top of page

A History of Calligraphy (Western)

​If I want to get into calligraphy, how is the best way to approach it? Well, I used to be an Art History major, so why not a brief history of calligraphy? I'll start with western calligraphy since it is the language I read and write.

Searching the web I found some great resources, but the Manuscript's "History of Calligraphy" was short and to the point. I also love how they list each style and an example of it.

Type and letters didn't always come in the form of Helvetica or Times New Roman. Type had to be developed somehow to fit someone's or something's needs. Whether it was a small love note to a maiden or a request for another barrel of beer, legible writing was necessary to carry across a message. These messages developed into stories and stories had to be recorded, so voila... calligraphy (because there are OCD people like me who want perfect, legible, handwritten notes)!

Calligraphy stems from two Greek words meaning artisitc beauty and writing or drawing. Western calligraphy is rooted all the way back in the Stone Age when cavemen were beginning to draw figures in caves. Other sources say after that the Egyptians expanded upon this communicative form with hieroglyphics. We can then see that the recording of stories and messages transitioned into letter writing during the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque eras.

The Manuscript's "History of Calligraphy" expands on the different letter-forms. These forms developed for different reasons; whether the book was for the glory of God or a document for a royal family. It comes to show that each form has a specific purpose, tone and feel to give.


  • Uncials

  • Half-Uncials

  • Insular Minuscule

  • Caroline Minuscule

  • English Caroline Minuscule Compressed

  • Gothic Black Letter

  • Batarde

  • Humanistic Minuscule

  • Italic

photo source: Manuscripts

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page