Hand Lettering vs. Computer Calligraphy
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We are frequently asked what the
difference is between hand calligraphy and computer calligraphy. To
be accurate, "computer calligraphy" is a misnomer in
that calligraphy actually means "hand-rendered" and printing by
computer is not hand-rendered. But since this term has
become a popular way for brides to describe
printed addresses, we'll use the same phrase here.
Below are some of the pros and cons of each
Hand Calligraphy - Benefits
Computer Calligraphy - Benefits
People love to see their names
written in beautiful hand lettering since its so
Letters can be written large and dramatic, if
desired. Most computer fonts would look odd to be
printed that large on an envelope.
Customization of lettering styles is available
-- for instance, a calligrapher can easily combine
the capitals from one style with the lowercase
letters from another, add flourishing to balance to
the envelope layout, or use a different style for
the names than for the addresses. Each envelope
becomes it's own work of art.
Calligraphers can write on thick, dark-colored,
or unusually-shaped envelopes and even boxes.
Surface preparation is sometimes necessary for the
ink to adhere, but a professional calligrapher will
be able to handle most any paper unless it has lots
of fibers in it that can catch the nib or pen.
Any color of ink can be used, including white
and metallic colors. Several different ink colors
can be used on the same envelope, if desired.
It's professional looking in that
your invitation and envelope fonts can match exactly
to create a coordinated ensemble.
The turnaround is usually faster
than hand lettering. For PenDance, it's 3-5 business
days from the time we have your approved address
list and envelopes in hand.
It's less expensive than hand
You usually don't have to schedule
the printing way ahead of time.
You can proof the address list
before the envelopes are printed to ensure no errors
appear on the envelopes, since the computer will
print exactly what was input.
Things to think about...
Since hand lettering is more labor intensive
and customizable, it costs more than computer calligraphy.
You usually must schedule your calligrapher
several months in advance to ensure a place on
Turnaround time is generally longer than
computer calligraphy for envelope addressing. (For
place cards, it's about the same.)
Proofing is recommended after the envelopes
or place cards are
delivered. Most calligraphers catch and correct their mistakes
ahead of time, or have a proofreader check
everything before it goes to their clients. However,
it's still a good idea to recheck your items in a
timely fashion so that the calligrapher can correct
them (at no extra charge).
Some inks may require waterproofing
with sprays or wax, especially for envelopes going
overseas. Generally, the United States Postal
Service is good about protecting envelopes from the
It lacks the charm and personal
touch of hand-rendered lettering.
Most printers can't print
light-colored inks on dark envelopes.
NOTE: Some printers own ALPS printers which can
print light inks on dark paper, but these printers
can only handle smooth, thin, square-flapped
envelopes. ALPS printers are no longer manufactured,
but companies who have them can still order the inks
Some papers don't work well with
printer inks, especially metallic-coated stock. The
inks can appear faded if the paper is absorbent, or
the ink can smear. Linen-textured envelopes can also
pose a problem.
Sometimes thick or unusually-shaped
envelopes and boxes can't be accommodated.
Some place cards or escort envelopes
are too small to go through a printer.
NOTE: Inscribe machines can accommodate large, thick
envelopes, as well as small cards and envelopes, but
Inscribe machines aren't as fast as conventional
printing so their services may have to be booked in
advance like hand calligraphers. Inscribe also can't
print light inks on dark papers like hand
Inscribe stationers claim that their machines are
faster than hand calligraphers, but that's not
necessarily true and the lettering still looks
machine-done, sometimes with awkward spacing
depending on the font used.
Please see our other articles and resources.
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