Calligraphy & Penmanship


  • Carolingian Script
  • Black Letter
  • Italic Script
  • Copperplate Style
  • Spencerian Script
    • Spencerian cursive
  • Palmer Method
  • D’Nealian script

Benefits of learning some sort of cursive script

Anecdotally, I’ve seen the power of handwriting (particularly cursive handwriting) boost learning in my own life. Whenever I get stuck on an idea, I naturally turn to pen and paper to work out the problem. I did this in law school when I was having trouble grasping a difficult legal concept. I’d just get a legal pad and start writing in cursive, and 9 times out of 10, after thirty minutes or so, clarity came.

[…] when done correctly, writing in cursive is much less tiring than writing in manuscript. Remember, one of the reasons cursive was developed was to make writing for long periods of time easier. I’m able to write in cursive for over an hour in my journal sometimes without feeling any fatigue or cramping in my hand.

How to improve penmanship

  1. Some sort of specially designed course would be the safest option
  2. Review your letters – get a reference alphabet, write some cursive and compare looking for what can be improved.
  3. Position your paper correctly –  the top right and bottom left corners of your paper should line up in a straight line with your nose.
  4. Stay in the “writing zone” – is the four-to-six inch area between your hands when they’re in the position as described above

    “Before starting to write, shift the paper to the right until the left side of the paper is in the ‘writing zone.’ Then, after writing toward the right side of the paper for about two or three inches, stop, shift the paper to the left a few inches [with your non-writing hand], and continue writing for the next few inches. Then shift the paper as before and continue this process throughout to the end of the page.”

  5. Keep things loose and airy – when you make a curve stroke, think of it as part of an entire oval.
  6. Movement exercises – When you do these exercises, really focus on maintaining an easy, light touch. Don’t tense up.



  7. Move your whole hand and wrist for capital letters, your fingers just for lowercase letters.
  8. Don’t write too fast – Focus on making neat, well-formed letters and words. Speed will come as you get the movements down.
  9. Practice 20 minutes every day –  Start off with five minutes of movement exercises, and then spend the rest of the time focusing on a letter.
  10. Another way to sneak in some handwriting practice while simultaneously working on improving your writing ability is to do copywork by hand.



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