Lettering artists have been using a nib and ink to transform letters into beautiful calligraphy for centuries. A writing style that has flourished over thousands of years, creatives use calligraphy fonts in much the same way as retro fonts, to add charm, elegance and a handcrafted feel to their work.
Here are 14 of the most beautiful calligraphy fonts around today. Most of these are paid, so if you're on a tight budget, see our roundup of the best free fonts for designers. A lot of the fonts on this list include optional ligatures and alternates you can swap in to create an organic-looking, unique script. For more advice on using these, take a look at our guide to how to create a handwriting font that isn't boring.
01. Meat Buckets
On sale from StereoType, Meat buckets is described as "a nervous script font with a taste of old-school style". It's free to download for personal use, or you can buy a standard licence for use in commercial projects. And if you opt for the full commercial version, you get access to 86 alternates, contextual ligatures and underlinings, so you can pimp this calligraphy font to create something unique.
Palomino is a calligraphy font with a difference: instead of being based on inky lettering, it was created using Palomino Blackwing pencils (something of a cult offering in the pencil world). This versatile font family comes with alternates and swashes to help you create your own impressive designs. It also comes with extensive language support and is fully unicode mapped.
03. Olivia Script
Featuring 351 elegant glyphs, Olivia Script is a sophisticated and graceful modern calligraphic typeface suited to use on everything from wedding invitations to greeting cards, posters and more. It's available as a free font from the Font Bundles Store, and comes with a premium licence that allows for both personal and commercial use.
04. Work in Progress
Created by Clement Nicolle, also known as StereoType, Work in Progress is a script font with a very specific style of connecting curves. It comes in a simple free version that's good for personal use, but if you pay for the commercial version you get an additional clean version, as well as a set of alternate glyphs and ligatures, including a bunch of little words in multiple languages.
Designed by Yani Arabena, Guille Vizzari and Ale Paul for Sudtipos, Envelove is a free-and-easy typeface consisting of three fonts: Envelove Script and Envelove Caps, which enables you to build variations into your lettering with alternates, ligatures and a small caps set. There are also Envelove Icons, which are perfect for adding a bit of decoration to your lettering. Lively and expressive, it reminds us of Quentin Blake's wonderfully energetic illustrations.
This hand-drawn calligraphy font family includes six complementary fonts, including upright and italic brush script, sans and serif fonts. Uneven edges and loose letterforms help give Organika an organic, friendly vibe.
Enable Discretionary Ligatures OpenType feature to replaces automatically lower case letters with an alternate when the letter is repeated. So there are never two letters next to each other that are just the same.
07. Noelan Script
Free both for personal and commercial use, Noelan Script is a modern calligraphic typeface from ndro. It features automatically connecting swashes as well as plenty of alternates to give your text a more human feel, plus international characters.
Type designer Laura Condouris is behind beautiful calligraphy font Quickpen. Casual and carefree, Quickpen was designed to recreate the look of confident script, quickly jotted with a felt tip pen or brush. Available over on MyFonts, it is described as 'the perfect script for any design that doesn’t take itself too seriously'.
Beautiful calligraphy font Dragonflight was created by type designer Hanneke Classen, who hand-drew each glyph with a brass folded pen dipped in ink. The font got its name from the tip of this folded pen, which resembles the shape of a dragonfly’s wing.
Stylised yet legible, Rob Leuschke's calligraphy font Allura is great for all manner of print and digital projects, including branding, posters and much more. And best of all, it's free!
With a rich, inky texture, Freeland calligraphy font was created by type designer Laura Condouris. Featuring plenty of ligatures and stylistic alternates for a realistic, hand-lettered look, Freeland will give your designs an edgy vibe.
12. Poem Script
Available over on MyFonts, Ale Paul's Poem Script design is described as 'a mixed collection of interpretations conjuring a late 19th century American pen script style'. Poem Script received a Certificate of Excellence at the Type Directors Club NY 2011 and was selected at the Bienal Tipos Latinos 2012.
13. Lamar Pen
An elegant, antique calligraphy font, Lamar Pen reflects the personality of the man whose handwriting inspired it, Mirabeau B. Lamar – a celebrated Texan of the 1830s and 40s.
14. Dom Loves Mary
Dom Loves Mary is named in memory of Dominic and Mary Sementelli, a couple who were totally opposite but 'made for each other'. The font was created by Debi Sementelli as a way of honouring the pair. A beautiful calligraphy font, Dom Loves Mary is great for stationery, posters and much more.