Handwriting Font Sizes

If you’re wondering why your handwriting font looks small, well… it really isn’t. Here’s the answer:

What size should I use for my handwriting font?

All fonts are the same Size at at the same point specification, like 12-point. But handwriting fonts may not be legible at that size. If the ascenders and descenders are really long, then the body size, or x Height (distance between the Baseline and the Midline), will be a much smaller percentage of the total font Size. That’s the way people really write.

Font SizingFor example, even if you specify 12-point in the Dave handwriting font, the ascenders and descenders will fit in 12-point, but the “a”s and “e”s in the body of the font will look like they’re 3-point – much smaller than people really write because it can’t be easily written or read. A 12-point Helvetica would typically have about a 9-point x height. The x height of Helvetica is about 70% the font size. The x height of the Dave font is about 25% of the font size.

So to make a some handwriting fonts look as readable as 12 point Helvetica, the x height needs to be the same as Helvetica. To make the x height the same in the Dave font, triple the size to 36 point, so that the “a”s and “e”s will look like they’re part of a 12-point font. Then overlap the ascenders and descenders by reducing the line spacing. This is what we do in real handwriting because otherwise the line spacing would then be too big. Amazingly, it will look like a 12-point font because the x height is the same as an “engineered” font like Helvetica.

When using your own font, or one of the Ready-Made Styles, you should use it at a size that approximates real handwriting, not at the size you would use a text font (such as Arial or Times New Roman). Remember that long ascenders and descenders are factored into the font size. Consider the x-height, or body height, of the handwriting. Most handwriting has a body height that is between 1/8 inch and 1/4 inch tall, so any ascenders and descenders extend beyond that, and add to the total size. Consider also that font size is based on 72 points per inch, so you can calculate font size accordingly. If the natural handwriting size for a particular font is about 1/2 inch from the very top to the very bottom, then the font size should be 36 points (1/2 of 72). If the natural size is about 1/4 inch total, then the font size is 18 points (1/4 of 72). For the handwriting styles used above, the natural size for Michael is 22 points, for Aldo is 23 points, and for Dave is 36 points.

More detailed information here.

MAILING TIP: If you are using a handwriting font for envelopes, remember the US Post Office rule of thumb: a hand-addressed envelope should be readable when held at arm’s length by a postal carrier.