How to Improve Handwriting: 10 Great Tips to Up Your Handwriting Skills

Struggling with bad handwriting, ugly cursive, or shaky letterforms? Read our guide with top tips on how to improve your handwriting!

You’ve got to hand it to handwriting! The average student spends 60% of their time in school writing, even in this increasingly digital world. And, there’s still a great benefit to writing by hand. Handwriting helps you process information more fully, articulate your knowledge, and even make connections with others. 

Unfortunately, many people struggle with poor handwriting, even after years of practice. That’s because learning how to improve handwriting involves learning several things (and maybe forgetting a few bad practices). But you can learn right here and start putting concepts into practice.

How can you assess what you need to improve? What tools do you need for nicer handwriting? How should you practice your handwriting skills? How to turn your chicken scratch into lines that are pleasing to the eye? Answer these questions and you can have perfect penmanship in no time.

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Here are 10 tips to follow to improve your handwriting:

1. Assess Your Current Handwriting

Before you attempt to improve your handwriting, let’s see where your current autography stands.

Write a paragraph on any subject of your choice. Try to use each letter in the alphabet and words of different lengths and structures. If you’re not up to writing something new, you can copy a paragraph from a book, but it should be several sentences long. 

Read the paragraph over so you have a basic sense of what your handwriting is. Then take a pen and circle the letters that exhibit the primary shapes of your handwriting. You may write with a lot of hard corners, loops, or straight lines. 

You should then take a look at the slant of your writing. Draw straight lines to see if your handwriting slants to one side or another. You should check the alignment of your letters, seeing if you write them at an angle to the lines.

Draw lines underneath the spaces between your words. There should be just enough space to fit another letter in between each word. However, the lines that form your letters should be straight and easy to read without taking too much space. 

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2. Look at Handwriting Styles and Calligraphy

You can take handwriting inspiration from people with better form. You can watch them while they write and emulate what they do to improve your own writing form. 

Try to study people with different handwriting styles and fonts. For example, print handwriting (block letters) involves lifting the pen off the page with each letter, which can make letters neater. This is like hand lettering, where you focus on each letterform.

But you can also examine cursive writing, especially more modern forms of it. Cursive is a penmanship style where each letter of a single word connects with the next. Cursive writing is ideal for long-form texts, as you don’t need to lift the point of the writing utensil from the paper after each letter.

Calligraphy is the visual art of writing. Calligraphers try to produce the most visually appealing words possible, using pens and fancy ink to create their art. You can take inspiration from calligraphy styles to adapt your own handwriting style and create more pleasing letters. 

3. Use a High-Quality Pen for Good Handwriting

There is no one pen that works for everybody, and there’s no writing instrument that specifically causes bad handwriting. In general, you want a pen that is easy to grip and manipulate with your fingertips. 

Most people enjoy ballpoint pens with rounded tips. They are inexpensive and easy to use, but the ink may take some time to dry, especially on low-quality paper. Fountain pens are similar to ballpoint pens, as it has a metal nib on the tip to help apply the water-based ink.

If you want your ink to dry faster, you can use rollerball pens. They also have small and rounded tips, and they are roughly the same price as ballpoint products. Thin-tipped pens produce lines that may look neater than wide-tipped ones. 

Gel pens have a thicker line width than the fountain pen, which makes it a better choice for writing big letters. And, of course, there’s the pencil, the popular school writing instrument from yesteryear. If you need to write neatly and have only one shot, a pencil might be a good idea, as an eraser can help you mend your mistakes.

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4. Select Good Paper

Don’t forget to consider the paper when practicing handwriting improvement techniques!

Lined paper can make it easier for you to avoid slanting or misaligning your letters. You can get paper with wide lines so you have enough space to fit your letters, but don’t get sheets with very large spaces.

Your paper should be thick enough that your pen cannot break through it. Try to avoid using paper with a coating on it, as it can cause your hand to slide around.

You should always put a second piece of paper underneath the paper you are writing on. This gives your pen and hand additional support as you write.

practicing cursive handwriting and calligraphy

5. Write on a Stable Surface

To improve handwriting, you need to improve your desk. If it wobbles, you should prop it against a wall or fix the legs so the desk stays sturdy. You can write while holding your paper against your legs, but you should fix your feet to the floor and sit in a good chair.

Give yourself plenty of space to move your hands and arms. You should clear a few inches around your paper so you don’t bump into anything. You should also remove any objects that can become damaged if the ink runs off the page. One elementary tip for great handwriting is keeping the pen on the page! 😉

You can hold your paper down with one hand. Hold it down in a corner with your fingertips rather than using the entire arm of your non-writing hand. Laying your hand across part of your paper limits the room you have and can cause the ink to smear.

Related Read: 10+ Inspiring Journaling Prompts and Ideas to Get the Gears Turning

6. Improve Your Posture to Improve Your Handwriting

Learning how to get better handwriting involves learning how to hold your writing instrument properly. And that means you should start by sitting with a good posture

Your back should be straight with your feet flat on the floor. Your legs should be uncrossed, with your knees bent at right angles. If you have bad knees or if you feel cramps in your legs, you can stretch your legs out for a moment, but you should return to your posture as soon as possible. 

Relax the muscles in your arms and shoulders before you start to write. You can stretch them above your head or out in front of you to ease your muscles. If your shoulders feel stiff, roll them and straighten the position of your neck.

Your other hand can remain down by your side or lay on your writing desk. Do not curve either of your arms around your paper, as you risk skewing the angle of your pen. 

7. Grip Your Writing Utensils Well

There is no one pencil grip or writing grasp that everyone with nice handwriting has. But, if you learned a handwriting grasp in school, you probably learned the dynamic tripod grasp.

This involves gripping the barrel of your pen with your thumb and forefinger and using your middle finger as a support. Your fourth and fifth fingers stabilize the paper so it doesn’t move around as you write.

If your pen tends to shake as you grip it, you can try the lateral tripod method. Your thumb crosses the barrel of your pen, pinning it against your forefinger. This can give you more support, though it can strain your thumb. 

In a dynamic quadrupod grasp, you grip your pen with your thumb and first three fingers. This is a good grip if you have weak fine motor skills and need additional support with holding your pen. The lateral quadrupod grasp is a similar grasp, but your thumb crosses over to hold your pen against your forefinger.

Just remember to use a relaxed grip, not grasping too tight, as you learn to improve your handwriting skills. A relaxed grip gives you more control, while a tight grip can lead to heavy pressure, causing poor line quality and writer’s cramp.

Related Read: 15 Great Benefits of Learning a Second Language

8. Practice Basic Shapes

Start by making waves, loops, semi-circles, and circles with your pen. You can trace lines or a basic shape, or you can draw on a blank sheet of paper. Look closely at your figures and individual strokes; start from scratch if they are too close together or crooked. 

Feel free to get creative and make small doodles. Move your hand in different directions so you can stretch all of the tissues in your hand and practice making distinct shapes. With regular practice, you’ll improve your handwriting with consistent letterforms and aesthetically pleasing script!

9. Write Different Texts

Once you have basic shapes down, you can start practicing with words. Write your favorite quote multiple times on a sheet of blank paper. Write each line directly beneath the previous line so you can use a magnifying glass to compare how the two lines differ. 

Switch things up from using all lowercase letters to all the letters capitalized to title case and back. Also, go from cursive letters to block letters and then back to cursive letters.

Pangrams are sentences that use each letter of the alphabet. Write a few pangrams so you can practice writing each letter. The most common pangram in English for handwriting practice is “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” Another fun pangram you may enjoy writing is “How vexingly quick daft zebras jump!”

Make sure you practice special characters and punctuation in addition to letters as you improve your handwriting. An easy way to do that is to write mathematical formulas out. 

Don’t worry about writing fast at the start. Focus on your written style first, then faster writing as you watch your handwriting improve. With daily practice and building up the muscle memory, you’ll have faster and better handwriting in no time!

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10. Challenge Yourself

Take every opportunity you can to practice handwriting tips. When you need to take notes on something, use writing utensils and paper instead of your computer. Incorporate note-taking tips into your handwriting tips like using different colors to designate different subjects.

When you are writing for pleasure during your free time, practice writing words and sentences slowly. Slowing your pace down can make your written block letters straighter and your cursive script more legible. You can start a timer and try writing one sentence in more than 10 seconds. 

If you can’t find opportunities to practice your handwriting, you should start a journal. Write at least one page every day talking about your life, thoughts, and desires, for example. Feel free to experiment with different types of journaling, like using a bullet journal. 

bad cursive writing style can be difficult to read

Master How to Improve Handwriting

You can learn to improve your handwriting and cursive writing style in no time. Start by looking over your work and getting resources for good writing. You should get a pleasant-to-use writing utensil, practice sheets, and a desk where you can write. 

Try out different grips and practice making basic shapes. Then increase the difficulty level, writing sentences and paragraphs with different combinations of letters. Take handwritten notes and branch out into journaling so you are always practicing. 

Thanks for reading our guide on how to improve your handwriting! We hope it helps, and if you have any questions, feedback, or other neat handwriting tips, let us know in the comments below.

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Goodwall Team
Written By Goodwall Team
This article was written by the Goodwall team or by a contributor for publication on Goodwall. Goodwall is dedicated to helping students, entrepreneurs, and young professionals reach their full potential. We'll share thought-provoking and supportive articles on career advice, self-improvement, navigating the college landscape, climate action, social impact, and more. On the business side, we'll talk about SMB subjects related to community, diversity, talent acquisition, case studies, and enterprise.

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