Your handwriting is like your fingerprint, it is unique to you alone. That doesn’t mean that your handwriting can’t be changed. If you are unhappy with the look of your writing, there are many simple ways to improve your penmanship. Neat handwriting comes from proper technique and practice.

The first part of the technique that you should work on is your grip. Often people with poor writing are not holding their pencils correctly. Maybe you extend your ring and little fingers stiffly while you write. Or perhaps you keep your thumb wrapped around or tucked under your index finger.

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If you do, changing your grip could make a big difference in the appearance of your writing. The best way to grip a pencil is called a tripod because it uses the thumb, index and middle fingers. To get your pencil in this position, lay it directly in front of you with the point facing away from your body.

Pick up the pencil at the lead end using a pinch grab with your thumb and index finger. As you close your hand, it should come to rest lightly on your middle finger.

After you have mastered the correct grip, it is time to move on to posture. Maintaining good posture ensures your body is in alignment to prevent stress on your muscles, joints and ligaments.

Poor posture can strain your body, leading to fatigue, tight or achy muscles in your neck, back, arms and legs, joint stiffness and pain. Part of the proper writing posture is to hold the pencil at an angle to the table.

Keep the bottom of your thumb in line with your forearm, making sure your elbow does not jut out. You should use your arm muscles so that your shoulder stays steady while your wrist and elbow move to create a rhythm.

Your hands should rest fairly heavily on the paper, while keeping your forearms and shoulders relaxed, allowing movement as they write. The writing is formed through the movement of the arms, not the fingers.

Often people with improper technique try to draw the letter with their fingers. A better technique is to allow the fingers to serve more as guides.

Once you understand proper grip and posture it is time to move on to some actual writing exercises. All you need is a quality pen or even a pencil and some narrow ruled loose leaf paper.

The narrow lines force you to make your letters smaller and help to create consistency in your writing. This will make it easier to focus on making your writing neat and less crowded. You may want to invest in a pencil grip to help retrain your finger muscles and prevent going back to your incorrect grip.

If you really want to go all out you can even purchase a slant board to write on. The angle it creates in your wrist helps to promote better finger movement.

Basic drills focus on lines and curves. The first drill is to fill up a page with parallel lines. Keep the lines the same length and make them straight. Work on both vertical and horizontal lines. When you draw horizontal lines, you should be able to fit three lines on top of each other in each line of the narrow-ruled paper.

To practice your curves, draw left and right parentheses. Each set of parentheses should fit inside the lines of your paper. This will help you form curves and keep letters the same height as other letters. After you have spent time working on these basic drills it is time to move on to one with actual writing.

A great sentence to practice is “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” This sentence contains all of the letters of the alphabet.

Cursive writing is meant to be easy on the hand and is much less tiring than writing in block letter manuscript. As we age our penmanship changes, but it doesn’t have to change for the worst.

If your cursive writing is hard to read, stop apologizing for poor penmanship and start working to make it better. With time and patience, you can train yourself proper grip technique and to use the correct muscle groups so that your writing will be smooth, legible and even elegant!

Our Top Pick For Improving Your Handwriting

It's easy to have perfect, legible and beautiful handwriting!

Learn More