( Originally Published 1920 )
It is of more importance that the pupil in the elementary schools should learn to letter one simple alphabet well and acquire the power to adjust the spaces between the letters in such a way that a consistent uniformity is apparent, than that he should have a superficial knowledge of many alphabets without a feeling for that consistent relation of one letter or group of letters to another which makes lettering for any particular purpose a problem in Design.
As soon as the pupil has gained sufficient control of the pencil, he should letter his name and the date on each drawing when it is done. From the very first, he should make the effort to keep his letters upright, of the same height, and grouped in words, so as to be readily discerned.
The alphabet which is used by the class should be kept on the blackboard, so that it can be referred to at any time. If a piece of unglazed chalk be soaked in mucilage till it is saturated and then used, while it is still damp, for drawing the alphabet on the black-board, the letters when dry will not be likely to blur or rub off, but may be washed off when it is necessary to have them removed.
Practice brings increasing facility in lettering and a better grasp of its decorative possibilities, and thus gradually puts the pupil in a better position to adapt the principles of good lettering to accompanying conditions, so that in each succeeding Form he is able to bring his lettering more and more into conformity with the laws by which it must be governed when it is used in connection with Design. On this account, the Course outlined in the Manual is arranged so that proficiency in lettering may be attained through easy steps. A Form I class is expected to learn to use single line capitals so as to make them fairly legible, vertical, and regular. The placing of the lettering is to be considered carefully in Form II. The ability to control the light or dark value of the lettering due to the weight of stroke used, is the development expected in Form III; while a Form IV class should be capable of a finer conception of the characteristics of good lettering and should show greater ability in exemplifying them. The use of Roman capitals, and small (lower case) letters is permitted, but not required, in Form IV, Senior Grade.
Alphabets are copied and, as the same general rules apply to all, there is no reason why a class that has gained the power to letter one alphabet well should find it difficult to use any similar alphabet, and a certain latitude might be permitted when the lettering is required for some special design, such as the title of a book; a slant alphabet, however, should not be used. Examples of good lettering suitable for such purposes are to be found in different series of drawing books of recent publication.
The tendency to spend too much time on one division of a subject to the neglect of another must be guarded against sedulously.