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