10 Reasons to Improve Your Handwriting

In today’s modern world, with computers and phones and iPads,  penmanship is a dying art. I’m no exception. When I do have to write something down on paper, it’s messy, slow, and makes my fingers cramp. So I’ve decided I’ll do something about it, and improve my handwriting. But first, I thought I’d ask why. So here are 10 Reasons you should improve your handwriting.

Improve your handwriting

10. You still need to. Despite the promise of a paperless office, you can’t write everything on a computer. Post-it notes, diaries, exercise books, you do still need to write longhand sometimes. Having great handwriting comes in very handy for things like job applications, school assignments, love letters (ooh la la) and other, less interesting but still necessary, platonic letters.

9. The written word is more personal. The world is full of emails, text messages and facebook these days, and all it takes is for you to take your pen out and write something down to give your messages a personal touch.

8. To stand out from the crowd. Because of all the computers and mobile phones in the world, no-one else can write well any more. Having neat writing these days, rather than being the norm, can set you apart.

7. So you have an impressive signature. Everyone has a signature; what does yours look like? Like a chicken’s scratchings on a wooden floor? Or beautiful, flowing strokes that make the reader sigh with admiration and feel a little twinge of jealousy?

6. Because I can’t understand a word you write. Or so a colleague once told me. Many people have the same problem. Your handwriting’s too messy. You can type out a text message or email fine, but as soon as it comes to writing by hand, no-one can understand what you mean. Practise writing by hand, and get your point across without resorting to a computer (I love the irony of this: I realise I’m writing on a computer right now, but the point remains).

Man writing

5. For your hand-eye coordination. Handwriting is an excellent way to practise the fine motor control and coordination of your fingers, hand and arm.

4. Writing trains your brain. Studies have shown that writing with a pen and paper is a more effective memory aid, and better for cognitive development, than typing on a computer. for all the convenience of using computers. Fewer and fewer schools are teaching or assessing penmanship, opting for a more tech-savvy focus, so learning to improve your handwriting is left more and more to the individual. And hence this website.

3. It delays the onset of dementia. Hand writing is good for memory and learning because it’s such a good cognitive exercise, and a side effect of exercising your brain like this is the delay it will cause in dementia as you age.

2. Better handwriting means faster writing. Students with better handwriting are able to compose essays faster than their computer-using peers when it comes to writing either on paper or on a screen.

1. It’s good for your grades. Thought school papers were graded solely on the merit of their content? Think again. Studies have shown that, despite the best intentions of the grader, a middle-of-the-road 50th percentile paper can be graded as high as the 84th percentile, or as low as the 16th percentile, depending on the penmanship it was written with. Want better grades? Improve your handwriting!

Improve Handwriting

Having neat handwriting is the exception rather than the rule, therefore someone who writes with an exceptionally neat hand is going to fair measurably better than someone who writes sloppily and illegibly. While I’m sure you’ve your own personal reasons for wanting to improve handwriting neatness, there are other benefits – not so obvious – in having a neat hand, which I’ll go into, so it’s well worth it. Don’t be intimidated: small improvements gradually make big improvements, and with the 5 simple tips I’m going to give you and some regular practice I’m sure you can improve handwriting neatness and legibility ten-fold, at least.

  1. Don’t try to be fancy. It’s easy to see the many examples of excellent handwriting with swirls and curls and try to replicate it, only for it to come off all wrong. Get the basics down first, A – Z, separated/printed, in lower and upper case, along with numbers 0 – 9.
  2. Practice flow and consistency by using small-squared mathematics paper and repeatedly drawing different shapes or letters over and over again with the same size and shape. Consistency is 95% of neat, legible handwriting. (It’s like deciphering a code; once the reader knows what one ‘symbol’ is, the ability to understand repeated symbols comes automatically. So make it as easy to decipher as possible.)
  3. Relax your hand and let it glide. The worst thing you can do when handwriting is trying to press too hard and strain. A tense, rigid hand is never a neat hand.
  4. Slow it down; you don’t have to write at 100 words per minute. The slower you write, the more control you have over neatness. In time, you can learn to increase speed and still retain neatness.
  5. Write small, but not too small. The idea is, the smaller you write, the neater you can make your writing – but don’t be so small that people can’t read it without squinting.

Tips For Job Applications & Bills

If you don’t have very good handwriting job applications can be a nightmare. You know full well that you are being judged by your handwriting, so if ever there were a perfect reason to improve handwriting skills then this is it.

Job applications are one such example of a time when you shouldn’t ever use joined-up calligraphic handwriting. Even if your calligraphic handwriting is neat, the chances are the person on the receiving end may struggle to read what you have written. And, you can bet your bottom dollar they won’t waste valuable time trying to decipher it; they’ll simply toss it to one side (or in the trash) and move on to the next.

Always write job applications in separated, well formed letters; preferably block capitals. It leaves far less margin for error on the readers part.

I also urge you to write out a draft copy and treat it as if it were the actual application itself. Sure, it may turn out perfect and you may kick yourself thinking it was a waste – but you’ve just proven to yourself that you can do it to your satisfaction, and getting it right a second time will be much more automatic. (Also, don’t worry if it isn’t quite as neat as the draft, that’s just becoming obsessed; the main thing is it’s neat enough to understand and doesn’t look as if it were written by someone who doesn’t care.)

As for bills, neatness and legibility is crucial. Many mistakes are made because the reader simply couldn’t understand the writing. Make it simple for them to understand and use separated, printed block capitals. Never try to be fancy when paying bills.

Conclusion

There are many ways to improve handwriting technique, and these are just a few which I and others have found useful over the years. All in all it really is all about practicing and making small improvements. If you consistently practice bad form, a bad outcome is what you’ll get. Practice good form, and only good can come of it.