Copperplate Minuscule Letters (part 1)

The majority of Copperplate minuscules are constructed from a combination of one or more basic strokes. After studying and practising the eight basic strokes, we are ready to start learning the letters.

Many of the letters require the basic strokes to be slightly modified, which in most cases means producing only part of the basic stroke.

Letters: ij,tu and y

The letter i is made up of two strokes; lead-in stroke and pressure and pressure and release u shape stroke.  Notice how the lead-in stroke is shortened and the pressure and release u shape stroke is incomplete and finishes half way up the x-height.

The letter t is produced in the same way except the  pressure and release u shape stroke starts just above the x-height line.  A third horizontal pen stroke on the x-height line completes the letter.

letters i and t


The letter j is made up of a shortened lead-in stroke followed by a descender stroke and finally a dot above the descender stroke.

Letter j


Letter u is very similar to then letter i. a shortened lead-in stroke is followed by two shortened pressure and release u shape strokes.

The letter y starts with a pressure and release combination stroke, but notice how it starts half way up the x-height and finishes have way down the x-height. This is followed by a complete descender stroke.

Letters u and y

Letters: ad and g

To write the letters ad and g first make an oval shape.  Secondly add a pressure and release u shape stroke.  If writing the letter a start this stroke on the x-height.  If you are writing a dstart on the ascender line.  The second stroke of the letter g is a descender stroke.

Letters d and g


Letters: n, and m

These letters are very similar.  The n starts with a shortened pressure and release n stroke followed by modified pressure and release combination stroke.

The letter m starts with a shortened pressure and release n stroke followed by a second shortened pressure and release n stroke.  The third stroke is a modified pressure and release combination stroke.

Letters n and m

Letter: e

The letter e is constructed in one stroke.  It starts with a shortened lead-in stroke.  When you reach half way up the body height, the pen goes across and up in a curved manner until it can ‘pick up’ the oval shape.

Letter e

Letters l, h and k

Letter l combines the three strokes in to one continuous movement without lifting the pen.  Start with a lead-in stroke, when it touches the x-height line create an ascender loop.  As the nib travels down passing through the x-height line it changes in to a pressure and release u shape.

The letter h is constructed by a lead-in stroke and completed with a shortened pressure and release combination stroke.

Letters l and h

The letter k starts with a lead-in stroke.  The second stroke is not a basic stroke and will need to be carefully studied.  It looks a bit like a curly bracket.

Letter k


1 thought on “Copperplate Minuscule Letters (part 1)”

  1. Shari Van Baale

    I just wanted to thank you most sincerely for the detailed help with the strokes, & just in general for the Copperplate info. A long-time writer of Italic, I am finally, painstskingly, learning Copperplate. I am finding that I have the most trouble with the difference in the degree of slant between the two…..well, & the pressure – no pressure element too! Alas, I have high hopes of mastering this new hand, & I am confident that you would be more than willing to assist me if I get stuck! Thank you very much – I enjoy your website!

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