So far, I've only seen the symbol $\aleph$ in its printed form and am wondering how this symbol could be written by hand on paper or on a board (in mathematical contexts, of course). Whenever I try to write it, I seem to have two options:

  • Paper: Unwrap my nib and attempt a nice piece of calligraphy. (However, this is a bit too time-consuming.)
    Board: Rotate the chalk to produce a broader line. (However, this only works with chalk of appropriate length.)
  • Approximate the printed form $\aleph$ as good as I can holding the pen/chalk ordinarily. (However, this leads to a letter that can hardly be distinguished from an $N$ or $\chi$ or $X$.)

So, how can I produce a neat, distinguishable $\aleph$ by hand (in a reasonable amount of time)? And in what order should the strokes and wiggles be written?

  • $\begingroup$ This link might help: quora.com/…. Note that the context of that post is not mathematics, but there are some nice images of what a hand-printed aleph should look like. $\endgroup$ – mweiss Jun 22 '15 at 21:23
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    $\begingroup$ @mweiss The link is broken. $\endgroup$ – user26486 Jun 22 '15 at 21:23
  • $\begingroup$ Odd, it works for me. $\endgroup$ – mweiss Jun 22 '15 at 21:25
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    $\begingroup$ Three strokes, all downwards: diagonal first, then upper right then lower left. hebrew4christians.com/Grammar/Unit_One/Aleph-Bet/Aleph/… gives some advice, through mathematicians should avoid the cursive form. $\endgroup$ – Henry Jun 22 '15 at 21:25
  • $\begingroup$ Another source is at behrmanhouse.com/resource_room/hebrew-handwriting-chart. However, you are right that it is likely to end up looking like an $X$ if you are not careful. To avoid that, make the two shorter diagonal strokes offset slightly (so that they do not go directly through the center of the main diagonal) and slightly non-parallel. $\endgroup$ – mweiss Jun 22 '15 at 21:28

This is the letter א as commonly taught to schoolchildren in Israel:

enter image description here

If I remember correctly, we used to draw the main diagonal first, starting at the top left, then the upper arm starting from the top and angling towards the main line, then the lower leg starting from the main diagonal and curving downwards.

There's no need to use a particularly thick stroke; the letters are written with the same stroke style as letters in Latin and other alphabets.

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    $\begingroup$ Hallellu-Yah! Someone who knows gave a useful answer! Endorsed!!! $\endgroup$ – Robert Lewis Jun 22 '15 at 21:29
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    $\begingroup$ Why would Israeli students be taught how to draw the block form rather than the written form (which looks like "IC")? $\endgroup$ – Akiva Weinberger Mar 1 '18 at 21:18
  • $\begingroup$ They get taught both. At least they were when I was a kid, back in the mists of time. $\endgroup$ – Alon Amit Mar 1 '18 at 21:33

I have always written it as three disconnected strokes:

enter image description here

and as far as I know, nobody has ever had trouble recognizing it.

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I usually don't try any bolding or curling - I just draw a diagonal line for the "main" line, and two vertical "legs" jutting out of it. To keep $\aleph$ distinct from $X$ or $\chi$, I make sure to space the "legs" out away from the middle and not too close to the endpoints (to keep it distinct from $N$), at about the one-third and two-third points laterally. I also write $\aleph$ slightly larger than the other symbols. This seems to work well.

Also, I often leave a slight gap between the left leg and the main line. You can also slope the legs a bit to the right so they aren't vertical (if you do this you need to be extra careful to keep the legs away from the center).

I stay away from bolding, curling, etc. just because I've not found it helps much, and it slows me down.

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  • $\begingroup$ I don't think that I saw boldface script Hebrew letters written by hand in recent memory. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jun 22 '15 at 21:34
  • $\begingroup$ I've seen blackboard bold (the double-lining), or the side of the chalk, used for the main line of the $\aleph$; I didn't like it very much. $\endgroup$ – Noah Schweber Jun 22 '15 at 21:45
  • $\begingroup$ Sounds quite bad. But I'll be willing to accept all the bad $\aleph$ typography in the world, if people will start pronouncing "Neeman", "Magidor" and more importantly "Shelah" properly! :-) $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jun 22 '15 at 21:45


Minute 1:05, I think you need a special pen for writing in paper, but I think you will be able to do it with a chalk.

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