For the alphabet used to write the Latin language, see Latin alphabet.

The Latin script is the most widely-used script in the world. Current versions are based on the writing system of Ancient Rome, originally used to record the Latin language. Since the Middle Ages it has spread through colonization to the Americas, Africa and Southeast Asia.


Areas where the Latin alphabet is most commonly used.


The Roman Empire spread the alphabet throughout Western Europe, which later also spread to northern and central Europe as a result of Latin being the international language of learning.

During the Middle Ages, the alphabet took on a form similar to present-day. While the majority of people were illiterate, monks in monasteries and other literate people developed cursive and lowercase forms of letters.

With the invention of the printing press, letters became more standardized in appearance. Originally print letters were based to look like handwritten ones, with typefaces like Antiqua and Fraktur. Antiqua was a typeface more popular in the Latin world, while Fraktur was most widely used in Germanic areas. By the 18th century, both lowercase and uppercase forms of letters had essentially reached their modern forms, and typewritten letters diverged from handwritten forms.

With their colonial ambitions, the Western European nations took their writing systems with them. Nowadays, virtually every part of the globe that was colonized by Western Europeans still uses the Latin alphabet. This includes the Americas, Sub-Saharan Africa, Australia and Indonesia.

Sans-serif fonts became widespread in the 20th century, and the overall shapes of letters were widely simplified. In addition, by this time, literacy had increased to the point of being near-universal in industrialized nations; systems of education were in place to essentially preserve the letter forms of the late 1800's well into the present day.


The Latin alphabet is the most widespread and widely-used in the world. It is by far the most widely-used writing system in the Americas, and is used in Western and Central Europe. It is used somewhat in Eastern Europe, although the Cyrillic alphabet is predominant in many areas.

Different languages have adapted the Latin alphabet differently to suit their needs. This is mainly through the use of accent marks and diacritics, although in some cases entirely new letters are added.


English Alphabet

The English alphabet, with uppercase and lowercase forms.