DIY Guide to Lettering

Who doesn’t like beautiful handwritten notes? I started writing calligraphy when my ex got me a calligraphy set. And then I got too lazy with the dipping and the cleaning, that’s when I moved onto lettering – more on the drawing and less on the writing with simpler, cheaper tools.

Lettering costs you almost nothing. All you need is a marker and paper – I’m sure you can find both in the abyss of your backpack/handbag. If you decided to get serious, you can buy brush pens in rainbow colours from art supplies stores (I ❤ Hobbycraft) or on Amazon. Here are some of the commonly used pens for lettering:


My favourite is pentel touch. The softness of the tip is just right which makes it easier to control the thickness of your strokes. If you’re getting sharpies, make sure they are BRUSH TIP.

Inspiration is everywhere! If you pay attention, you can see them in the shops or on chalkboards and cards. The easiest way is to google “hand lettering inspiration” and you’ll get over a million results. If you use Instagram, check out letteringleague / paigefirnbergdesign / lissletters / typexsundry / bydawnnicole.

Now you’ve got your tools ready and your head full of ideas, it’s time to get started. Here’s a short and simple How-to video that you can begin with. There are so many free resources online that I wouldn’t recommend anyone to pay for an online course or a workshop. Here are two free stencils, UPPERCASE and lower case, for you to practise on.


Lettering calms and clears my mind because I am so engrossed with what I am doing that I just forget everything.

There are so many ways to show off your skills – on notebook covers and envelopes, in cards or your lecture notes (maybe not the whole of it, just the title I mean; it’ll make revision a tiny bit more enjoyable). I like motivational quotes, so what I do very often is that I’d write them down on post-its and put them up. You can also do it on coffee cups but it’s a bit tricky because the surface is curved. My teaching friend once commissioned me to do personalized notebooks for her class. So it is possible to turn your hobby into a business!

Lettering is a lot like drawing. Keep practicing and you’ll be well on your way to creating unique and stunning text for any occasion 😉

Originally written for The Cambridge Student newspaper


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