How to Use Script Fonts Properly in Graphic Design

These fonts vary in formality but add a dash of elegance to your design

alexeikadirov / Getty Images

In typography, script fonts mimic historical or modern handwriting styles. They look as if they are written with different styles of writing instruments ranging calligraphy pens to paintbrushes. Typical characteristics of script type are connected or nearly connected flowing letterforms and slanted, rounded characters.

Using Script Fonts

In the 18th century, almost everything was written in a cursive script, including business letters. Today, most script fonts are best suited for greeting cards, wedding invitations, initial caps, and other documents where they are used in moderation. Script fonts look best when they are paired with non-script fonts and matched to the overall tone of the document. Don't use script fonts in all caps; most of them become unreadable when the letters are all uppercase.​

Formal script typefaces are generally neat, flowing and formal in appearance. An informal script may be messy or playful and look more like the varied cursive and print handwriting styles of today.

Formal scripts such as Gravura, Edwardian Script, and Commercial Script are based on the copperplate, English round hand, and Spencerian handwriting styles of the 18th century. The casual scripts are modern introductions to typography. Because script fonts are so distinct, don't use more than one on a project. 

Classifications of Script Fonts

script font examples

"Formal" script fonts are derivations of formal writing styles of the 17th century. Strokes that join the letters are a common characteristic. Examples include:

  • Shelley Allegro
  • Young Baroque
  • Bickham Script
  • Elegy
  • Mahogany Script

"Casual" fonts are informal and friendly. The letters may or may not be joined. Most of the letterforms in casual fonts have a slightly rounded appearance.

  • Brush Script
  • Comic Sans
  • Limehouse
  • Nadianne
  • Freestyle
  • Blooms
  • Tekton

"Calligraphic" fonts can have connecting or non-connecting letters. In general, they mimic flat-pen calligraphy. They can be either formal or casual in nature.

  • Nuptial Script
  • Mistral
  • Vivaldi
  • Riptide
  • Blaze

"Blackletter and Lombardic" scripts look like handwritten manuscript lettering. The term old English applies to many of these fonts. These illustrative fonts are suitable for certificates, headlines, and initial caps. Most are difficult to read. Combine them with a legible font for the text portions of a project.

  • Goudy Text
  • Lucida Blackletter Regular
  • Engraver's Old English
  • Cresci Rotunda
  • Old English Regular
  • Lombardic
  • Monmouth Regular

"Decorative" styles of script fonts are novelty fonts that are used for headlines, signs, or initial caps — but not for text blocks. The collective is diverse. These attention-grabbing fonts may be nostalgic, invoke a specific time period, or represent a specific mood or cultural trend.

  • Airstream
  • Moonshine Script
  • Aftershock
  • Giddyup
  • DR Stressed Out
  • Top Secret
  • Choc
  • Old Towne No 536 Regular