Architectural lettering may be divided into two general classes. The first is for titling and naming drawings, as well as for such note and explanations as it is usual or necessary to put upon them; this may well be called "Office Lettering." The second includes the use of letters for architectural inscriptions to be carved in wood or stone, or cast in metal: for this quite a different character of letter is required, and one that is always to be considered in its relation to the material in which it is to be executed, and designed in regard to its adaptability to its method of execution. This may be arbitrarily termed "Inscription Lettering," and as a more subtle and less exact subject than office lettering it may better be taken up last.

Office Lettering

Architectural office lettering has nothing in common with the usual Engineering letter, or rather, to be more exact, the reverse is true: Engineering lettering has nothing in common with anything else. Its terminology is wrong and needlessly confusing inasmuch as it clashes with well and widely accepted definitions. Therefore it will be necessary to start entirely anew, and if the student has already studied any engineering book on the subject, to warn him that in this instruction paper such terms as Gothic, etc., will be used in their well-understood Architectural meaning and must not be misinterpreted to include the style of letter arbitrarily so called by Engineers.

The first purpose of the lettering on an architectural plan or elevation is to identify the sheet with its name and general descriptive title, and further, to give the names of the owner and architect. The lettering for this purpose should always be rather important and large in size, and its location, weight and height must be exactly determined by the size, shape and weight of the plan or elevation itself, as well as its location upon and relation to the paper on which it is drawn, in order to give a pleasing effect and to best finish or set off the drawing itself. The style of letter used may be suggested, or even demanded, by the design of the building represented. Thus Gothic lettering might be appropriate on a drawing of a Gothic church, just as Italian Renaissance lettering would be for a building of that style, or as Classic lettering would seem most suitable on the drawings for a purely Classic design; while each letter or legend would look equally out of place on any one of the other drawings.