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8 Tips to Improve Your Handwriting (Plus a Free Worksheet)
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In this article, you’ll find eight tips for producing neat and confident penmanship. You can also download a free cursive worksheet to improve your handwriting! Did you know: TPK offers a comprehensive handwriting improvement online course. You can learn more by clicking here.
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People often assume that calligraphy and handwriting are synonymous, but they’re not. In general, calligraphy is comprised of stylized, embellished letters — it’s more art than writing. Conversely, handwriting refers to the style and technique that you use for everyday jotting. Handwriting needs to be quicker and more casual than calligraphy. While everyone has their own personal handwriting style, there’s always room for improvement! In this article, you’ll find eight tips to help you improve your handwriting in video and written form — plus a free worksheet.
How to Improve Your Handwriting: The Video
Let’s have a little chat about how to improve your handwriting! You’re invited into my snowy sunroom to talk about all the different ways you can make your penmanship a bit better:
How to Improve Your Handwriting: The Article
1. use a nice pen.
The adjective “nice” is subjective — you’ll have to hunt to find the pen that works for you! Right now, I’m loving Muji 0.38 mm pens because they’re responsive and write such a fine line. I like Sakura Gelly Roll white pens for writing on dark papers. Keep in mind that preferences change, though, and there’s always a new pen or pencil to discover.
Handwriting purists tend to love fountain pens, and I happily agree that my Pilot Falcon is fabulous. But, don’t be fooled into thinking that a pen will magically transform your handwriting. Yes, a nice pen helps, but it’s not the be-all, end-all of pretty penmanship.
2. Maintain a Relaxed Grip
A relaxed, fairly loose grip is one of the main things that will improve your handwriting. None of the muscles in your hand should feel tense or flexed, and your fingernails shouldn’t be white from squeezing the pen’s barrel.
Many people tend to clutch the pen, which will result in an achy hand and shaky writing. We often clutch without realizing we’re doing it, so try to mentally check yourself every few minutes to make sure you’re still holding the pen comfortably.
3. Improve Your Handwriting With Drills
Whether you plan on writing in cursive or print, it can be difficult to form nice letters without warming up. Doing a couple of simple drills will help you to write clear, confident characters. You can use the Drills section of the Improve Your Cursive Worksheet …
… Or you can doodle a few “telephone wires” or similar forms.
If you’re interested in additional drills, the Improve Your Handwriting Online Course features several helpful exercises! Handwriting drills tend to be simple but mighty, and the more you do them, the more of a difference you’ll notice.
ENROLL IN THE IMPROVE YOUR HANDWRITING ONLINE COURSE
4. Experiment with Paper Rotations
As children, we are generally taught to keep our paper in a vertical position in front of us. If that works for you, great! If not, feel free to experiment with different paper rotations. Keeping the paper at a certain angle can go a long way in helping you to improve your handwriting!
Many right-handed people are fine with the traditional vertical paper position, but I’m not one of them. I have always found it easier to write — particularly in cursive– when my paper has a severe counterclockwise rotation. Lefties should try rotating their paper clockwise. For clarification, see my How to Improve Your Handwriting video .
5. Practice with a Worksheet
If you want a structured way to improve your handwriting, I made a free worksheet for you! It’s three pages long and focuses on cursive writing — you can download it by clicking here . Basically, the worksheet takes you through drills, capital and lowercase letters, words, and sentences.
The cursive writing featured in the worksheet set isn’t any sort of formal style. Instead, it focuses on the letterforms that I, personally, use in everyday cursive handwriting. Those letters are easy to create, and they connect to each other beautifully to make for quick writing. For intensive exercises and instructions over how to write vintage-style cursive, check out TPK’s Elegant Cursive Handwriting Worksheet . It’s a fabulous investment if you want to infuse your penmanship with sophistication.
Here’s a list of all the structured handwriting worksheets and instructions that TPK has to offer:
- Improve Your Cursive Worksheet Set – A free worksheet with helpful practice opportunities
- Grammy’s Handwriting Exemplar – A free worksheet that offers letterforms based on my grandmother’s beautiful handwriting
- Learn Cursive Worksheet for Kids (and Adults!) – A worksheet that teaches you how to write in cursive with the help of this free supplementary course
- Elegant Cursive Handwriting Worksheet – A detailed worksheet set that teaches you how to write in elegant, vintage-style penmanship
6. Sneak in Practice to Improve Your Handwriting
Just like anything else, you will improve your handwriting with use. The more you write using good habits and implementing styles that appeal to you, the better your handwriting will get.
You can get practice through a number of ways — for example, you might send someone a hand-written letter in place of an email or text. If you have the time and interest, you can start writing in a journal every night. Entries don’t have to be long; they can be short accounts of how your day went!
7. Write on Lined Paper or Use a Template
Writing nice, balanced words are a big shortcut to neat handwriting! If you want to write a letter to someone, you can put a piece of notebook paper under printer paper. More than likely, you’ll be able to see the notebook paper lines through the printer paper, and you can use those lines as guidelines for even writing. Or, if you don’t mind the lines, you can write someone a letter directly on notebook paper.
This point reminds me of another tip: always use a “padding” piece of paper. No matter what piece of paper you’re writing on, it should always have another piece of paper under it. For some reason, the slightly cushier surface provided by two pieces of paper makes it easier for all pens to write!
8. Embrace Your Personal Style
Handwriting is a very fluid, personal thing that is always evolving. It’s not like calligraphy, where you more or less write the same every time. Instead, you’ll have neat days, and you’ll have not-so-neat days (like the notes pictured below).
No matter how your handwriting looks, it is a wonderful reflection of you and your mood. That’s why people love receiving handwritten notes: they represent a piece of you! So, don’t get too hung up on a radical change: instead, focus on making clearly formed alphabet characters that are clear and legible.
I hope that you enjoyed this article, and that it inspires you to ditch the keyboard and write something by hand this weekend! Don’t forget that you can download the Improve Your Cursive Worksheet for free if you want a cursive refresher. It’s not a complicated little worksheet, and it should be helpful.
Thanks very, very much for reading TPK, and enjoy the rest of your day!
This article was first posted in March of 2017. It has been updated to include new photos, a freshly-filmed video, and additional resources.
*This post contains affiliate links to Amazon
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10 Easy Ways to Improve Your Handwriting
by Ryan Hart | Updated on February 14, 2019 | Post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
In this post you’re going to learn easy ways to improve your handwriting. If you follow these tips you’ll have perfect penmanship in no time.
I used these same tips to make my handwriting better in just a matter of days.
Ready to learn how to write neatly?
Let’s get started!
Use a Nice Pen
The first step in learning how to write nicely is to use a nice pen. No, it does not need to be an expensive or rare pen, just high quality.
Nice pens help improve your handwriting because they have more consistent ink flow and offer more control. However, there is not one perfect pen. You will need to experiment with a few until you find one that feels good in your hand and gives you the consistency to create identical letters every time.
Consider experimenting with ball point, fountain or fineliners at first. Each pen style will produce a different line thickness and give you a different feel.
Learn Correct Pen Grip
At this point in your life you probably don’t even give a second thought to how you hold your pen. But the experts agree that there are really only one or two correct ways to hold a pen.
The primary way is to hold the pen between your thumb and index finger with the body of the pen resting on your middle finger.
The next most common way is to hold the pen between your thumb and both the index and middle finger with the pen resting against your ring finger.
Whether you decide to change your pen grip or not, the most important thing is to hold the pen lightly. Your hand should be relaxed and comfortable with no tension.
Use Your Wrist and Arm
There are two main types of writers: those that write with their fingers and those that write with their forearm and shoulder. Your fingers should be used as a guide rather than to draw the letters.
If when you are writing for an extended period of time and your hand starts to get tired, then you know you are a “finger” writer. Using your shoulder and forearm will be much less tiring and give you a more consistent handwriting style.
To improve your handwriting focus on keeping your forearm, wrist, and fingers still and let your arm and shoulder move the pen.
As you are writing move the paper away from you as you move down the page. Do not move your hand into an uncomfortable position that will affect your handwriting.
Maintain Good Posture
When you are writing in your notebook or bullet journal it is important to be in a comfortable position and maintain good posture. Try to sit up straight and avoid hunching over your paper.
You should be able to move your arm and shoulder freely without anything on your desk getting in your way.
Having perfect posture can improve your handwriting, but staying relaxed and comfortable in your chair will yield the greatest results.
Take Your Time to Improve Penmanship
During my first year of architecture school we were required to hand draft all of our presentation drawings, or “blueprints” as some might call them. That means we were required to draw our floorplans by hand with lead holders rather than using a computer program and printer.
After we spent dozens of hours working on one drawing, the last step was to title the board.
Our professor encouraged us to just think about just one letter at a time to avoid making a critical mistake at the last minute. So if I was writing the word “FLOOR PLAN” my professor told me to say the letter “F” out loud as I was writing the first letter. Then “L,” “O,” “O,” “R,” etc.
Sure, I probably sounded ridiculous sounding my letters out loud, but this was an incredibly easy way to improve my handwriting. I suggest following a similar process if you want better handwriting as well.
As you write, think about or say each letter out loud. Focus on writing each letter as neatly as possible. Over time you will be able to write faster and still maintain your perfect handwriting. But in the beginning, taking your time will help you dramatically improve your handwriting.
Use Lined Paper
If you open a blank notebook or bullet journal and start writing, you are going to have less control over your handwriting than if you used lined paper.
Handwriting looks neat when lines of words are properly aligned and is consistent across the page. If you are trying to improve your handwriting the first step is to use lined paper.
In the event you need to write on a blank piece of paper, put a piece of notebook paper underneath to give you a guide or draw lines lightly with a pencil that can be erased when you are finished.
Use Proper Spacing to Write Neatly
What’s the difference between good handwriting and perfect penmanship?
The answer is proper letter spacing and alignment!
Each letter must be the same size and equal width apart. When writing in cursive your letters should maintain the same angle at all times.
When printing your letters respect the space above and below the letters when writing “g” or “t” or other tall letters. Do not let your letters touch the row above it and mainain a clean white space between lines.
Practice Each Letter of the Alphabet
If you want to make your handwriting better, you should practice writing each letter of the alphabet.
Yes, practicing your letters seems like something your third grade teacher might tell you. But I’m here to remind you that prefect handwriting is the result of deliberate practice.
Print out worksheets you find online or dedicate a few pages in your bullet journal just to practicing your letters.
Stick With One Style of Handwriting
One mistake I’ve made in the past when trying to improve my penmanship was constantly changing my handwriting style.
I would switch from cursive to printing and then to a lazy combination of both. It was like I was having a handwriting identity crisis.
I even experimented with different signatures!
Please don’t make this same mistake.
Pick one style of handwriting and continue to practice until it’s perfect. Then, if you are feeling abitious, you can move on to mastering calligraphy or other forms of handlettering.
Get Inspired By Pretty Handwriting
If there’s one thing I’ve learned on my journey to improve my handwriting, it’s that I’m my own worst critic. If you’re anything like me, there’s hope.
To avoid becoming discouraged with my handwriting I started looking for inspiration online. My handwriting wasn’t horrible to begin with but I knew it could be better. So I started searching for images of handwriting that I liked, but was still similar to mine.
These images gave me ideas on how to improve my current handwriting without having to change my handwriting completely. Then, I was able to focus just on improving the parts of my penmanship that were less than perfect and leave the good parts.
Now It's Your Turn
And now I’d like to hear from you.
Do you have neat handwriting?
Why do you want to improve your handwriting?
Either way let me know by writing a comment below right now.
Ryan Hart is a certified relationship coach and writer. His mission is to help make connections between people better, stronger, more meaningful, and longer lasting using technology.
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How to Teach Handwriting—and Why It Matters
Teaching young students how to write by hand before moving on to keyboarding can help improve their reading fluency as well.
Technology is an undeniable fact of everyday life and can support students’ learning. But there are limits to that: Completely replacing handwriting instruction with keyboarding instruction in elementary school can be detrimental to students’ literacy acquisition. Why are handwriting and letter formation so important?
Research has demonstrated a correlation between letter-naming and letter-writing fluency, and a relationship between letter-naming fluency and successful reading development. There’s a strong connection between the hand and the neural circuitry of the brain—as students learn to better write the critical features of letters, they also learn to recognize them more fluently . This recognition of letters leads to greater letter-writing fluency, which leads to greater overall reading development.
In an article summarizing several studies on handwriting and learning , the writer Maria Konnikova notes, “Not only do we learn letters better when we commit them to memory through writing, memory and learning ability in general may benefit.” When students write letters manually, they learn them more effectively. Switching to keyboarding before students have developed handwriting skills may reduce their ability to recognize letters. Konnikova also cites a study that found that students who wrote by hand—as opposed to on a keyboard—were able to generate more ideas. Students with better handwriting demonstrated “increased overall activation in the reading and writing networks” of the brain.
How to Teach Handwriting
Learning how to print is a developmentally appropriate first step of handwriting instruction for students in grades pre-K to 2, in terms of their fine motor skills. Handwriting instruction does not require a big time investment: Brief lessons and frequent feedback for students can be incorporated in all areas of the curriculum throughout the school day.
There are four main aspects of handwriting instruction: pencil grasp, formation, legibility, and pacing.
Pencil grasp: When it comes to how a child holds a pencil, there are correct and incorrect grasps . The correct grasps—in which the index finger and thumb hold the pencil against the middle finger—result in comfortable and efficient handwriting, while incorrect grasps can cause poor letter formation and fatigue.
A student with a poor pencil grasp may benefit from using tools such as a pencil grip or from wrapping a rubber band around the ring finger and pinkie—not too tightly!—to fold them against the hand. You can also teach the “pinch and flip” trick: The student places the pencil with the writing end facing her, pinches the pencil between the thumb and index finger, and flips the pencil into the correct position.
Formation: This refers to how a student goes about forming letters. Straight lines are easier for students to write than curved ones, so it’s developmentally appropriate to teach students to write capital letters before moving on to lowercase ones.
It’s critical that handwriting instruction be integrated with phonics instruction: As students learn how to write the letters, they should also be learning and practicing the sounds that the letters make. Handwriting and dictation activities are the cornerstone of any multisensory phonics instruction program, as requiring students to consistently practice forming the letters while connecting them to sounds will serve to better embed phonics concepts in the brain.
For students who struggle with letter formation, explicit instruction is particularly important. Students should be taught to start their letters at the top (or middle, as is the case with some lowercase letters), and use continuous strokes as much as possible. Some letters will require them to lift up their pencils, and they should be taught when to do this. Using lined paper is helpful, as is giving students a variety of visual aids: arrow cues for stroke direction, dots for starting points, dotted letters for tracing, etc. Students also benefit from “skywriting” letters—tracing letters in the air with an index finger while holding their arm straight out.
The letters b , d , p , and q are often confused by younger students. Teaching the correct formation of these letters can help diminish the confusion, as they have different starting points— b , for instance, starts from the top, whereas d starts in the middle. Internalizing the motor patterns for these letters can help make recognition more automatic.
Legibility: An important factor impacting legibility is spacing between words. It’s helpful to encourage students to use a “finger space” between words—right-handed students can put an index finger on the line after one word before writing the next one. This technique doesn’t work for left-handed students, who will benefit from using a narrow tongue depressor as a spacing tool.
Pacing: If students are using an appropriate pencil grasp and forming letters correctly, that will often solve any pacing challenges. Another factor to consider when looking at pacing is the press: Students should not be pressing the pencil down on the paper too hard as they write because doing so can lead to writing fatigue and a greatly reduced rate of letter production. But if they press too lightly, it can be a sign of weak muscles or inappropriate pencil grasp. Encourage students to write with a variety of materials (markers, short pencils, crayons, erasable markers on whiteboards) to help them adjust how hard they press.
School days are packed with instructional priorities, and it can be easy to let handwriting fall by the wayside. However, with just a few minutes a day, students’ letter formation skills can improve, leading to positive outcomes for overall literacy development.
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Hand-writing letters shown to be best technique for learning to read
Hand-writing letters more effectively teaches reading skills compared to typing and watching videos, study finds.
Credit: Getty Images
By Jill Rosen
Though writing by hand is increasingly being eclipsed by the ease of computers, a new study finds we shouldn't be so quick to throw away the pencils and paper: handwriting helps people learn certain skills surprisingly faster and significantly better than learning the same material through typing or watching videos.
"The question out there for parents and educators is why should our kids spend any time doing handwriting," says senior author Brenda Rapp , a Johns Hopkins University professor of cognitive science. "Obviously, you're going to be a better hand-writer if you practice it. But since people are handwriting less then maybe who cares? The real question is: Are there other benefits to handwriting that have to do with reading and spelling and understanding? We find there most definitely are."
The work appears in the journal Psychological Science .
Rapp and lead author Robert Wiley , a former Johns Hopkins University PhD student who is now a professor at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, conducted an experiment in which 42 people were taught the Arabic alphabet, split into three groups of learners: writers, typers, and video watchers.
Everyone learned the letters one at a time by watching videos of them being written along with hearing names and sounds. After being introduced to each letter, the three groups would attempt to learn what they just saw and heard in different ways. The video group got an on-screen flash of a letter and had to say if it was the same letter they'd just seen. The typers would have to find the letter on the keyboard. The writers had to copy the letter with pen and paper.
At the end, after as many as six sessions, everyone could recognize the letters and made few mistakes when tested. But the writing group reached this level of proficiency faster than the other groups—a few of them in just two sessions.
Next the researchers wanted to determine to what extent, if at all, the groups could generalize this new knowledge. In other words, they could all recognize the letters, but could anyone really use them like a pro, by writing with them, using them to spell new words, and using them to read unfamiliar words?
The writing group was better—decisively—in all of those things.
"The main lesson is that even though they were all good at recognizing letters, the writing training was the best at every other measure. And they required less time to get there," Wiley said.
The writing group ended up with more of the skills needed for expert adult-level reading and spelling. Wiley and Rapp say it's because handwriting reinforces the visual and aural lessons. The advantage has nothing to do with penmanship—it's that the simple act of writing by hand provides a perceptual-motor experience that unifies what is being learned about the letters (their shapes, their sounds, and their motor plans), which in turn creates richer knowledge and fuller, true learning, the team says.
"With writing, you're getting a stronger representation in your mind that lets you scaffold toward these other types of tasks that don't in any way involve handwriting," Wiley said.
Although the participants in the study were adults, Wiley and Rapp expect they'd see the same results in children. The findings have implications for classrooms, where pencils and notebooks have taken a backseat in recent years to tablets and laptops, and teaching cursive handwriting is all but extinct.
The findings also suggest that adults trying to learn a language with a different alphabet should supplement what they're learning through apps or tapes with good old-fashioned paperwork.
Wiley, for one, is making sure the kids in his life are stocked up on writing supplies.
"I have three nieces and a nephew right now and my siblings ask me should we get them crayons and pens? I say yes, let them just play with the letters and start writing them and write them all the time. I bought them all finger paint for Christmas and told them let's do letters."
Posted in Science+Technology
Tagged cognitive science , child development
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Why Does Writing by Hand Promote Better and Faster Learning?
Handwriting practice may improve literacy learning by engaging motor functions..
Posted July 9, 2021 | Reviewed by Devon Frye
- Why Education Is Important
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- Handwriting practice involves specific motor skills that are only engaged when writing by hand with a pen or pencil.
- A new "handwriting and literacy learning" study shows that writing-by-hand practice promotes faster learning than non-motor writing practice.
- The learning advantage gained by handwriting practice may be linked to the perceptual-motor experience of writing by hand.
- Cursive handwriting engages sensorimotor brain regions that are not activated by typewriting; this neural activity helps students learn better.
New research from Johns Hopkins University (JHU) suggests that handwriting practice refines fine-tuned motor skills and creates a perceptual-motor experience that appears to help adults learn generalized literacy-related skills "surprisingly faster and significantly better" than if they tried to learn the same material by typing on a keyboard or watching videos. These findings ( Wiley & Rapp, 2021 ) were published on June 29 in the peer-reviewed journal Psychological Science .
For this study, Robert Wiley and Brenda Rapp conducted a two-phase experiment involving 42 non-Arabic-speaking adults randomly divided into three groups of learners: hand-writers, typers, and video watchers.
In the experiment's first phase, each participant was taught the Arabic alphabet (i.e., abjad), which has 28 letters, using motor and non-motor learning styles depending on their group.
After six learning sessions, everyone in the video watching and type-writing group had learned the Arabic alphabet and could identify each of its 28 letters. However, people in the handwriting group—who used pen and paper to write each letter during their learning sessions—gained the same level of proficiency after just two learning sessions.
During the second phase of this experiment, the researchers tested to what extent (if at all) participants in each group could "generalize" their new knowledge by using Arabic letters to spell new words or to read unfamiliar words with abjad lettering. The researchers found that the handwriting group was "decisively" better at this type of literacy-related generalization.
Why Does Writing by Hand Help Us Learn?
The 3 research questions addressed by Wiley and Rapp include:
- Are the benefits of handwriting practice due to motor learning per se or to other incidental factors?
- Do the benefits generalize to untrained tasks?
- Does handwriting practice lead to learning and strengthening only of motor representations or of other types of representations as well?
"Our results clearly show that handwriting compared with nonmotor practice produces faster learning and greater generalization to untrained tasks than previously reported," the co-authors explain. "Furthermore, only handwriting practice leads to learning of both motor and amodal symbolic letter representations."
How Does Handwriting Help When Learning to Read?
When learning to read, why does writing an alphabet's letters by hand work best? Handwriting creates a perceptual-motor experience, the authors posit.
"The simple act of writing by hand provides a perceptual-motor experience that unifies what is being learned about the letters (their shapes, their sounds, and their motor plans), which in turn creates richer knowledge and fuller, true learning," the researchers said in a July 7 news release .
Although the participants in this study were all adults, Wiley and Rapp speculate that the same results would be seen in children. When learning an alphabet for the first time, this research suggests that writing the letters by hand optimizes literacy learning. This research also has implications for K-12 classrooms, where literacy learning is increasingly dependent on computer tablets and laptops. These digital devices fail to create a perceptual-motor experience, which may impede learning.
"The question out there for parents and educators is why should our kids spend any time doing handwriting," Rapp, a professor of cognitive science at Johns Hopkins University, said in the news release. "Obviously, you're going to be a better hand-writer if you practice it. But since people are handwriting less, then maybe who cares? The real question is: Are there other benefits to handwriting that have to do with reading and spelling and understanding? We find there most definitely are."
"With writing, you're getting a stronger representation in your mind that lets you scaffold toward these other types of tasks that don't in any way involve handwriting," Wiley, a former JHU doctoral student who is currently a professor at the University of North Carolina, added.
Writing or Drawing by Hand Triggers Robust Neural Activity in the Brain's Sensorimotor Regions
The latest JHU handwriting research builds on the findings of a Norwegian University of Science and Technology study ( Askvik, Van der Weel, & Van der Meer, 2020 ) from last year, which found that 12-year-old children and young adults learn more efficiently and remember new knowledge better when writing by hand instead of using a keyboard. This high-density EEG study tracked and recorded brain wave activity during classroom learning. The researchers identified neuroscience -based ways that cursive handwriting was superior to typewriting when learning in the classroom and why learning cursive is good for our brains .
"The use of pen and paper gives the brain more 'hooks' to hang your memories on. Writing by hand creates much more activity in the sensorimotor parts of the brain," senior author Audrey van der Meer said in an October 2020 news release . "A lot of senses are activated by pressing the pen on paper, seeing the letters you write, and hearing the sound you make while writing. These sensory experiences create contact between different parts of the brain and open the brain up for learning. We both learn better and remember better."
In their paper's abstract, the NTNU authors sum up their findings on the importance of cursive handwriting over typewriting for learning in the classroom: "We conclude that because of the benefits of sensory-motor integration due to the larger involvement of the senses as well as fine and precisely controlled hand movements when writing by hand and when drawing, it is vital to maintain both activities in a learning environment to facilitate and optimize learning."
Robert W. Wiley and Brenda Rapp. "The Effects of Handwriting Experience on Literacy Learning." Psychological Science (First published: June 29, 2021) DOI: 10.1177/0956797621993111
Eva Ose Askvik, F. R. (Ruud) van der Weel and Audrey L. H. van der Meer. "The Importance of Cursive Handwriting Over Typewriting for Learning in the Classroom: A High-Density EEG Study of 12-Year-Old Children and Young Adults." Frontiers in Psychology (First published: July 28, 2020) DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01810
Christopher Bergland is a retired ultra-endurance athlete turned science writer, public health advocate, and promoter of cerebellum ("little brain") optimization.
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Joining two or three cursive letters.
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Handwriting Analysis: What Your Handwriting Says About You
Last Updated: September 19, 2023 Fact Checked
This article was co-authored by wikiHow staff writer, Jennifer Mueller, JD . Jennifer Mueller is a wikiHow Content Creator. She specializes in reviewing, fact-checking, and evaluating wikiHow's content to ensure thoroughness and accuracy. Jennifer holds a JD from Indiana University Maurer School of Law in 2006. There are 14 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 1,125,048 times. Learn more...
What can your handwriting tell you about your personality and outlook on life? Graphologists would argue it can tell you quite a bit! Even though you might've been taught to write your letters in a certain way in school, people tend to deviate from that teaching as they get older. Graphology studies how those deviations could be the expression of specific personality traits.  X Research source Read on to learn what characteristics to look at and what graphology tells you those characteristics mean. If you want to test it on yourself, write out a few sentences on blank, unlined paper so you can analyze as you go.
Things You Should Know
- Writing with rounded letters can be a sign you're relaxed and open-minded. Writing with rigid, pointy letters can mean you're tense.
- Dotting your i's further away from the stem could mean you're imaginative. I-dots closer to the stem can mean you're organized and methodical.
- Crossing your t's lower on the stem could be a sign of low self-esteem, while t-bars high on the stem indicates very high self-esteem.
- Using heavy pen pressure could signal you're energetic or emotional. Light pen pressure might indicate you avoid confrontation.
Shape of Letters
- Rounded letters might also signify someone who's more artistic and creative, while pointy letters indicate someone who's more rational and aggressive.
- More rounded letters are also seen as more feminine, while strong lines and sharp angles are seen as masculine.
Position and Shape of i-dots
- If the i-dot is more of a slash than a dot, it could mean that the person was writing quickly or that they're a pretty rushed and impatient person in general.
- Is the i-dot a round, open bubble? The writer has a childlike curiosity about the world and is likely very bubbly and creative.
Position and Shape of T-bars
- T-bars consistently crossed in the middle, just above the tops of the other lowercase letters, signal a practical and generally successful person.
- Someone who's a dreamer might cross their T's completely off the stem. Their goals might not be grounded in reality and they might be prone to flights of fancy.
Size and Proportion of Letters
- Small handwriting can also indicate someone with strong focus and concentration who tends to work on one thing at a time rather than multi-tasking.
- How much the letters are slanted also gives you a clue into how far in that direction the person leans—so an extreme right slant could indicate a complete lack of self-control.
- People whose letters are crowded close together might also have a hard time giving others the personal space they need.
- Some graphologists interpret a narrow space between words to indicate the writer has a tendency to pry into others' personal lives or ask intrusive questions.
- Narrow-based lines can also indicate a tendency toward knee-jerk reactions, while someone with wide-spaced lines is more likely to hold back until they've cooled off.  X Trustworthy Source PubMed Central Journal archive from the U.S. National Institutes of Health Go to source
- The baseline slope is usually more of an indicator of the person's mood while they were writing, rather than their overall personality.  X Trustworthy Source PubMed Central Journal archive from the U.S. National Institutes of Health Go to source
- If you want to analyze a person's overall personality, get several different samples from different days and times.
- Someone who writes with heavy pressure usually also writes pretty slowly, while people who write with light pressure are often writing very quickly.  X Trustworthy Source Science Direct Online archive of peer-reviewed research on scientific, technical and medical topics Go to source
- As with the baseline slope, you need several handwriting samples to interpret the writer's personality as a whole. Otherwise, this just reflects how they're feeling in the moment.
- Some graphologists interpret the writing of a person who leaves little to no margins all the way around to mean that person is insecure.  X Research source
- Those who leave a very even margin around all sides of their writing are thought to be balanced and self-disciplined people.  X Research source
- This article analyzes English writing, but many of the characteristics are present in any language that uses the Latin alphabet. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0
- The associations in this article apply primarily to the handwriting of people who are writing in their native language. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0
- Graphology is not a hard science. While it might give you insight into someone's personality, avoid using it to pass judgment. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0
You Might Also Like
- ↑ https://www.britishgraphology.org/about-british-institute-of-graphologists/what-is-graphology/
- ↑ https://blog.hocking.edu/how-to-study-your-handwriting-and-what-it-means
- ↑ https://slc.berkeley.edu/writing-worksheets-and-other-writing-resources/nine-basic-ways-improve-your-style-academic-writing
- ↑ https://www.sydney.edu.au/students/writing/types-of-academic-writing.html
- ↑ https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.740.9063&rep=rep1&type=pdf
- ↑ https://media.lanecc.edu/users/mitchella/rd_wr/Handwriting%20Analysis.pdf
- ↑ https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1105535.pdf
- ↑ https://web.augsburg.edu/english/writinglab/Formatting_an_Academic_Paper.pdf
- ↑ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20229925/
- ↑ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4676206/
- ↑ https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/016794579190005I
- ↑ https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0191886987900456
- ↑ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HE7j0x-8d4k
- ↑ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpeqmVMeigY
About This Article
To learn graphology, or how to analyze handwriting, look at the pressure of the stroke. High pressure means high emotional energy, average pressure means a calm but anchored person, and light pressure could mean the person is an introvert. Next, examine the slant of the strokes—a right slant shows confidence, a left slant could mean a desire to hide emotions, and no slant could mean the person tries to keep emotions in check. Also, upward writing means optimism and downward writing could mean discouragement. To learn what you can find out from the size of the letters, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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Speed-Writing: How to Write Shorthand, A Skill Worth Knowing
From lecture notes to study notes, college involves a lot of writing. Not only do you need to write frequently, but you also need to write at a decent speed in order to keep up with lecturers while they are talking. This would make it worthwhile for you to learn shorthand. Let’s get an understanding of what shorthand writing is, why it’s a valuable skill to have, and how you can start learning how to write shorthand.
What is Shorthand?
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Shorthand is a system of writing that uses symbols to represent letters, words, or phrases. Writing with shorthand symbols allows you to write at a quicker speed than traditional handwriting. You will soon learn that shorthand is also used by many professionals, in places such as law courts.
There is more than one type of shorthand writing. The first modern system was developed by Sir Isaac Pitman in 1837. In his system, Pitman used symbols to represent the sounds made by words. This system is known as Pitman shorthand , and is still popular in the UK today.
In 1888, John Robert Gregg published his own system of shorthand. While he studied Pitman shorthand, he decided to make changes that he thought would improve the shorthand system. He then took the Gregg shorthand system to the United States, where it has since become the most popular form of shorthand.
Another well-known form of shorthand writing is Teeline. It is one of the newer systems as it was developed in 1968. This system got quite a lot of popularity in the British commonwealth, where it is often taught to journalists.
How To Write Shorthand
Step 1: choose a system.
Firstly, you need to choose which system you want to learn. Consider how much time you have to learn the system, as well as how fast you want to be able to write. Some of the quicker systems of shorthand are newer versions of Pitman and Gregg shorthand. Examples of these are Gregg Pre-Anniversary, Gregg Anniversary, and New Era Pitman. If you have limited time, the quicker versions of shorthand to learn are Gregg Diamond Jubilee and Pitman 2000.
Let’s take a look at the main shorthand systems that you can choose from:
- Pitman Shorthand
If you master this form of shorthand, you should be able to write 200 words per minute. This system uses thick and thin strokes to represent different sounds, so you will need a steel-tipped pen to write this type of shorthand. The system also uses a lot of dots and dashes.
- Gregg Shorthand
This system indicates vowels with circles, and there is a heavy amount of symbols to memorize. While it may take a long time to learn, this system will allow you to write over 200 words per minute once you have mastered it.
- Teeline Shorthand
This is a form of shorthand that is based on the forms of the alphabet. It involves writing smaller vowels and consonants and focusing on writing essential letters. This form of shorthand is also often taught to journalists.
Step 2: Gather The Right Learning Resources
Once you have chosen a system, you can start gathering resources to learn how to use it. One of the best places to start would be the internet. Look for text and video tutorials on how to use the system as well as practice examples. Some great YouTube channels that provide tutorials on shorthand include Shorthandly and Teeline Online .
Other places you could look include local libraries, bookstores, and online bookstores. Because many shorthand books may no longer be in print, many bookstores may not supply them. In this case, it would be great to check out libraries as often libraries keep older books as well as newer books.
It may also be a good idea to check out some old “text kits.” These kits often include recordings of how to use shorthand as well as written notes. They may also include tests so that you can check your progress.
Finally, you may want to look for a shorthand dictionary, which will show you exactly how to write different words in shorthand.
Step 3: Practicing Shorthand
Before you start practising shorthand, it is important to note that it will probably take a while before you get the hang of it. If ever you hear of claims that you can learn shorthand in a few hours, you should not take them too seriously.
When you start practising, make sure that you take the time to master the shorthand symbols before trying to build up your speed. Doing so will ensure that you do not make too many mistakes from the beginning. It is also important to remember that your speed will build up as you become more comfortable with the system.
Next, it will be important to make sure that you practice regularly. Do a few short sessions each day and make sure to practice writing letters and words repeatedly. You could also test yourself with dictation exercises. This means recording yourself and writing down the words that you spoke using shorthand.
Alternative Learning Methods
Photo by bruce mars from Pexels
To save time, you can learn an easier shorthand method. Consider learning speed writing or stenoscript, which use the ordinary alphabet. You could also create your own shorthand system. Below are some more examples of shorthand systems you could learn.
This system is similar to Greggs in the way that it uses many of the same symbols for consonants. It also uses similar strokes to Greggs, which are cursive and fast.
2. Bell’s Invisible Speech
This system was developed to record any human speech sound. This system reduces all vocal sounds into a series of symbols.
This system uses descriptive pictures to symbolize concepts, rather than just words. This system was created as a universal language that people who speak different languages can use to communicate with each other.
Why is Learning Shorthand Valuable?
Firstly, writing in shorthand is much quicker than standard writing. Standard handwriting reaches speeds of 20 to 30 words per minute , which is too slow to record someone speaking. The average shorthand speed of some people has been recorded at over 200 words per minute. This makes shorthand better for taking notes. Because of the difference in speed, shorthand is an important skill to learn to keep up with lecturers when taking notes.
Shorthand has also proven to be useful in many lines of work. Personal assistants and secretaries use for it for minute taking , while journalists use it when documenting a news story. Court reporters use it when typing on a stenotype machine. Stenographers, who transcribe letters and documents, are often employed in law offices.
Shorthand is helpful for taking down all important details when getting instructions from your boss or conveying a phone message. Often, voice-recognition software makes mistakes, especially if someone gets words mixed up or names wrong. A person using shorthand can identify and rectify such mistakes.
Shorthand also provides personal benefits such as improving your listening, summarizing, and memory skills. It is also good for your CV, as it shows you have commitment to learning a new skill. Overall, shorthand reduces the time you spend on writing, and the time that you save can be utilized for other tasks.
Now that you understand what shorthand is, how to learn it, and why it is a valuable skill, you can try it for yourself!
The Ultimate Hand Lettering Guide For Beginners (+FREE Worksheets)
This post and the photos within it may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a commission at no extra charge to you.
Are you ready to learn the art of hand lettering?
In this tutorial, I will teach you the very basics you need to get started.
By the end of this post, you will know what and how to practice.
Let’s have a quick overview of what you’ll be learning in this tutorial –
- What is hand lettering
- How hand lettering differs from calligraphy
- The essential lettering tools + recommendations
Laying down the foundation – terminology, core rules, basic styles, understanding letter construction.
How to create a hand lettering piece – a 6 step process, the 30-day lettering planner – a practical practice guide for beginners + free lettering alphabet worksheets.
- Additional resources for further learning and studying
- Final words
Let’s dive right in!
What is hand lettering?
Hand lettering is a visual art form that primarily focuses on drawing and illustrating letters by hand (hence the name). Unlike calligraphy, where we write the letters, with hand lettering, we are drawing the individual letterforms.
How hand lettering differs from calligraphy?
As I just mentioned, hand lettering is the art of drawing (illustrating) letters. In contrast, calligraphy is the art of (beautiful) writing letters.
Once again –
Hand lettering – drawing Calligraphy – writing
Here you can also see an example of it.
When doing hand lettering, the letters are most commonly drawn or sketched with a pencil and then outlined with various pens and markers.
In contrast to calligraphy, where certain styles require specific tools, for hand lettering, you don’t really need a specific tool.
In fact, you can do hand lettering with pretty much any writing tool that you have.
Hand lettering and calligraphy are often used interchangeably, but as you can see they are quite different from each other.
Remember – The key difference between hand lettering and calligraphy is in the process and not the end result.
If you want to better understand the difference, I wrote a separate in-depth article on that topic. Check it out here.
Did you land on this article, thinking you would be learning about calligraphy or brush lettering?
Don’t worry – I got you covered!
If you were misled by the terminology, you could check out this post. It’s a huge guide (like this one) that will teach you everything you need to know.
Hand lettering comes in all sorts of different styles, shapes, and forms, and in recent years it has been making a major comeback in the art/design industry.
Now that we know what hand lettering is, we can proceed to the next section of this guide.
The essential lettering tools needed + recommendations.
One of my favorite aspects of hand lettering is that you don’t really need any fancy and expensive tools to get started.
Of course, once you get more into it, you will want to invest in better tools, but for now, you will just need a handful of essential tools.
There are indeed better and higher-quality tools on the market, but please keep in mind –
No tool will improve your skills overnight!
It’s all about consistent and quality practice – but more on that later on.
Here are the essential tools for hand lettering that you need to get started (links to Amazon) –
- Black fineliner (marker)
Let’s briefly go through each of the tools so I can explain what do we need them for.
The pencil is probably the most underrated tool out there.
That goes for both hand lettering & calligraphy.
The pencil allows you to quickly lay down ideas, sketch, erase, fix, and much more.
You probably know already that there are different types of pencils out there.
HB, 2B, 6H, and so on.
They all have their different purposes, and for hand lettering, I would personally recommend the following types of pencils (links to Amazon) –
For hand lettering sketching, we need a pencil that leaves light marks that can be easily removed.
However, if you really want to get the best of the best, then that’s without any doubt –
The mechanical pencil
You will always get thin, light, and sharp lines, and on top of that, you will never have to sharp it and worry about any mess.
The mechanical pencil that I use and recommend is the Staedtler Mars (links to amazon).
Unlike with calligraphy, hand lettering isn’t so tied up with specific types of papers.
You won’t have to worry too much about bleeding and feathering unless you work with certain types of color markers.
The main thing I want you to understand is that there are two main categories when it comes to paper choice –
- Practice paper – example – HP Premium
- Paper for final artworks – example – handmade paper
Practice paper is cheaper, and its purpose is for, well – practice!
For now, practice paper is your primary focus, but with time you will improve, and you will want to create a final piece on a nicer piece of paper.
For practice, you can basically use whatever print paper you have, however, my recommendations are the following (links to Amazon) –
- Rhodia dot pad – excellent for practice thanks to the dot grid that is laid out on each sheet. This is extremely helpful for guidelines, consistency, etc. – more on that later on.
The quality of the paper itself is also outstanding, and you will never have to worry about bleeding and feathering – regardless of the tool you use.
In fact, the Rhodia pads are my top recommendations when it comes to calligraphy as well.
- HP premium 32 – very smooth and thicker type of paper, which is excellent for practice. Specific markers with heavy ink flows will bleed, but for the most part, you don’t need to worry about it. A huge selling point for the HP is the quality and quantity you get for the price.
Paper for final artworks –
I love working with watercolor papers when I create final artworks.
Here are some of my favorite types of watercolor papers for hand lettering (links to Amazon) –
- Fabriano Schizzi
As mentioned, these are more expensive types of papers, so I would recommend you avoid using them for practice.
Just for special occasions 🙂
The ruler is another essential tool.
We use the ruler to keep our letters nice and consistent (more on that later on).
Honestly, you can use whatever ruler you wish, but my top recommendation has always been the rolling ruler.
It’s like a regular ruler, but it has a small cylinder on the backside.
That allows him to roll up and down the page, and thus you can create parallel lines quickly and efficiently.
It’s a real time-saver, and it has definitely improved my workflow. You can check it out here (links to Amazon).
We all make mistakes.
We use the eraser to remove the sketch marks and guidelines once we have finished the piece (more on that later on).
You can use whatever eraser you have, but nonetheless, I would like to make two quick suggestions (links to Amazon) –
- The kneaded eraser – great for removing light pencil marks, and the best part is that it doesn’t crumb = no mess!
- The Tombow mono zero (or similar) – a pen-shaped eraser with a small tip – great for removing pencil marks in small areas without having to remove half of the sketch.
Black fineliners (makers)
I would say that this is the only tool on which you shouldn’t cheap out.
The difference between a good fineliner and a crappy one is quite noticeable, and the price difference is minuscule.
The fineliner plays one of the most critical roles in the whole lettering process, so I really recommend getting something decent.
For fineliners, I recommend the following selection (links to amazon) –
- Sakura Pigma Micron – undisputable champion when it comes to inking your letters, drawings, and more. Durable, affordable, and most importantly, very comfortable to work with. If I could, I would rate it 11/10! The packs usually come with different sizes so you can cover a wide range of needs – from fine details to quickly filling shapes.
- Uni Pin fineliners – a great alternative to the Sakura Pigma Micron.
Color markers and pens (bonus) –
For now, I just want you to get comfortable with the idea of inking and outlining your letters.
It’s not an easy task, and it requires focus, patience, and consistent practice.
If we add color combinations and harmonies to the equation, we just complicate things for no reason.
Nonetheless, I realize that some of you might be more experienced and wish to add some spark to your work.
That been said, here is my recommendation for color markers (links to amazon) –
- Molotow one4all
- Uni posca pens
- Arteza Inkonic fineliners
Ok, now that we’ve covered the tools section, we can proceed to the next one which is –
Having a proper understanding of the basics is crucial for your further practice and general progress.
There is a saying that I like to often use in my articles – ‘’A house is only as strong as its foundation’’.
Important! Consistent practice is essential, however, the way you practice makes all the difference in how fast you can learn and improve your skills. In my experience, the best way to practice is by starting with the very basics and gradually move towards more difficult elements.
Just ask yourself – how can you make any significant progress if you can’t distinct the good and the bad aspects?
In this section, that’s exactly what i want to do.
I want to introduce you to the basic concepts, but at the same time, I’ll do my best to keep things simple.
I realize that too much information can be overwhelming or even discouraging in some cases.
Here are the things I’ll cover –
- Core rules (consistency, spacing)
- Basic lettering styles (understanding letter construction)
With time and practice, you will most certainly expand your knowledge, but this will be enough to get you started.
This part is quite straightforward.
The terminology goes really specific, right down to every single detail and part of the letter that exists in the alphabet.
For now, you don’t need to go that far deep and memorize all of the terms.
However, having a basic knowledge of type anatomy is definitely something I would recommend.
Check out this example below –
In the Lettering Crate (the resource library with freebies), I’ve included the anatomy poster that covers the terminology more in-depth.
You can then print it out and have it above your work desk to use it as a point of reference.
Core rules for hand lettering
There are a lot of different rules, however, as I mentioned, I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information.
Instead, I will go over 2 rules that I believe to be the very foundation for every hand lettering beginner –
Let’s start with consistency.
Consistency is the idea of having all letterforms follow the same visual pattern.
By keeping our letters consistent, we increase the visual harmony, and it just makes the whole thing look so much better.
Consistency spreads across different areas such as –
- Letter thickness
This is the art of drawing letters by hand, so of course, you don’t have to go crazy with mathematical precision here.
Nonetheless, the more consistent your letters are, the better.
The best way to improve your consistency is by using guidelines.
Laying out a proper grid with your layout is a crucial step.
Here is an example of consistent lettering –
Here is another example.
However, here you can see the difference between a consistent and an inconsistent letter.
Another way that you will dramatically improve your consistency is by not rushing and spending more time sketching.
The second core rule I want you to keep an eye out for is –
Spacing between letters may seem daunting at first, but trust me once you get into it – it’s really not that hard.
The key is practice, and with practice, you will start developing a so-called ‘’typographic eye’’ that will allow you to recognize good from bad spacing.
So, how do you properly space letters?
The very first thing you must understand about spacing is that not all letters are equally spaced from each other.
The idea is to arrange them, so they look like they are equally spaced.
The example above is optically spaced, while the one below has the same exact amount of space between each letter.
I think we can all agree that the one above looks correct in comparison to the one below.
Different letters come into various shapes and depending on how they are placed next to each other.
The space between can be tighter or wider.
Yup, I remember that feeling.
Don’t worry, the following example should help clear the air.
Here are three of the most common letter shapes that interact with each other –
Additionally check out the video below.
It sums up the whole concept behind correct letter spacing.
What I would like you to do now (you can also do it later) is to take 5 minutes and play a quick kerning game.
It’s a free online game that gives you 10 prompts, and your task is to kern the letters using the mouse or the arrow keys for more precision.
After each round, the game will automatically correct your selection (if any needed), and it will give you a score from 1 to 100 – depending on how accurate you were.
This is a fantastic way to train your ‘’typographic eye.’’ After a couple of rounds, you will already start to notice an improvement.
I played this game a lot when I was just learning about spacing, and it was super helpful!
You can play the kerning game here.
My ”typographic eye” is a bit rusty! 😀
To sum up once again –
- The goal is to optically arrange the letters – not equally.
- Follow the three combo rule (two ovals, straight and oval, two straights)
- Just be mindful of your spacing, and you will see progress!
That’s it folks!
For now just try to focus on keeping your letters consistent and properly spaced. If you just manage to take care of these two rules, you will already be so much ahead of the curve!
Now it’s time to learn about the basic lettering styles.
Basic lettering styles
In this section, I am going to show you three basic styles and how to do each one of them in their most basic form.
Once you’re comfortable with their basic forms, you can start tweaking them to create your unique lettering styles.
Remember what I’ve mentioned earlier – ‘’A house is only as strong as its foundation.’’
The three basic hand lettering styles I will show you are –
- Sans serif
Let’s get to it!
Sans serif hand lettering style
This is the easiest and the best style to start with.
The proper way to practice hand lettering is to divide the letter into its individual shapes.
I call this – The wooden board technique.
Instead of trying to write the letter as a whole, we construct one shape at a time.
Kinda like stacking wood boards on each other – hence the name.
Here is an example of the letter A
Here are a few more examples –
By using the wooden board technique, you will be able to maintain a high level of consistency in your letters.
And it also just makes so much more sense than trying to aim for the same thickness of shapes.
Below is an example of the wooden board technique vs. how most beginners try to draw letters –
What about round letterforms?
Round shapes are indeed a bit trickier, but fear not!
Sketch them lightly in square shapes, and then simply round up the corners to your liking.
Here is an example –
And here is one more example of drawing rounded letterforms using the ”wooden board” technique –
Start by tracing!
In the freebie section for this article, I included a sample sans serif alphabet (you will find it lower in the article).
All you need to do is print it out and trace it over.
You can do that either with tracing paper or a light tablet.
Quick tip – if you don’t have any tracing paper, baking paper works good as well!
If you are a complete beginner with zero experience, I would highly recommend that you trace this alphabet at least 10 times.
By tracing (copying) this alphabet, you will start to understand how to construct letterforms correctly as well as all the small nuances that come with it.
Once you become confident enough with the basic letterforms, you can use these core rules and start bending and tweaking the shapes of letters.
Here is an example –
Now we can proceed to our next lettering style, which is –
Serif hand lettering style
Serif letters are basically the same as sans serif with two key differences.
- They have serifs (duh) – small decorative elements at the endings
- They have a thick and thin dynamic (up thin, down thick)
So, how do you draw serif letters?
First of all, you need to know where to place the thick and thins.
The easiest way to know where is thick and where the thin is to follow this rule –
Upstrokes – thin
Downstrokes – thick
Just think about how you would typically write the letters.
If you are just starting out, I would recommend you keeping a reference alphabet while you are drawing the letters.
Believe me, it won’t take you long before you remember where the thick and thins should go.
The process of drawing a serif letter is very similar to the sans serif style.
- Construct the letter (with the thick & thin strokes)
- Add the serifs
- Connect the serifs smoothly with the stems.
Check out this example below –
To properly learn and understand serif lettering, we will follow the same process as we did with the sans serif style.
In the freebie section you will also find a reference alphabet for the serif style.
Grab some tracing (or baking) paper, and start practicing!
Once you’ve developed a solid foundation, you’ll be able to tweak the shapes of the letters to create many different styles.
Script hand lettering style
Script lettering is definitely my favorite style of the three.
Beautiful and flowing, but also more challenging than the previous two lettering styles.
So, how do you draw the script lettering style?
Hopefully, the majority of you reading this tutorial had the luxury of learning cursive in elementary school.
Knowing cursive will make the learning process much easier since we will use it as a foundation.
Similar to serif letters, the key to the script style lies in the thick and thin contrast.
Once again –
Check out the example below –
Now let’s do the whole alphabet!
Once again, tracing is the key.
As with the two previous styles, you’ll find a sample alphabet for the script lettering style as well.
After you’ve developed a strong foundation for the basics, you’ll be able to start creating your own unique styles with confidence.
Here is a quick example –
As I mentioned earlier, it’s best to get started with short, single words and then gradually expand to more complicated designs.
Also – forget about details such as shadows, highlights, textures, flourishes, etc.
Right now, our focus is on practicing and learning the basic letterforms.
The idea for this section is to introduce you to a workflow that you can then use for any lettering projects you wish to create.
Without any further ado, let’s get started!
Step 1 – planning! What are you going to create?
Planning is the absolute foundation for any creative project.
You don’t just sit down and start to create the first thing that pops in your mind.
I said that we will practice single and shorter words for now.
I decided to hand letter the word – Style
And I also decided to do it in a script style – since it’s my favorite.
Step 2 – Gather inspiration.
Once, i’ve planned out what i want to create, it’s time to go online and gather some inspiration.
My best favorite place to gather inspiration is without a doubt – Pinterest.
We are not going to copy someone’s artwork, but instead trying to find a sense of direction for our project.
Look for 2-5 different styles that you like.
Going over 5 is a bit of an overkill, and it could actually achieve the opposite effect.
It would be good if you could make a moodboard out of your selection and use it as a point of reference while you sketch.
Which is in fact our next step.
Step 3 – thumbnail sketches
Thumbnail sketching is a super powerful technique for generating ideas.
The point here is to just let your ideas flow, instead of immediately going with the first one you get.
So don’t worry about making them all nice and tidy – you’ll do that once you pick one of them.
Believe me, you will be surprised to see how many dope ideas hide under the surface.
I would advise you to do a minimum of 3 thumbnail sketches before you pick one.
However, you could make as many as you want.
As you can see above, these are just quick rough sketches – just playing around to see what I can come up with.
Step 4 – Sketching time!
Once you’ve picked your favorite sketch, it’s time to create a bigger and more refined version of it.
First of all, we are going to draw our guidelines.
Remember what we talked about previously – guidelines will help us to keep up letters nice and consistent.
Do not, and I mean DO NOT skip this step.
Guidelines are essential, and both beginners and professionals use them.
It takes you a couple of seconds to draw a few lines, and it will make the whole process much easier.
Take your time with the sketch.
This is not the same as a thumbnail sketch.
This one needs to be much cleaner, with well-defined lines.
While you’re sketching this, try to think about the two core rules we were talking about previously.
Are your letterforms consistent?
Are your letters spaced properly between each other?
If not, don’t be afraid to delete the pencil marks and fix things up.
This is precisely the reason we sketch – so we can fix and improve our work!
Another tip for sketching – keep your strokes light.
We need to delete our pencil marks later on, and it’s much easier to do that with light pencil marks.
Once your sketch is ready, we can move to the next step.
Step 5 – Inking the sketch!
Grab your black fineliner and start outlining your letters.
Please keep in mind that outlining and inking your letters is no easy task.
It takes a lot of patience, focus, and consistent practice.
So don’t get discouraged if the end result doesn’t turn out as expected.
The general rule for inking is to push straights and pull curves.
Sean McCabe has this great gif image that demonstrates perfectly what I mean.
Just take your time and enjoy the process.
If you would like to learn and improve your inking skills even further, I wrote a whole separate article on how to do that.
You can check it out here.
Step 6 – Remove the pencil marks.
Before we finish our lettering process, we just need to do the final step, which is removing the pencil marks.
Make sure you leave the ink to dry off for at least half an hour.
Otherwise, the ink might smudge all over the place.
Again, it’s best if you use a light hand when you sketch because this makes the removing of the lines so much easier.
Et voila’! This is it, folks!
If you managed to follow through the process, you’ve successfully created your first-hand lettering piece.
I created the 30-day lettering planner to guide you through your first days of hand lettering.
As i already mentioned it a couple of times so far, practice is very important, but the way you practice has a huge impact on your progress.
The 30-day lettering planner will guide you through exercises gradually.
From very basic tasks to more complex ones as you progressing.
So, how does the 30-day lettering planner work exactly?
The planner is divided into 4 sections – each for one week of the month.
Every day you will be introduced with a specific lettering exercise.
- Week 1 – is all about sans serif lettering
- Week 2 – is about serif lettering
- Week 3 – will focus on script lettering
- Week 4 – In the last week we are combining styles, learning basic layouts and simple effects (such as shading)
It would be great if you could complete one task per day as consistent practice will definitely give the best results.
However, if you miss a day or it takes you longer to complete a task – don’t worry!
That’s totally fine and just keep following the planner.
Along with the 30-day lettering planner you will also find the lettering alphabets for tracing –
You can find all these freebies inside the Lettering Crate.
Simply drop your email below, follow the instructions and you will get instant access to it.
Stay updated with my tutorials and get instant access to the Lettering Crate –
A growing library of free lettering & calligraphy resources that includes –.
- Calligraphy practice sheets
- Procreate brushes
- The 30-day lettering planner
- Printables, and more!
What we just covered are the fundamental steps you need to get started.
Start small, lay down a solid foundation, and any new skill/technique will be so much easier to apply.
In this section, I would like to mention some additional resources that will help you along your lettering journey.
First of all, we have hand lettering books!
Online resources can provide a great starting point.
However, books really dive deep into specifics.
They manage to shed light in areas you never even knew existed before.
If you really want to step up your skills, books are the way to go!
In this article, I review some of the best hand lettering books for beginners.
Online courses (Skillshare)
If it wasn’t for Skillshare, you probably wouldn’t be reading this article right now.
Most likely, this entire website wouldn’t even exist.
With the help of Skillshare, I’ve managed to learn a whole variety of different skills that allow me to run this whole website, content creation and more.
For those who still haven’t head for Skillshare – it’s basically an online learning platform that hosts more than 20 + thousand online classes.
Classes that range from hand lettering & calligraphy all the way to – photography, business, design, writing, marketing – the list goes on and on.
These are classes that are taught by some of the top names in the industry.
The best part of all is that you can start for free!
As a Skillshare ambassador, I can offer a 2-month free premium membership .
If you change your mind at any point in these two months, you can cancel your subscription, and you won’t get charged a single dime.
If you sign up using my link I’ll be getting a small commission, meaning that you will also be supporting the whole Lettering Daily initiative 🙂
I wrote a separate article where I recommend my favorite lettering and calligraphy classes from Skillshare .
Check it out here –
Finally, you can also check out the other articles and tutorials on my website.
Just hit this link , and it will take you to all posts within the hand lettering category.
Wrapping it up
There you have it, folks, the beginners guide on how to get started with hand lettering.
Start slow, don’t rush, and gradually expand your skills as you go.
If you manage to do that, I guarantee that you will notice more progress in less time!
The world of hand lettering is so vast that the more you learn about it, the more you realize how much you still don’t know.
I know that this may sound like something negative, but I think it’s actually what makes lettering so fun and exciting!
Join our official Facebook group!
Are you looking for constructive feedback on your work?
A great way to improve in any sort of skill is having someone more experienced examining your work.
If you are interested in getting constructive feedback, then you should definitely check out our official Facebook group!
The Facebook group is a place where you can –
- Get feedback
- Ask questions
- Share your work
- Mingle with fellow artists
- And much more.
Our little (but growing) forum is a place for everyone – no matter your skill level!
Thank you for stopping by and until the next time,
How To Create A Hand Lettering Piece in 6 Easy Steps
Learn how to create a hand lettering piece by following these 6 easy steps.
- Mechanical pencil
- Fineliner - Sakura Pigma Micron
- Rolling ruler
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
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Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram
About the author
Meet Max Juric, a dedicated calligraphy and hand lettering artist with over a decade of experience. His artistic journey is deeply rooted in a passion for lettering and a commitment to continuous growth. Max’s extensive experience spans several years as a full-time lettering artist, collaborating with clients from around the globe. Over the past five years, Max has actively shared his expertise, reaching more than 100,000 individuals monthly through a rich array of educational resources. These resources include tutorials, interviews, articles, and podcasts. Max’s practical experience, combined with his unwavering dedication to his craft, sets him apart in the realm of hand lettering and calligraphy. With an educational platform offering over 100 long-form resources, Max aims to guide artists and enthusiasts in enhancing their hand lettering and calligraphy skills. Welcome to Lettering Daily, where artistic expression and learning beautifully intersect.
68 thoughts on “The Ultimate Hand Lettering Guide For Beginners (+FREE Worksheets)”
Hi, just joined to group. Yesterday I was at a calligraphy workshop and I still can’t decide whether I am for calligraphy or lettering. Can I do both? 🙂 It is an absolutely great article for beginners. Thanks a lot for sharing your skills for free. It is so helpful and greatly explained. I just print workshits and start to practice, and I can’t wait to start my 30-day planner.
Hey Ana, absolutely! I do both 🙂 They really complement each other and if you like both i would definitely encourage you to do them 🙂
Oh my god…this article is so amazing…it has explained hand lettering beautifully and I can say it is a blessing for an amateur like me…it has cleared all the doubts that I had relating to hand lettering ..I m going to read other related articles..for sure…all in all l loved it..thank u…😊😊
Thank you! Glad to hear that, if you need any help you can always reach out 🙂
Awesome advice and attention to detail! Thanks so much for the website, have been lettering for years but have learnt much new cool stuff! Like the rolling ruler, what a game changer 🙂
Hey Philippa! Thank you for the awesome comment. I am glad you liked the article 🙂
Hey man you made my day..
I was in search for tutorial like, it was feel like I lost In this search because no one gives this much detail and end up in “Anatomy of type”
But this website is so inspiring, thanks again man
Thank you bro! Im glad you liked it! To be honest, while writing up this post, I felt like I was going too much into detail, and that i would just end up confusing people. At the same time, it felt like something that is essential to the learning process. Thank you for the feedback! 🙂
This is such a fabulous site. Thank you so much. Inspiring!
Thank you, Giselle! 🙂
This website is the best resource for lettering that I have come across. I stumbled upon it when I was trying to get some copperplate calligraphy worksheets. This has opened up a whole new world for me!
It means so much, thank you! I’m just getting started to be honest 😀 Many more tutorials and articles are to be written 🙂
Thank you for making this website ,its excellent ! and I really appreciate your efforts,its really helpful for beginners and I love that kerning game . I have seen the lettering crate and I had a question – what’s a ‘ regular style ‘ hand lettering, its given in the 30 day lettering plan, I didn’t understand . thank you once again ?
Hey, thanks again 😀 Check out the previous response that I gave you 🙂
Hi! This is a pretty awesome post and I’m really looking forward to trying it out. Could you please explain how exactly we’re supposed to draw the guidelines and determine the angles?
Thank you, Emilie! You are free to determine both the size and angle of your guidelines. Let’s say you wanted an upright style of lettering, in that case draw only vertical lines. If you want a tiny slant to your letters then just add a bit of angle to the lines. You can also play with the size of the ascenders and descenders. It all depends on what you want to create and the placement of the letters. There are no strict rules (like with certain traditional calligraphy scripts). The important is that these lines are all consistent since their goal is to keep your letters consistent. Hope this helps, if not, be sure to join the Facebook group I run and I can have a better look at your work 🙂
Hope this helps!
I’m a total beginner and would love to learn the basics. Your information here is to the point and very helpful. Thanks!
Hey Cindy, thank you for the kind comment! 🙂 Glad to hear that.
Looking for a new hobby/skill to try during quarantine. Came across this website and I must say it is really helpful, informative and truly inspiring! Thank you for the sharing your knowledge and appreciate the gesture of the freebies. I am excited to start and have already signed up for the Lettering Crate, however I have yet to receive a confirmation email…
Thank you, Rosalyn! I really appreciate the kind words. Also thank you for reaching out via email, I am glad we were able to resolve the issue quickly! 🙂
This website is truly inspiring and helpful for does who are beginners . I really appreciate your efforts and your hard work . thank you for investing your precious time for us . I saw the 30 day planner and I had a small question : what’s regular style of hand lettering ? Thank you once again ????
Hey Anshika, thank you for the kind comment! When I mention the ”regular” style I mean the most basic form of that letter. Without any details, decorations, distortions, etc. I know it may seem boring, but as I mention in the article, it will help you form a very solid foundation for much faster skill development.
Wow! I’ve followed you on instagram for a long time but I never knew there was a website as nice as this! Thank you this was an amazing read. I’ve been hobby-lettering every now and then but I truly wanna take it to the next level, do it right. There is one very VERY consistent issue I always run in when sketching for my letters…. The Ratios… they drive me crazy honestly…. I just don’t know how tall should the ascender line be compared to the x line…. If we say the x line is for example 5 cms should the ascender and descender lines be a fixed ratio derived from that 5? I never got around to adjusting it…. And should those ratios and the sizes of your horizontal grids be related to your letter weights? For example if you’re doing it in a 2 cm x heights you can’t go around using 3 cm thick strokes? Do these things have rules or am I overthinking it and should just eyeball it? Sorry for writing this much…. And thank you again for this website ^^
Thank you for the kind words and it’s great to hear you want to get into lettering more. Let me answer to your questions one by one – 1. About the ratios – you are free to determine the heights, angles and proportions of your letters. There isn’t a set rule around this. In fact, that’s what’s so awesome about lettering! You could have thick, bold and low letters or tall thin letters. Short ascenders and descenders or long ones. Straight or slanted – you choose. As i recommend in the article – move gradually! Start by learning the basic form and then with time it will be so much easier to expand towards more complex designs. 2. Should the size ratio correspond to the grid size? Not necessarily – as i mentioned about you are free to make that choice. However, if you decide to create a certain thickness of your strokes, then all of the letters should be consistent. That goes for proportions, angles, spacing, etc. 3. Should i just eyeball it? Definitely not. Use guidelines, guidelines are your friend and they will help you out in the process! No matter if you are a beginner or super experienced, guidelines are always helpful. Determine the sizes and proportions in advance and then make sure all letters follow the same elements.
The best thing now would be that you join our Facebook group and you share some of your work. This way I can give you direct constructive feedback to your work. Hope this helps!
Cheers man! 🙂
Thank you for this ^^ I already found the facebook group and I can already tell this will be very constructive… Very talented community! <3
Thank you so much for the kind words, Assem! I am really happy you are finding this community to be valuable. If you need any help or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to shoot 🙂 Always happy to help!
Hi!! from Thailand. I’ve been looking for things to do during quarantine and I found your articles! I’m a beginner and not good at English but somehow I understand all the things that you wrote. I’m really do interesting in calligraphy. I know it’s a bit too late but is it possible to download the 30 day planner too? Thank you so much.
take care. stay healthy 🙂
Hey Nont, the 30-day lettering planner is located in the Lettering Crate and it will stay there all the time. To access it, just sign up for the newsletter and you will gain instant access to it 🙂
I am intersting improve your hand writing
Welcome aboard 😀
Hey! Seems my verification email isn’t comming at all ? help
Hey Liza, sorry to hear that. Can you shoot me an email so I can have a look at it? Thanks!
A-mazing, and really the ultimate hand lettering guide! So much value here – thank you for sharing your knowledge! <3
Thank you! <3
Hi! You’re site is exactly what I’m looking for to get me started on calligraphy and hand lettering. I’ve actually been gathering inspirations from the net, and copying them, but I would really love to learn how to create my own, not just copy.
I already signed for the Lettering Crate, and received an email for confirmation. But when I click the button, I am receiving an error page. Can you please help me?
Thank you for the kind words and please accept my apologies for the late response here. Have you managed to fix the issue? Can you shoot me an email with your email address that you used to sign up? I will fix it right away for you 🙂
hi dear… thanks a lot for this amazing information. I m a beginner and this information gives me so much support. But I didn’t get from where I can have the files to download. please can I have these? I love your work. my email is [email protected]
Thank you for the kind words! Please send me an email and I will be happy to sort this out 🙂
Hi there! I have signed up but I haven’t received the 30 day planner. I already checked my spam folder and it isn’t there. A little help please? Thank you!
Hey Emelyn, sorry to hear that. Can you shoot me an email at – [email protected] I would be happy to help you with this.
I need never did learn to write properly, and your pages look like the right place to fix this up. I hope you’ll forgive my mistakes.
Hey Valerie, thank you for the kind comment!
Nice piece of information would definitely join the 30 day planner
Thank you, Foram! If you need any help or if you have any question, don’t hesitate to ask 🙂
hi lettering daily Isent an email in order to get the link , And I’ve got it already But when you enter the password it does not work. I hope get it , thanks.
Please send me an email in regards to this issue.
I don’t receive the email to confirm .
I would like a copy of the 30 day planner if possible. I’m looking forward to making progress with my hand lettering skills 🙂
I can’t believe it! I’ve been trying to get into hand lettering for years and have simply given up for lack of explanation! This site is like the Holy Graal! Thank you sooooooooooooooo much for creating it and share it!
Hahaha! Thank you so much Mariana! Your comment brought me a lot of joy 🙂 I am so happy hearing that you found the content useful.
So glad I came across this article. So helpful and brilliantly explained. Definitely trying the 30-day planner to get started in lettering 🙂 Thank you!
I am truly happy to hear that! If you ever need help or feedback, feel free to join our official Facebook group! 🙂
Hi! I was actually planning to purchase the rolling ruler. However, I really don’t know which one works better and that will last longer. I saw some good reviews at Amazon about the MyLifeUnit rolling ruler likewise to Alvin’s. But it seems that there were more negative reviews too on how they perform. Like the roller isn’t functioning well, the material is cheap, too expensive considering its function, so hard to manipulate/control, etc. I am confused on what to choose though. Can you suggest as your personal preference which one would you choose? thanks!
Hey Melissa, sorry for replying so late to your comment. I use a rolling ruler from Amazon but considering that I’m based in Europe it’s a different brand. I honestly couldn’t be more happy with it! It works flawlessly and it saves me a ton of time for both lettering and calligraphy – definitely a most used tool along with my pencil and pens. Perhaps you can try to find one in your local art & craft shop and test it on the spot? Let me know if there is anything else I can help you with! 🙂
Hi , I have been doing calligraphy for 2 years and just moved on to hand lettering thanks for all these tips keep up the good work???.
Hey Jay, happy to hear that you are expanding your knowledge it will definitely help you on both ends! 🙂
Can I have a link for downloading the 30 day planner? I dropped my email and confirm with password on the website but can’t find the 30 day planner in all the tutorials.
Hello Emily, sorry to hear you are struggling with finding the planner. All of our freebies are located in our resource library which also known as The Lettering Vault. Once you sign up with your email and you confirm your registration, you will receive an automatic welcome email that contains a link and a password to that resource library. On that page, you will be able to find the 30 day planner along with ALL of the other freebies. In case you are not able to find this email, be sure to check your spam folder – sometimes they end up over there. If you are not able to find this email, please send us an email and i will personally make sure to give you a copy of the 30 day planner. 🙂
I can’t wait to start my 30 day planner. This particular blog not only boosted my confidence but excited me as well. It’s an absolute guide for beginners like me. Thank you !!
Hey Julee, this means so much to me! I’m happy to hear that you feel confident about your journey, be sure to find our Facebook group so we can provide you with constructive feedback and help you grow even faster! 🙂
Love this article & blog. It’s an amazing world we live in with blogs and so much information we can find, from blogs and *free* tutorials like this! 😉 Thanks for sharing your skills.
Thank you for the kind words! Im very glad you enjoyed this tutorial! Cheers 🙂
Thank you for the article,But I hope get the link.You have already sent the link but when I enter the password it does not work!I hope to get it as soon as possible.
Hi, just joined and I am an absolute beginner. Can I dowload the Ultimate Hand Lettering Guide? I can’t see a pdf link. I will certainly use your club. After searching the net for hours, you seem to be the best!!! I’ll soon start feebly attempting my Calligraphy efforts. Regards to all Mike
Hey Mike! thank you so much for the kind words! You can definitely download it 🙂 All you need to do is drop your email, and we will send you an invitation to our exclusive content area where you can find the 30 day planner along with our other free downloadable content.
Loved the article. It’s simple, concise and up to the point. Learnt a lot.
Thank you Deepak! Really appreciate your kind words 🙂
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