Skip to main content
Making sense of old handwriting

Alphabet Charts

Examples of the 4 Main Scripts

Below are sample alphabets of the four major scripts used in early modern English-language documents.

To learn more about these scripts, visit the Handwriting History section under Techniques and Tools.

Secretary Hand

Pay particular attention to the lowercase c, e, h, r, s, u/v, w, and x.

Safe Copy.PNG

Court Hand

English Court Hand

Italic Hand

"Italique Hande", a page from a copy of A booke containing diuers sortes of hands... by Jehan de Beau-Chesne and John Baildon (1570), from the 1602 edition, with practice letters written on it

English Round Hand

English round hand script edited by Philip Hofer and engraved by George Bickham; from The Universal Penman (1743).


Paleography Introduction