Tattoo Lettering & Fonts: Your Step-By-Step Guide (with Pictures)

Ever had a word or phrase that you’ve always wanted to get tattooed on you but you had no idea how to not make it look plain? Well, you’re in the right place because here you’ll know more about tattoo letterings and how they transform boring letters to ones with character and impact.

What Is Tattoo Lettering?

Tattoo lettering is a kind of design used in letters and numbers. You can pick the kind of font you want and the tattoo artist will copy it using the words that you want to be inked on your body. You are free to create your own font and the tattoo artist will just copy the design you want.

Tattoo lettering has always been popular with a lot of people simply because there are those who find words more powerful than images. Also, word and sayings are great for inspiring people and this can also serve as a reminder of how to live their life. Some even go as far as quoting Latin words and Bible verses.

tattoo lettering     

What You Need To Know When Getting A Tattoo

Before you spend a lot of time picking fonts to match your word or quote, you have to first think about a few things when getting a tattoo. Consider these 5 things before you get a tattoo.

It’s going to be there forever.

A permanent tattoo, as its name suggests, will remain on your skin forever. Yes, you’d think that it’s too much time, but because the dyes are inserted onto the topmost layer of the skin, you can expect that the ink will not be easily removed by removers. At the very least, the tattoo will just fade a little, but it will still remain there.

For a lot of people, this kind of commitment is too much. Hence, it is advisable to try other temporary tattoos before you commit to a long-term one. A henna tattoo is usually a good start just to try out the feel of a tattoo.lettering-tattoos

It might not look good as you grow older.

Since tattoos do not get removed over time, you should be ready to see them even on your sagging skin. As you grow older, your skin starts to lose its elasticity which means that your skin will slowly start to sag. You’ll often notice this on your neck, arms, and belly.

Having a tattoo even after the age of 60 sounds weird especially when you can’t exactly picture an old man having lots of tattoos. Nonetheless, if the tattoo means a lot to you, then old age won’t be an issue.

The discomfort depends on the placement.

The process of applying a tattoo makes use of a needle that pierces through your skin and injects the ink. The fact that a tattoo uses a needle means that at the very least, there will be a slight discomfort because it’s not every day you have a needle getting injected repeatedly on you.

But don’t lose heart because depending on where you want to put your tattoo, the pain lessens. Most of the time, areas that are muscular are less painful because the skin is thicker and it isn’t close to the bone. On the other hand, places where the skin is near the bone can be very painful. 

The price doesn’t just depend on the design.

A lot of people think that the price of a tattoo is solely dependent on the design. This isn’t true because there are more factors that affect how much your tattoo lettering will cost. Some factors include the placement of the tattoo and your tattoo artist’s talent rate. The location of the tattoo studio can also affect the price of your tattoo.

An expensive tattoo artist doesn’t equate to great results.

Just because your tattoo artist’s rate is expensive doesn’t mean that they are good at what they do and they can deliver high-quality tattoos. On the contrary, your tattoo artist should be able to explain to you why your tattoo design costs the way it costs. Although it’s not encouraged to haggle with the artist, it’s also fair on your end to know the reason behind the price of your tattoo.

The Whole Tattoo Lettering Process  

Now that you know those 5 facts mentioned above and you are still decided to get that tattoo lettering, then here is a step-by-step process of getting your coveted design.

Decide what word or phrase you want to put.

The first thing you want to do is know what word or phrase you want to have inked on your body. Most people who want to have tattoo lettering on their body use words that best describe them or words that are great reminders for what they should do in certain situations. On the other hand, you can also choose a quote that speaks to you or something that is close to your heart.

The word or phrase you pick will determine the mood your tattoo gives. For example, Latin words often give a more ancient feel thus the font that you should choose should have details that will make it look more historical.

Know where you will put it.

It’s not only the word that you have to put a lot of thought into. It’s also where you place the tattoo but this is not because you want to put the tattoo in the area that is least painful. This is mainly because you want to make sure that the word or phrase fits perfectly on your placement of choice. If not, then it’s either you find another place where it can accommodate long phrases or you cut down the words on the tattoo.

Thoroughly check grammar and spelling.

You might think that it’s easy to get the spelling and grammar right since you’re only choosing quotes that were said by famous people or probably just using one word for your tattoo. But it can be quite surprising to know that there are numerous tattoo fails just because people didn’t double-check their spelling. So, when you’re already at the tattoo parlor, make sure that you double-check and even triple-check the tattoo that you want to have. Make sure that the tattoo artist also knows exactly what you want to be tattooed so you don’t end up having epic fails on your body art.

Pick a font that goes with the theme you’re aiming for.

You have to understand that different fonts give off different emotions the same way that a slimy-looking font is often associated with Halloween or spooky events. Aside from the actual words, the font is responsible for half of the impact because it is what people often see before they actually read your tattoo.

Choosing a font should take a lot of time because you want the font to complement what you’re aiming for perfectly. Don’t just look at a catalog and say that a font looks nice without even considering how it will affect your actual tattoo because this might ruin the impact of the text.

Make sure it’s readable.

What’s the point of a tattoo lettering if it isn’t readable, right? When picking a font, one of the characteristics you should look for is whether or not it’s readable. There are a lot of fonts that will wow you with their details, but at the end of the day, all this art will not look good if it doesn’t serve its purpose.

The main purpose of having a tattoo lettering is to add an extra factor to the words you want to be tattooed on you. If it fails to be recognizable, then you should just stick to simple fonts.

Fit the design into your body.

Once you’ve found the perfect font, the next thing you should do is to finish the design and try to measure it along the body part you want.

This isn’t as easy as you think it is because you can’t simply shorten or minimize the letters just so it can fit an area that is small. Letters that look cramped or are on top of each other aren’t good to look at. So, if you find that your design doesn’t fit your chosen body part, then it might be better placed in a much larger area.

Pick an artist that is skilled.

Aside from your preparation in getting the design right, you also need to look for a tattoo artist that can create the lettering you want.

One way to do this is to literally go door-to-door if you don’t know any tattoo artist yet. This process can help you know the tattoo artist more and to see their portfolios. You can also consult them personally on their input about the design you want. Usually, people get to know tattoo artists based on referrals but you are free to do some research before you become set on an artist.


Consult with your tattoo artist.

When you’ve found the tattoo artist that fits your criteria, go on a one-on-one consultation so you can get professional advice on how to go about tattoo lettering.

Your artist may tell you that a font is better or that it doesn’t fit perfectly on the body part you chose. Ideally, tattoo artists will give advice on how your tattoo lettering can look better so it’s often best to listen to them.

tattoo lettering  

Font Ideas For Your Tattoo 

Old English

The Old English font was taken from the way people wrote letters and scripts during the olden days. If you have seen the Old English texts, you will notice that the design has a mix of edge and curve that makes it look like it was purposefully done to create decoration in the text.

This font is a popular font among men because it adds a certain manliness to words. However, although this font is a crowd favorite, it is not always readable especially when people are far from you. Tip: Don’t underestimate the power of simple and readable texts. They often attract the eye more than fancy fonts can.

Lucida Blackletter

Similar to the Old English font is the Lucida Blackletter. It also looks like a style of decorative text except that this is more readable than Old English font. Lucida Blackletter looks like it was written in script but the words are actually printed. It uses a lot of corners and curves in the letters. If you are going for a medieval theme for your tattoo lettering, this is the perfect font.


Celtic fonts encourage a more historical and ancient feel to tattoo lettering. It is less extravagant than the Gothic and Old English font styles because it has fewer curves and corners. Celtic fonts feel like they are the more modern versions of Ancient Egypt writing and they look similar to the Papyrus font. This kind of font style is best on Bible verses and sayings that come from ancient times. However, be careful when you use this font because the letters are wider than usual and it will look bad if you try to cramp them into a small body part.

Edwardian Script 

If you think the Old English font is hard to read, think again. Edwardian Script is a font often used for more romantic lettering because it creates a soft and sweet look. However, this can be hard to read because the style is italicized. It’s also not advisable to have all uppercase letters on your tattoo lettering because the uppercase letters are wide. But if you plan to write something romantic for your tattoo, then this font will perfectly fit the theme you are going for.

Times New Roman

The classic Times New Roman font is perfect for one-word tattoos. Times New Roman’s simplicity is able to create the impact that one-word tattoos are striving for. At the same time, it’s the design of this font that makes it timeless. It’s so simple that you are able to use it for any word and still have that deep look to it. This font is also very readable and it looks especially appealing if all your letters are in lowercase.


Another simple font is Skia. Skia is perfect for simple lettering because there are no frills. Much like the Times New Roman, the Skia font is very readable and it is timeless. But the difference is that Skia has no edges so it’s better for very small prints and spaces. Ironically, in spite of the font’s simplicity, it isn’t plain-looking. Think of how Apple’s calligraphy is simple yet it still creates a certain kind of impact to the readers.

Block Letters

Fast forward to a more modern font which is block letters. Block letters simply mean letters in uppercase. They are often thick yet the writing is straightforward so it is still easy to read even if you are meters away. You will often see this kind of font in high school and university banners. This font works best for words and phrases that are energetic and written in casual English.


For a more futuristic and quirky print, a 3D font is your ideal design. However, this 3D design doesn’t fit every word or phrase there is. This kind of font only works on famous lines of Sci-Fi characters such as the words of Yoda or Tron.

There are 3D fonts that are beautiful in itself that you don’t need to add other elements to the tattoo. However, you can add a little twist to 3D fonts by arranging the text diagonally or as if in a “jump”.

Taking Care Of Your Tattoo Lettering

When it comes to permanent tattoos, there are two things you have to focus on and those are keeping the quality of the tattoo and keeping it away from lettering  

How To Keep Your Tattoo In High Quality

  1. Follow your tattoo artist’s advice.

Each tattoo artist has a different take on how you can preserve your tattoo. Even if this sounds unusual, it’s better to trust the tattoo artist when they tell you to moisturize daily or to not wash for at least 24 hours. This is because tattoo artists know their work more and their years of experience can help them determine the best way to care for the tattoos they made.

  1. Keep moisturizing.

No matter who your artist is, they will always remind you to moisturize the tattoo. During the first few hours of your tattoo lettering, you will notice that the skin will look reddish to the point that it bleeds. But you don’t have to worry about this because this is a natural skin reaction to the invasive body art.

The best way to treat this is to add moisturizing lotion. If you don’t have any, petroleum jelly will do. A moisturizing lotion will help the ink to bond more with the molecules on your skin. This will keep the tattoo’s quality intact. It will also avoid unnecessary flaking with the skin.

  1. Hide it from the sun.

One of the culprits of tattoos gone wrong is sun exposure. Yes, it’s not just a bad artist’s work or a low-quality ink that ruins the tattoo, but it is also too much sun exposure. To say the least, sun exposure causes discoloration on your tattoo. This is why tattoo artist’s advice is that you stay out of the beach for at least two weeks so that you’re sure your tattoo is tucked away. Although it’s not so bad if your tattoo gets exposed to the sun once in a while, make sure that it isn’t too long that you might get sunburned.

How To Keep Your Tattoo From Infection 

  1. Don’t soak it in water.

Another reason why you should stay away from the beach is that you’re not allowed to soak your tattoo in water for a long time. Water, especially water not coming from the faucet can have a lot of bacteria and the last thing you want to do is to get infected. On its first few weeks, your skin can still be healing from wounds and open pores so you don’t want to go splashing around and attracting anything that can infect it.

  1. Cover it with a bandage.

A bandage is not a required step when it comes to caring for your tattoo, but your tattoo artist might advise you to cover it up or they will do it themselves right after your appointment. Now you might be wondering why you don’t see huge bandages on people when they get a tattoo. This is because some use a transparent bandage.

A bandage is useful especially when the area where your tattoo is always scratched against clothing even if you wear the latter loose. Since your tattoo is still fresh and your skin is still adjusting to the body art, it is susceptible to infection especially when there’s friction with your clothes. The best way to protect is to have a bandage over the tattooed area.

  1. Wear light and loose clothes.

For placements that are almost always exposed, you might not need a bandage to cover it up. However, wearing loose and light clothing can help lessen the friction the tattoo will have against your clothes. If you placed your tattoo lettering on your arm, then try your best to wear sleeveless tops while your tattoo heals.

Tattoo lettering is not like any other design because unlike others, you can actually have a very straightforward tattoo that doesn’t need any explanation. At the same time, there are a lot of words and phrases that can inspire a person so a lot of people have used this kind of tattoo design to express their sentiments. It’s another form of remembering quotes to guide you.

What do you think?

Written by Jack


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