Custom Fonts vs. Digital Handwriting: What's the Difference?

Posted by David Kindervater on Jun 6, 2019

We can thank German inventor Johannes Gutenberg for custom fonts and digital handwriting. His movable-type printing press, invented around 1439, revolutionized print technology and ushered in a new method of written communications, including the mass production of manuscripts at affordable rates.

Gutenberg's most famous work, the Gutenberg Bible, was printed in blackletter type styles called Textura (aka Gothic Bookhand) and Schwabacher. The latter became the most common typeface in Germany until Fraktur took over in the mid-16th century. Since that time, the written word has seen many changes.

Without getting into the entire history of typography, both fonts and typefaces have evolved over the past 580 years. (If you're interested in learning more, check out Laurence King's book "The Visual History of Type" which provides an exhaustive account of every major typeface since the 15th century.)

You're aware that our modern-day writing looks different than it did centuries ago. But did you know that fonts and typefaces have a historical connection to technology? They're also associated with different eras and social changes. Today they can be customized to fit your specific needs.

That brings us to digital handwriting. What is it and how does it compare? Let's look at the differences between custom fonts and digital handwriting so you can decide what's best for your brand.

What are Custom Fonts?

custom fontsCustom fonts are sometimes inaccurately advertised. There are lots of independent companies (type foundries, etc.) that offer custom fonts, but they're not exactly customized. Many are simply fonts you can download for free, and they're labeled as custom for marketing purposes. But a true custom font is a "new and unique design or a modification of an existing typeface." In other words, it's an original.

Depending on the quality of the font, it can be used for anything from websites to printed materials to products, large signs, and displays. A growing trend among technology companies is to commission a designer to create a custom typeface for their privileged use. This gives them exclusivity. Take companies like Apple and Samsung as examples. They've unified their brands and products under original typefaces.

What is Digital Handwriting?

When it comes to digital handwriting, most people think of handwritten notes on a digital notebook. If you use an Apple pencil to write on your iPad or a Surface Pen on your Surface Pro, you've got the idea. But that's not its only interpretation. Digital handwriting is also handwritten type that's printed on paper (like a note card) and it looks like you wrote it yourself. There are many variations (handwriting styles) to pick from. For example, you could choose a style that's close to your own handwriting or you could select one that best fits your type of business or audience.

How Custom Fonts are Different from Digital Handwriting

Most people want to call a digital handwriting style a font. That's typical because the word "font" is a common term. There are thousands of them available to download from all corners of the internet, from both reputable and less-than-credible sources. It's not an accurate designation, though. Digital handwriting is more complex and thus, more realistic.

Narwhals Sample Image

Digital handwriting is different from a custom font in two primary ways:

  • Patented technology. Simply Written offers digital handwriting services and captures up to 25 glyphs per character. Each glyph adjusts to the surrounding letters so it mimics real handwriting. Thus, every instance of a letter is different. With a font, each appearance of a letter is exactly the same as the next display of that letter. 
  • More realistic. Digital handwriting appears more realistic than a font. The letters and words look like real handwriting. In other words, it replicates your personal handwriting style into a digital format so it looks like you sat down and wrote it yourself.

Consider this scenario. You own a brand and you want to send a direct mail campaign to your mailing list. Naturally, your goal is to get your recipients to open the envelope so they can see what you're offering. When there are other pieces of mail competing with your mail, you need to make sure yours stands out.

How do you do that? Well, there are a variety of ways via direct mail marketing services, but one of the most compelling is to use digital handwriting on the outside of the envelope. It makes the mail piece seem more personal and it will draw attention to your mailing. In fact, about 85% of consumers said they’d be more likely to open personalized mail than they would a regular piece of mail. You can and should use digital handwriting to your advantage.

Why Digital Handwriting Works Better Than Custom Fonts

Digital handwriting works whenever you want to show a customer how much you care. It's more realistic than using custom fonts and it's designed to look like real handwriting. Also, digital handwriting is cost effective. Alternatively, when you write by hand, it takes a lot of time—and money. Digital handwriting saves on both.

Simply Written’s unique, B2B e-commerce capabilities allow companies of all sizes to improve their business relationships with handwritten notes. Our innovative, patented handwriting technology depicts personal handwriting in a digital format—in over 200 handwriting styles. 

Contact us today and let's get started creating beautiful handwritten notes that show your customers how much they mean to you.

Topics: Handwritten Business Notes, business handwriting, custom fonts