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General question on generating and using guidelines

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HI, folks. . . I thought I would try to use this guideline generator that I found referenced elsewhere on this site.  I am using Edward C. Mills' Modern Business Penmanship as my reference.

A couple of questions: are there "standard" values for this style of writing for these values:

I know 52-degrees and most of them I can sort of figure out.  What I'm still not sure about:

1) Is there a typical value for ascenders/descenders?
2) For the spacing of the angled line (the value after the degrees), is it possible (or desireable) to use a spacing such that one letter should go between each line?  Or due to the variation in letter widths, is this not possible?

I'm also a little baffled about the height of some various ascenders.  In Mills' Business Penmanship, I don't find a lot of references to letter height and the examples are not written on ruled paper.

3)  Are the heights of the d and t the same?  It seems his t's are slightly taller though shorter than the full ascenders
4)  Should the descenders (of, say, f, g, j, p, and y) be the same length?  It seems occasionally the descenders in the midst of a word are shorter than a descender at the beginning or end of the word.

 Though I've read several discussions about being able to use this book to self-study, I think due to my inexperience I'm going to go with someone's recommendation to buy Michael Sull's American Cursive book which I think would provide me more of the needed, detailed guidance.

But in the meantime, could anyone make suggestions on these troubles I'm having?

Thank you!

D B Holtz:
See if you can get the American Cursive book from your library on interlibrary loan to make sure it's what you are looking for.  I used Mr. Sull's "Learning to Write Spencerian Script" to relearn cursive handwriting after many years of only printing, and it was a better approach and style _for me_.  Better to look it over before you spend the money.

To answer the questions you actually asked:

1. If you want to duplicate the guidelines from the Sull Spencerian book, the ascender and descender lines are 150% of the x-height.  In the Spencer Spencerian book, they are twice the x-height.

2. For the guidesheets I use, I space the angled lines half an inch apart.  Having one for every letter would make the sheet too dark for me.

3. t and d should be the same height, halfway into the ascender space.

4. p and q are shorter, 3/4 of the way into the descender space.

I am no expert, but I hope this helps.


@DB - that's exactly what I was looking for, thank you!

I'm glad you mentioned the "Learning to Write Spencerian Script" book.  I am still trying to distinguish the different varieties of these writing hands that I see and, in fact, the book you mentioned may be the one I'm looking for.

Unfortunately, our whole library system is devoid of Michael Sull materials.

Thanks again for your suggestions on the guidelines and additional info on the book!


HI Andy,
I am still learning copperplate and not Spencerian, so the guideline and spacing will vary.  But for a beginner, I found the following setting very useful to get my slants and spacing right.

x-height.  This is is 25.4 / lines per inch.  Eg: 9/inch will give  25.4/9= aprox 3mm x height.
Ascenders Descender - 2 above x and 2 below x.  So 6mm above and 6mm below.

You could use "no space between" for the next choice to save some paper as having 2 above and below will not overlap the descenders and ascenders.

The Angled line - You have an option of selecting custom as well, where you can input the angles.  You can print one sheet with 52 Deg and one with 30 Deg. If the paper you print it out on, is thin, then you can paste one on top of the other and you have both the slant for the down stroke (52) and slant for connector(30)

the every option, I have used successfully in copperplate as the width of letters is supposed to be the x height.  SO if you choose 6mm x height, I used "Every" at 3 mm.  I don't think this will work with Spencerian. As Holtz said,  it may get very cramped if your x-height is 3mm.

Hope this is of use.

Follow up

If you want the as ascenders/descenders at 150%  You can use this generator

Its primarily for Italics, but you can modify to get a spencerian

If you want an x-height of 4mm  (3mm makes the 150% a little weird :)  )


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