Here’s how to get started:

Step 1: Get a copy of my book, Calligraphy For Dummies. It's available at Here is a handy link for the book and many of the materials you’ll need -  SUPPLIES

You may prefer to get the Kindle version of my book. The Kindle version will work fine, because you will not need the practice pages that are in my book. All the practice sheets you will need can be downloaded as PDF files below. There are also three videos to help you get started.

The PDF files have all the practice exercises from my book, plus several additional pages. (I’ll make sure you get all the “extras.”)  Simply download and print them.

Step 2: Please read Chapter 1, pages 8 - 14. This is an introduction which answers many questions and addresses some very common concerns that people have at the beginning.

It is your decision how many of the different kinds of pens you want to learn how to use. The basic requirement is just one pen - a calligraphy fountain pen (Manuscript brand is my recommendation) and a bottle of Pelikan 4001 black ink. If you want to learn all the techniques and calligraphic styles shown in my book, you will also need a dip pen and a copperplate oblique pen. If you are left-handed, please read page 19.

The general information about pens is on pages 18 - 23. Please read those pages also. The pens for my course are all available at SUPPLIES

You should have some kind of tilted board (18 X 24 Masonite or even corrugated board will work just fine) like the one illustrated on page 22. If you happen to have a drawing table that tilts, that's even better.

Step 3: Please skip to Chapter 4 and read about the 6 Italic alphabet letter "families."

Using a pencil or Flair type pen for lesson 1, please do the trace and copy exercises on the practice sheets.

Take your time; go slowly. Practice making smooth fluid strokes as you form the letters. Avoid rushing. If you get tired, take a break. Relax and enjoy the exercises. You can also use wide-ruled notebook paper as well. Remember, it's best to use a soft lead pencil or a Flair pen to do these exercises. Please resist the temptation to use calligraphy markers.

My objective in the first lesson is to start you off with learning the shapes of the letters. Please concentrate on the correct shapes and proportions of the Italic letters. Granted, at this point, what you're doing is not going to look a whole lot like calligraphy! (It might be a good idea not to show off your work at this point!) However, you're building a strong foundation at this point.

In the next lesson, you'll learn about using the calligraphy pen, and the letters you practiced will be almost “magically” transformed into something you'll be proud to show off to your friends.

When you feel that you know the shapes of these letters pretty well, you may send me a copy of the alphabet that you have done from memory for my personal critique. I'll look it over and send it right back to you with my in-depth notations. My charge for the critique is $40.

I wish you great success.


Jim Bennett


Lesson 1 (Italic)

Lesson 2 (Italic)

Lesson 3 Part 1

Lesson 3 Part 2

Lesson 4 (Blackletter)

Uncial Letters

Roman Letters

Bookhand Letters

Copperplate Letters

Italic Guide Sheets

Chapter 12 Elegantly Outlined Letters


Beginning the Italic Alphabet

The Calligraphy Fountain Pen

Italic with the Calligraphy Fountain Pen