Lettering Styles in Drafting

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Lettering, when used in drafting, is a difficult art to master. For this reason, computer word-processing programs, which ensure neat and uniform letters, are more widely used today than hand-lettering. Even so, many cartoonists, architects, engineers and others prefer to use traditional hand-lettering in their crafts.

Basic Block

The basic block style is the most common style for architecture and scenic drafting, and the first style that should be attempted before trying fancier variations. To letter in the basic block style, make sure that all letters are capital, the same size and square. An exception to this rule are the letters M and W, which are a little wider. To keep the lettering horizontal and the same height, the draftsman should draw guidelines before writing letters. These guidelines can be drawn with a ruler or a special lettering guide.


The oval lettering style is a variation of basic block, in which curved letters such as C, D, and O are drawn in a slightly slanted manner, up and to the right. The other rules of basic block lettering apply to this style.

Slanted Horizontals

In slanted horizontals lettering, another variation of basic block, the horizontal lines in letters such as F and E, excepting Z, are slightly slanted upwards. The slanted horizontal style is often combined with the oval style. (See Reference 1.)