Here’s a highly requested blog post on all of my favorite tips and tricks for using fonts in your bullet journal!
Fonts vs. Lettering
First, let’s quickly talk about the difference between fonts and lettering. Generally, fonts are used on the computer (a type of typeface) or in other printing mechanism. There are of course hand-lettering inspired fonts, but generally a font is on the computer, and creating lettering is done by hand.
For me, as a calligrapher as well as a bullet journaler, I prefer to call this lettering—since it’s hand-done, and in my journal. I’m not typing or printing out a font to include in my bujo, but rather sketching and re-creating or taking inspiration from a font to make a header or create a certain kind of design or style.
Fonts for Inspiration
I love using fonts as inspiration for my bullet journal spreads. I started doing this after seeing Stina @supermassiveblackink‘s amazing spreads, and realizing it would be so fun and meditative to do more expansive lettering in my bullet journal. Lately I’ve been using fonts as one of my primary inspirations for spreads in my bullet journal and it’s been a great way to stay creatively engaged from week to week… and probably the closest I’ve ever come to sticking with a theme in my bullet journal.
How to Recreate a Font in your Bullet Journal
Once I’ve found a font I like, it’s all about going back to basics to sketch out the font. I want to say up front that re-creating fonts (or doing any kind of lettering) takes a lot of practice, so don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t look right for you the first time. Just keep trying and you’ll improve!
First, type in the word you want to have in the preview on the font website you’re using so you have a reference to look at.
For me, I go by shape first and sketch it out in pencil. Using the dot grid in my bullet journal, I’ll draw a baseline (bottom line where most of the letters “sit” but above any tails, like on a lowercase “y” or “g”) and a top line (where I want the highest point of the letters to be). I try to keep each letter roughly the same width as long as that’s in line with how the font looks.
Then it’s just sketching with your pencil, referencing the font as you go! I’ll often sketch out the overall shape, like a big circle for an uppercase C, D, or O, or a small circle for a lowercase e; a box or rectangle might be best for an M, E or B. Then I refine it, all staying in pencil. Once I feel like I’ve got the general shape and feel, then I’ll go in with a fineliner to ink the header itself.
And that’s pretty much it! It sounds simple, but like I said, it does take some practice to feel like you’ve gotten the essence of the font down. If it’s feeling difficult or out of reach, I would recommend sketching some fonts just for fun outside of your bullet journal—that way you can take away the pressure of having it on the spread itself, and just get some practice in!
I also like to adapt fonts sometimes, like adding a symbol, or changing the loop in a letter’s “tail.” As you get deeper into fonts and graphic design, you’ll have a sense for what might look good with each style and it becomes fun to adapt and experiment!
If you liked this how-to post, you might want to check out my shop for more inspiration, such as journal prompt ideas and a creativity-based productivity guidebook!