Daily Archives: May 12, 2021

Black Letter

This is rough—just the lowercase letters. You can see that the space between the letters equals the width of a vertical stroke. When they’re together, it’s hard to distinguish i,m,n,u,v & w. I think that’s why they started dotting i & j.

I imagine at some point a German scribe looked at a tall, skinny cathedral and thought, “Huh. If I made lettering tall and skinny, we’d fit a ton more words onto a page. Think of the parchment we’d save!” and so Black Letter was born. Black Letter (or Gothic, or Fraktur, or Textura) typically has the exact same thickness of white space between vertical strokes as the thickness of each vertical stroke. The effect on a page is pleasing but a little hard to read.

If you’d like to try your hand at writing Blackletter, here are free downloadable worksheets:

Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Reading & Writing.