90’s Hand-Lettering



This Do-It-Yourself Lettering Book has been in my possession since the early 90’s.  While I wouldn’t call myself a type-enthusiast, this book was pretty near and dear to my heart, since it really fostered my love for hand-lettering.  I referenced it constantly for school projects and my own pre-teen doodling.

Anyone who attended school can relate.  Downtime (or, you know, regular class time) was spent drawing in notebooks, on classroom boards, scribbling in notes to friends.  I mean, how many times did I draw this “S”?

It was always the same: Start with 6 lines.

Draw the diagonal connecting lines.

Cap off the top and bottom.

Close the open ends, and viola!

And if you’re real fancy, you make it 3-dimensional.


No notebook doodling would be complete without writing your own name a billion times.  Classic styles included Bubble Lettering:

And Block Lettering:


The Lettering Book is special in its simplicity.  Outside of the instructional copy and a few grids, the entire book is hand-drawn.  This is before “The Internets” and before affordable software programs like Adobe Illustrator.  It covers all the basics:



Your basic toolbox.



Page layouts.



Basic lettering treatments.



Creative Lettering.



Lettering themes for the entire alphabet.

But my fave part of the whole book is the section on Word Pictures.  I probably spent the most time copying these examples and creating some of my own.





And here it is – the ultimate page of the Lettering Book: word pictures of (mostly) junk food!  Ahhhh….true love.



Which really makes me want to Hand-Make a sandwich.  Isn’t this book awesome?

Til next time,

71 responses to “90’s Hand-Lettering

  1. OMG! I had that book! I wish I still did! Its bad ass!

  2. theveryhungrybookworm

    This is amazing! I grew up in the thick of nineties doodling and I actually remember the day I learned how to do the S drawing. Good memories!

    • There was also that weird 3-D cube that populated the insides of my notebooks. And the 90’s stoner flowers. Oh man….now I wish I still had the big pink binder I doodled all over.

  3. Awesome. So here’s a question I’ve always pondered: Is there a lettering book for Home Depot? Ever notice how all of their signage is in the exact same lettering style?

    Inquiring minds want to know…

  4. Wow…I bubble-lettered EVERYTHING in the 90’s. Still have a fondness for it, in fact. ;)

    Thanks for taking me back to those days! Great post!

  5. Love it! I am not sure I ever got beyond the six-lined “S” and a little bubble designing when I was that age — and I used to obsess over how to make them look fabulous. I didn’t know a lot of kids my age at that time so it’s funny for me to see that this is yet another thing that teens do and go through. :)

  6. Great stuff. Takes me back. I now realize how subpar my doodling has been all these years.

  7. How fun! Congrats on FP-ed!

  8. Hi MaryAnna –

    Nice blog and great artwork. Do you ever t-shirts? I would think there’s a contract for you in that work. Have a good Thursday. :)

  9. It’s so funny that I found this post and read it today. I would love to have this book for my son. He is working on a project in math right now, you know the one…poster board, grid lines, find a picture you want to draw, print it out, draw the grid on it and now hand transfer to the poster. He choose the Loony Tunes logo and I asked him yesterday how it was going, he said; “good, but I stink at bubble letters” I chuckled as a reminisced about drawing in bubble letters, coloring with markers and slipping it into my binder cover, I always got the three ring binders with the clear zip cover on front just so I could decorate it. I told him that only girls were good at bubble letters! Of course I was joking…but I think I deflated his ego a bit.

    • Uggghhh, the dreaded grid transfer!! Yes, this book was invaluable to me in elementary school for poster board presentations. Grid transfers are included in the book, too. And it’s true, the ladies were mostly into bubble lettering!

  10. This is great…I remember I thought it was the coolest thing to make those Superman “S’s”.

  11. I really liked this post and am not sure why. I’m not an artist, although back in the 70’s when I was growing up I did bubble lettering (who didn’t?). I was artsy but didn’t turn into a graphic artist.

    Still, this book and your presentation brought me pleasure and made me think about exploring this again, just for fun. My favorite part was the word pictures. So cool!

  12. Nice one! Lettering was so much fun. I had trouble forming S all the time. Too bad kids these days only write through the internet! Actual writing on a sheet of paper was exciting. Still kind of is, since no one does it so much for fun these days anymore!

    • I have wondered if kids even write notes to each other – you know, the folded up ones that are furtively passed to your friend in class – or if it’s all dwindled down to text messages.

    • Hi! actually, some of us still do write notes to friends. not so much in folded paper passed on during class but we do use sticky notes and stick it on our friend’s locker. Some of us doodle on our shoes. which may seem a waste but it looks cute though. I like writting short messages to my friends and slip it in their books. I dont blame you for wondering wether we even take our eyes off the computer or our cellphones because I myself notices how much most teenagers/kids spend hours on the computer etc. Maybe if we stop inventing more of those devices then maybe that can somehow make our world a better place to live in. i mean seriously, we are all just so greedy. why cant we ever be satisfied of what we have right now? including me…..anyways, I love this post…lettering for the win

  13. All County Insurance - Brea, California

    The S also known as the Stussi (spelling?), I used that a lot on my homework assignments. I don’t know if the teachers liked it too much but at least they knew I was trying to be somewhat creative? Loved the post, thanks!

  14. Pingback: 90′s Hand-Lettering (via Little Wolf) « Demighty's Blog

  15. The 90’s were great for “tagging” script. Quite the in thing back then.

    Congratulations on being FP!

  16. I used to have this same book! And I was obsessed with it. No wonder I grew up to work in page layout and design…

  17. I totally had that “Beat It” drum sticker… a whole series of stickers with that same look that came with a school book-order…

  18. Oh the days when creatin things by hand was fun and could lead to wonderful creations. I am a graphic designer and to this day I still love to sketch fonts by hand. Back to basic…
    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

  19. Sometimes I still make the 6 line S.

  20. Doing the “S” made me feel so coooool!
    Im 29 now but i still remember the first time my older cousin showed me how to draw it on a napkin at a wedding! I was 5! Haha! Must have been a mind-altering event for me to STILL remember it! And dont get me started on the 3D version of it! That was the ultimate!
    I ended up becoming a graphic designer and illustrator, and i still love hand drawing my own fonts. Loved your post!

  21. lovely!
    Thanks for sharing.
    I especially like the “food typeface”

  22. No school book is complete without your name written in bubble letters!!! Ahhh, the good old days!

  23. What a fun blast from the past! I totally had that book as a kid, and I drew those “S”‘s all the time! :)

  24. The “S” brings back so many memories. For me it was the late eighty’s. How cool.

  25. I love the different text and fonts, but I don’t know if I’d be able to do it myself. The letters look like lots of fun and it reminds me of how I used to write as a kid and everything had to be big.


  27. Great post! I want this book right now, too! :D

  28. i TOTALLY used to have a book (2, i think) like that! i would refer to it for school projects! :)


  29. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I am now a social media public speaker and have used these examples in my presentations. Gotta love the 90’s. lol

  30. Loved it. Thanks for sharing.



  31. Maryanna,
    First, congrats on being Freshly Pressed: that’s how I found this post. I love seeing younger (than me) people loving handlettering, handdrawing!! It would be a huge loss if people lost that love!

    Keep up the good work!

  32. This is absolutely cool. I remember when I was fond of labeling my school stuff with hand-lettered names. :) Great post.

  33. I like the way you write and the way you use the theme. :)

  34. enjoyed reading:) creating and inspiring!

  35. Pretty koo, thats the old skool & there’s no other like it (& never will be again). . .

  36. I love your post! Thanks for sharing!

  37. wow! Blast from the past, I had something like it when I was younger and I always tried to write the word ‘fast’ using only lines to represent the moving forwardness that is fast…lol And those ‘s’ *sigh* It makes me blush to think how many I must have had plastered to books and the such thinking I was so talented and cool. However everyone was doing it so there wasn’t really anything special about it at all….but if I began doing it again now……hmm…the possiblities! :D Great post!

  38. wow,thanx for the share.love it.

  39. Oh, I wish I had the patience to try those out! But unfortunately the only time I get for art is dedicated to my school work as it takes such a ridiculously long time. I really wish I hadn’t chosen art as an option, it’s a nightmare!

    That said, I used to be really into calligraphy, and I got pretty good at it. I’m terrible now, though – I haven’t done it in so long. The only letter I can remember is ‘M’ because it’s the first in my name. Oh, and A because it was easy.

  40. custompaperpoint

    Wow! impressive post,keep it up.

    Thanks for sharing.

  41. i used to love these kinds of books!

  42. I made the “S” (with 2 sets of 3 parallel lines) a million times. I can remember think how lucky I was that my name started with the most beautiful letter in the alphabet.

    Loved the post and wish I had the book. Congrats on being FPed.


  43. Wow. I totally WANT that book now! Is it… still in print? (maybe that’s a dumb question — but you said it was hand-written, or the majority of it was, and I imagine it would be a time-consumning process to have millions of hand-written copies distributed; perhaps your copy is very valuable?)

    My favorites:
    ice cream (with a cone),
    “weeee” (exclamatory word on the rollercoaster railing)
    and button (with a button.. for the o. very simple and cute.)

    Aun Aqui

  44. Thanks for sharing!

    Off to bubble-letter :-)

  45. Oh my gosh, that first “S” brought me straight back to jr high, 1997!

  46. totally had this book, LOL…I know exactly what you’re talking about! I was kind of a tracer, though.
    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  47. i used to borrow this book from the library aalllll the time! genius!

  48. cool lettering styles

  49. Oh how fun. :) I still have this book as well.

  50. Very interesting!! Just tried the “S” :-)

  51. What a fun blast from the past! I totally had that book as a kid, and I drew those “S”‘s all the time!

  52. wow! Blast from the past, I had something like it when I was younger and I always tried to write the word ‘fast’ using only lines to represent the moving forwardness that is fast…lol And those ‘s’ *sigh* It makes me blush to think how many I must have had plastered to books and the such thinking I was so talented and cool. However everyone was doing it so there wasn’t really anything special about it at all….but if I began doing it again now……hmm…the possiblities! Great post!

  53. Thanks for sharing content to read.I’m happy to read it.

  54. This is so special! I was looking all over for this book and came across this post…This book is responsible for my love of fonts. Seeing the pages here is so nostalgic! Thanks for this post!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s