View Full Version : The Penmanship Thread
06-25-2001, 11:30 PM
Who here is disturbed by poor penmanship? (By the way, penpersonship just doesn't even cut it, so don't get me started.) I know that I am. The last woman that I lived with had pure henscratch for writing which (as I found out later), sadly enough matched her educational background. However, higher education is no guarantee of correct calligraphy. Recall one or two jokes about the handwriting of doctors and I'm sure you'll see what I mean.
I currently work with a supervisor who is, quite simply, one of the finest that I have ever reported to. Yet, his handwriting is astonishingly poor. I say this because he has shown such a depth of knowledge, in addition to both human compassion and managerial savvy, that I am hard pressed to let him slide on this seemingly single flaw.
BUT I CAN'T! Nor can I let slip the poor writing of just about any able bodied individual. I am rather unapologetic about this. To quote Homer Simpson;
"Max Power does not apologize for anything, Lisa. I'm sorry, that's just the way it is."
To me, your scriven word is a large part of what you are. I do not mean to attach too much meaning to the written word and its syntax or grammar, but to the personal artifact that you display in its shape upon the page. What do you wish for people to see of you? What impression, literally, do you wish to make upon the world? I've had to repeat weeks of painstaking vacuum metallurgy laboratory experiments, solely due to the fact that the departing technician left completely indecipherable notes in his personal logbook.
I suppose this is the perfect juncture to praise the invention of the word processor and spreadsheet. The elimination of latitude in text based expression has probably redeemed even the combined computer-mutilation sins of Intel, Microsoft and IBM combined (hard as that may be to comprehend). When you consider the unnecessary deaths that have occurred due to unreadable doctor's prescriptions given to pharmacists alone, the value rapidly becomes apparent.
Without wishing to depart from the graphological theme of this thread, let us combine comments upon the virtues of good penmanship and the wonderful tree and labor-saving aspect of the word processor. Of course, all of this evolves from praising the digital computer and it's applications, but that is for another thread.
Let's hear it, yea or nay? Is penmanship still important in this age of computers and screen displays? I say that it is! There will never be any sort of suitable replacement for the timely and immediate expression of thought obtained by putting pen to page. Yes, I admit that almost 90% of all text based expression (since 80% of it is totally business related) could, nay, should be digitally based. Yet, despite the ever-shrinking need to manually write upon a page of paper, I cannot see any reason to allow such a blatant discourtesy to the world as letting slip undecipherable writing.
Does anyone here really think that forcing other people (most often, complete strangers) to spend extra time decoding your out-of-tolerance penmanship is honorable? I have been told that my handwriting is "disgustingly neat", the word "typewriter" frequently is mentioned. All I know is that people never return my documents because they cannot read them. I also know that many times my submissions have been processed first because of their legibility. Is there anyone else here who holds dear their penmanship?
06-25-2001, 11:38 PM
What? You mean some people actually still write?
Fairy Princess Kitty
06-26-2001, 12:58 AM
I seriously think you're making too big of a deal out of this. I have horrible penmanship when I write for myself, I can read it, and it takes less time. When I try to write decently I have good penmanship, but it takes a nice long time. I agree with you on the joys and benefits of word processors, I love them. However, you can't automatically condemn people for the way they write, you'd be condemning the vast majority of teenaged males, and many of them grow up to be perfectly respectable people don't they?
06-26-2001, 01:26 AM
originally posted by Zenster
To me, your scriven word is a large part of what you are.
You mean, I think, when writing something for others to read. I have messy handwriting, so when I prepare something, I always use a word processor. That takes care of the Honor question.
originally posted by Zenster
Is there anyone else here who holds dear their penmanship?
IMHO, it is good to do so, and I'm glad that you do so.
06-26-2001, 01:35 AM
My handwriting is impossibly bad. It looks like the work of a drunk nine year-old with Parkinson's Disease.
In fact, I fear for the day my stepson is of school age, and I'm expected to write his teacher an excuse note which doesn't look like a child's forgery. Seriously!
Worst thing is, I'm a Justice of the Peace, so I'm expected to witness documents for people. Boy, did I rush out and get stamps made up ASAP.
06-26-2001, 02:14 AM
I have great handwriting that comes from years of being rapped on the knuckles by nuns with rulers. We practiced all sorts of penmanship exercises daily.
The computer and word processer have made most handwriting obsolete, but there's always a note from my boss or a handwritten card that can be difficult to decipher. When someone doesn't try a little harder to make their writing legible I usually think it's an ego thing. Amazes me that in the corporate world they'll polish everything but their writing.
06-26-2001, 05:20 AM
I am a calligrapher - my letters on the page flow with a very subtle rhythm and flow, each letter a joy to behold, each word laughs, whispers, each sentence commands attention. I'm damned good at calligraphy.
My normal penmanship, OTOH, is cramped and wobbly. If I am writing a letter, by the time I finish, it looks like it was written by 6 different people during an earthquake, the style, slant, and pressure change so much.
06-26-2001, 05:26 AM
I think what we should keep in mind is that poor penmanship is not a global thing. In China and Japan in particular excellent penmanship is taught and stressed to school children. From the start, kids are taught the importance of the method of writing the Chinese characters or "ji," and in Japan they in addition taught the method for writing hiragana and katakana. Each person's personality shows through still in his/her writing, but for the most part that person's writing is clear because the method is stressed.
I've said all of that to say that in America, that unfortunately is not the case. Perhaps I'm dating myself, but I remember learning basic penmanship in kindergarten and first grade. We had workbooks where we'd have to practice the method of how to write the alphabet in cursive and in print form, but after that all emphasis on penmanship went by the wayside. Now I can barely read my own handwriting. I think this is a shame because there is an art to writing legibly. The school curriculum should be revised to incorporate more penmanship classes among other things.
Regarding handwriting being obsolete, no I don't think so. It's nice to have word processors, but I think we still need to write things out by hand because we may not always have a computer or palm pilot or whatever these newfandangled things are available, and what do you do if the power goes off or the computer blows up? Also there are still things we need to use pens for like signatures. I'm a nerd though. I love graphology, amateur at it that I am. There's something thrilling and fascinating about getting a note or letter that is handwritten. I savor reading handwritten material because it's special. It's indicative of someone who took the extra time to write something out, and then I also try to determine something of the personality of the person based on his/her handwriting.
06-26-2001, 06:02 AM
I hate cursive. Never, ever use it except when signing my name. I wish more people would stick to basic, unadorned printing.
06-26-2001, 07:04 AM
I can write legibly if necessary, but I've never had pretty handwriting. I was always racing to keep up with my brain, so there was no time to be neat... word processors have been a blessing to me.
My personal peeve has to do with people who "stylize" their penmanship so that it may be attractive, but it remains indecipherable. And don't get me started on weird ways some folks dot their i's...
06-26-2001, 08:09 AM
My penmanship is terrible, to my eternal shame. All I can say is that I was forced to be a "righty" instead of a "lefty", and it seemed to do something to my coordination. I've always had terrible handwriting.
What's hard for me is that I hate looking at bad writing. When it's as large and childish looking as mine, it makes you assume that the writer is a dumbass with nothing important to say. I keep vowing to spend more time improving my writing, but it keeps getting worse (meanwhile, my typing speed is way up).
06-26-2001, 08:18 AM
While I myself HATE HATE HATE people who have illegible handwriting (and poor spelling, but that's another thread), I am ashamed to admit that...my cursive is nigh-on illegible.
I couldn't even read it myself at times when I was growing up. Then my engineer father took it upon himself to teach me block printing as done on blueprints. Much better and it has that cool industrial chic quality. Very occasionally, like on birthday cards or when copying poems for my wife on special occasions, I'll use cursive, but it's a pain in the ass.
I guess this wouldn't be so bad if my mother wasn't an elementary school teacher, and had all the necessary penmanship guides when I was growing up. I don't actually think it's necessary to survival any more, but it is bloody civilised.
Now if we can just teach composition and how not to sound like a gopher hopped up on methamphetamine when typing emails, then I'll be happy.
06-26-2001, 10:15 AM
I have "elegant" cursive. That causes dizzyness after about a page. (All those long slanted lines, all the thin letters...) The long thin disease as infected my printing too, but that is at least readable without asprin.
None of it is particularly pretty. I taught myself calligraphy so I can write nice letters, but that is about it. (snail mail letters.)
Is it important? Um...for close friends, yes. Those are the only people who see my handwriting. Anything remotely offical I type up and print out. I see handwriting as another sign of love, trust and care. And I don't do it much for stranger's eyes. (Beyond that whole 'sign here please' deal.)
Professionally? I don't know. I haven't spent much time in "the real world" but in academia we pretty much stick to our own notes or type everything.
06-26-2001, 10:33 AM
I think I must have had a premonition when I was a kid because I never put much effort into penmanship. I'd always get C's instead of my usual A's. Hell, I can't even write cursive anymore. I just print. And you know what? The only thing I use handwriting anymore is to write grocery lists. Even when I writes for papers and articles it's usually in a half-symbolic shorthand I use to quickly jot down ideas only intended for my own eyes.
Which is good, because my handwriting, even when I TRY to be neat, looks like someone soaked a bunch of epileptic caterpillars in ink and threw them on the page.
06-26-2001, 11:02 AM
I actually had a handwriting tutor when I was a kid. My mom bought me a goofy-looking stuffed spider to represent my handwriting, which looked as if a drunken spider had been dipped in ink, and left to wander about a wasteland of paper for a night. In the dark.
I learned to type when I was 12. And this year, I got a palm pilot. Do you have any idea of the joy I feel when I write the little characters, and they come out legibly on the screen? It's rhapsodic.
It's not always laziness that causes poor penmanship, no matter what endless generations of nuns may have to say about it. Some of us just suck at it.
06-26-2001, 11:58 AM
Poor penmanship pisses me off like few other things. My feeling is that if you're writing is illegible, print. If you can't print legibly, teach yourself.
We have a communication book at work where we relay messages to other staff members and write daily logs. I consider it fairly important that I know what is going on and if I can't read your writing this causes some problems for myself and everyone else.
I once commented on one of my co-workers handwriting which is usually pretty good. She had written some medical info about a client except that I couldn't tell which client it was due to the similarity of the names. I told her that her r's were indistinguishable from her n's. She was really pissed off until a few other people made the same comment.
Now she prints these people's names. End of confusion.
People tell me I have "beautiful" handwriting or that I write like a girl. What the heck does that mean?
My penmanship declined steadily through elementary school, and it was a relief when I entered junior high school and we were allowed to print if we so desired. So, like a good little illiterate, I happily printed everything in a legible font rather than struggle to scribe it.
However, I've now noticed that even my printing has become haphazard - for example, when I print the word 'WILL', it looks more like 'LLLLL', as every letter segues into the one after it. I suppose if I'm going to put pen to paper to write a word without lifting the pen, I may as well use cursive, but that's even more illegible. A word that ends in 'NG' turns out as '~G'.
I only use cursive to sign my name or to write the dollars-and-cents on a check, and both of those are pretty nonsensical.
Yes, I admit to feelings of guilt and embarrassment over this.
06-26-2001, 06:54 PM
My penmanship hit a low point with lots of D's for penmanship in elementary school, and it hasn't gotten a lick better in 20yrs. The worst part is trying to read my own writing a few days later, and not being able to... I'm always embarassed when writing out stuff on a group birthday card at work, because everyone has to look at my ugly scrawl. I don't even think I could write in cursive anymore, since I only use it for my signature.
Oh well, something has to be on the bottom of my to do list, and improving my handwriting must be it.
06-26-2001, 10:26 PM
I also print as well. Being left-handed, I'm not cut out for cursive. I can print faster than a lot of people can write cursive, so I have no problem with speed. I could care less what font you use as long as it is legible. I have a very nice but very slow cursive hand as well.
06-26-2001, 10:34 PM
I spent a sizable portion of Saturday morning forcing myself to write legibly--the "bounty contract" props I was writing out were actually enforced later in the game, so the Gamemasters had to be able to read them. Generally speaking, my writing is small and unaesthetic, but readable. My print is a little better, but still a far cry from "elegant". I've never seen sufficient reason to put in the incredible amount of practice it would take to improve it significantly--the content matters far more to me than the presentation.
06-26-2001, 10:53 PM
Originally posted by Zenster
I also print as well. Being left-handed, I'm not cut out for cursive.
Same here. To make matters worse, I'm a hooking left-hander, so my cursive is extremely slanted and also usually smeared. So I print mostly, using cursive only when applying my signature, which is legible but only because I spent a very long time practicing it back in school.
06-26-2001, 11:57 PM
My handwriting is relentlessly legible. I used to wish I had an illegible signature, thinking it would make me seem more grown up. The legibility thing is a hold-over from lots and lots of childhood practice to try and achieve my mother's almost font-like perfection. Her style is a combination of printing and cursive, and so is mine. And no one ever has a problem reading it. The only flaw in my handwriting is that my penstrokes are so hard it's more like I'm carving words than writing them. But the only one that hurts is me, when my hand starts cramping.
06-27-2001, 12:17 AM
I have beautiful cursive. I believe that this is a direct result of both of my grandmothers being schoolteachers, and I take pride in what I do to an almost anal extreme.
I do not scribble notes at work. I don't dash off messy little notes. Everything I do is legible.
That being said, I don't spend much time writing. Everything at work is put in to the computer system. I prefer to e-mail rather than snail-mail; but I will (and do) send off snail-mail letters quite often.
06-27-2001, 01:17 PM
First of all, I have to say that some of the most intelligent people I've met have horrendus penmanship. And aside from doctors, other professions appear to also promote "letter decay" - especially the physicists and chemists I work with.
Secondly, I'm surprised there's no draftsmen or engineers in this conversation. We can testify that good penmanship, or "lettering," as we were taught it for print text, is achievable only through practice, practice, practice.
In high school drafting class, lettering is typically something like one-fifth of the grade of a drawing. Letters have to be perfectly formed, spaced, and sized, and have a consistent line quality. Draftsmen are almost as anal about lettering as calligraphers, and most engineers (at least in my day) took at least one year of drafting training.
I took four. I loved technical drawings of all kinds.
By the end of the second year I stopped writing cursive altogether and used print only just to improve my lettering, since it was limiting my drawing scores.
Also, in college, engineering classes required pages and pages of notes, homework, essay problems, etc. - and not just in text, but equations, schematics and drawings. And it all had to be legible. So I adopted several letter and number forms to make some characters more unique, like the bar through the '7' and 'Z' and other contrivances.
Today, 20 years later, I still only print, but I've invented my own (perfectly legible) forms for many letters, and sped up my hand even more (thanks to the Uniball Micro pen), to the point where sometimes my printed text looks cursive. I now understand how some of the cursive forms evolved.
I could still never figure out how they got the lower case 'z' though...
06-27-2001, 01:25 PM
My handwriting is getting worse and worse.
The thing is that now I only write two things. Notes while I go through voicemail and checks for the monthly bills. If I used my banks internet features more I wouldn't even write out the checks.
I was taught cursive in third grade and I hated that teacher. I also thougth cursive was a very apt name because I cursed the entire time I was learning it.
06-27-2001, 02:17 PM
Sorry, bughunter. I'm an engineer, but I've never had a drafting class--probably just as well, as my native talent for drawing would make a cat laugh. I did quite a lot of preliminary drafts at my last job, but all I had to do was make them clear enough for our CAD specialist to input them. My drafting and particularly my lettering improved considerably while I was doing that job--filling hundreds of pages with wiring diagrams provided considerable practice--but it's not up to the standards of any real draftsman.
BTW, I bar "Z"s but not "7"s--the latter are easily distinguishable as it is.
06-27-2001, 02:37 PM
My handwriting was illegible, so I improved it. It takes practice, but it's worth it. Even though I rarely have to handwrite anything, when I have to do it, I can now write quickly and legibly.
As someone who's been there, I don't look down my nose at people with bad handwriting, but if I can't read your homework, I don't get out a magnifying glass to decipher it--I just write, "Sorry, can't read this." and give it a big fat zero.
Funny story: I had to get measured for a bride's maid's dress. I had jotted down the particulars: the style number, and the color, which was indigo. I hadn't taken particular care in writing the color, and I noticed that the girl who took my measurments had copied the color as mango. (You can see how that could happen with sloppy handwriting!) Luckily, I was just emailing my measurements to the bride, and she ordered the dresses. Can you imagine if they'd sent in my form? I can just imagine her unpacked her order of five dark blue dresses. . . and one orange one?
Then again, think of the brides who would actually dress their bride's maids in mango.
06-27-2001, 03:36 PM
I put myself through architecture school doing drafting for a civil engineer. My printing is almost machine-like, a curse now that I'm in a different profession. Group meetings that require a whiteboard scribe inevitably start out with people pointing at me or sticking me in the ass to get up and write.
I trained at the knee of an old timer who had developed and perfected the most beautiful printing I ever expect to see. His lettering was decidedly NOT machine-like. It was graceful and alive, every shape and stroke infused with the subtle swells and finish of the Parthenon. Stunning.
I'm sure he's dead now, along with his art.
06-27-2001, 06:02 PM
Yeah, Balance, CAD has replaced the art of technical drawing. Most "draftsmen" these days never got the chance to develop their lettering skills - maybe they did a few hand drawings in high school, but they soon moved on to learning AutoCAD, and let the software do the lettering.
And even when I was in college, only ME's were required to take technical drawing. It was elective for all other disciplines.
06-27-2001, 06:10 PM
Originally posted by bughunter
...Secondly, I'm surprised there's no draftsmen or engineers in this conversation... Done both.
06-27-2001, 07:36 PM
FairyChatMom would hate me. My signature is totally illegible. But it's not my fault!
I tried so hard in school to have good handwriting. My writing's better than it was back then, but not much. I used to sign my name as neatly as I could, but I always thought it looked dorky. So, one day when I was a teenager, I signed it how I thought it should look. Quick, easy, efficient, and good-looking, but totally illegible. Then it hit me: it looked almost exactly like my mom's.
So what can I say? It's genetic. :(
At least, that's what I keep telling myself.
06-27-2001, 08:46 PM
Heh. Penmanship. Ask Gunslinger. I refuse to type letters to him, because he's worth the effort of writing longhand, but sometimes I wonder whether it's worth the effort on HIS end - I'm certainly not doing him any favors with my scrawls...
I've never been able to properly execute a cursive lowercase r or uppercase G. Therefore I have invented my own ciphers for these letters. And the word "it," in my handwriting, becomes a single loop with a dot hovering above it.
My signature looks more or less like |---||-- C|---|-
06-28-2001, 02:16 AM
Ugh! Bad penmanship is a real sore spot for me. In high school I had a teacher that would put his hand-written notes up on the overhead. He wrote in cursive, and he didn't cross his "t's" or ([wayne's world 2]lower case j's[/wayne's world 2]) "i's." So it was impossible to decipher most words and if they had a "t" or an "i" or both you might as well forget about it.
I have also looked over employee surveys at a business and taken down their hand-written comments. Ugh! That was awful! People would use abbreviations and I was very surprised to see how poor people were at spelling (now watch, I probably mis-spelled something in the post).
Penmanship is important!
As for me I have nice hand writing. So nice that when in HS I was often told that my writing "looks like a girl's." I guess they meant it was legible, so I thought of it as a compliment. However, as I've taken more classes that required lots of note taking and started to use the computer more, my hand writing has declined. It's still completely legible and easy to read, but it has dropped off in quality. The quality of my personal notes taken during class is extrememly poor, because I'm trying to write fast so that I don't miss any info.
06-28-2001, 02:20 AM
It's too late/early go to bed Dig!
He wrote in cursive, and he didn't cross his "t's" or ([wayne's world 2]lower case j's[/wayne's world 2]) "i's."
He didn't dot his "i's" (or lower case "j's" :D ).
06-28-2001, 03:21 AM
I've got a kid who has been diagnosed with dysgraphia. It's a condition where fine motor planning and fine motor control is lacking. Looking at why he was diagnosed with it, I'm seeing why my handwriting is so illegible. It's not as simple as saying practise, practise, practise for some of us. I wish it was.
I'll be thrilled if my kid is able to write an entire sentence tidily and legibly let alone worrying about what it looks like. We're moving to keyboarding lessons in the short term and he will have a laptop in the classroom.
I know that it's not true for most of us but I guess I felt the need to say that some people have a recognised disability in this area. The dysgraphia overlaps with dyslexia and sensory integration dysfunction and all those other fun diagnoses.
On a sidenote bad handwriting is not indicative of low intelligence. Many, many kids who score in the highest percentiles also have dysgraphia and other neurological conditions.
06-28-2001, 01:54 PM
I have been very frustrated with my own penmanship, and two months ago I began keeping a journal, the purpose of which (at least one purpose) is to practice writing. Even in that short amount of time (only maybe twelve enteries or so) I have seen a definite improvement in the elegance, or whatever, of my penmanship.
06-28-2001, 02:22 PM
I agree that penmanship says something about the writer. Poor penmanship in myself would piss me off. When I see others’ handwriting that looks sloppy, or wobbly, I tend to immediately think “illiterate dumbass” and shortly after that repent and think “maybe they just don’t have the patience to practice modulating the way I did”. I did actually practice creating letters and numbers in a particular way. I decided how I wanted each letter to look, then made that letter over and over like a first grader until it consistantly looked how I wanted it to look.
I capitalize all Rs, regardless of where they occur. Aside from that one quirk, my handwriting runs to minimalist. I used to make funny Es that looked like backwards 3s and for a while my lowercase As looked like typwriter As, but I got past that. People frequently ask me to print things for them that will be sent out or displayed somewhere, so apparently I pass muster in the handwriting department. I do (in my opinion) a fair caps-lowercase-combo, and a quite nice uniform block print when it strikes my fancy. I cannot write in cursive at all, except my own name, which took me forever to work out. A nice cursive D was worth the effort, especially since I have two.
06-28-2001, 02:46 PM
It's not as simple as saying practise, practise, practise for some of us.
No. If you have a handicap like dysgraphia, then it's practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice.
06-28-2001, 05:15 PM
Sure. And even then you're very unlikely to come out with perfect handwriting that would pass the Tidy Handwriting Police standards ;)
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