• What’s the Difference Between Cursive and Calligraphy?

    Do you know the answer to this question? It might be tougher than you think! In today’s article, we’ll examine the four main differences between cursive and calligraphy.

    Cursive Handwriting | The Postman's Knock

    For me, “What’s the difference between cursive and calligraphy?” is one of those questions that I hear and I think I have a ready answer for. Then, the more I consider it, the more complicated the answer gets. I suppose that cursive can be calligraphy, and calligraphy can be cursive, which makes the differences between the two more interesting. I made a (very short) YouTube video for today’s post, but if you prefer text and photos, feel free to scroll past the video!

    Difference #1: Speed and Intention

    If you speak a romance language, you might notice that cursive has that “cur” root … correr, corre, courir, these words all mean “to run”. And that’s the point of cursive — to go fast! Well before the possibility of typewriters loomed on the horizon, cursive was developed as a way to help its writer create words quickly. The idea is that you write an entire word without picking up your pen (except to dot i’s and cross t’s)!

    How to Write in Cursive (+ Free Printable) | The Postman's Knock
    I (mostly) use cursive when I write in my notebooks! Using cursive allows me to write very quickly.

    In contrast, calligraphy isn’t meant to be quick. It’s comprised of several different strokes, so you’ll notice that as you write, you lift up your pen quite a bit. You probably write calligraphy at turtle pace, which is absolutely ideal! You’d be hard-pressed to find a person who equates calligraphy with efficiency. 

    Pachelbel's Canon: Calligraphy Edition | The Postman's Knock
    If you think you’re a slow calligrapher, you can watch me write this calligraphy on YouTube. Trust me: I write slowly, and so do almost all calligraphers! It’s the nature of the beast.

    Difference #2: Level of Intricacy

    In general, cursive is more simple than calligraphy. There’s no stroke contrast, and letter formation is pretty straight-forward.

    Learn Cursive Exemplar | The Postman's Knock
    You can find this free cursive exemplar by clicking here. Notice that the letters are quite basic!

    Calligraphy, on the other hand, is usually more intricate — or at least more artistic!

    Free Janet Style Calligraphy Exemplar | The Postman's Knock
    This is the free Janet Style calligraphy exemplar. You can see that the letters are much more detailed than standard cursive characters!

    Difference #3: Letter Connections

    As I mentioned, the point of cursive is to not pick up your pen. For that reason, all cursive letters connect!

    8 Tips to Improve Your Handwriting (Plus a Free Worksheet) | The Postman's Knock
    Cursive letters always connect! (To practice your cursive, you can check out this free worksheet.)

    In contrast, calligraphy doesn’t have to connect. For example, check out the photo below! It depicts calligraphy that was made with a broad-tipped pen.

    Interview with Albrecht Clauss | The Postman's Knock
    These letters don’t connect, but they’re still calligraphy! (Photo courtesy of Albrecht Clauss.)

    Difference #4: Reason for Use

    As I say in the video that I made for this post, calligraphy is a discipline, and cursive is a skill. Cursive is something that you can easily incorporate into your everyday life — whether it’s for jotting down class notes, recording tidbits from an office meeting, or writing reminders to yourself in a notebook. Calligraphy, on the other hand, is a pursuit. It’s an activity that you indulge in to relax and to challenge yourself.

    Amy Style Calligraphy Worksheet
    Calligraphy is the “art of lettering”. It’s something you practice and innovate on for enjoyment and personal enrichment!

    I hope that you enjoyed this little explanation! If you have any differences to add (or questions to ask), please feel free to contribute to the comments. It’s always a treat to hear from you! Thanks very much for reading/watching TPK, and have a great weekend!


    Lindsey's Signature | The Postman's Knock