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As noted in the Estrangela lessons, for some letters there is little or no distinction between Estrangela and Serto, even in early Estrangela manuscripts. Some of the early Serto manuscripts here exhibit some mixtures of Estrangela and Serto forms. By the thirteenth century, however, we reach a relatively stable ensemble of standard Serto shapes.

Basic Characteristics

The letters bēt, gāmal, ṭēt (rounded at the bottom, but still angled at the top), mim, and qop are round in typical Serto, where their Estrangela (and, except for mim, East Syriac) counterparts are angular.

In addition, the following typical Serto letterforms may be singled out:
  • essentially a vertical line, but at word-end the top often tends to the right, except when following lāmad, when it is either straight or angling in the opposite direction
  • round at the bottom, not pointed as in Estrangela; often hangs very low
dālat / rēš
  • a curved, comma-like shape that may or may not hang a little below the baseline
  • a vertical on the right may join the loop from the top of that line (as in East Syriac), or lower down
  • a circle
  • final form with two parallel left-sloping lines
  • a closed loop sitting low on the line
  • when joined to previous letter, a triangular shape with a curved line at the bottom, the triangle not closed; when not joined to previous letter, it is a similar shape, but without the right leg of that triangle