The alphabet is one of the most common sources for tattoos, especially alphabets different from the conventional Roman alphabet used in most European languages. While Roman alphabets can vary in fonts, styles and scripts from the simple to the fancy, non-Western alphabets are often alluring because of their inscrutability. Chinese characters and Japanese kanji are all popular choices for alphabetic tattoos because they're refreshingly foreign. Outside of Chinese and Japanese alphabets, there are a wealth of options, from Arabic and Hindi to ancient alphabets like Arcadian or Sumerian. There are many different ideas for word tattoos, using many different languages, so that word tattoos can mean nearly anything their designers want them to.
- Typographical styles can be simple or intricate, depending on personal taste. - Lettered tattoos are primarily for people who want to convey a direct message or make an homage to a piece of written art.
Many lettered tattoos depict a quote (from literature, for instance, or something inspiring) or the name of a loved one, but some picture letters just for their own sake—the entire alphabet, for instance, is a design that suggests a love of letters and words in and of itself. Punctuation marks are also used as standalone designs. In general, people who want lettered tattoos want to display words with great personal meaning or express a love of letters.