Glossary

Note: These terms are in reference to Copperplate script, which may not apply to other calligraphic scripts.

More terms, definitions, and photos coming soon!

A

ascender – The upper stem of the lowercase letters b, d, f, h, k, and l.

ascender loop – An upper stem of a lowercase letter with a counter (sometimes called “ascending stem loop”).

B

burin – A steel pointed tool with a rounded handle used for engraving copperplates.

C

counter – Any fully or partially enclosed space within a letter.

crossbar – The horizontal stroke on a letter such as H and t.

D

descender – The lower stem of lowercase letters f, g, j, p, q, y, and z.

downstroke – A stroke that is drawn in a downward.

drill exercise – A deliberate practice of drawing the same stroke or sequence of strokes repeatedly to develop brain and muscle memory, and to practice drawing consistent strokes and letterforms.

ductus – The direction and grouping of strokes in which a letter is drawn.

E

F

G

H

hairline – A very thin stroke.

heft – Thickness of a shaded stroke.

I

J

K

L

ligature – The linking of two letters in a word by a hairline stroke.

The ligature between 'o' and 's' is indicated by the red arrow.

The ligature between ‘o’ and ‘s’ is indicated by the red arrow.

M

majuscule – A capital letter.

minuscule – A lowercase letter.

N

nib – A nib is the sharp-pointed metal part of a dip pen that varies in shape, size, color, and flexibility.  Nibs may be attached to a straight holder or an oblique holder.

Nib Anatomy

Anatomy of a Hunt 22 Nib

O

P

pen – see nib.

pointed pen – see nib.

preparing a nib – During manufacturing, nibs are sealed with a clear protective coating that prevents it from rusting in storage. Preparing a nib means to remove this protective, water-repelling layer so that ink may adhere to the nib – which is important when using dip pens.

Protective coating may be removed with dish washing detergent or toothpaste

The protective coating may be removed with dish detergent or toothpaste.

Q

R

S

shade – Thick stroke (achieved by applying pressure to the nib on a downstroke).

slant – The angle at which the script is written (typically between 52-55 degrees from the horizon).

image

squared top/bottom – a clean, square-cut at the top and/or bottom end of a shaded stem.

image

stem – A vertical, shaded stroke that is typically the first shaded stroke of a letter.

image

Red brackets indicate squared-off stems in the word “pin”.

T

tines – The two prongs of the nib that flex (split open) when pressure is applied to the tip, and relax (close) when pressure is released.

image

U

upstroke – A stroke drawn in an upward movement.

V

W

weight – The thickest or most shaded part of a stroke.

X

Y

Z