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.”

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.

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

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.

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??

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.

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.”

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 :wink:

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!

“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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

My handwriting is so bad as I type at 55 words a minute and I can’t write nearly as fast as that.

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

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 :slight_smile:
    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).

Analog writing implements? Feh.
Handwriting’s a dying art, like adding a column of figures.
(Sorry, but it’s true).
X – His Sign