Difference Between Computer Calligraphy and Handwriting/Hand Lettering

Calligraphy done by hand vs calligraphy done on a computer is a topic that comes up very regularly in our conversations. The term “computer calligraphy” is inaccurate since the term “calligraphy” truly means “hand-rendered,” while printing by computer is not hand-rendered. Therefore, the term “computer calligraphy” is a misnomer. For the sake of consistency, however, we will continue to refer to printed addresses using this phrase even if it has recently gained popularity among brides as a method to characterize printed invitations.

The following is a list of some of the benefits and drawbacks of each method:

Hand Calligraphy


  • Due to the fact that it is so uncommon, people like it when their names are written in exquisite hand calligraphy.
  • If you so like, you may make your letters rather enormous and dramatic. The majority of computer typefaces, when printed that big on an envelope, would have an unusual appearance.
  • It is possible to customize the styles of lettering; for instance, a calligrapher can easily combine the capital letters from one style with the lowercase letters from another style, add flourishing to bring balance to the layout of the envelope, or use a different style for the names than they use for the addresses. Each envelope is transformed into its own unique piece of artwork.
  • Calligraphers are able to write on thick envelopes, dark-colored envelopes, envelopes with unique shapes, and even boxes. Surface preparation is sometimes essential for the ink to adhere, although a good calligrapher will be able to handle most types of paper unless the paper has a lot of fibers that might trap the nib or pen. Surface preparation is sometimes necessary for the ink to adhere.
  • It is possible to make use of any color of ink, including white and metallic hues. If desired, a single envelope may have many types of ink printed on it using a variety of various colors.

Things to think about…

  • Hand lettering is more expensive than computer calligraphy since it requires more time and effort to create and may be customized.
  • In order to guarantee a spot on your calligrapher’s calendar, you will often need to make your appointment many months in advance.
  • When addressing envelopes using computer calligraphy, the turnaround time is often longer than with traditional calligraphy. (The situation is about the same with regard to place cards.)
  • After the envelopes or place cards have been distributed, it is recommended to do proofreading. The vast majority of calligraphers either notice and repair their own errors in advance, or they have a proofreader examine everything before it is sent to the customer. Nevertheless, in order for the calligrapher to make the necessary adjustments, it is essential that you double verify your goods in a timely manner (at no extra charge).
  • It may be necessary to waterproof some inks using sprays or wax, particularly for envelopes that will be traveling internationally. In most cases, the United States Postal Service does a decent job of preventing envelopes from being damaged by the outside environment.

Computer Calligraphy


  • Because the typefaces on your invitation and envelope may be made to be an exact match, it gives off an air of professionalism and creates the appearance of a well-coordinated set.
  • In most cases, the turnaround time is far less than for hand lettering. After we have your authorized address list and envelopes in hand, the turnaround time for PenDance is between three and five business days.
  • It comes at a lower cost than calligraphy done by hand.
  • In most cases, it is not necessary to arrange the printing a significant amount of time in advance.
  • Because the computer will print precisely what was entered into it, you should check the address list before the envelopes are printed to verify that there are no mistakes that will show up on the envelopes.

Things to think about…

  • It does not have the allure or the personal touch of writing that was hand-rendered.
  • The majority of printers are not capable of printing with lighter-colored inks on darker envelopes.
  • NOTE: Although certain printers have access to ALPS printers, which are capable of printing light inks on dark paper, these printers can only handle envelopes that are smooth, thin, and have square flaps. Although ALPS printers are no longer produced, businesses that already own them may still place orders for the appropriate inks.
  • Not all papers are compatible with printer ink, and metallic-coated stock, in particular, is one of such papers. If the paper is absorbent, the inks may seem faded or they may smear. Both of these outcomes are possible. Linen-textured envelopes might also offer an issue.
  • Envelopes and boxes that have a unique thickness or form may not always be able to be accommodated.
  • There are certain place cards and escort envelopes that are too tiny to fit through a printer’s rollers.
  • NOTE: Inscribe machines can print on little cards and envelopes in addition to huge, thick envelopes. However, since Inscribe machines aren’t as quick as conventional printing, their services may need to be scheduled in advance much like hand calligraphers. Inscribe is unable to print bright inks on dark materials in the same way as hand calligraphers are able to.
  • The writing still seems to have been done by a machine, and depending on the font that was chosen, it may have problematic spacing at times. Inscribe stationers say that their machines are quicker than hand calligraphers, however, this may not always be the case.

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