The Pen Lessons Alphabets Gallery & Videos Store History of Writing
The Pen Lessons Alphabets Gallery & Videos Store History of Writing

The calligraphy pen and what to do if you're left-handed

Search Amazon for an excellent range of calligraphy pens and starter sets.

Calligraphy nibs are square cut to produce lines of different thickness. The pen is usually held so the nib is at a constant angle of approximately 30 degrees to the writing line (see the Lessons page). It is this angle that produces the thick and thin lines.

Calligraphy cartridge pens are readily available in most good stationers and art supply shops and are ideal for the beginner. A booklet is often included giving instructions on how to use them and they usually take standard cartridges.

Most sets will also include a variety of interchangeable nibs in different sizes. The ink used is not so dense as bottled ink and has a more watery appearance, but this can work just as well, visually, as the bottled variety. Cartridge pens work consistently and are ready-to-use. Dip pens are more complicated to use but this is something I love as it becomes part of the creative process.

Calligraphy nibs and holders, such as William Mitchell Roundhand Selection are available from Amazon. Manuscript also have a similar set and both would be suitable for all calligraphers. These are more commonly called ‘dip pens’ as they are dipped into the ink. They can also be purchased in most good stationers and are relatively inexpensive.

Watch a selection of videos for more demonstrations on using the calligraphy pen.


See a wide range of left-handed calligraphy products from Amazon.

If you write with your left hand you will need a left-handed calligraphy pen. If you are using a pen holder and steel dip nibs, you can buy left-handed nibs.

The broad edge of a calligraphy pen nib is cut at a slight oblique angle. Left-handed nibs are cut on the opposite angle to right-handed nibs so that they write smoothly on the page when held in the left hand. If you hold a right-handed nib in the left hand the corner of the nib will dig into the paper.

How you hold the pen also affects the lettering, depending on whether you write with your hand above the lettering or beneath it. I'm no expert on this but you will usually find an instruction leaflet accompanying pen sets and there are some very good books on the subject. Most suppliers of calligraphy equipment will also stock left-handed pens and pen nibs.

There's a great video below for left-handers.

Click here for more videos for left-handed calligraphers.


Cartridge pen

Dip pen set

How to put the letters together

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