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Lettering sample using Ames Lettering Guide


Lettering — Preview all these first

  • Old School Lettering 101, Part 04 [making guide lines]: Ames Lettering Guide (You Tube)
  • How to write like and architect. Doug Patt. [Here, the lettering is too 'animated'. But the video is good in the way it shows the use of the Ames guide while writing.]
  • How to letter with lead. Doug Patt. [Still too animated..and too much 'personality'. Aim for extreme legibility. But good to show pencil angle, line weight.]
  • How to use [Ames] Lettering Guide, YouTube
  • Lettering (in Flash), Architectural Drafting Fundamentals, Instructor: JoBeth Halpin, Triton College
  • Excerpts from Sutherland, Martha. Lettering for Architects and Designers. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 2nd ed., 1989

Practice (before 'drafted' assignment, below)

  1. Practice 'capital' lettering (using alphabet and numbers)
  2. Write three paragraphs. This may be a quote, cited.
  3. Use lined sheets of paper. Only write on every other line.
  4. Hand in.


  • Leads: 4H for guidelines and construction lines, 2H (or less) for lettering. Or what works for you.
  • Ames Lettering Guide
  • Mechanical pencils or 'clutches' (for lead)
  • Use11" by 17" white copier paper available in the Architecture Printing room just opposite room 202.


Construct guide lines:

  • Use blank paper, 11" by 17" white.
  • Use the Ames Lettering Guide for light, horizontal 'guidelines' constructed using a sharpened, hard (if possible 4H) pencil lead.
  • Read instructions, provided
  • Based on what you will be writing on the sheet (see below), carefully lay out your page/guidelines to compose your page graphically.
  • On the circular ('disk'), rotating part of the Ames Lettering Guide, the numbers, which range from 2 to 10 (on the English--non-metric--scale) denote the height of letters in 1/32th of an inch.
  • Have '6' line up with the vertical mark (in illustration, below, indicated as the letter 'T') at the bottom of the guide to produce guide lines of 6/32" (or 3/16") for lettering.
  • Use the two-thirds ratio column (lower column) of holes. The lines at each end of the arcs will be used as guides for only writing capital letters, so do not construct an 'extra' line using the hole in between the two holes bridged by the arc ")", which would only be included as a guideline for 'lower case' lettering.
  • Scribe light, sharp, hard-lead lines only locating them where your lettering will be.

Practice 'capital' lettering (uppercase, block, majuscule):

  • Review all reading above first.
  • For all vertial lines in letters use the Ames Lettering Guide and/or a straight edge (triangle, T-square) using a medium (2H, if possible) pencil lead.
  • Make other strokes (horizontal, circular, etc.) freehand, either horizontal or at a slight angle (up to the right )on the 'crossbars'.

Write a few paragraphs (or use a quote, cited) and . . .

Practice numbers (alone) and dimensions (feet, inches, fractions of an inch)