Card catalogs had their own elegant standardized handwriting


Originally published at:


Apparently you have to email someone to get the TTF


Curators of things other than books have (or had) similar practices.

For example, entomological taxonomists used to take great pride in being able to create insanely tiny yet readable labels for type specimens. Young curators would learn often the hand of their mentors.

I have seen hand-written labels less than a half-inch long that were readable - but only with a hand lens or microscope - through the side of a tiny specimen bottle filled with alcohol.

This picture from Wikipedia shows dry specimens with a mix of preprinted and handwritten labels, but you get the idea.


I still have a stack of typed library cards in my office. I occasionally use the blank side for taking notes although as the stack dwindles I become more and more possessive of them–especially the ones that have Cyrillic lettering which always fascinates me. No one’s around anymore who can tell me how they decided where in the alphabet to file those.

If I had handwritten ones I’d have 'em framed.


Useful for table of contents and chapter titles?

I know, probably bad form for an eBook, but… Just.

That is beautiful.


My mom had such pretty handwriting. It was taught in my elementary school, but nobody learned it, because we weren’t beaten. Damn liberals ruined American’s handwriting.


Meanwhile mine looks like my hand got broken, healed wrong, broken again, and still healed wrong.

I have several projects I wish to use this on.


Yeah I always think it’s fascinating that there are people capable of smooth and uniform handwriting. I on the other hand are able to write the same letter in endless variations. My handwriting looks like every letter was written by a different person.


The nuns in our parochial school were dead-set against us using ball-point pens. “Bad for penmanship.” So they insisted that we use cartridge-loaded fountain pens. (!!) That requirement never made any beneficial impact on my calligraphic skills (of which I had none), but it always added some drama in class when changing out cartridges; ink splotches on the desks and paper. At least that provided proof to the nuns that we were following their mandate.


You too, huh?!


One of my college professors used to say, “I can always tell your signature. It’s the unreadable one.”


It’s hard to keep ones focus on good handwriting when penning righteous hate-mail letters to GOP politicos. The hands SHAKE in fierce anger.


Well libraries tend to use a different transliteration scheme for Cyrillic than many other people do. So what most people transliterate at Yakolev is I͡Akolev, and therefore filed under “I” instead of “Y”


Thank you. Fonts are so my thing. A nice reprieve from the crazy political stuff o’ the day. I feel rested just gazing at this lovely, even script.


My library will so want this for labeling. A minor thing but c’mon.



Your mother was probably taught either the Spencer or [Palmer] ( method.

My mother and aunts learned the Spencer, and remain capable of gorgeous handwriting well into their 90s. I wish I’d been taught cursive first, but unfortunately that went out in the 1950s.


This looks a lot like my handwriting, even the lower case a.


There was also the ALL CAPS style of lettering common among draftsmen and graphic designers. Another sample of hand-drawn lettering that is disappearing now that so many blueprints and designs are being cranked out on AUTOCAD et. al.


That’s fascinating. Extremely rare for people these days to use the two-story a for handwritten letters as opposed to the faster, simpler uncial form. How did you end up that way?