Russian Cursive Alphabet and All of its Secrets


Even though I’ve been living in Moscow for almost 9 years now, I must admit that every time I need to read Russian handwriting (that is Russian cursive) I broke into a sweat.

Oddly enough, when it comes to writing Russian cursive, I feel very confident and have no problems at all.

So where do these difficulties in reading Cyrillic cursive come from? Why is Russian cursive so scary and what should you do to improve your Russian handwriting skills?

Let’s figure this out!

Examples of Russian cursive writing

Курсив (cursive in Russian) is the alphabet Russians commonly use to write by hand and it has many “faces”. It looks like this:

russian cursive

… or like this …

russian cursive

… and even like this!

russian handwriting

I could keep going, but I’m sure you got the message.

The origins of Russian handwriting

I have my very own theory about the origin of Russian handwriting and its transformation into the monstrosity we have witnessed in the picture above.

In the ’70s, in the schools of the Soviet Union, the children were taught чистописание (clean writing) and teachers used to evaluate and correct the children’s почерк (calligraphy) on a daily basis.

The letters of the Russian cursive alphabet had to be clear, clean and uniform, perfectly connected to one another and with the same sloping degree.

Ah…. the good old days.

Contemporary teaching methods are very different from the Soviet ones (as far as I know, Soviet teacher were just as strict as you can imagine).

Today, the lack of attention to Russian handwriting caused the beautifully sloping letters of Russian cursive to change into the hot mess you saw in the images above.

russian cursive
Photo credit: TASS

When do you need to know Russian cursive?

If you are interested in Russia only as a destination for your vacation, I have good news for you!

In fact, the Cyrillic cursive alphabet is mainly used for handwriting and it is really unlikely that you’ll need to know and understand it during a vacation. Most menus, street and shop signs and directions are block letters and thus MUCH easier to read.

But if you are studying Russian or want to start a new life in Russia, I’m afraid you’ll have to master Russian handwriting.

Cyrillic cursive table

For you, I created this table of the Cyrillic cursive alphabet featuring both lowercase and uppercase letters, and also the transliteration (just in case)!

When I was a student, I remember being afraid of Russian handwriting. Now I realize that there are three main “anomalies” you have to focus on:

The lowercase “Г”, which for some reason “turns” with respect to the capital letter and the block letters ones.

The lowercase “Д”, which changes completely and turns into what we know being a “g”.

The letter “Т”, both capital and lowercase, which becomes our “m”.

I highly recommend you to get used to Russian cursive as soon as you can, because once you’ve mastered it, you’ll notice how fast and handy it is.

Does this solve the problem?

No, it doesn’t.

And get over it. After all, books and newspapers use block letters and so do smartphones and computers.

You may need to read a заявлениe every now and then (declaration, a word that is often used in Russian for any request or handwritten document) and, at most, a few greeting cards. That’s is.

By the way, as I wrote before tech devices use block letters by default. Obviously, you can change the font into italic in Word and PowerPoint by simply selecting the “c” option as for Latin letters, but the result is not that of a Russian handwritten text.

If for some reason you want to achieve the “handwritten” effect on graphics software such as Illustrator and Photoshop, you will need to use a Russian cursive handwritten font.

They are quite easy to find online: just google or even better “yandex” (the Russian Google) “рукописный шрифт” (handwritten font). If you don’t feel like it, click here to find some Cyrillic handwritten fonts.

Choose the one you like best and click on скачать (download)!

Have a look at these posts!

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2 thoughts on “Russian Cursive Alphabet and All of its Secrets

  1. Russian cursive I write well, reading Russian cursive, like you I find, is a nightmare. Sometimes I mistakenly use a T or d, and my friends take delight in correcting me. 50 years later I think speech to text on the mobile is making us all lazy.

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