Tips for Improving Your Handwriting

The handwritten word is a beautiful expression of our ideas, dreams, imagination and heartfelt emotions. Each gesture of the pen captures ideas with a personal touch that is ours alone. For centuries, the world’s most important documents have been created by the handwritten word, from the Declaration of Independence and the Gettysburg Address to letters from soldiers abroad to family back home.

Because of the importance of the handwritten word, both students and adults in the past received extensive training to improve their handwriting style and abilities. However, with the advent of the typewritten word, followed by the computer keyboard, the focus on handwriting quality has all but disappeared.

Still, many understand and appreciate the value of clear, elegantly crafted handwriting. For those who are looking to improve their skills, here are some tips for improving your handwriting to bring even more joy to the writing experience.


Use a quality pen – first, it’s important to start with a quality pen. Look for a pen that feels sturdy, yet elegant and comfortable in your hand. You can choose between a pen with a ballpoint, pen nib or roller ball, depending on the pace and pressure of your writing style and your preference for the overall feel. Of course, if you prefer, you can always opt for a mechanical pencil to allow for easy erasing and a more tactile feel on the page.

Warm up – just like other activities, such as swinging a golf club or jogging, writing is a physical exercise. Practicing pen strokes, drawing circles and lines and other movements can help loosen up the small muscles in your hands and wrists, enabling a smoother movement of the pen across the page.

Correct grip – successful handwriting starts with a proper pen grip. The traditional grip is to hold the pen between your thumb and index finger with the body of the pen resting on your middle finger. A secondary grip places the pen between the thumb and both the index and middle finger with the pen pressing against the ring finger. The pen should be at about a 45-degree angle to the page, rather than pointing vertically straight down on the page.

Relax – before you begin writing, take a moment to relax. Breathe easily and allow the tension to flow out of your body. Tension in the hand and arm can limit your freedom of movement, while stealing some of the joy from the writing experience. Typically, the more relaxed you are, the more beautiful the pen strokes will be on the page.

Slow down – just as relaxing is an important part of handwriting, so is tempo, or how fast you’re writing. Jotting down a quick idea is fine. But if you’re writing something of lasting value – a letter to a loved one, a poem, a diary entry – slow down, enjoy the writing experience and let the ink flow evenly, smoothly and unhurriedly across the page.

Focus – with all of today’s distractions, it seems more difficult than ever to focus on one thing at a time. To get the most out of your writing experience, pause, clear your mind of the outside world, think clearly about what you want to write and give yourself permission to focus on the words flowing from your mind to the beautiful pen in your hand to the page.

Practice –as with any pursuit, excellent handwriting requires practice. Start with lined paper, writing each letter of the alphabet in both upper and lower case lettering. Look for those letters that feel uncomfortable as you write them. Take time to work on these “trouble letters” over and over until you’ve mastered them. Try incorporating them into sentences until they feel as natural as the other letters. Another useful drill is to draw overlapping circles within the lines on the page until your hand and wrist feel a sense of smoothness, evenness and accuracy. Imagine a golfer swinging a club on the practice tee over and over until warmed up. The same idea applies to practicing your handwriting.

Other tips: when writing, maintain good posture. Write with your hand and wrist, rather than your elbow and shoulder. Use lined paper until you’re totally confident in your handwriting style.

Lastly, remember that developing good handwriting takes time, so be patient while you are working to improve. Most of all, enjoy the process. It’s a journey worth taking.