3 Differences Between Pointed + Broad Calligraphy Nibs

What’s the difference between pointed and broad edge calligraphy nibs?! The short answer is, “their shape”. But the real difference is how each nib works as they write. For a primer on nib anatomy, check out our blog post, “What is a Calligraphy Nib??”. There’s a video included with the post if you prefer!

Two of our favorites! From left: the Hunt 22B and the Mitchell 0. Watch our 5-minute YouTube video to learn more!

Pointed and Broad Calligraphy Nibs: A Quick Contrast

Pointed NibBroad Nib
Highly FlexibleSomewhat flexible
Thickness of strokes depends on the pressure applied to the nibThickness of strokes depends on width and angle of the nib itself
Measure the x-height with a rulerMeasure the x-height in widths of the nib

Pointed Calligraphy Nib Details

By design, the writing surface of a pointed nib will give light weight strokes, or “hairlines”.

Applying pressure to the nib as you write causes the tines to open wider, allowing more ink to flow to the page across the distance between the tines. This results in a heavier stroke that contrasts the hairlines. Pointed nibs’ flexibility makes this high contrast possible.

Because the person writing controls the weight of the strokes, they can use a pointed calligraphy nib to write letters at several different sizes.

Broad Calligraphy Nib Details

Broad edge nibs already have a wide surface to make thick strokes, no pressure necessary. Instead, holding the writing edge of the pen at a consistent angle as you write makes contrasting thin strokes.

Unlike pointed pen calligraphy, we measure the height of broad edge calligraphy using the width of the nib itself. We call this unit a “nib width” or a “pen width”.

Proficient calligraphers can actually turn the pen in their fingers as they write. This allows them more control over the width and shape of their strokes.

Calligraphy Variations

Broad Edge Script, Uncial, written with a pointed pen

Now, just because pointed and broad edge calligraphy nibs operate in a specific way doesn’t mean they don’t lend themselves to variation and play! For example, you can write a traditionally broad pen script using a pointed pen, minding the places you’re adding weight to the strokes. You could also write it with a regular pen or pencil. This variation is called monoline.

We wrote Foundational Hand calligraphy in turquoise India ink with a broad edged nib. Then, we added the credit using a purple fine tip marker.

You can also slightly twist a broad pen with your fingers as you write or finish a stroke, adding interest to your letters. You can even add flourishes to broad pen calligraphy using a pointed pen, combining the techniques.

3 Places I Buy Calligraphy Nibs

  1. Arizona Art Supply
  2. Paper and Ink Arts
  3. John Neal Bookseller

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