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What is the proper way to write an Eszett on paper with a pen? In English we are told to start letters at the top, but the ß only has ends at the bottom, so what is the proper way to draw the letter?

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up vote 23 down vote accepted

In German there is not a single "proper" way to write letters in handwriting. There are regional variations (see here for details).

For schools in Germany there are federal regulations that define how pupils learn to write. Most widely used are the "Lateinische Ausgangsschrift" and the "Vereinfachte Ausgangsschrift". In these the letter 'ß' is written as follows:

"Vereinfachte Ausgangsschrift":

enter image description here

"Lateinische Ausgangsschrift":

enter image description here

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What is the english word for 'Unterlänge'? Upvoting for the underlength! :) – user unknown Jul 14 '11 at 1:48
If "Unterlänge" means the part of a letter which extends below the line, you use "descender" in English. – Stovner Jul 14 '11 at 8:15
Maybe it's worth noting that ß does not have an uppercase form. Instead it's substituted with SZ. Edit: Whoops, obviously I'm not up-to-date about that. – Bobby Jul 15 '11 at 14:31

A picture is worth a thousand words:

scharfes S ß how to write

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I hate it when my customers say that, because it means they didn't understand what I wrote. But +1 for the answer ;) – OregonGhost Jul 13 '11 at 8:39
@OregonGhost I don't get it. Could you draw a diagram please? ;-) – splattne Jul 13 '11 at 8:40
Yes, and I will make it direktorensicher. – OregonGhost Jul 13 '11 at 8:44
The first one looks like a capital B, no 'Unterlänge'. No + from me. :( – user unknown Jul 14 '11 at 1:51
@user_unknown: The first word is written in blockletters ("Druckschrift"). No "Unterlänge" required in a blockletter ß. – splattne Jul 14 '11 at 6:08
  |  \
  |   )
/||  <,
 ||   )
.||..'..............the line...

Somehow like that. It depends - as always - how the previous letter ended, and what the next letter is.

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I just write it like my greek beta

|  \
|   )
|  3
|  \
|   )
|  4

There are some people writing it with an upstroke (quite similar to user unknowns proposal) like that: ß (sz) stroke order taken from WikiBooks German

Other variants, which are no more/not yet teached in Germany, are from the Schulausgangsschrift (left) and the proposed Grundschrift (right)

ß (sz) Schulausgangsschrift and Grundschrift

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