Improve Your Handwriting: Strategies for Better Form, Legibility, and Speed | Doris Fullgrabe | Skillshare

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Improve Your Handwriting: Strategies for Better Form, Legibility, and Speed

teacher avatar Doris Fullgrabe, Lettering & Calligraphy, Freelance

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

13 Lessons (1h)
    • 1. Welcome to Improve Your Handwriting

    • 2. Tools & Setup

    • 3. Natasha - Form 1/4

    • 4. Natasha - Form 2/4

    • 5. Natasha - Form 3/4

    • 6. Natasha - Review 4/4

    • 7. Make Your Own Guidelines

    • 8. Kelley - Legibility

    • 9. Sam - Speed

    • 10. Speed Exercises

    • 11. Handwriting Benefits

    • 12. Bonus: From the Archive

    • 13. Your Project & Thank you

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About This Class

In this class, we'll cover

  • a writing sample and inspiration to improve form
  • a writing sample and inspiration to improve legibility
  • a writing sample and inspiration to improve speed, and
  • review recent research findings on why handwriting is good for your brain

I'll demonstrate paper positions and grips, and we'll spend most of the time going over how to analyze your style (with an actual live (non-scripted!) student on camera, as well as samples prepared in advance).

I'll also encourage you to take on a beginners mindset. To see your handwriting improve, following along this class one time will probably not yield significant improvement - you will have to continue practicing in your own time to get the new handwriting style into your muscle memory.

But, the effort is worth it. Picking up a pen and writing with your hand can help you:

  • organize your thoughts and ideas,

  • recall important information,

  • calm your mind,

  • connect to your intuition, and

  • feed your inner artist.

And, like any other exercise you practice regularly, you will get much better at it over time.

I hope you'll join me.

What you’ll learn

  • Critique your handwriting and compare to a "goal"
  • Use tools, like custom-made guidelines
  • Practice exercises to improve form, legibility, and speed

Are there any course requirements or prerequisites?

  • Bring a sample of your handwriting and a "goal" sample to track progress

Who this course is for:

  • Students who want to improve their handwriting

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Doris Fullgrabe

Lettering & Calligraphy, Freelance


Writing and doodling with our hands has been shown to improve memory retention, calm monkey-brain, and lower blood pressure. It makes everyday life more beautiful, and it's a craft you can learn. 

I'm Doris, I'm an MBTI® Master Practitioner, just graduated with a Masters in Applied Psychology, and I also love lettering and calligraphy!

Born and raised in Germany, I have lived and worked in Scotland, England, Spain, the Canary Islands, Mexico, Texas, and New York City, before moving to Brooklyn. 

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1. Welcome to Improve Your Handwriting: Hello and welcome. I'm Doris Fullgrabe and I'm so excited to share my love for handwriting with you. When I tell people that I'm a letterer and calligrapher, the first thing they say is, ''I could never do that. My handwriting is so bad.'' This is what's very interesting to me because your handwriting has nothing to do with lettering, because lettering is actually where you draw letters and calligraphy is where you write according to certain rules. I got really interested in why is it that people don't like their handwriting. So this is why I thought I'd make a class. Maybe the cursive that you learned in school is something that you're only using now to write grocery lists and your signature. For this class, I talked to some friends and came up with some ideas to help you feel a little more confident in your handwriting. Natasha is photographer in Brooklyn and she uses her handwriting mainly for her daily work, schedule planning, and some journal writing. You are actually going to meet her because she graciously agreed to share some and go through some of the exercises with me in this class live and on camera. My friend Kelly says she's embarrassed that she can no longer write a decent looking thank you note and she would love to pull it back together and improve legibility. Sam says he's shocked how far his handwriting has deteriorated and he would also use it a lot more if he were able to write faster and have a better brain-hand connection. In this class, we're going to look at your normal everyday handwriting and go over tips to improve legibility, speed, and form. I'll also go over some research finding on why handwriting is good for you to give you some extra motivation to keep going after class. Materials we'll use are going to be: ballpoint pens, pencils, any fountain pen you might have lying around, different papers, journals, whatever you have at home. There is no obligation to purchase any special material at all, unless you want to. Your project is going to be to write a paragraph before class and then again, after you have practiced some of the exercises that we are going over. Take a picture of your pages and share them on the Projects page along with maybe some insights you had while you were doing them. With that, let's get started. 2. Tools & Setup: You are here because you decided you want your handwriting to look different. If you have a specific motivation to change it, like a thank you note or a love letter or helping your kids with their cursive, that's great. It helps to have a specific goal of why in mind but if you just want to write better and nicer or more often, that's a reward in itself. Full disclosure, you might be a little frustrated at first and practicing might feel unfamiliar but I hope you enjoy the process, even if the results might not immediately turn out to be exactly what you wanted. Let's start with positioning the paper. I'm right handed and sometimes my handwriting is upright and sometimes I have my paper rotated to the left because it gives my letters a nice little slant. I like to hold my pens in the lateral quad grip, where the pen rests on my ring finger with both index and middle finger on top and then my thumb crosses over. This might look like a claw but it's actually quite comfortable for me. The more traditional tripod grip looks like this. The pen is resting on your middle finger, with the thumb and index finger holding it in place. There's actually a so-called writing claw designed to help kids hold their pens this way. I haven't used it but I'll put the link in the class notes if you want to try it out. As you're practicing, hold the pen however you're comfortable but try to keep your wrists and elbow in a straight line. This goes especially for my lefties watching, if you're hooking overhead. On that note, if you are left-handed, try rotating the paper clockwise towards you a little bit. By keeping your wrists straight and underneath the line you're writing on, you'll be able to see what you write and won't smear the ink as you move across the page. To better see what and where you're writing, try holding the pen a little higher up. Left or right, if you notice you're gripping the pen quite hard because you're concentrating so much, remember to shake out your hand and do a couple of stretches so you don't cramp up. In terms of tools, again, you can use anything you have at home. I'm using normal printer paper, muji ballpoint pens and lami fountain pen. Now why should you even bother? Handwriting is good for your brain. It can help you organize your thoughts and ideas, better recall important information, calm your mind and enhance your overall sense of well-being. I'll share some more information about recent research later on. Give yourself permission to step back into learning mode. You're essentially learning a new skill and your ego might rebel and throw some, "This is for babies", you're way. That's okay. Just have fun with it. Make time for intentional practice. To write more evenly and with structure, you will need to retrain your muscle memory and engage in focus practice, maybe using guidelines for awhile and slowing down to write with intention. For some of you that practice can look like a schedule, five minutes at a specific desk every day. For others, this might be 20 minutes on a Saturday afternoon on your couch. Whatever works for you. Either way, the more you write, the better and faster you will get. In the following videos, I'm analyzing and pointing out characteristics of handwriting samples and how they compare to inspirational goals. I hope this gives you some starting points how to look at your own handwriting and find ways to get closer to your goal. Specifically, the examples are going to be on form, legibility and speed. Let's start with Natasha, who wants to make her writing look prettier. 3. Natasha - Form 1/4: We're here now with Natasha Jalari. Thank you so much. Anytime. She graciously agreed to let us go through some of her handwriting and samples and inspirational style that she wants to achieve, so let's get it over to you. How do you use your handwriting today? Today, I typically use my handwriting every week when I am just writing out my schedule for work, and then I also have a daily journal that I write in and that's about three or four sentences that I just say what I did that day. But other than that, I don't really write by hand. I usually type everything out. What would entice you to write more by hand? What's stopping you? If I like my handwriting more, I think I will write. I will just take that opportunity to write cards more. I usually give it to someone else and tell them they have better handwriting, so things like that. I think I'll just be motivated more to just write in my journal more because I just write a tiny bit, and I'll probably have a better signature when I sign receipts. Right. Do you have a favorite pen that you use? I do have. One of my favorite pens would be the 0.5 MOG pens and then there is a Pilot pen that I really like. I don't remember the name of it but it is a ballpoint. Okay. Well, we're going to maybe take a look at some tools later on as well. But let's get started by looking at your actual handwriting sample and we have it here. You wrote this out last week? Yes. Tell me what you like about your style. Right now I like that it is in print. I used to write in cursive, but I prefer the way it is in print. I think my baseline is pretty good. I like the spacing of the words. That's how we feel about it right now. What do you not like about it? Or what would you change? I feel like the part that I don't like is that it feels inconsistent. Many times some words I'll find are written well, but then as time goes on, it just get sloppier and sloppier. I have a hard time having my handwriting stay a certain style at different times, one day it looks good and one day it looks bad. Right. Why do you think that is? I think it's just because I'm not as in practice and I don't have a good piecing when I write. Sometimes I will take more time and write slower and it's better, but I think it's hard when I do have to write faster, I just get sloppier with it. But you do see a difference when you do pay attention to it, when you are intentional, then you like the output better? Yeah. When I do try and sit down and write properly, it is better. But I still feel a little stuck because it feels forced and then I don't enjoy it as much because it's so slower. Right, because the point of handwriting is it's supposed to be useful and automatically again, fast. I get it. Okay, cool. You've also provided a piece of inspiration, and this is by probably Selinaa. We found it on Pinterest. We're not quite sure we want to really tag the right person. If you see this and this, you please let me know so I can put it in a note. What do you like about this style? I really like how legible it is. I just find it looks very neat and straight. Whenever I look at it, it just feels even. Yes. That's mainly what stands out to me. It's so calm, right? Yeah. Yeah. Basically, it's very legible and very evenly. The spacing seems good, and it's very straight. How there is some curved letters, adds a little bit more character to it, I suppose. Right. Now I want to go off on a tangency. How do you think she feels while she's writing it? But, okay, never mind. How fast do we think she's writing it? I really want to meet this person basically. What differences and similarities do you see between where you are at and where you'd like to be? I think the main similarities we're both very perpendicular. But the difference is, what is it? The baseline? The baseline where the letters sit on? The ascender or the descender? The descender. Okay. I loop a little bit more in the descender. Then I'm not as consistent in that ascender because I don't hit the same mark every time, some are taller and some are shorter. Right. Anything else? These are all the things that we can definitely address and I would really agree with you. When I saw your style, because when we first started talking a couple of weeks ago and you said you'd be guinea pig for this, you said you wanted your writing to be prettier? Yes. In my ear, when I hear pretty, I think freely and loopy and cursive, and it turns out you probably meant pretty as in neat. Yes, neat. I will say there like it's [inaudible] for me is if it's very neat, that's very pretty. That's very pretty, yeah. I've never, can't have anything be loopy and swirly, I think. Although it's beautiful, it's not my taste. Yeah. That's great that you know that, it's perfect. We can definitely do some things. Yeah, like I said, so I already noticed a lot of similarities because this person seems to write quite small, and we've mentioned the ascenders and descenders. The ascender again is anything that goes above the waist line of the letter, and the descender is anything that goes below the baseline of the letters. Your d's, l's, k's, the loops on the top and then the j's, the g's, the y, at the bottom; ascender, descender. Your styles are already very similar. For example, you're writing quite small and there isn't a great variance between ascender and x-height. The x-height is the size of your lowercase letters. Let me see if I can have a red pen so it's more easily visible. If this is the x-height, if that is one, then the ascender goes up maybe only half a point above, and the descenders only go maybe half a point below. I think yours are very similar except the descenders might be a one-to-one ratio. Let's see if I can show this here. Like this would look more like a one-to-one, is the same, but then the ascender here is quite small. There is already a great similarity. In terms of differences, you said you like your spacing, but your spacing is inconsistent though. What you mentioned also, and this is something that for all of the people watching at home, if you want to look at your sample paragraph upside down, you'll be able to see that this is the right-side-up. Then if you look at it upside down, your brain stops looking at trying to make sense of the word and just start looking at where the ink is and where the white space is, and that's where you can figure out if you leave a little more space between some words, if you leave a little more space between some characters inside certain words. That is all just something to look out for. We talked about the spacing and the size of the letters and the descender loops in particular. Then in the next segment, we're going to look at some exercises, how to help Natasha get from where she is to where she wants to be. 4. Natasha - Form 2/4: > Hi, and we are back with Natasha. In the last video, we looked at her sample paragraph for handwriting and the goal that she would like to work towards, and the inspiration style is to be consistent and even neat, right? Yes. That's the goal, that's what we're going to do, and we're going to achieve that by paying attention to form, size and spacing. Letter forms in general are usually defined by certain shapes, and I've got very little [inaudible] here. We are looking at rounds, ovals, triangles, and squares. If we were looking at your sample, your letters look mostly oval to me. They always are. An oval is a condensed round. Yours ovals are not super round, they are condensed. This is definitely an oval, these are all ovals. Your N's, are a little bit wider, so they might go into the round or square thing like this one is a bit wide, and this one is wider than the old. They're not all the same size, and that's fine, we're going to look at that. To achieve a more even form and a more even size, which is going to help with spacing, and which just going to help with a neat look. Because this is unlined paper, I brought some gridded paper that maybe we can try and these are five millimeters. I think you can get this. It's a little bit higher than your exercise, so if you can find four millimeter one, for your practice at home, that might be a little bit closer to your actual handwriting as it is. But maybe for practicing because it's a little more legible as well, I hope this is going to work. We are going to look at a couple of letters, in particular the descenders that we had already identified as well, and before, I'm going to ask you to start writing and actually practicing some different address. I'm going to give you some more tools. We are going to try some different pens now to see which ones you are comfortable with, okay? Okay. This is if you want to just write your name or a short word. This is a Muji ballpoint pen. Alright. See how that works for you. This is I think, seven millimeter nip. This was pretty standard. Yeah, and the thing with neatness and clean lines in terms of leaning on the calligraphy wall, the thinner the line, the more elegant it is. This is 005 Micron Pigma pen, so you want to try that. This is so thin. Right. This one has got your control, I think. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Well, then the thing that sometimes scares people, but that I love, this is a fountain pen. You may not have seen these this since your school days, and if you're a millennial, you may not have seen these at all. But when I was in school, we had to work with a fountain pen. We were not allowed to use a ballpoint pen. [inaudible]. This is not the one that I learned writing with, but this is one that I just recently acquired and it has a fine nib. This is the lamy fine. This is usually about four millimeters. You can try that one and see how that works for you. So much really. I really like it. It's like just inky enough feeling. Cool. I really like that one. Then let's practice with this one. Cool. Awesome. Looking at your sample and looking at the ideal where you want to go, there are several ways we can go about it. For the people watching at home, there are several ways that you can go about getting closer to the style that you want your writing to look like, is if you have the sample, you can print it out and then you can take tracing paper, layer it over the top, and literally trace the letters to retrain your muscle memory. Because at the end of the day that is something that we're going to do. Just as a caveat and managing everybody's expectation, and I've mentioned this before. In order to change your handwriting, you have to be back in a beginners mindset. You have to be back in the learning frame of mind because this is going to be frustrating for awhile. Because you're literally retraining your muscle memory. We're not going to do the tracing paper, we're just going to see if we can look at these letters. I would like to start just right with the A and then go through the A here, and then maybe at home you can go the B though Z. If you're looking at your A and the ideal A, what do you notice? I think my A is rounder and do a little bit more on the end. Do you want to write an A the way that you would usually? Actually, see your name here, this is beautiful. Your name already has so many in it. So many. So many again. We can start looking at that. They don't always close, some of them are open at the top, that's great. Sometimes you connect to them and sometimes there are freestanding. In terms of legibility, this might be a U. Yeah. Going going forward, if you want the printed letter, you're going to want to close the top to make sure that there is no ambiguity between the A and another possible letter. Okay. You're right. Yours looks looks oval and it has an oval base, and then you retrace the line a little bit there and comes down again. A little bigger would be like this. Now this person here, the A, I think is quite significant in that it has a much more triangular field. She is starting in this corner, coming up and then leaving a much larger space in here. Okay. Do you see that? By leaving that big space, she's not retracing any lines. This is like a double line then, do you see how the width changes and the thickness changes? Just because you're going over a twice more ink is being laid down and that is messing with the aesthetic already. So making sure that the loop closes, but then the line goes outwards, and I'm exaggerating the angle here, allows they've to be like nice breathing space. The one line is going to look a little neater. Intentionally write a couple of A's that close at the top and don't retrace that line. See how that feels. That's hard to now retrace it. Yeah. How does this feel for you right now? It goes a little slow, but I feel like the more you do it, it gets better and better. Okay. It feels smoother the more I do it. Okay. Do you like the look of it better than the previous one? I guess start working towards. I guess the older one will be more like this. I think I like when it does crossover a little bit than when the tail comes out. Okay. Perfect. 5. Natasha - Form 3/4: The goal is neatness and consistency and evenness, but we're starting at your starting point, so we don't have to make it look completely like the ideal, but it has to work with your handwriting in the way that you want to do it. If you say that you would like the, that flows better, retracing that line, then sticking with the oval's perfect. Okay. I will just say that for future reference and as you do write, make sure that it does close at the top for [inaudible] ambiguity. Now let's look at the descenders. What would be a good word with a few descenders here? Photographer. Photographer. Do you want to write photographer the way that you would usually write it? I see you have a nice dynamic tripod grip as well, prefect. Did a couple of times. Yeah That's more how we do it. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That loops and I think it looks great, but in order to get closer to here, these G and none of the descenders loop around or even close, they're left open and then there isn't a connection. This could easily be connected to the R for a more cursive feel like you've connected the H, the O, and the T here, right, and that O as well. The cursive it's always going to be faster because you're not lifting the pen and print is always going to look a little neater because every letter is contained in its own little space and it has a little breathing room around it, right. This is for you, the challenge to figure out which is more important for you in this case speed or looks. If you write with intention and if you take your time, then why don't you print the word photographer as quick as you can without a connection and maybe try it not to loop the G. Okay. It looks so different. It looks very good. Do you like how it looks? I think it's a little too circular looking. Definitely got a lot rounder. [OVERLAPPING] Definitely got a lot rounder. Why is that to think? I think it's because I'm pausing and I think when I loop, I bring my hand down more so everything gets more ovally. Okay. Is the grid distracting you or is it helpful? It's a little distracting because I'm not sure if I should stay within the squares or the lines. Then let's go back. That's all great and everybody at home, do what works for you, the whole point is to make it work for you, all right. Let's go back to not messing with size. When you write slower, it goes a little rounder. I think it looks neater though. Yes. The print definitely looks a lot better. Again, my ambiguous eye is looking at the H and going the ascender is so small and might look like an N. Yeah, I always have that issue. Most letters you can tell from the context what they're supposed to be and you mentioned that you were going to use this for your journal probably more than anything else. I wouldn't worry about it too much because you'll be the only one reading it back, right Yeah. If you were to write a thank you card or something that that's something that you can pay extra attention to because the H and the N, that's two letters like if they are not distinctive enough, there is a mistake, okay. How did you feel about that? Good. Yeah, all right. We looked a little bit at the form, we looked a little bit at the descenders. The next thing that I have here for spacing, there is a rule in calligraphy for spacing. Calligraphy means writing beautifully and it says that the space inside the letters should be visually equal to the space between letters, okay. By visually equal, we mean not mathematically because and I refer you back to the basic shapes that make up the letter. You will have either a round or oval form and all your A's, your E's, your O's, they're going to fall in this oval family. The capital A, M, N, V's, W's, they're all going to fall in this triangular category. Then H, I, and maybe K even an L, they're going to fall in this square family, okay. This is where we get to this doodle, calligraphy and for handwriting in this case also to look beautiful, the space inside the letters should be visually equal to the space between the letters. If we were to take this grid and place every letter inside a grid, you can hopefully tell with my red lines here that there's a bunch of space inside the H and a lot of space inside that L. Especially, because it's followed by the O and the O doesn't fill out all the corners. But there's a lot less space in this A region, right. Hopefully this example on the second line looks a little more even. Because we've narrowed down the H a little, we've widened up the A a little because these slanted lines are connected with straight lines now, right. This space should be the same, this all should be the same. Then here we've shortened the L a little bit and we brought the O in a little closer, so that visually this space is less, but similar to this space. Okay. That makes sense? Yeah. This is something for calligraphy that is going to take a load of practice and for handwriting, I'm not sure if it's even feasible or if it's realistic to try and achieve that precision in your spacing within the words. I just wanted to share the concept so that you have it at the back of your mind, right? Yeah To practice your spacing, you can write necklaces. A necklace is where one letter follows all the other letters. You write down the ABC and if you want to make it, for an example and a necklace, you would write a, a, b, a, c, a d, a, and so on. You want to try a necklace? It's A and B and C? Yeah. Writing the ABCs with an a in between every letter. Or if you wanted to practice your G to make sure that you don't move around. You can do AG, BG, CG, DG. Does that make sense? Yes. Okay. Is there a letter that you want to practice? Probably the G. [inaudible] It's just be AG and the BG. In the same line or like it's all next to each other because that way you're going to see how they look next to one another, how they interact with one another. Like this? Does that make sense? Yes. Yeah, perfect. You see it's all between here do you see how there is a little more space between the GE. Yeah. Than there is between the CG? Yes. Okay Right Yeah. That's an exercise, next time you have a Netflix movie marathon on, right, grab a rubber pad of paper and your favorite pen and go through A, B, C, D, whatever all the necklaces. You get a feel for how you connect, how you write one letter following the other. Okay, you can see that so much more like this. Okay. Should I do one more? If you want. Yeah, do it. That's why we're here. We're going to put motivating music on then there we go. On cue. That's so interesting. Cool. 6. Natasha - Review 4/4: We're back, kind of wrapping up and reviewing what we've learned over the last couple of videos, how was it for you? I found it really fascinating and very helpful. I have never analyzed my handwriting that way. Now from your guideline, I'm noticing all of the different things I need to fix and it makes me excited to work on this. Okay. Oh my God, that's great. So yeah, just to review, we were looking at size, and form, and spacing. Some of the exercises I suggested were writing necklaces and perhaps using some guidelines and particularly paying attention to ambiguity of some letters and the roots of the descenders. Do you think you are going to continue with us? Definitely. Okay. Yes. To make sure that you're enjoying continuing with this, I'd like to give you a pen. Thank you. the best pen. Anything else you'd like to add? No, I had a lot of fun. Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you so much. 7. Make Your Own Guidelines: Guidelines help with even and consistent letter size and angles. I've attached a couple of samples you can download on the projects page, but you can also create them based on your own unique handwriting. Take a page of your normal handwriting and use a sheet of tracing paper on top. You can get tracing paper at any craft store, or if you don't have it, use another normal sheet of paper and maybe place a light source underneath or hold it up to the window so you can see your paragraph. You can also do this right on your page. But then I'll suggest you write your paragraph and pencils so you can see the lines that you draw. I'm going to use red and blue colors so you can see better. Place a ruler under the baseline. That's where most of the letters sit on. Yours might be dancing also minus going up and down a bit. The d, r, a, w sits on the line, but the u doesn't and the o and the n don't either. In fact, it looks like I have a tendency to go up a bit. I'm going to split the difference and use the middle. This is going to be my baseline and the practice will be to have all letters sit on this line. The next is going to be the waistline. That will be the size of all your lowercase letters, also known as the x-height. Again, if it's jumping all over the place, find a good middle. I'm going to go a little bit bigger here. You want to make sure that line is parallel to the baseline. Next, we want to look at ascenders and descenders. Ascenders are the letters that go above the waistline and descenders go below the baseline. Ascenders are this d, l, k, b's, etc. These looks like there's not a lot of difference and that's a little lower than I wanted it to be so I'm going to draw the ascender line here. Now the dissenters look a little more significant. I don't know if I want all my descenders to be quite so pronounced so I'm going to bring it up just a little bit and draw the parallel line here. This is the basic set of guidelines that's going to help me with the size of my letters. The next thing I'm looking at is angle. As you've seen, I don't usually have the paper straight. I rotated a little so when I write and my hand and wrist are in alignment, my handwriting automatically gets a little angle once I put the paper back into neutral position. It's a personal preference. If you want your letter straight to keep the paper straight, if you want them to lean left, rotate it the other way. I'm advocating to go with what's close to your natural style and shifted towards your chosen style. I'm quite happy with this angle. You can find yours by looking at the downstrokes and the stems of your letters. For example, the lines of the h, the f, the d. Do you see what I mean? This Muji ruler is quite handy it has a flexible arm. Now of course you can find your 90 degree angles between the baseline and the vertical. Then the middle would be 45 degrees and so on. Minus probably, maybe in the 60 or 70 range. I don't even need a number. I'm just following my writing style because I like the look of it and it fits most of my letters. Now I have a set of guidelines based on my unique handwriting. I can use it for future practice. I can redraw the lines in a darker black so I can use it underneath other papers or I can write on top of them to help me stay within certain sizes, to help keep my page neat and looking a lot more even. Now that we have guidelines, the next thing you'll see me analyze in the following videos are the shapes of the letters. The basic shapes are circles, triangles, squares, and ovals. For circles will look at the o's and the d's and the a's. Mine look a little condensed. I think I see examples of everything from round to oval, but I particularly like the look of the d and the a. This one is a bit anemic. This one is a little too round. I can use a bit of tracing paper or I can retrain my muscle memory and make a few ovals so that then I can practice with these shapes to retrain my handwriting. Writing has a lot to do with muscle memory, and yes, you can learn completely new styles as an adult. For example, I have a copper plate class also on Skillshare. But we're here to talk about your handwriting so I suggest you work with what you have. With the other letters you can look at ascenders and descenders. For example, my ascenders seem to be more straight lines, but my descenders have loops. What would it look like if my ascenders maybe also had loops? These are all things you can play with to decide how you want your new style to look. 8. Kelley - Legibility: Let's take a look at our next example. This is Kelley. She's a Genexer. She learned cursive in school. She's a successful career coach in Manhattan. This is her normal everyday handwriting, and this is a sample of her cursive handwriting today. I'm just going to read you what she told me about these two samples because I asked her how she felt about writing them and she said the printing was familiar or okay, but I don't usually write that much anymore except for in journals or notebooks. The cursive was a mental and physical challenge. I couldn't visualize the capital letters in my mind anymore. I had to look up the D-F and the M. Then my hand really jammed up. A couple of instances, I couldn't stop or start. I even made spelling mistakes due to lack of control. It's been decades since I've done more than sign my name. So she wants to improve her handwriting, she wants to improve her cursive because it's important to her to write thank you notes and cards and it's just something that she's been talking about for awhile. Looking at her everyday trend to her cursive, the thing that she mentioned to me that was most important to her, her goal was to improve legibility. The sample that she provided me as an inspiration is by novitawjya. Thank you. This is the user on Instagram if you want to follow them, and you can see here that this is a gorgeous example of Spencerian calligraphy letter or also what I believe was called the Palmer method. I believe this is the cursive that was taught in schools in America from maybe 50, '60s going forward. What do we notice about legibility? This style is very legible. We can again look at form, size, and slant and spacing as we've done with the other examples as well. For this particular example, because it is a specific hand, as we say, or a specific style, there actually are guidelines for it. These are Spencerian guidelines that I've downloaded from the IAMPETH website. I'm going to provide that information in the project page and I'm going to link to the PDF so you can download that as well if this is your goal and you also want to write more cursive. Let's look at the size first because, again, guidelines are going to take care of a lot of issues that play into this legibility factor and this legibility goal. We've talked about x-height before the spacing or, sorry, the sizing is going to be, if this is one, and then this is two, and this is two. You have a ratio of two to one to two in terms of ascender, x-height, descender. These lines indicate the slant at which the style is written. We can see for a comparison, Kelley's cursive is quite upright. The page is printed 90 degree angle. Her style is quite upright. The example has a bit of a slant. It's pointing to the upper right-hand corner. The guides are going to help us guide the pen and the way that we also follow this slant line. In order to do that, in fact, you are going to want to rotate the paper that you write on. That is a very simple tip that I think I've shared in a previous lesson as well. For right-handed people, move your paper to the left and then as soon as you straighten the paper again, your script is going to lean forward slightly. For legibility, having a consistent size and a consistent angle is going to help tremendously. The consistent size we can see here, it's a little varied. The ascenders are sometimes smaller, sometimes larger, and then the descenders are significant. Mostly is specifically the F. We have a big loop for the F's here, we have quite a big loop for the Y's as well. Using these guidelines is going to help Kelley and those of you who have a similar goal with consistent sizing. The next thing about legibility that I just want to share is, again, ambiguity. We want to make sure that each letter is distinctly recognizable. Our brain doesn't want to have to go through all the various options. It wants to understand the word at a glance. In order to do that, there are a few things that I'm noticing about where she's at now compared to where she wants to be. The first thing is the T. Actually, I've started here and you can see her examples. The way that Kelley writes the T's right now is, she makes a loop and then crosses the loop. This is ambiguous because we have loops for L's, we have loops for H's, we have loops for K's. In this particular Spencerian/Palmer style, what's happening to the T is actually, the T's do not come all the way up to the ascender line. They stop about halfway and they do not have a loop. They have a straight line. This is clearly a T. There is no way that this could be an H whereas this could be an L. Does that make sense? Similar, the D. We have a couple of lowercase D's up here and up here. Again, there's inconsistent sizing but the guidelines are going to help with that. Instead of having a loop for the D, we are going to just go up straight, and also not until the ascender line, but only until about half two-thirds of the way through. This is clearly a D. Then I want to double there. This is clearly a D. Its not an A because the A doesn't go that far up. It's not an A followed by an L, or an O followed by an L. We're avoiding ambiguity. We're being very clear that this is a D and we're being very clear that this is a T by having just a straight line. Those are the two main things that I would suggest for Kelley to start looking at that. Should already start making a huge difference. With the guidelines, she's going to be able to have consistent size of letters and consistent angle of letters with elegant variance between ascenders, descenders, and x-height, and making sure to avoid ambiguity between these T's and the other letters because these do occur quite often. That should already go a long way in improving legibility for her cursive. 9. Sam - Speed: With this example, we're going to talk about speed. Sam is a software developer in MyCowork.Space, and he currently uses his handwriting for taking notes. He used to write his morning pages by hand, but has found better flow typing them with his iPad. Morning pages, for those of you who don't know is an exercise suggested by Julia Cameron in her book, The Artist's Way, where first thing in the morning, you grab a pen and paper and you write down what comes to your mind. I would say do it for however long feels good to you. It can be meditative, it can be a to-do list, the point is to let your brain wander through your hand, through the pen, onto the page. Now Sam says he's shocked at how much his handwriting has deteriorated over time, and also that he would go back to handwriting his morning pages if he were able to keep up with the speed at which ideas come to him. Here's his inspirational sample. Again, something he found on Pinterest, shout out to the Elshamy family or whoever wrote this for them. It's a nice-looking print style, and here are two of Sam's writing samples. The first one he handed me, he said that he paid attention to it, so I asked him to write the text again as he normally would, because, like I said, the whole point of handwriting is that it's convenient and it's natural so this will give us a better idea of his natural style. Both samples look pretty similar. The letters are quite small, they are a bit at an upright angle and there is a mix of print and cursive. The faster example does get a little less distinctive though. The letters start running into each other, for example, this "no" isn't quite as clear as it is over here, and I'm not sure I'd be able to decipher the word "kindness" in the line above if I saw it out of context. Apart from that, sorry to break this to you, Sam, but if the goal is to write faster, a print style is probably not the best option. The good news is your mix of print and cursive is exactly what's recommended. Here's what a 2001 study says about handwriting speed. In the study, samples were collected from over 600 students. There was a task of copying a piece of text for a measure of handwriting speed, and there were four handwriting styles; manuscript, cursive, mixed mostly manuscript, and mixed mostly cursive. The handwriting of students who use a mixed style was faster than the handwriting of students who used either manuscript or cursive exclusively. In addition, papers written with a mixed mostly cursive style generally received higher ratings for legibility as well. What I'm about to say is going to be counter-intuitive for this class, but if the purpose is to take down ideas as quickly as they come to you, typing is probably the most effective option. However, you are not going to get the same brain benefits from typing as you would have you wrote them down by hand. The benefit of slowing down to write with your hand is you have to synthesize and correlate and decide what you write as you write it, so you're already processing the idea to a certain extent, which means you'll be better able to remember it. Then, there's a physiological element to it as well, that shows that hand movement, again, activates more neural pathways than touch typing, where our fingers remain in the same position on the keyboard. Pressing your finger up and down literally only sends message to your brain that you're pressing a finger up and down. It doesn't know whether you are typing an A or a B or an F, whereas writing those letters will always hit different circuits in your brain. As Dr. Klemm writes in his article in Psychology Today, there is a whole field of research known as haptics which includes the interactions of touch, hand movement, and brain function. Cursive writing helps train the brain to integrate visual and tactile information as well as fine motor dexterity. The benefits to brain development are similar to what you get when you're learning to play a musical instrument. I know not everybody has access to a piano, but hopefully everybody has access to a pen and paper. In the next video, we're going to look at some exercises to help you write faster. 10. Speed Exercises: To write faster, we have to look at some tools and technique, and make sure that you have a good range of motion. You want to use an appropriate pen, one that has good flow, and smooth paper that doesn't snag. We've already talked about posture and grip and rotating the paper to fit your needs. To help with speed, make sure your forearm and shoulder can move freely. You can start by loosening your muscles and making some large rounds and forms and loops. Then you can write pangrams. That's a sentence that uses every letter of the alphabet to figure out which cursive connections come most easily to you and which letters flow better when you print them. The best-known pangrams are, "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog," and, "Pack my box with five dozen liquor of jugs." There are websites out there that can help you find the pangram in your own language as well if you're watching this from another country. Go ahead and make this your own. Now looking at those sentences, identify the letters that might give you legibility issues and isolate their form for some repetitive drills to reset your muscle memory. This is the practice you might want to do for a few minutes every day or a larger chunk of time on the weekends whenever you can squeeze it in until you notice a significant difference in your natural style as you go forward. The more you write, the faster you will get over time. 11. Handwriting Benefits: I've always loved the feeling of pen and paper, but I hadn't actually thought about it until about four years ago. We had just moved to Manhattan and everything became a bit much so I took a sabbatical. I started journaling again and just love the feeling that handwriting gave me and how calming it was. For me writing with my hand and especially expressive writing that is, journaling my thoughts and emotions has wonderfully positive effect on my mental health, and that's why just pick up a pen has become my mantra. Since most of my handwriting is actually for my eyes only, I don't mind how it looks. So I'm not going to analyze my writing for how to improve it per say. My why is that I feel better when I put on my phone, pick up a pen, and start writing. Rounding out our sample handwriting tips and inspirations, I am going to share three benefits that you might not even be aware of as you start handwriting more. The first one is cognitive capacity. A 2017 study at the University of Texas in Houston showed that it takes active energy to ignore your phone when it's within site, even if it's inside your bag and turned off. Not that I have to take tests anymore in that regard, but I have started charging my phone in the other room overnight so that I'm not tempted to look at it last thing before bed and first thing waking up. Well, except on the weekends maybe. A 2014 study showed that taking longhand notes compared with a verbatim typing showed that participants actually have a similar recall for details, but the hand writers outperform the typers when it comes to conceptual and processing questions. Another benefit is well-being. A 2008 study in 71 Leukemia and Lymphoma patients showed that after a 20 minute writing task, about half of participants reported that the writing changed their thoughts about their illnesses, and that is significantly linked to better physical quality of life at a three week follow up. The data of 2009 writing and postpartum study also shows positive effects of expressive writing: participants processed negative motions, worries, and fears, and showed fewer physiological symptoms. Similarly, a 2008 study of 25 individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, showed that while there were no changes in the PTSD diagnosis or symptoms, significant improvements in mood and post-traumatic growth were observed. Also, although patients continue to exhibit the core features of PTSD, their capacity to regulate those responses appears improved as their physiological responses reduced and the recovery is enhanced. The third is gratitude. Writing down things that you are grateful for by hand before you go to sleep, not only helps you get in a better framed mind for the next day, according to this 2009 study, it also helps you sleep. So I hope these benefits give you another incentive to pick up your pen more often. In the next video, I'm going to show you a little something from the archive. 12. Bonus: From the Archive: Here's a little treat, maybe for you, a little bonus. Because in preparation for this class, I asked my mother to go up in the attic to see if she could find any of my own school books from when I was a child, when I learned to write cursive and unfortunately, we didn't find any. But we did find some learnings and books for my grand dad. He was born in 1936, and you see here pictures from his practice in school of the 13th of August, 1949. In Germany, grades are one through six. A one is an A, a two is a, B, etc. You can see that he received a B here, and I think that's so cool. This is very much the traditional cursive, you can see the guidelines here, with the X height at the ascend of B center space, they're all in a ratio of one to one to one. You see that his writing is slightly slanted to the right and the Os and the Ds are a little round, and I think they look super cute. Then he also was so happy when I asked him if he could provide a sample today, how he writes today. So 69 years later, on the 27th of August 2018. Let me see if I can get to focus properly. This is something, and I apologize for the quality, but it's a print out of the photo of a copy of this photograph, it wasn't very well lit, But here you have his handwriting today and you can see that the ratio is still one to one to one, and it's still cursive, it's still slightly slanted to the right. The lines may be a little bit shakier. But I think it looks so cool. The F and the T here are a little simplified. I really love this A, I think it's so interesting, but yeah, I did a little loop there. It looks like the right-hand side of that seven. That might be something still going forward. Yeah, I just wanted to show you this sample from 1949 to 2018. That's what happens, I guess, when you continue using your handwriting every once in a while. 13. Your Project & Thank you: Your project is going to be to write a paragraph of text in your normal everyday handwriting. I didn't mention this in the introduction, but like we've done in the videos, please find a piece of handwriting that inspires you that you would want to work towards. Compare the two for form, size, slant, and legibility. Practice adapting your style to the inspiration in small steps. For example, by using ready-made guidelines, or making your own and doing drills of specific letter forms that you might want to change. Writing pan grams and writing necklaces. I'd like you to share your before and inspiration photos, definitely, and any points of analysis that you found. Once you've done some practicing over time, maybe you can add to the project and also add a paragraph of your new and improved handwriting. As always, if you have any questions, let me know and I will comment on every project that you post. Last but not least, your handwriting doesn't have to be perfect. It just has to be. It will get better and more comfortable as your practice over time, and you will find your own style if you keep going. It doesn't have to be always the same style either, because you're human, you're complex, and you're allowed to change. Thank you so much for participating in this class. I hope you found it helpful. Special thanks to Natasha, Kelly, Sam, and my [inaudible] for providing your handwriting samples. It's been a joy and a privilege.