French Roundhand

Certificate Course

French Roundhand marries the strength of text with the flow and elegance of script. This unique and beautiful hand is an 20th century American adaptation of the 17th century French Ronde.

Learn to produce an easy, systematic, and legible hand. French Roundhand is a wonderful first exposure to the broad pen and provides students with many of the building blocks to branch into other areas of American pen art.

Dear Students: This is an example of the style you will learn in the French Roundhand program. With hope that you will join us this year, I am, Your eager instructor, D. T. Grimes

The Curriculum

This course is designed to provide you with the ability to use French Roundhand with confidence and enthusiasm. Modules consist of videos, essays, and diagrams covering all of the information needed to set you up with successful French Roundhand. The syllabus for French Roundhand I is outlined below.

French Roundhand I — syllabus

Section 1. Introducing The Principal Strokes

What are the five Principal Strokes of French Roundhand.

Most calligraphic scripts can be broken down into their principal elements. These elements can then be repeated and combined to form all of the letters present in the hand. French Roundhand is no different! In this section, we cover the Five Principal Strokes of French Roundhand and build a strong foundation for our letter assembly in later sections.

Section 2. Minuscule Group #1 (PS#1-5)

Which are the easiest minuscule letters?

After establishing that all letterforms are comprised of principal elements, and learning those elements in isolation, we are prepared to begin constructing the most basic letterforms. In this section, we learn the letters: i, u, n, m, w, v, o, c, e, a, and r.

Section 3. Minuscule Group #2 (Extractions)

What about letters that have strokes other than the Principal Strokes?

Thinking of strokes as the most basic building block of any script is a bit short-sighted. In this lesson, we learn to look deeper than the strokes to extract singular techniques used to create them. Then, using our common sense, we can apply these techniques and our working knowledge of the broad pen to produce any stroke we see with skill and ease.

Section 4. Word Assembly

What’s in a word?

Well, letters, of course! But also strokes and the individual pen techniques that make up the strokes! By thinking about calligraphy in the modular way that we think about chemistry, we can take complicated things (words) and break them down into their basic elements (strokes, or techniques.) In this lesson, we will look at some basic ideas surrounding Word Assembly so that we can put the letters we learned in the previous sections into action.

Section 5. Majuscule Groups #1

What are the first majuscule (capital) forms I should learn?

Majuscule letterforms are a bit less common than their minuscule counterparts. Did you know that only between 2-4% of the letters we use when composing sentences are majuscules at all? It makes sense to spend the majority of our effort on the minimum letters, but no comprehensive course would be complete without exploring the majuscules as well. In this section we will cover the letterforms: I, J, H, K, T, F, Z, P, B, R, O, Q, A, and C.

Section 6. Majuscule Groups #2

What about the rest of the majuscules?

I break the forms up across two weeks so that we have more time to digest and practice them. In this section we will cover the remaining majuscules: N, M, X, U, V, W, Y, E, S, G, D, and L.

Section 7. Process Development

Can I use French Roundhand in a project?

One of the things that I believe is the most valuable experience to new penmen is the act of engaging in projects that use the skills being practiced. In this section, we will tackle a couple of pages from a make-believe Resolution Album. This is a fun collaboration between you and I as student and teacher, and it will force you to investigate some common problem-solving techniques to wrap us successfully.

Section 6. The Path to Competency

What are my next steps?

This section concludes our adventure together on a weekly basis, but is only the beginning of your year-long investigation of this beautiful script. In this section we will revisit your goals outlined at the beginning of the course to see if you accomplished them. Then, you can complete the Final Quiz and determine if you want to pursue a Certificate of Merit.

As you can see, the curriculum above covers a lot of ground. Want to take a look at an actual lesson from the course? Take a peek at the lesson on the majuscule D and L.

French Roundhand samples by David Grimes

Course Details

The French Roundhand Course is a Certificate Course. It is designed to be completed alongside classmates in a cohort-style experience.

With registration, you gain online access to the curriculum outlined above for one year from the date of your registration, and access to a Community Forum where you can share your work with other Dreamers.

French Roundhand by Charles Norder

(above) A handsome page of French Roundhand by Charles Norder from The Zanerian Manual. Analyzing historic samples is a core part of every DIS program.

Course Duration

This course is released in weekly sections and takes roughly 8 weeks to complete. Students should expect to spend between 2-5 hours each week working through materials and practicing if they intend to complete the course in 8 weeks. Lessons consist of pre-recorded videos, diagrams, and essays.

Required Materials

To participate in the lessons of this course, you’ll need:

Certificate Printing Fee

A printing and shipping fee of $40 USD (plus tax) will be issued to students who complete this course and pursue a Certificate of Merit. Non-US students are required to use a US-based shipping forwarding service of their choice to receive their shipments, which adds some extra cost.

The DIS Certificate in French Roundhand

Technology Notice

You are responsible for the technical side of accessing DIS and will occasionally need to research and solve problems with your devices. You are the first line of defense in your own technical support. This course is accessible through smartphone or tablet, but a desktop computer is recommended for the best experience. Please understand that is a fully online course that requires you to interact with digital technology.

Members of the DIS Community


With students from all walks of life, the DIS community is filled with some pretty incredible people working towards amazing calligraphic skills. I’m extremely proud to have an abundance of supportive students who have endorsed the programs.

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Enrollment Details

Enrollment for the 2024 French Roundhand Program begins September 1st, 2024.

The enrollment fee for the 2024 program is $395.00 USD. Sign up below to get updates and receive a special price when you register on opening day.

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