View Full Version : Handwriting

04-15-1999, 06:41 PM
Has it ever been determined exactly why some people have horrible, illegible handwriting whereas others are blessed with a wonderfully flowing script? I've seen numerous examples of each and there doesn't seem to be a common thread between these people. I've known creative people with each, intelligent people with each, educated people with each.. etc. Even more confusing, I've known artists and graphic designers that can create wonderfully clean, crisp works of art yet couldn't write out a greeting card that can be read without help of a decoder ring. Does handwriting use a different part of the brain than say, drawing a stick figure? Or am I just the only one who cares so it's never been researched. For the record, my handwriting is rather clean and neat so I guess I'm one of the lucky ones.

"I guess it is possible for one person to make a difference, although most of the time they probably shouldn't."

04-15-1999, 08:10 PM
Beats me about handwriting. I'm the youngest of four. Our handwriting goes like this
1. Good
2. Poor
3. Impeccable
4. Nearly illegible

My brothers and I are almost identical in terms of education and fairly close in personality. My brother with the impeccable handwriting probably has the best hand-eye coordination of all of us.

04-15-1999, 08:16 PM
My handwriting is legible but extremely slow, mainly because I hold the pencil wrong. Oddly enough, my eight-year-old cousin holds the pencil exactly the same way I do, even though I've never taught her how to draw anything.

-- Sylence.

"A friend of mine once sent me a post card with a picture of the entire planet Earth taken from space. On the back it said, 'Wish you were here'." - Steven Wright

04-15-1999, 08:18 PM
Catholic School. The nuns would actually grade you on your handwriting!! If it was really bad a ruler could have meen employed!!! We public school kids were held up as objects of scorn when we attended Sunday CCD because of our "lazy" handwriting. A clue to if nuns taught someone -- see if they cross their "T"s at the end of words. If they don't -- Catholic educated through and through.

04-15-1999, 09:38 PM
I think you have something there, ChiefScott. I review job applications daily and have noticed especially with the younger Gen-X people that handwriting is definitely a lost art these days. With growing dependence on computer keyboards, I imagine someday there won't be a need for handwriting at all. However, it's still very difficult for me to view a person with poor handwriting as intelligent...it's the one prejudice I am struggling to overcome!! That, and equating a twangy southern accent with same lack of smarts. Knowhutahmeanvern??

04-16-1999, 01:23 AM
I heard the legibilily of your handwriting is determined by the amount of stress you have. The less stress you have, the more readable your handwriting is. More stress, sloppy handwriting. I think this explains why doctor's notes they write up are so hard to read.

04-16-1999, 01:59 AM
Well, I am the oldest of three sons. We all went to private (not Catholic, though) school where handwriting was a subject and was graded. Here's how our handwriting goes (oldest to youngest):
1) Fair
2) Just plain ugly
3) Somewhere between fair and ugly

I passed handwriting by writing very, very slowly and deliberately. And the only thing I can write in cursive anymore is my signature (unless I move at a snail's pace). If handwriting itself hasn't become a lost art, certainly I've allowed cursive to become one for me. And if makes any difference, both of my parents have better handwriting than any of their sons. And since I hardly ever write in cursive, I cross my T's mid-word, and I wasn't educated by nuns :). Interesting question, Jophiel.

"Give a man a match and he'll be warm for an hour... Set him on fire and he'll be warm for the rest of his life."

04-16-1999, 09:54 AM
More of my $.02!

My cursive, as far as I'm concerned, is horrible*. I took to writing in small caps around about eighth grade (1983-84) for whatever assignments I had and not a single teacher complained. I've often been complimented on my handwriting (one close friend says it looks like a typewriter font).
So there goes JStirl's theory about GenXers all having lousy handwriting ;)

Never really thought about why people's handwriting differs; mostly I just took it as something almost as individual as fingerprints. I concur with the assessment that it doesn't reflect a person's mental capabilities or education - the close friend previously mentioned is a very sharp thinker and I can't read his writing for love nor money.

*I've started playing around with a personally designed cursive and people have commented favorably on that; but it only looks good when I write slowly, except for my signature. I guess that's why small caps works so well - it's easy to write quickly with it.

All Hail Unca Cecil, or the next best thing available!

04-16-1999, 10:15 AM
"However, it's still very difficult for me to view a person with poor handwriting as intelligent...it's the one prejudice I am struggling to overcome!!"

One word for you: Doctors.

My handwriting changes. It all depends whether I expect other people to read it and the time frame involved in me to write it (i.e. taking notes vs. addressing an envelope) I have to say that my handwriting is beautiful for the latter, but it deteriorates to merely legible for the former.

oh, and I was graded on Handwriting as a child in Public Schools. It only lasted up to the second or third grade though and it didn't count against us for getting honor roll.

04-16-1999, 11:06 AM
I went to a Catholic school. I was graded on penmanship. In fact, they kept me after school for extra practice. My handwriting has always been terrible, and in fact, is no better than it was in 3rd or 4th grade. By the time I was in college, I had switched to printing just so others could read what I had written. I think it has more to do with fine-motor skills than anything else (I also can't draw, do needlework, build models or anything else really delicate very well. Fortunately, I can type.) As for what affects your fine-motor skills, could be genetic, could be minor fluctutations in brain chemistry, could be some sort of pre-birth trauma, could be I'm a klutz, who knows?

04-16-1999, 11:28 AM
I've started playing around with a personally designed cursive
This sounds interesting... could I persuade you to scan a sample? I think it'd be interesting to write in a different script than most people, yet still be easily understood.

04-16-1999, 07:42 PM
Wow, what a blast from the past, Chief Scott! My mother never crosses her t's at the ends of words, and I thought it was a Utah thing, since that's where she was born and raised (and attended public schools). Come to think of it, I can't think of a state with less Catholic influences, what with the Mormon oligarchy. Maybe it's a Mormon thing, too? (although she wasn't raised as a Mormon either, for that matter).


While the early bird may get the worm, it's the second mouse that gets the cheese.

04-16-1999, 11:06 PM
I have always noticed that the handwriting of people I know match their personality, but I can never pinpoint why.

One thing I have noticed is that messy handwriting accompanies low self-esteem. My own handwriting is improving as I get older and more confident in myself.

Another factor I have noticed is where the mind is working faster that the hand can move.

BTW - my handwriting has always been on the illegible side - and my IQ is in the 140-150 range. Did someone say bad handwriting was a mark of stupidity?

Those who can't hear the music, think the dancer is mad.

04-17-1999, 01:14 AM
The quality of my handwriting varies.

1) Slow and lovely.
2) Swifter, with long loops and tails, which may be difficult to read at times.
3) Fairly fast printing squudged in with iffy longhand.
4) Very fast chickenscratch.

People who are able to produce very fast lovely handwriting may simply be blessed with more artistic dexterity than I am.

04-20-1999, 09:51 PM
Just as a side note, for the person who said they often associate bad handwriting with a lack of intelligence...I've often heard that some of the most intelligent people had bad handwriting. Reason: Their brain is moving faster than their hands. I notice that when I'm writing very emotional poetry and such and I have a good train of thought going, my handwriting is nearly illegible because I'm trying to get it all out before I forget what I'm saying. However, when I'm trying to work on the grammer of a poem, my handwriting is very neat because my mind is moving slowly. Just a thought...

"Free thinkers are dangerous."~Serj

04-20-1999, 10:08 PM
My cursive looks like a fourth grader's because that's about the last time I used it. Somewhere along the way I decided that my handwriting was going to be a curvy, flowing block print.
That's what I have now, just a funky junky block print, perfectly legible ... unless I am writing quickly, in which case it becomes an unbreakable cryptogram (me: "what do you mean you can't read it?").
I like my handwriting very much actually; too bad in this day and age one generally hacks words out by pushing little squarish buttons. It's just easier that way, and faster too.

this space for rent

08-23-1999, 06:41 AM
My handwriting is so bad as I type at 55 words a minute and I can't write nearly as fast as that.

08-23-1999, 11:23 AM
Apparently, there are also gender differences in handwriting...my handwriting is bad (cursive=illegible, print=bad, yet readable), and I know that, but a lot of people tell me my handwriting is really masculine (I'm female). I don't really get that...why women are just automatically assumed to have pretty, flowery handwriting, and men are assumed to have blockish/haphazard handwriting. Since I print, another uniqueness is that I space words strangely. Oft en myhan dwriting lookslikethis , som ewhat. Handwritings do usually match personalities, though, and I've noticed that teenagers (or others) trying to "find out who they are" experiment with different writings and styles during that period.

"Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past." --1984

08-23-1999, 08:47 PM
Personally, i am rather artistic, but my handwriting varies from:

1. acceptable
2. barely legible
3. more like a scrawl than handwriting.
4. illegible even to myself :)

For me it's because i think much faster than my hand can get it all down on the paper. Sometimes if I am not careful, i will miss an entire letter! But usually i mind what i am doing and it is legible. In my Spanish class last semester, my teacher made us write legibly, or she said she would mark points off if she couldnt recognize the letter. One odd thing i noticed is, women can ready my notes, and handwriting while guys usually have a hard time at it (i am constantly apologizing for the messiness of my notes).

08-23-1999, 09:57 PM
Analog writing implements? Feh.
Handwriting's a dying art, like adding a column of figures.
(Sorry, but it's true).
X -- His Sign

08-23-1999, 10:27 PM
I know exactly why my handwriting sucks...when I was in kindergarten, I was forced to "become" right handed. I had always had left handed tendencies, and I was forced to stop trying to color/write that way, and stop using left handed scissors. My sisters have beautiful handwriting, as does my mom. My writing? Barely legible. I also cannot draw a straight line to save my life. Or cut straight. Interesting..does anyone else remember schools "changing" handedness? Very strange, but true.

An optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity; A pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity.

08-23-1999, 10:27 PM
Jophiel:Has it ever been determined exactly why some people have horrible, illegible handwriting whereas others are blessed with a wonderfully flowing script?

I had forgotten this salient question from the OP. Based on the impeccable source of my 83 year old mother, the quality of handwriting is based on how long a kid crawls around as an infant and toddler. I walked at none months, rarely crawled after that, and have readable, but truly ugly handwriting. My mom frequently quoted some study she apparently saw in the early fifties that linked the duration of crawling with the quality of hand-eye coordination and handwriting. (I have never seen any similar study.)


08-23-1999, 10:29 PM
I walked at nine months. I wasn't quite precocious enough to walk (and spell badly) before I was a month old.


08-24-1999, 05:55 PM
As my husband and I were paying for a meal at the cash register, the cashier asked if we knew how to "write" a capital Q in cursive. Neither one of us could remember how.

Libby's Mom

08-24-1999, 06:04 PM
Sandra, in case you're still wondering, a cursive capital 'Q' looks like a fancy '2.'

08-24-1999, 06:08 PM
here's my 25 cents (i'm more expensive)
alot of times when i am in a hurry, i use caps and lower-case interchangably (so it looks like ElEeT-0 HaX0r text) not intentionaly, but i guess i'm more used to writing certin letters in caps.

eGgO---i mean eggo

08-25-1999, 10:31 PM
I started drafting classes in 8th or 9th grade and I've been printing since. All capitals and very neat and legible. My cursive is appalling, along the lines of a fourth grader, at best. I've worked with some very smart people whos' writing even they couldn't decipher. Ever see a doctors' writing on a prescription?

08-25-1999, 11:08 PM
A southpaw in a Catholic school, say no more. Later, I copied my brothers fast print which I got to look pretty stylish. But, I typed most everything and still do.

What scares me is that I've seen 'please present a hand written letter' on some employment advertisements. I guess some minds are quite made up on the correlation between your handwriting and other abilities. I suppose if the situation popped up again, I should just say, "Look, I'm left handed and went to a Catholic school." If the interviewer couldn't grasp what I was saying, I would just hit him with a ruler.

08-26-1999, 09:45 PM
I once skimmed a book on handwriting analysis whose identifying info I have unfortunately forgotten because I'd love to read it thoroughly. It seemed pretty sensible to me. Some highlights, possibly poorly-recalled--

...Signature style indicates a lot about self-esteem: size does matter [for instance, a tiny, illegible signature may point to low self-image while a flamboyant, large-capitaled one denotes ego, healthy or non. John Hancock, anyone?]

...if the left-hand margin gets wider and wider as you go down the page, you're thinking faster than you write, and if I recall correctly this may point to creativity.

...and there's this thing called the "felon's claw" that a lot of people do with their lower-case y's and g's that is supposed to indicate a psychotic mind...

I'm still looking for this book; it was large, in workbook form so that you could check out yourself and your friends. If anybody runs across something like it, lemme know!!

08-27-1999, 02:10 AM
Q) Enter mail-in or drop-off sweepstakes (random drawings)?

You better be a very decent printer.

Otherwise, do not even consider it.

Most rules politlely instruct you to block print your NAZ (Name, Address, Zipcode).

Block print = all letters in uppercase, printed and not in script.

Do not even bother with script.

Concerning your entry ...

The judging agency will not even try to determine of your name starts with a 'J' or a 'T.'

They will just pick another entry if they can not easily understand your entry.

For all of us lefties out there ...

"Lefties have rights too."


Terence in Marietta, GA

Be someone's hero

08-27-1999, 02:37 AM
I haven't used cursive since elementary school, and have virtually forgotten how to "handwrite." I print everything, and the only thing that I ever write in cursive is my signiture. The quality of my printing is related to how fast I need to write. If I have all the time in the world, then my printing is quite neat. But if I need to write fast, like when taking notes for example, my letters resemble some kind of weird "Adam's shorthand," and they are absolutely illegible to anybody else but me.


"Life is hard...but God is good"

08-27-1999, 08:37 AM
I don't know about the rest of you bad handwriters, but in law school, we had a class on the subject. It was titled "Bad Handwriting 150" and promised to make certain that no one could ever read our notes and actually decipher them, let alone manage to actually determine what it was we had scribbled on a signature line. We had several assignments as the semester went by, on which we were graded down if any of what we wrote was able to be read by the instructor. Learning how to write illegibly, yet be able to read our own writing was a carefully cultivated skill, and I only hope that some day I can enter the annual "Shyster and Quack Penmanship" contest and carry the day for our side over those nefarious scribblers of nonsense, the doctors. ;)

08-27-1999, 09:17 AM
I would hotly debate Zyada's posting. Zy, I have fairly good self esteem. I'm 37...love my work, have found the soul mate of whom we all dream...etc.
My writing is atrocious !!!! I never had proper Penmanship Class in school, and...well. I use a computer for almost everything now. I literally cannot write more than a few sentences without making a mistake, or leaving a letter out ( talk about looking illiterate). And, I don't put much stock in IQ numbers, I don't know what they really mean. I'm at 148- but, what does that have to do with penmanship?? Or, anything??
Typer :)

08-29-1999, 06:31 PM
typertrphy - 'sallright, guess I have to revise my theories! Maybe I just care more now than I used to.

MG, Zette, Pooch - I can't believe they did this to y'all! Not that I don't believe you, I just can't imagine such stupidity! I remember my 3rd grade math teacher (1970) telling us that they did this to her, and thinking how evil & archaic that was.

08-29-1999, 06:40 PM
Here's another Catholic school handwriting horror story. In third grade, my teacher was so offended by the way I held my pen - in between my middle and ring fingers, rather than between my index and middle fingers - that she made me wear a metal brace on my hand that forced me to hold the pen the way she deemed proper.

It didn't work, BTW; to this day I still hold my pen between the "wrong" fingers.

Never regret what seemed like a good idea at the time.

08-30-1999, 01:49 AM
"I know exactly why my handwriting sucks...when I was in kindergarten, I was forced to "become" right handed."

"A southpaw in a Catholic school, say no more."

Gosh, it's nice to know that I'm not the only one. I've always experienced some co-ordination problems because of my "lefty" tendencies. I can still switch back to left hand writing without too much trouble, but lack practice. The nuns believed that left-handedness was the devils influence, or so I've been told.
My daughter is left-handed, and she has beautiful cursive, although she usually prints. The teachers tried to "cure" her in kindergarden (1977), but I raised a fuss. So they left her alone. Do they still do this?

Work like you don't need the money.....
Love like you've never been hurt.....
Dance like nobody's watching! ....(Paraphrased)