by simply painting 
out with French white (blanc d'argent). If it is 


Drawing for Reproduction 


desired to shift a line after it has been inked it 
mav be cut out and pasted on in the required 
position. The edges thus left will not trouble the 
engraver as they will be tooled out when the etching 
is finished. 

Often time may be saved, and in many cases effects 
not possible in drawing may be secured with the aid of 
the engraver. If a design or border is symmetrical 
about a center line, one-half only need be drawn and 
the engraver can reverse the design for the other side. 

Plates may be "grained" to imitate very closely 
charcoal or pencil texture, and tints, backgrounds and 
textures may be added by the engraver's use of the 
method of mechanical shading commonly known as 
the Ben Day process. In this the drawing is made 
in outline, with the patterns to be used indicated on 
it by numbers. The shading films, which come in a 
great variety of stipples, cross-hatchings, grains and 
lines, are inked and applied directly on the plate, or 
in some cases on the drawing. 



The title of this book indicates its limits. For the 
student who expects to go into the subject thoroughly 
and seriously it is only an introduction. The aim has 
been not to multiply examples, but to give an adequate 
number of practical working styles for the ordinary 
draftsman and designer, with examples of composition 
in sufficient variety to illustrate the text. An indexed 
clipping file of good work in lettering and design should 
be started, and the habit of studying critically the work 
found in the magazines and other artistic publications 

The following list of books is given to aid those who 
will pursue the study. Some of these will be found in 
most public libraries. Those marked * would be of 
particular value in the designer's library. 

Clodd, Edward — The Story of the Alphabet. Apple- 
ton, 1907. 

An interesting little book on primitive writing, 
hieroglyphics, etc., disputing some theories of Taylor. 

De Vinne, Theo. L.— Plain Printing Types. The 
De Vinne Press, 1900. 

A history of printing types by the best .\merican 

Gress, Edmund G.— The Art and Practice of Typog- 
raphy. N. Y. The Oswald Publishing 
Co., 1910. 

A history of printing, with reproductions of the work 
of early masters, and excellent chapters on composi- 
tion, with many modern e.xamples. 160 pp., over 
600 ill. and specimens. 

Skinner, H. M. — The Story of the Letters and Figures. 
Orville Brewer, Chicago, 1905. 
A popular story for boys and girls, of the develop- 
ment of letters from the Phoenician. Good for 
supplementary school reading. 

Strange, Edward F.— *Alphabets. Geo. Bell & 
Sons, 1898. 

\ valuable book, both historical and practical. 
298 pp. 200 ill. 



Taylor, Isaac — The Alphabet. Its Origin and Devel- 
opment. 2 V. 2d ed. London, 1899. 
The most exhaustive and authoritative work on the 

Thompson, Sir E. M. — Handbook of Greek and Latin 
Palaeography. Appleton, 1893. 
A standard work on the history of writing. 


Brown, F. C. — *Letters & Lettering. Bates & 
Guild, 1902. 

By an architect. A collection of alphabets and 
examples with accompanying text. 214 pp. 211 ill. 

Day, Lewis F. — *Alphabets Old and New. 3rd ed. 
Revised and enlarged. Scribners, igii. 
An Essay on ".Art in the .\lphabet," and nearly 
200 working alphabets. 256 pp. 

Day, Lewis F. — *Lettering in Ornament. Scribners, 

Many historical examples on stone, wood, bronze, 
etc. Chapters on monograms, ciphers, conjoined 
letters, initials, etc. 218 pp. 186 ill. 

Johnston, Edward — ^Writing & Illuminating & Let- 
tering. The Macmillan Company, 1906. 
In the Artistic Crafts series of Technical HandbooLs. 
Complete practical instruction in preparing reed and 

quill pens, formal writing, manuscript hooks, laying 
and burnishing gold, etc. 500 pp. 218 ill. 23 pi. 

Larisch, R. von — * Unterricht in Ornamentaler 
Schrift. Second ed., enlarged. Wien, 1909. 
Dr. V. Larisch is the recognized European authority 
on modern letters. 

Stevens, Thos. W. — ^Lettering for Printers & De- 
signers. Inland Printer, Chicago, 1906. 
.\n artistic and useful little book, particularly for 
Roman lower-case. 117 pp. 65 ill. 

Strange, E. F. — * Alphabets (See i). 


Johnston, Edward — *Manuscript and Inscription 
Letters. London, John Hogg, 1909. 
A valuable working supplement to Writing & Illum- 
inating & Lettering. 16 pi. 

Koch, Rudolf — Klassische Schriften, Dresden. 

25 plates illustrating the letters of Gutenberg, Diirer, 
W. Morris, Koenig, Hupp, etc. 

Larisch, R. von — Beispiele Kunstlerischer Schrift. 
Anton Schroll, Wien. 3V., 1900-1906. 
Drawings illustrating composition, by well known 
artists in their characteristic letters. 



Lehner, Jos. and Mader, Ed. — Neue Schriften und 
Firmcnschilder Im Modernen Stil. Wol- 
frum & Co., Wien, n. d. 

A collection of Art Nouveau composition. Beauti- 
ful color schemes. 60 pi. 

Petzendorfer, L. — * Schriften Atlas. Jul. Hoffman, 
Stuttgart, 1898. 

A varied collection of type specimens and drawn 
alphabets and initials. 123 pi. 

Petzendorfer, L. — *Schriften Atlas. Neue Folge, 
Stuttgart, 1905. 

Newer type specimens, initials, monograms and 
examples of composition in .-Vrt Nouveau. 141 pi. 

Rhead, G. W. — An Alphabet of Roman Capitals, to- 
gether with three sets of lower case letters, 
etc. B. T. Batsford, London, 1903. 
Old Roman from Trajan's column. 26 plates, one 
letter 7 in. high on each plate. 

Smith, P. J.— Lettering and Writing. B. T. Batsford, 
London, igo8. 

By a pupil of Edward Johnston. 15 plates of pen 
drawn Roman. 

Turbayne, A. A. — Alphabets and Numerals. Van 
Nostrand, 1904. 
17 pp. 27 pi. Large letters. 

Weimar, William — Monumental Schriften. Gerlach 
und Schenk, Wein, 1898. 
68 plates of inscriptions on stone, bronze and wood. 


Bradley, John W. — Illuminated Letters and Borders. 
Board of Education, South Kensington, 1901. 
A history of the .\rt of Illumination, and list of 
manuscripts in the Victoria and .Mbert Museum. 

175 PP- 19 P'- 

Bradley, John W. — Illuminated Manuscripts. Lon- 
don, Methuen & Co. 1905. 
An interesting and scholarly story of the art of 
illumination. i6mo., 290 pp. 21 pi. 

Delamotte, F. — A Primer of the Art of Illumination. 
London, Crosby, Lockwood & Son, 1S97. 

43 PP- 20 pi- 

Johnston, E. F.— *Writing & Illuminating & Letter- 
ing (See 2). 

Herbert, J. A. — Illuminated Manuscripts. Putnam, 

An exhaustive history of manuscript books with 
illustrations in color. 51 pi. 356 pp. 
,Laing, J. J. — *Manual of Illumination. Windsor & 
A practical lilllc handbook. 100 pp. 



Laing, J. J. — *Companion to Manual of Illumination. 
Windsor & Newton. 

"Borders, capitals, texts and detail finishings, etc." 
28 pi. 

Middleton, J. H. — Illuminated Manuscripts in Clas- 
sical and Mediaeval Times; their Art and 
their Technique. Cambridge, 1892. 

Pctzendorfer, L. — Schriften Atlas (See 3). 
Contains many illuminated initials. 

Quaile, Edward — Illuminated Manuscripts. Liver- 
pool, Henry Young & Sons, 1897. 
An interesting sketch of their origin, hi.story and 
characteristics. 149 pp. 26 pi. 

Robinson, S. F. H. — Celtic Illuminative Art. Dtiblin, 


A beautiful book with full sized reproductions from 

the Gospel books of Durrow, Lindisfarne and Kells. 

Colored plates. 
Stokes, Margaret. — Early Christian Art in Ireland. 

Board of Education, South Kensington. 

An illustrated handbook. 
Whithard, Philip. — Illuminating and Missal Painting, 

London, Crosby, Lockwod & Son, 1909. 

A practical treatise on materials and methods of 

working. 145 pp. 

The older books, such as Shaw, Humphreys and 
The Art of Illuminating by Wyatt, now out of print, 
may be found in many of the large libraries. 


Auriol, George — *Le Premier Livre des Cachets 

Marques et Monogrammes. Paris, Librairie 

Centrale des Beaux-Arts, 1901. 

A most artistic little book. 
Auriol, George — *Le Second Livre des Cachets, 

Marques, Monogrammes et ex Libris. Paris, 

Henry Floury, 1908. 

Uniform with the first book. 
Benker, H. — Das Monogramm der Gegenwart. Plau- 

en, C. Stoll. 

20 plates of monograms especially for needle work. 
Bergling, J. M. — Art Monograms and Lettering. 

Chicago, 1912. 

A portfolio of modern designs particularly for 

Day, L. F. — *Lettering in Ornament (See 2). 
Diebener, Wilhelm— Monogramme und Dekorationen. 

Leipzig, 19 10. 

"Ftir Uhren und Kdelmetall-gravierung." 145 

plates of Monograms and Devices. 



Nowack, Hans — Das Moderne Monogramm. Wicn, 
Ferd Schenk. 

26 plates containing 676 two-letter ciphers. 

Petzendorfer, L. — Schriften Atlas, Neue Folge (See 3). 

Contains about 20 plates of modern monograms. 
Turbayne, A. A. — *Monograms & Ciphers. The 

Caxton Co., London, 1909. 

135 plates containing all the two-letter and many 

three-letter combinations drawn in large size, with 

27 plates of alphabets and numerals. 


Jacoby, Henry S. — A Text-Book on Plain Lettering. 
McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York. 
3d ed., 1909. 

Written for Civil Engineers. Elaborate rules for 
mechanical spacing. 82 pp. 48 pi. 

Reinhardt, C. W. — Lettering for Draftsmen, Engineers 
and Students. Van Nostrand, 1895. 
"A practical system of freehand lettering for working 
drawings." 23 pp. 8 pi. 

Sherman, C. E. — The Theory and Practice of Letter- 
ing. Midland Publishing Company, Colum- 
bus, Ohio. 6th ed., 1904. 
Showing in detail the construction and strokes of 

modern Roman Capitals, and stump letters. One of 

the original te.xt-books on the subject. 49 pp. 11 pi. 
Wilson, Victor T. — Free-hand Lettering. John Wiley, 

New York, 1903. 

Development of letter-forms and composition by the 

sketch-method. 95 pp. 23 pi. 
Daniels, Fish, Esser, Valpey, Parsons, Copley, 
Meinhardt, Cromwell and many others have prepared 
text-books or collections of alphabets for draftsmen. 


Davids, Thaddeus — Davids' Practical Letterer. New 

York, 1903. 
Heyny, William — Modern Lettering, .Artistic and 

Practical. Comstock, 1909. 
Strong, Chas. J. — The Art of Show Card Writing. 

Detroit School of Lettering, Detroit, Mich., 



Bailey, Henry T.— The School Arts Alphabet Sheets. 
School Arts Press, Boston, Mass. 

Ever)- public school art teacher should have this set. 

Bull, Schuyler— The A B C of Lettering for Public 
Schools. Rochester, N. Y., 190S. 
Four plates and sheet of instructions. 



Shaylor, H. W. — Book of Alphabets for Use in Schools. 
Ginn & Co., 1908. 
A 24-page copybook of good forms. 

The cards and leaflets issued by Alfred Bartlett, 
Boston; Paul Elder, San Francisco, and other 
publishers give beautiful and suggestive 
examples of lettering in design. 

Photographs of Trajan's Column and other classical 
inscriptions may be had from the Director of 

Victoria and Albert Museum, S. Kensington, 

This should not be considered as a complete bib- 
liography, but it contains most of the better known 
works in the various divisions. Many books out of 
print and rare are not included, as they would not 
ordinarily be accessible. The list contains sufficient 
titles to guide in the selection of a reference library for 
school or individual. 



Abbey, E. A., 66 
Accidental letter, 76 
Alcuin of York, 2 
Aldus Manutius, 59 
Alphabets, books of, collections of, 86 
Ampersand, 14 
Applied design, 71, 72 
Appropriateness, 64 

Architects' use of letters, inscription lettering, 
40, 41 

office lettering, 39 
Architectural drawing, contents of title, 34 

forms of titles, 37 
Art-crafts, 63, 72, 80 
Art Nouveau, 3, 61, 62, 63 

uses of, 63, 72 
Auriol, George, 62, 80, 81 
Autograph monograms, 78 

Beginners' mistakes, 29 
Ben Day films, 84 
Bibliography, 85 
Blackletter, 3, 52 

Blank title forms, 38 

Block letter, 19 

Bold face, 4 

Book covers, 71 

Book of Kells, 2, 51 

Book plates, 73 

Books on lettering, 85 

Boxed title, 37, 38 

Brackets, 6, 8 

Broad pens, 44, 46, 47, 50, 54, 55 

Bronze tablets, 41, 65, 68, 71 

shrinkage, 41 
Brush letters, 19, 44 

Cachets, 80 
Caroline minuscule, 2 
Celtic, 2, 51 
Charlemagne, 2 
Ciphers, 75 
Civil engineers, 15 
Colonial composition, 60 
Color in reproduction, S3 
Commercial Gothic, 3, 19 


Commercial Gothic alphabets, 20, 21, 

for signals, etc., 41 

uses of, 72 
Composition, 64 

Colonial, 60 

freedom in, 42 

Reinhardt in, 29 
Compressed letters, 4, 29, 43 
Contents of titles, 34 
Continuous monograms, 78 

Day, Len-is F., 64 
Delia Robbia type, 47 
Design, in lettering, 64 

of monograms, 75 

laws of, 69 

symmetrical, to reverse, 84 

with separate letters, 80 
Development, i 
De\ices, historical, 80 

separate letter, 80 
Drawing instruments, g 
Drawings, for reproduction, 82 



Drawings, to enlarge, 82 

to correct, 83 
Drop line, 46 

Durer, Albrecht, 52, 58. 66 
Dwiggins, \V. A., 52, 67, 69 

Ellipses, 14 

Engineering lettering, books on, 89 

Engraving, 82 

Engrossing, 56 

Evolution, I 

Extended letters, 4, 24 

Fillets, 6, 8, 14 
Flourishes, in Gothic, 57 

in script, 60 
Follows, G. H., 25 
Fractions, 29 

Freedom in composition, 42, 43 
French script, 59 

uses of, 72 

General proportions of letters, 4 
Geological survey, 15, 41 
Geometrical construction, 9, 14 
German text, 3, 53, 58 
Gothic, 52, 62 

alphabets, 55, 56, 57, 58 

commercial (see Commercial Gothic) 

Gothic, in monograms, 79 
position for writing, 54 
uses of, 58, 72 

Government Bureaus, 15 

Half-tone process, 82 
Half-uncial, 51 
Henry VH, tomb of, 7 
Historical devices, 80 
Histor}', books on, 85 
Hunter, Uard, 63, 67 

Illuminating, 73 
Incised letters, 39 
Inclined Roman, 30, 31 

single stroke caps, 25 

alphabet, 26 
Individuality, 40, 45, 80. 
Initials, ornamental, 50 
Inking, 5, 12, 18, 19, 25, 36 
Invention of printing, 3 
Irish half-uncial, 2, 51 
Italic, 3, 30, 58, 59 

J, use of I for, S 
Japanese, 71 
Jenson type, 45 

Kells, Book of, 2, 51 


Koch, Rudolph, 60, 62 

Larisch, Dr. v., 47, 66 
Laws of design, 69, 75 
Legibility, 28, 44, 66 
Leonardo da Vinci, 14 
Light face, 4 
Lombardic letters, 47 
Lower-case, Roman, 44 

proportion of capitals, 46 

single stroke, 28 

Machine drawing title, 34 

Manuscripts, 2 

Map title, 34 

Map w^ork, 19, 31, 41 

Marks, 80 

Marsuppini monument, 7 

Material, 67, 76, 82 

Mechanical construction of Roman, 14 

Missal type, 50 

Modern Roman, 3, 15 

alphabets, 16, 17 

uses of, 72 
Monograms, 75 

books on, 88 

definitions, 75, 76 
Morris, William, 45 


\pA- Art, 6i 

in monograms, 79 
uses of, 63, 72 

Old English, 3, 53 
Old Roman, i, q 

alphabets, 6, 7, 10, 11, 13, 39, 40 

angle of tilt, 14 

compressed, 43 

for architectural work, 39, 40 

geometrical construction of, 10, it, 14 

in design, 42 

inking, 12 

in monograms, 78 

in titles, 37 

monogram-combinations, 43 

proportions, 8 

spacing, ^3 

wide letter-spacing, 37, 43 

written with broad pen, 44 

uses of, 72 
Optical illusions, 4, 15 

Order and direction of strokes, for Old 
Roman, 12 

for Commercial Gothic, 22 

for Gothic capitals, 56 

for Gothic lower-case, 55 

for single stroke upright letters, 23 

for single stroke inclined letters, 26 

Ornament, 70 

Celtic, 51 

excessive, 76 

flat, 64 

in monograms, 75 

on titles, 37 
Ornamental initials, 50 

Paper scale, 9, 15 
Patent oflice drawing, 41 
Pencil texture, to imitate, S4 
Penciling, 9, 18, ^;^ 
Pens, 22, 31, 44, 53 

to prepare, 24 
Photo-mechanical processes, 82 
Practical books for designers, 86 
Practice strokes, for Gothic writing, 55 

for stump letters, 31 

incHned single stroke, 27 

upright single stroke, 24 
Printing, invention of, 3 

plates, 82 
Pumpkin seed letter, 31 
Punctuation marks, 37 

Quill pens, 54 

Record strip, 38 
Reducing glass, 82 


Reed pen, 44, 54 
Reinhardt, Charles W., 28 
Reinhardt letter, 28, 29, 40, 41 
Renaissance Roman, S, 7, 8 
Reproduction, drawing for, 82 
Reversible monograms, 76, 77 
Richard II, tomb of, 56 
Roman letter, 5 

accented lines, 5 

in design, 42 

lower-case, 44 

alphabets, 45, 46, 47 
uses of, 72 

modern, 3, 15, 16, 17 
uses of, 7 2 

old (see Old Roman) 

"oldstyle," 5 

Renaissance. 5. 7, 8 

rules for shading, 6 
Round Gothic, 52, 55 
Round-writing pens, 53 
Rules, of stability, 4 

for composition, 29 

for Gmhic letters, 53 

for shading Roman letters, 6 

for spacing, 53 
Rustic, 2 

Sans-serif, 19 


Script, 3, 58, 5Q, 60 

in monograms, 79 
Serifs, 6, 8, 9, 14, 18 
Seymour, R. F., 66, 68, 73 
Show^ard lettering, books on, 8g 
Signals and signs, 41 
Single-stroke letters, 22 

inclined caps, 25 

inclined lower-case, 28 

vertical caps, 24 
Sketches, 68, 71 

Slope of inclined letters, 25, 27, 60 
Sonnecken pens, 53 
Space fillers, 57 
Spacing, 32, 3i, 57, 70 
Stencil letters, 61 
Stone, letters on, 40, 71 

Stump letters, 31, 41 
Superimposed monograms, 77 
Symmetrical title, 25 

"t" line, 47 

Table of letters and their uses, 72 

Tablets, bronze, 41, 65, 68, 71 

Taylor, Isaac, i 

Text letters, 55 

Tomb of Henry VII, 7 

Trajan's column, i, 6 

Triangles, slope, 25 

Type, Delia Robbia, 47 

Jenson, 45 

Missal, 50 

U, use of sharp V for, 8 

Uncial, the, 2, 47 

alphabets, 48, 49, 50, 89, 90 

in monograms, 79 

use of, 50, 72 

use with Gothic, 53 
Upright single stroke, 23, 24 

Vorsals, 49 

Vertical single stroke caps, 24 

Waist line, 18, 47 

White, use of, 83 

Wieynk, Heinrich, 60 

Working drawing titles, 37, 38, 41 

Zinc etching, 82 

General p 
German t 
Gothic, 5 








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