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U&lc Online Issue: 41.1.2

Tips for Scripts


by Ilene Strizver



For Your Typographic

In today’s digital world, script typefaces are plentiful and fun to use. They have a broad range of applications, including invitations, announcements, posters, logos, book covers, CDs, movie titles, ads, and much more. Many script fonts are now available in the new OpenType® font format, giving them the potential of containing hundreds, even thousands of characters. Although script designs are easy to use, they can just as easily be misused. Here are some tips for scripts that will keep you in the know!

Tracking connecting scripts
The majority of formal scripts are connecting scripts; that is, many of the characters have joining strokes which are designed and spaced to connect perfectly with other characters so it looks like formal handwriting that was drawn by a calligrapher or lettering artist. This is why connecting scripts are one of the most difficult typefaces to design and create digitally. It is also why you should not change the overall tracking of a connecting script, as it can alter the carefully designed letter spacing, and sometimes disconnect characters intended to connect.

There is one instance when you should consider tracking, and that is when you’re….

Setting scripts on a curve
When type is set on a curve, it alters the letter spacing by optically adding an inverted triangle of space between the characters. When this happens to a connecting script, it can separate character combinations that are intended to connect. To remedy this, use tracking and kerning to carefully reconnect those characters.

Avoid all caps
Most scripts have capitals that are decorative and ornamental in nature; they are designed to work well with lowercase letters, not other caps. For this reason, most scripts should not be set in all caps as this can render them unreadable, and is considered amateurish.

Use swashes and alternate characters with care
Some of today’s scripts, especially OpenType fonts, contain lots of alternate characters, many of which are ornate and extremely decorative in nature. For the best effect, use them conservatively so they don’t overwhelm your design and make it too busy. Remember, “less is more.”

Point size
What looks elegant, inviting and readable at 36 or 24 point might look crowded and hard to read at 12 or 14 point. When selecting a script typeface, consider the size range you will be setting it at to make sure it works well and will print successfully at all those sizes.

Combine with care
Scripts have a lot of personality and like to be the brightest star in the room, so to speak. If combining them with other typefaces, avoid other scripts and typefaces with a lot of personality that can clash. When combining with non-scripts, the more neutral the design, the better.

Editor’s Note: Ilene Strizver, founder of The Type Studio, is a
typographic consultant, designer and writer specializing in all aspects
of typographic communication. Read more about typography in her latest literary effort, Type Rules! The designer's guide to professional
typography, 2nd edition, published by Wiley & Sons, Inc. This article was commissioned and approved by Monotype Imaging Inc.



Don’t open the tracking of a connecting script (upper) or it will disconnect the carefully joined characters (lower). Set in Greyhound Script.

Setting a connecting script on a curve adds an inverted triangle of space between the characters, which can also disturb the connections (middle). Use tracking and kerning to rejoin them as best as you can (lower). Set in Bickley Script.

Avoid setting scripts (or any typeface with decorative caps) in all caps, which can render the setting virtually unreadable (upper). Stick with lowercase (lower), or u/lc. Set in Zaner Pro.

Use decorative swash and alternate characters judiciously (upper), or your work runs the risk of becoming too busy and hard to read. Set in Bickham Script Pro.