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How To Improve Your Handwriting

John BosleyHandwriting 15 Comments

If you are like most fountain pen users, you would probably like to improve your handwriting. I know from experience how frustrating it can be to scroll through photo after photo of images with beautiful handwriting on Instagram, only to pick up a pen and struggle to write consistently or legibly. While I definitely don’t have the best handwriting around, I have managed to improve it over the years. Fortunately, there are many different ways to improve your handwriting. Unfortunately, there is no shortcut. They all take time, dedication and practice. If you’re in, read on.

Handwriting Lessons and Guides

One of the best ways to improve your handwriting is to learn a new font. By writing in a way that is different from how you currently write, you can ditch some of the bad habits you currently have and work on developing good habits. One of the easiest fonts to learn is italic handwriting. While it might look fairly similar to your current handwriting, it has some characteristics that make it unique, specifically in the lower-case letters. If you look at any of the letters that have round sections (a, p, q, b, g, etc…) or half-round sections (r, m, n, w, u, etc…), you’ll notice that they are less round and more oval-shaped. Here’s a quick writing example that should show how such a simple change can start to make a difference in how your handwriting looks:

How to improve your handwriting

You can see that, although the differences are subtle, adding a touch of italic style to your handwriting can change the way it looks.

Another font that you can easily practice is printing in all capital letters. I started experimenting with this font about a month ago and am really enjoying it so far. While it isn’t an automatic writing style yet, it is starting to feel more comfortable. It really forces me to slow down and concentrate on my writing so I don’t start writing in lower-case letters (which tends to happen from time to time).

How to improve your handwriting capital letters

Writing in all capital letters forces me to slow down, as I have never written like this before.

What if you’ve never learned cursive and now want to? Take a look at these cursive writing worksheets. They should get you started on the path to writing in cursive. While they might look basic, keep in mind that this is how most people learned how to write in cursive. If you’d prefer a video course, I haven’t taken this one before but have heard good things about it.

If you’re not interested in learning a new style and just want some simple practice or solutions to common problems, this large worksheet has lots of writing prompts that you might find fun. Again, it might seem a little basic, but if you just want to practice writing and don’t know what to write, this is a good place to start.

How to improve your handwriting drills

Here are some simple italic drills. When done on a regular basis, you’ll start to notice a change in your handwriting.

Printing And Using The Worksheets

To get the most out of these worksheets, you’ll want to print them out and write directly on them. I would highly suggest printing them on fountain pen friendly paper like HP 32lb Premium Laserjet. By using nice paper for practice, you’ll actually get to enjoy using your fountain pens while improving your handwriting at the same time.

How to improve your handwriting letters

Practicing on good paper makes it more enjoyable.

If you don’t want to print the guides and prefer to write on blank paper, be sure to download some guide sheets or use the one that came with your paper. These go underneath a blank piece of paper and help you write in a straight line. You can also just build your own lined or dot-grid patterns and print them directly onto the paper of your choice.

How to improve your handwriting

Using a guide sheet will keep your writing straight and more consistent.

Focus On Details To Improve Your Handwriting

Learning a new font is one way to improve your handwriting, but you can also bring about big improvements by focusing on the details of your current writing style. One of the reasons most people aren’t happy with their current handwriting is because it is not very uniform and consistent. Fortunately, it is not very difficult to make significant progress in this area.

First, take a look at your letter size and spacing. Unevenly sized and spaced letters can make handwriting seem sloppy and irregular, even if the actual writing itself is good. When you are writing, focus on the size and spacing of your letters and try to make them more even and uniform.

How to improve your handwriting letter spacing

More even size and spacing can make a big impact on how nice your writing looks.

Next, look at the individual components of your writing, specifically the lines and loops. Again, if they are not consistent, your writing will not look as good as is possible. To improve in this area, simple drills of lines and loops on a regular basis can make a big difference in how your writing looks.

Practice, Practice, Practice

No matter how much you want your handwriting to improve, it won’t happen without practice. In order to see a considerable improvement, you don’t have to spend a huge amount of time practicing every day, but you should plan on doing some daily practice. If you’re not used to writing for an extended period of time, 10 minutes might be a good amount of time to start with. As your stamina increases, gradually increase the amount of time you spend writing. A good target time is 20-30 minutes of writing per day.

Keep in mind that not all of your writing time has to be spent doing drills and practice. While it is important to do drills on a daily basis, you’ll also want to do some practical writing. That could be writing in a journal, writing to a pen pal or writing passages from books, songs or movies.

How to improve your handwriting journal

Practicing your writing in a journal is a great way to improve over time.

Another important part of handwriting practice involves your posture. Proper posture helps you have better and more consistent handwriting. What is the proper posture? Ideally, your feet will be flat on the floor and your knees will be bent at a 90-degree angle. You should also be sitting at the back of your chair instead of on the front of it and sitting up straight. This means no practicing your handwriting while sitting in bed or on the couch.

In addition to how you sit, an important part of posture is how your paper is positioned relative to you. You should sit parallel to your table, but your paper should be turned at a 20 to 45-degree angle so that your writing direction moves away from your body.

How you hold your writing arm also matters. You don’t want your arm to be squeezed into your side, but you don’t want it too far from your body either. Your arm position should be close to perpendicular to your paper and not angling in from one side or the other. Ideally, you will also use your arm rather than your wrist and fingers to move the pen. While it may seem odd at first, decreasing the use of your hand and instead using your arm to write will eventually lead to better control and less fatigue.

Finally, when you’re practicing your writing, keep in mind that your goal is to improve. This means that you don’t need to speed through and write at your typical pace. In this case, quality is more important than quantity. Slow down, take your time and focus on what you are writing and how you are writing it. You’ll be amazed at how much better your handwriting can look when you slow down and focus on the shape, size and spacing of your letters.

Discount Opportunity: Katie, the creator of the handwriting video I linked to, reached out and wanted to offer her course to Fountain Pen Love readers for 50% off! Just click this link or the link in the article for an instant discount. Thanks Katie!

Comments 15

  1. Another technique for improving one’s penmanship is to focus on moving the whole forearm rather than just the wrist to make the letter strokes. This involves more muscles, and larger ones, that help improve accuracy and endurance. If you watch master calligraphers their wrists and fingers barely move at all; the entire arm is used to achieve an incredible degree of fluidity and precision.

    I have recently started the practice regimen to change from a lefty side writer to become an under writer, with the paper properly rotated now about 30 degrees clockwise. It takes a lot of time to undo the eye-posture-hand muscle memory to learn the new approach, but I can see improvements after several weeks. I have made my own guide sheets with pairs of 1/8″ spaced lines for the lower case letters, and that pair spaced 1/4″ apart to allow ascenders and descenders not to overlap. This is the same line spacing as in the Doane pads and I find it a good layout for practice. I also ran a series of 60 degree (off the baseline) diagonal lines across the page to help maintain a consistent slant to the letters. This is a bit more upright than other guide sheets that use 52 degrees, but I find it more comfortable as a lefty. I can make a PDF copy for anyone who wants to use it under blank sheets.

    1. Post

      This is very true and is something that I’m working on myself. It is hard to break the habit of moving one’s fingers and wrist, but in the long run is probably a good thing to learn.

      It sounds like you have undertaken quite the task in changing your own handwriting! I wish you the best of luck and endurance. 🙂

  2. Another important aspect of your penmanship is How you hold the pen. I haven’t visited the video tutorial link and I am sure that is covered, but a brief description here would have be valuable for most writers.

    1. Post

      Phillip, this is definitely worth looking into a bit more. I know that traditionally this is what has been taught, but I’m not convinced that it’s actually true. I have tried changing how I hold my pen in many different ways and none of the suggested ways have helped, even after much practice. Still, I’ll see what I can find and update if necessary. Thanks!

  3. I purposely switched to printing in my journals instead of cursive so that I’d get more shading. But as for actual handwriting, I just try to close the loops in my letters and write as evenly as possible. When I’m warmed up and get into my “rhythm,” the words flow and just look better overall.

    1. Post
  4. Hi, John!

    I’m going to be pedantic here, and point out that “font” refers to the lettering styles on a computer or word processor.

    Handwritten lettering styles are called “hands”. And mechanical lettering styles (typewriters, printing, rubber-stamps) are called “typefaces”.

  5. Fountain pens with triangular grips weaned me out of my 4-finger death grip and dependence on gel pens (esp. those with less ergonomic grip sections). They worked wonders for my hand posture, too, since I no longer felt the need to put too much pressure on the pen while writing.

    1. Post

      That’s interesting! I know that they used to use shaped grips on pens when teaching particular handwriting methods. I can imagine they’d also be good for correcting your “death grip”!

  6. I believe the size of a pen is a critical factor. I’ve purchased pens because they’re really beautiful to look at; I don’t use them, however, because they are are too large or small (I’m speaking of the grip/circumference, of course).

    Typically, if buying in a store
    (or at a pen show), one spends a moment of time on a test drive of sorts, writing only a couple words. And, writing at a table or counter while standing is hardly the experience of writing at the office or at one’s desk.

    1. Post

      That’s an interesting thought, Marc. I suppose the grip size does make a difference in how the pen feels and how you hold it, so it will probably have some impact on your handwriting. Thanks for the input!

  7. Do these still exist? I used to get triangular soft gel tubes for my x-acto knives to keep them from rolling off drawing tables. Then started cutting smaller triangular segments off for my freelancers,
    What are you talking about?

    1. Post

      I think those soft gel tubes still exist. I feel like I’ve seen them recently, but am not sure they’d be able to fit a fountain pen barrel. I think what I may reference are the triangular grips on a Lamy Safari or Al-Star.

  8. Don’t forget air writing. If you’re practicing a hand, hold your pen up, capped, and make the motions in air, using your whole arm, first a couple of times It gets your mind and arm connected to what you are about to do..

    1. Post

      I’ve never heard that before, but have heard that writing on a chalkboard is a great way to learn to write with your whole arm and not your wrist or fingers. I suppose this is very similar.

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