Introducing the art of Arabic, Ottoman, & Persian calligraphy


(Pronounced “nask”; Turkish–Nesih)


  • “Naskh” is derived from the verb “nasakha,” meaning “to transcribe or copy”


  • Naskh eventually replaced Kufic as the script of choice for the Qur’an; now more Qur’ans are written in Naskh than in all other scripts combined
  • Popular for writing books because of its legibility
  • Adapted for printing, it is still the most common font in printed Arabic

Companion script

  • Thuluth is the larger script often used in conjunction with naskh


  • Developed in the 10th century
  • Refined by Şeyh Hamdullah in the 15th century
  • Still in use today

Distinctive characteristics

  • Small script, neat and balanced
  • Letter shapes are more fluid and curved than rayhani
  • Letters lean slightly to the left
  • Descending letters end in an upward hook
  • Equal division between flat and round shapes and heavy and light strokes
  • Highly legible, clear and quick to write


  • Called the “servant of the Qur’an” because it is used so often for copying this holy book
  • Because the letter shapes in naskh are based on different proportions than the other scripts, it is hard to learn to write naskh well
Book of Prayers
Naskh script. Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.
Folio from a Qur’an, Sura 9:36-38
Naskh script. Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.
Eid blessings
Naskh script. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, African and Middle Eastern Division.
Detached folio from a Qur’an, Sura 12:31-34, 57-62
Naskh script. Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.

Image gallery

View the full naskh image gallery