Handwriting is not a skill we practice much past school, especially now that most of our writing is done by keyboard. But, in certain circumstances, we still get judged by the quality of our handwriting.
Unless you’re a doctor, it’s important that your handwriting be at least legible enough that other people can read it. If yours needs a little care, try these tips to keep your lettering from looking as if it was done by a drunken monkey.
GET THE RIGHT GRIP
How you hold your pen affects how you shape the words on your paper. The tighter you grip the pen, the shakier your handwriting will become. The letters will take on a tight, cramped appearance. Hold the pen loosely and naturally between your forefinger and thumb, with the pen resting on your middle finger – not pressed into it hard enough to leave a mark. Hold the pen at a low enough angle that you don’t have to hunch to see what you’re right.
IMPROVE YOUR POSTURE
You should do your writing sitting straight in your chair with your feet flat on the floor a comfortable distance apart. Relax your shoulders and arms so that your writing arm can move smoothly and freely as your pen flows across the paper. Remember that writing involves your entire lower arm, not just your fingers.
USE THE RIGHT PEN
This should be a pen that has the right barrel size to allow you to maintain the proper hold and should have a comfortable grip where you can rest your finger and thumb. The ink should flow easily so that you don’t have to force the pen over the writing surface. Check out our article on selecting the right pen here.
There’s no rush when you are writing by hand. That’s sort of the point of writing that way. You don’t get a reward for being the first person to the end of the sentence. Take the time to carefully form each letter before moving on to the next one. Focus on setting a slow, smooth pace that allows each letter to flow into the next without hesitation. Remember to close all letters.
WATCH YOUR SLANTS AND SPACING
One of the keys to neatness is uniformity. If you’ve ever served in the military, you might remember some instructor saying it doesn’t matter if everyone in the unit is wearing their boots on the wrong feet, as long as everyone is wearing them the same. Odd, yes, but the point is that consistency just looks better. Make sure all of your letters slant in the same direction, at the same angle and that there is a consistent amount of space between each letter.
WORK ON YOUR MANUAL DEXTERITY
Researchers in the UK found that children improved their handwriting by playing games that increased their hand-eye coordination. Practice tying knots, shuffling cards, pen spinning or anything else that strengthens fine motor control. Even video games can help – according to a US study, surgeons who play video games are less prone to make errors. If it can help them with something that delicate, it certainly can improve your handwriting.
PRACTISE YOUR LETTERS
Yes, it will make you feel as if you are back in school, but the only way to improve at anything is by doing it. You don’t have to sit down with a textbook and some lined paper like a schoolboy, though. Just make it a habit to handwrite grocery lists, notes to co-workers and family members, bills, whatever will give you the practice you need. You might even start writing in a journal. As you practise, remember to follow all the tips above.
For more about good handwriting, we always recommend the handwriting guide at Paperpenalia.com.