I want a clarification on terminology. A language is written in a particular script . but there are various styles for writing a script. For e.g. arabic is written in arabic script, and it can be written in Kufic style or Naskh or Dewani or Nastaleeq etc. Are these writing styles called fonts or these are writing styles and fonts are different interpretations of these writing styles? Kindly clarify the standard terminology.

  • The terminology is inconsistent because it's technological terminology and the technology has changed radically. Think "dialing a phone" in the absence of a dial, "reading a paper" on a screen, etc. All writing used to be done by hand, and then it changed. And changed again, differently, in different histories with different languages. There is no standard -- just do the best you can.
    – jlawler
    Commented Jul 16, 2019 at 19:27

1 Answer 1


These variants have different and inconsistent names in English across the languages.


The word "style" seems to be preferred for the variants of the Arabic script; people refer to styles of the Arabic script very often.


This is also often used for Arabic script variants, even though it is ambiguous with the script system (e.g. Arabic, Roman, Cyrillic, Chinese). It is also the standard way to refer to different historical forms of Chinese characters (e.g. oracle bone script, clerical script, cursive script) and for calligraphic variants of the Roman alphabet (e.g. Uncial script, Gothic script).


Slightly literary word, one that is more frequently used in the artistic calligraphic world than the linguistic world.

The words typeface and font are not appropriate for this level; they refer to more things in printing and computing, below the level that you are looking for.

  • Might be worth adding that to refer to "scripts" in the sense of Arabic, Roman, Cyrillic, Chinese, without ambiguity with "script" as in style, one sometimes calls them by the type of script they are: the Arabic abjad, the Roman and Cyrillic alphabets, the Chinese logograms. I'd guess this is reasonably common in linguistics publications.
    – LjL
    Commented Jul 15, 2019 at 13:47
  • I guess style in the context of writing refered to the technique necessary with a certain kind of implement+medium and dissociated from there on. Ever tried writing with the wobbly stylus of a cheap, broken ballpoint pen? It has no style at all! But also compare to set, Ger Satz (polysemous, I mean "set of [i.e. characters]), Schriftsatz (as young as printing?), Zeichensetzung "punctuation"; Compare key, chifre, code? Today style means decorative type. Lettering is a word meaning ..?
    – vectory
    Commented Jul 17, 2019 at 0:59
  • Hand neatly compares to tongue
    – vectory
    Commented Jul 17, 2019 at 1:01

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.