This sounds like a silly question, but our teacher said it should be 2) in the image below:

enter image description here

She said 1) is wrong! I almost fell off my chair. I've never seen it printed with the strokes. Not in novels, nor papers or magazines, nor textbooks, never. She tried to convince me (unsuccessfully) that this was because computer and typewriter fonts have dots for an umlaut instead of the strokes. IMO that's no explanation at all: if they really want strokes there is nothing that stops them from designing such a font, right? So now I'm confused, which should it be: dots or strokes?

  • 3
    There is no authority that defines what letters and handwriting have to look like. There are only some predefined handwriting forms taught in elementary schools, called Ausgangsschriften, who already contain in their name that they are not mandatory, but the basic (Ausgang) from which children should develop their own handwriting. And even amoung those you can find both variants of umlauts. The same holds for adults’ handwriting.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Nov 21, 2013 at 17:18
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    On a side-note: Am I seeing a non-German "one" there? tztztz.
    – npst
    Commented Nov 21, 2013 at 19:03
  • 1
    À propos de nothing: Erdős.
    – Carsten S
    Commented Nov 21, 2013 at 21:43
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    "Wrong" is a pretty harsh statement, if not ridiculous. Though in cursive I prefer strokes too because they fit better in the "writing flow."
    – splattne
    Commented Nov 22, 2013 at 8:01

3 Answers 3


We are probably talking about then handwriting as it is taught to children in school.

Before 1970

When I was at school we were taught the "Lateinische Ausgangsschrift" where we had to make strokes on the letters as shown below:

enter image description here Source: Wikipedia

This was mainly done from historic reasons. The school handwritings derived from Sütterlin, and the "Deutsche Normschrift" of the Fourties. Both had strokes too. In addition they may have been considered to be better visible than dots when written with an ink pen, a pencil, or a stylus on a board.

Later and today

Starting from the Seventies pupils had to learn another handwriting, the "Vereinfachte Ausgangsschrift" where the strokes were replaced by dots:

enter image description here Source: Wikipedia

None of these variants are right or wrong, because we do not have any rules on our individual handwriting. But whenever you see people writing strokes rather than dots they may have been educated prior to the Seventies.

  • 2
    Die Grundschulen in meinem Umkreis lehren heute immer noch das Schreiben mit Strichen. Zwar langsamer, aber wahrscheinlich weniger fehlerbehaftet zu produzieren.
    – äüö
    Commented Nov 21, 2013 at 20:16
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    Ich bezweifle, dass es langsamer ist, Striche zu setzen. Ich persönliche finde, dass das Schreiben flüssiger wird, wenn man Striche verwendet.
    – splattne
    Commented Nov 22, 2013 at 8:31
  • Was einem da lieber ist, dürfte wohl auch sehr stark am Schreibgerät liegen: Auf einer Schiefertafel des 19./frühen 20. Jahrhunderts konnte man keine sinnvoll lesbaren "Pünktchen" fabrizieren, weil der Griffel nur schreibt, wenn er einen Weg zurücklegt.
    – tofro
    Commented Oct 18, 2016 at 16:58


The umlaut diacritic, consisting of two dots above the vowel [...]

Here are the new and old notation of umlauted vowels:

enter image description here

Also worth reading: Diaeresis (diacritic):

[...] umlaut is a diacritic that consists of two dots ( ¨ ) placed over a letter [...]

When it comes to handwriting:

In modern handwriting, the umlaut sometimes resembles a tilde, quotation mark, dash, miniature u or other small mark.

So there are a lot of possibilities to "write" umlauts, none of them I would consider wrong.

  • Thanks. But if you write it, do you write dots or strokes?
    – stevenvh
    Commented Nov 21, 2013 at 17:01
  • @stevenvh I think everyone who knows what umlauts are, will know what you mean. I personally have never seen the strokes before.
    – Baz
    Commented Nov 21, 2013 at 17:01
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    @Baz: The strokes are actually partially explained by your answer, because writing the small e over the vowel fast looked like two strokes and developed into the strokes (which are very common for people who learned Sütterlin, i.e. older people today) and finally became the dots. Commented Nov 22, 2013 at 10:41
  • @stevenvh: If it helps you, I write dots ;) Commented Nov 22, 2013 at 10:42

I've never heard anyone claim that adding dots to form an umlaut is wrong.

There are however various ways to mark an umlaut. Especially in handwriting those dots form little lines or even one contiguous horizontal line, because it's hard to place dots properly when your arm is in movement.

You definitly won't raise any eyebrows when using dashes instead of dots, but dots are the "official" thing.

I just remembered that in the 1000 year old handwriting Sütterlin the umlauts are formed wih a little n-like notation and assume that those notations maybe transformed to vertical lines over time.


But still, dots are never wrong.


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