I have a formula in a paper that I want to write out by hand, and it contains two "D"s, a normal D, $D$ in latex, and a 'mathcal', caligraphic D, $\mathcal{D}$ in latex.

What are some common/standard/convenient ways to write out a mathcal D by hand, so that it is obviously different from a 'normal' D?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I would write $D$ in the same way which you use in handwriting when text consists only of capital letters, such as here. And for $\mathcal D$ I would use the usual way for handwritten capital $D$, such as here. $\endgroup$ Nov 13 '12 at 9:22
  • $\begingroup$ @martin, your second link 4.bp.blogspot.com/_kmwlCU4Gz0A/TJtqjxkrGTI/AAAAAAAAAAc/… is very useful. If you put that as an answer, I will mark that as accepted (well, unless anyone comes up with anything even better of course!) $\endgroup$ Nov 13 '12 at 9:37
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ If you really want a step-by-step guide, see this page. $\endgroup$
    – user642796
    Nov 13 '12 at 9:53
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ While not strictly on-topic here, this is an interesting math-related question and there are no other SE sites to which this could be migrated. $\endgroup$
    – robjohn
    Nov 13 '12 at 10:01
  • $\begingroup$ @robjohn: Perhaps it would belong on the Mathematics Educators site. See matheducators.stackexchange.com/questions/4427/… and matheducators.stackexchange.com/questions/41/…. $\endgroup$
    – J W
    Sep 19 '14 at 17:52

You can try to imitate my calligraphy, follow the one in the other answers or develop your own. enter image description here



enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ This is super cool! $\endgroup$ Nov 13 '12 at 12:07
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Yup, and bonus points for also providing blackboard bold. $\endgroup$ Nov 13 '12 at 14:57
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks a lot! I think that beautiful handwriting is fundamental to enjoy studying one's notes. $\endgroup$ Nov 13 '12 at 16:00
  • $\begingroup$ This is just amazing! Thanks Javier, this answer should get lots of up-votes!! $\endgroup$
    – Mike D.
    Nov 13 '12 at 17:30

Per OP's request I'm posting my comment as an answer.

I would write $D$ in the same way which you use in handwriting when text consists only of capital letters (resembling $\mathrm{D}$), such as in the following picture, which I downloaded from here enter image description here

And for $\mathcal D$ I would use the usual way for handwritten capital $D$, such as in the following picture, which I found here. enter image description here


To give a slightly flippant answer: put an extra loop somewhere. It doesn't really matter where you put the loop, a loop is necessary and sufficient for your audience to think it's calligraphic.


How curious; when I was younger lots of people were struggling to find a way to get the things they knew how to write on paper or on the blackboard into print in a recognisable way, now it is the other way around. Anyway, in writing there is no absolute uniformity and different people write the same thing in many different ways (when I started teaching in France, I had to get used to the fact that students here write $z$ in a way that to me looks perfectly like a $y$, but they write $y$ just a tad differently). Just make sure you write your $\mathcal D$ in a way that looks "handwritten" and somewhat resembles a "D", but sufficiently different from how you write $D$ (and much depends on what that is). Personally I tend to make a little loop at the bottom left of $\mathcal D$ to suggest it is written in one continued stroke (which is indeed they way I write it), while $D$ has two separate strokes.


I got this from my Topology professor:

For letters with a leading vertical line, make a mathcal with a prominent down-stroke. Start at the top of the line, go down in an arc, then come up to the left, so the vertical line of the D is kind of an elongated oval instead of a line. Then complete the D normally. Add some flourishes strategically to make it clear what letter it is, that part will vary with your individual handwriting; just practice a bit until it looks right.

This works for D, P, R, K, B, M, and N really well. It also kind of works for E, F, and T.


$\mathcal{D}$ is calligraphic, not gothic. $\mathfrak{D}$ is gothic. I learned to write calligraphic letters when I was 6 or 7 years old, but it is very common to switch to "normal" upper-case letters when growing up. I suggest you should look for your old exercise book :-)

  • $\begingroup$ Edited the question to change 'gothic' to caligraphic. $\endgroup$ Nov 13 '12 at 8:58

Although you say two dees, you actually specify three: roman, italic, and calligraphic. I write roman letters (in mathematics) in a boxy upright angular style, with serifs where possible; italic letters are written in my natural style; and script or calligraphic letters are decorated with twirly or looped ends.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.