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Everyday Edged Italic In More Popular Ruled Notebooks

italic everyday rule spacing

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#1 Uncle Bulgaria

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 03:32

As I come to grips with the various suggestions as to letter sizes as a function of nib width, I spent an hour this morning hacking up an Excel spreadsheet that would  tell me what kind of paper ruling I'd need for any given nib width and letter size preferences, only to discover this excellent resource: http://calligraphypaper.appspot.com/ Just plug in your required values (there are some pulldowns to help with common default values, but you can vary any that you want), and presto it will produce a PDF with various guide lines as required. It's really cool.
 
But one implication is that if you wanted to follow such guidelines using something common like a typical Moleskine notebook (6.35mm rule spacing), or a Rhodia (7.1mm) you'd either have to be using a very narrow nib or accept that you could only write on every other line (and maybe even only every third line), or both those things.
 
So it got me wondering what you guys do -- especially the more accomplished -- for *regular handwriting*. That is, in a business notebook, say, or a personal journal, or anything similar where speed of entry and getting the content down fast but in a reasonably legible form has a higher relative priority versus pure "high calligraphic" style. Bearing in mind I'm talking about edged italic -- chancery or not -- I'd be interested to hear. If you use a ruled notebook for your everyday writing:

  • Which rule spacing do you prefer? For example, many of the most popular Moleskines are US narrow -- i.e.  6.35mm, The Rhodia Ruled Webnotebook is US medium (or "college") with 7.1mm ruling. Other common rulings are US wide (legal) at 8.7mm, as well as French Séyès (8mm?)
  • How many rules do you leave between the "baseline" rules (i.e. the rules on which the base of the "a" sits? For example, "zero" means you use every line as a baseline; "one" means you're writing on every other line; "two" would mean you're writing on every third line. That last approach means you have a full "inter-rule space" for ascenders, another one for the letter body; and a third for descenders.
  • Which nib width do you use with such notebooks?
  • Did you choose your nib to "fit" your notebook ruling, or vice versa?
  • Do you contrive to leave any kind of space (1 or 2 nib worth) between the bottom of an descender in one line of writing and the top of the ascender on the following line of writing?
  • Horizontal spacing now -- how many words per line do you like to achieve? Or, put it another way, what paper size do you prefer to work on -- especially width?
  • Also, less relevant, if your paper is good enough to avoid bleed through, do you write on both sides, or do you stick to writing on only one of any two facing pages? (And then, just out of interest, on which page do you write; left or right?)

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#2 brunico

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 06:15

Plain paper all the way, as I've said before!

 

My recollection from college and work in the UK is that rulings tend to be either narrow or normal (such as typical A4 punched pads), rarely wider, and that most people's ascenders and descenders will cross, whether writing with italic or normal nibs. It seems to be about getting as much as possible on a page, rather than about elegant spacing. Maybe rulings were derived from typewriter scripts, who knows?

 

A typical ruling at 7mm or 8mm means an x-height of 3mm to avoid crossing - assuming an h is twice the height of an x - and this would generally indicate a fine or extra-fine italic in most brands. Italic sizing conventions are too wide-ranging to pin it down, but I'm thinking here of something like a Brause Bandzug dip pen in 0.5mm or 0.75mm (the Bandzugs are accurately labelled).

 

I write with nibs like the Lamy 1.1 and Pilot B, which is slightly broader, but I keep an x-height of about four nib widths rather than five, and I don't think my handwriting is noticeably larger than average. I found when I switched to plain paper that I could space everything more pleasingly: writing on consecutive lines was a little cramped, and writing on alternate lines would have left too much space between lines.

 

You could try 5mm squared paper, writing on every third line, but if your x-height were 4mm or 6mm, I think the line could be distracting and it could be easier to keep a consistent height on plain or ruled paper. For me, anyway, but it might be worth a try. Dotted paper might be less distracting. Or plain paper and print your own lines to slip underneath.

 

The best ruling I've ever seen was on exam paper at college. It was a little over 1cm. I'm guessing it was to allow legible scripts as much as examiners' notes, so I'm not sure why this isn't widespread. Funny, though, I remember being taught proper word spacing at school, but because exercise books were always ruled, proper line spacing never entered the equation. As an amateur typographer, I find this remarkable: line spacing ('leading') is the first thing you set to get the type colour you want, namely the overall look and balance of the words on the page.

 

The Linugraphy ruling generator is more versatile, by the way.

 

However you proceed, you're working on improving your handwriting, and you've raised a really interesting question: better handwriting won't look so good if it sits awkwardly on the page. You might want to space it all out, or you might want to cram it all in, but it needs to look all of a piece.

 

Also, have a look at this relevant topic. Member HDoug is a master of page construction.


Edited by brunico, 09 October 2013 - 06:24.


#3 Uncle Bulgaria

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 14:14

Also, have a look at this relevant topic. Member HDoug is a master of page construction.

 

<Falls off his chair in awe and delight> 

 

Wow, thanks Brunico! I feel like I just asked "So what are these things called 'numbers' I've heard about?" and you just handed me a copy of Euclid's Elements. There's tons of stuff in there.

 

I guess you grok what I'm struggling with; namely that although I started (and only recently at that) getting into handwriting improvement solely as a means to the end of making it easier to keep written notes of various sorts, I've found a growing additional interest in calligraphy per se -- i.e. not just as a means to and end, but also as an end in itself. 

 

Of course that's not a problem, in fact I'm glad about it, but only if it doesn't distract me (too much :-) ) from that original purpose. So although I would now certainly love to be able to one day come even within adoring fan distance of the ability of alpha dogs like Caliken, my core interest is still in the use of pen and paper to record, develop, and communicate thought. That's my context for asking about using "regular" notepads such as Rhodia's etc (although I'm going to give your "plain paper baby!" further consideration), and it's also why your pointer to "page construction" (which until just now I did't even realize was a "thing"!) is so appreciated.

 

thanks again!



#4 dms525

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 17:17

I hope this addresses the "everyday" italic issue:

 

FPN+writing+sample.jpeg

 

Happy writing!

 

David



#5 Uncle Bulgaria

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 17:39

Excellent David, that's *very* useful. I would be thoroughly happy if I could produce that kind of result.

 

What kind of writing speed can you achieve and still maintain that level of legibility and attractiveness?



#6 Uncle Bulgaria

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 17:42

Brunico, forgot to ask:

 

Plain paper all the way, as I've said before!

Do you use any kind of guide underneath your page? If not now, did you to begin with. 



#7 dms525

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 18:15

Excellent David, that's *very* useful. I would be thoroughly happy if I could produce that kind of result.

 

What kind of writing speed can you achieve and still maintain that level of legibility and attractiveness?

 

Thanks for the compliment.

 

I could not use this script at this speed to take notes in a content-dense lecture! I wrote this at a comfortable speed for writing a letter, say. Please realize that, you can use cursive italic at faster speeds, but, if you want calligraphy (beautiful writing), you need to relax your mind and body, slow down, sit so you can position the paper and your body optimally and forget speed. 

 

I believe you have gotten this advice in another thread, but here's my version: When you are starting to learn a new script, write as slowly as necessary to perfect the movement sequences appropriate to the letter forms, letter spacing, etc. Once you understand the movements and can write letters and words and lines in a pleasing way, you will find that the speed at which you can do so will increase over time (weeks and months with daily practice) naturally. When that occurs, you will also experience a delightful rhythmicity to your writing and an altered state of consciousness - almost like a trance. But, if speed is your priority over letter form, you will never get there.

 

Lloyd Reynolds talked about 3 stages of learning calligraphy. 1) Getting "the idea" (knowing how to make the letters); 2) getting the "rhythm;" 3) getting "the swing." It all sounds a little mystical, until it happens. Then you understand. It's quite real.

 

Happy writing!

 

David



#8 Uncle Bulgaria

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 21:16

When that occurs, you will also experience a delightful rhythmicity to your writing and an altered state of consciousness - almost like a trance. But, if speed is your priority over letter form, you will never get there.... It all sounds a little mystical, until it happens. Then you understand. It's quite real.

 

I completely buy that. I practice meditation, and I've noticed a similarity between some of the absorption that meditation can bring on one hand, and on the other hand what happens when I pay close attention while practicing writing. I mentioned in this thread:

 

 

Overall, what I'm finding both fascinating and just plain enjoyable, is the heightened attention to detail this handwriting repair is bringing to me. I can begin to see why calligraphy in Japan is sometimes linked to Zen. There is definitely something meditative and "mindful" in the slow and careful production of each stroke of each letter.

 

And I'd scribbled the attached in my notebook a few weeks ago.

 

"I think mindfulness is essential if one -- well me anyway -- is to tolerate the slow pace of writing without a computer. Look ahead, to a future finished document , and the pain of each body, ascender, and descender could become unbearable. But stay in the moment, focusing and even enjoying each letter, and the means becomes the end."

 

mindful.jpg



#9 brunico

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 22:51

Brunico, forgot to ask:

 

Do you use any kind of guide underneath your page? If not now, did you to begin with. 

 

No, and never have. Perhaps I should, though, as sometimes about halfway down a page my lines start sloping upwards! :)  I think some of this problem is because my left forearm often obscures the bottom of the sheet, and I'm no longer looking at the top.

 

Glad you found the other post useful. I'm not a plain paper zealot - I don't think people who use ruled paper are somehow lesser beings - but I prefer its lack of restriction even for hurried meeting notes (especially for adding diagrams, brainstorming and suchlike) as well as for more leisurely, calligraphic attempts, and I think people should give it a try if they're worried they won't be able to cope but don't know for sure. It's only like addressing an envelope, after all, except you have to keep it up for a whole page. Probably better start smaller than A4.

 

I'm sure my preference for plain paper has been influenced by my interest in typesetting as well as by an aversion to those horrible cheap notepads with bright blue lines and bright pink margins that compete for attention with your own writing. The only downside is that writing with italic nibs on plain paper restricts your choices a little. That pretty notebook you find in a high-street shop like Paperchase is going to be ruled, nine times out of ten, but 'serious' notebooks like Midori, Leuchtturm, Moleskine and Clairefontaine/Rhodia all offer plain options, and of course you have wonderful writing paper from Fabriano, Artoz, Zerkall and Lalo that is plain by default. You can always cheat, too, and use laid paper! ;)



#10 Randal6393

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Posted 10 October 2013 - 03:02

Most of my every-day writing is in a Moleskine-style notebook with lines drawn every 9 mm. That necessitates a letter height of 3 mm. I prefer a pen with a nib width of 1.0 to 1.1 mm. So my letter height is roughly 3 pen widths. Works out fine, use a cursive hand with cursive rules rather than the formal italic hand. Fred Eager's book, The Italic Way to Beautiful Handwriting, discusses cursive versus formal italic in detail and gives exercises that help deliver a clear, legible hand in either style of writing. Highly recommend it.

 

Enjoy,


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From a person's actions, we may infer attitudes, beliefs, --- and values. We do not know these characteristics outright. The human dichotomies of trust and distrust, honor and duplicity, love and hate --- all depend on internal states we cannot directly experience. Isn't this what adds zest to our life?
 


#11 HDoug

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Posted 10 October 2013 - 04:22

I just saw the link to my other posts about page construction. I've been experimenting in two directions. For a while, I was actually penciling in not only the text box, but every line at 6mm per line in my journal. You can see the pencil lines in this photo:

8947541124_e34c860400_c.jpg

 

Which would result in a very neat page like this:

8947543962_d6e8edacf0_c.jpg

 

But penciling in every single line seemed a bit... extreme, perhaps. And it took a lot of time. Now, if my journal were the final of some book I were writing, then okay, but just as something where I record what I had for breakfast and the like, it was too time consuming.

So I recently decided to just go back to freehand lines again and tolerate some wandering about. Now I pencil in a line at the top, and two dots at the bottom which define what I wish to be the text box. Sometimes I get pretty close. Here's an uncommonly uniform example of freehand lines:
10179035623_c2a0554e01_c.jpg

 

Most pages aren't so neat, but it does show that one can achieve a uniformity with practice. And a little bit of obsessive behavior.

But in the end we're all of us here a little bit crazy to begin with.

Doug



#12 Uncle Bulgaria

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Posted 10 October 2013 - 14:27

Doug,

 

Mirroring my earlier comments to David (dm525), that's extremely useful. If anything I find you guys' stuff possibly even more inspiring than the "high" caliigraphy of some of the folks here. My primary aim is to free myself, in the context of authoring, noting, scribbling etc, from the computer, and your attention not just to handwriting but to page structure is providing me a lot of food for thought.

 

A few questions.

 

I notice that on your 6mm ruled version, you don't write *on* the line, but rather appear to use lines as separator for the entire writing line space -- i.e. your letter bodies occupy the middle third of space. That makes sense (especially in italic) but why did you choose that approach rather than what I assume is the normal use of rules, namely to write *on* the line?

 

Next, you said:

Now I pencil in a line at the top, and two dots at the bottom which define what I wish to be the text box. ...

Not sure what you mean by those two dots. Where are they exactly?

 

Then, getting into your content style itself:

  1. What is the last portion in your date format? For example in the third photograph, the second written entry on the left facing page starts with, "10.04.13--5". I presume it's US style (since earlier dates keep the "10") and so read that as 4th October, 2013, But what is the "--5" for?
  2. What's going on with the two date entries at the top of that same page? I think the first is "10.03.13--3", and the second "10.01.13--5". What do they refer to, and why are there two of them?
  3. Also, those two top dates are not perfectly aligned horizontally with each other, and neither is spot-on aligned with the "10.04.13--5" attached to the "10.04.13--15" entry further down. Is there anything significant and purposeful in those positions (or is it just natural variance :-) )?
  4. Timestamps in entries on left facing pages -- e.g. the "12.23pm." in the 10.04.13--5 entry -- appear to be exactly left justified with the main body of text in the entry. However, on right facing pages, the timestamp protrudes a little further to the left -- e.g. the 11:45am we can just see on the right facing page the right side of your third photograph. Why the difference?
  5. 11:45am is before 12:23pm, so I assume the second entry on the right facing page on photo 3 was chronologically later than the second entry on the left facing page[1]. But in that case, where is the date -- I'm guessing it's out on the rightmost margin of the right facing page. But where? Is it at the top? If so, why doesn't the *first* entry on the right facing page have a timestamp? Could you perhaps show a picture of both full pages (or in some way explain your page construction vis-a-vis dates, margins, alignment of timestamps and so on)?

It's all a bit anal I know, but:

...a little bit of obsessive behavior. But in the end we're all of us here a little bit crazy to begin with.

I fear I just proved your point. :)

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Not to mention that date/time stamp or no, the 11:43am entry is *on* the RHS and therefore highly likely to have been written after the LHS entry! They don't call me Sherlock for ... for ... well, they don't call me Sherlock at all to be honest...



#13 HDoug

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Posted 10 October 2013 - 20:29

Uncle Bulgaria,

 

I'm flattered that someone actually noticed my post! Let me try to answer your questions.

I don't write "on" the line because I think of the lines as being the borders between lines rather than baseline. I tend to do that on ruled paper too. I'm sure it indicates something rather unflattering about my internal psychology.

The "two dots" I pencil in are at the lower corners of what I have defined as the text area. 

1. The last digit of the date format is a code for the day of the week. I thought it might be useful to know the day of the week when looking back at an entry but rather than writing "Sunday" or "Sun" I use a dash and "7" for Sunday, "5" for Friday etc. It seems reasonable to me that Sunday = 7 and Blue Monday = 1. 

 

2. On the upper outer corner of each page, I write the days that appear on that page. Sometimes, there is only one date, sometimes more. 

 

3. The lack of alignment is just sloppiness on my part. I really should align them next time!

 

4. I place the date stamp in the outer margin of the first post of the day, and the time stamp sticking out a little from the first line. (So the right pages will have the date stamp in the right (outside) margin and the time stamp on the left. The left hand pages will have both a date and time stamp on the left.) Since the date stamp on the 10/04/13 entry you noted already started in the margin, I just followed with the time stamp. It appears to be left justified, but it's a coincidence. If the date had taken more or less space the time would have followed directly after it.

5. You are very observant and correct! The right entry is 11:45 am the next day with the date stamp in the outside (right) margin (which is outside the photo).

The format represents an ongoing experimentation of format to convey useful information. These seem to work for me. Please keep us up to date with your investigations on journal format.

Doug



#14 TPK

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Posted 11 October 2013 - 05:12

The format represents an ongoing experimentation of format to convey useful information. 

I find this area of great interest too.

HDoug, do you use any kind of indexing or table of contents in your journaling? I'm thinking of something like the system used by John Locke (e.g. here http://ia701207.us.a...dmaki00lock.pdf) or a more modern approach such as the index page described at www.bulletjournal.com. Neither seem to be specifically targeted at journaling, and maybe that doesn't really benefit from indexing. But I'd be interested in your thoughts.

 

Also, looks like there's a ton of interesting info here: http://www.radcliffe...note-conference

 

TPK



#15 kenfraser

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Posted 11 October 2013 - 07:04

I don't write "on" the line because I think of the lines as being the borders between lines rather than baseline. I tend to do that on ruled paper too. I'm sure it indicates something rather unflattering about my internal psychology.
 

Far from being wrong, you're following in an age-old tradition!

 

This has been discussed before. See this topic from 2010

 

http://www.fountainp...ween-the-lines/



#16 HDoug

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Posted 11 October 2013 - 09:52

caliken, thanks for posting that thread. I was glad all the other seemingly normal members who have the same "write between the lines" compulsion, and if itʻs good enough for them, itʻs more than good enough for me!
 

Doug



#17 HDoug

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Posted 11 October 2013 - 10:06

TPK, those links (Locke and Bullet Journal) are fascinating! I havenʻt investigated Lockeʻs method yet but will be doing so very shortly. Iʻm just glad to see so much investigation into the subject.

 

For a while, I was starting every journal with two blank pages reserved for an index. I mentally divided each journal page margin into three stripes or "zones." One closest to the page edge, one closest to the text, and one between the two. When I wrote something I thought particularly interesting, Iʻd put a checkmark in the outer zone if the whole page were interesting, in the middle zone by an interesting paragraph, and in the closest zone if it were just a sentence that I found noteworthy. Then Iʻd write a description of the contents in the Index.

This didnʻt last very long at all because it takes too much time. But it was very satisfying to organize my thoughts.

 

Sigh, such satisfaction we are denied by our mortality and its worldly demands.

Doug



#18 HildyZ

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Posted 11 October 2013 - 10:15

I don't write "on" the line because I think of the lines as being the borders between lines rather than baseline. I tend to do that on ruled paper too. I'm sure it indicates something rather unflattering about my internal psychology.

 

 

I use lined paper the same way, because it bothers me when the ascenders of one line fraternize with the descenders of the line above.  I'm heartened to discover that I'm not the only one.  If you discover an effective treatment, please let me know.


"Malt does more than Milton can to justify God's ways to man." - A. E. Housman
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#19 TPK

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Posted 13 October 2013 - 23:17

 

...it bothers me when the ascenders of one line fraternize with the descenders of the line above.  

"Fraternize" :). If that, in the context of ascenders and descenders, is not a recognized calligraphic term, then I propose it be adopted as such forthwith! 







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