Styles of handwriting

Styles of handwriting

Until 1875 the so-called "German" or "Gothic" style of handwriting was commonly used in Denmark. This was also the style of script that children were taught in school. Practically all the older documents in the Archives are written in this style - it is necessary to learn how to read it if you wish to use the records at The Danish National Archives.


Difficult letters

There are some letters that you should pay particular attention to. The letters “f”, “h” and the extended “s” are quite similar and could easily be mistaken for each other. The short “s” might resemble the Latin “r” as it is used in present-day handwriting. The letters “v” and “r” also appear to be similar.

Spelling from bygone-ages

When using Records from some historic period do not expect to find the same spelling of a word that might be found in a modern dictionary. You must not expect the spelling to be correct, or that the same word will be spelled the same each time it is written. Often a word will be spelled two or three different ways – on the same page, or even within the same sentence!


In older texts, from around 1600-1680, you might find some words spelled with an “i” where contemporary Danish would require an “e”. For instance, the word “her” (in Danish, “hendes”) spelled “hendis”; or “their” (in Danish, “deres”) would be spelled “deris”. Similarly the letter “g” could be substituted by “ck” or “ch”. Thus, the word “and” (in Danish, “og”) could be spelled “ock” or “och”. Another difficulty could arise if the writer spoke a dialect, which would often be reflected in the spelling and usage of certain Words.


In the document below you can find examples of different styles of handwriting from different centuries.