Common Handwriting Styles

by Admin on February 7, 2013

Last time we have started discussing what amazing handwriting is and why one would want to achieve it. Let’s now focus on the subject of handwriting styles which is essential for developing and improving your own handwriting.

There are thousands and thousands of different handwriting styles that appeared through the ages. In fact, each person with time develops his or her own style which often is a variation of one of the handwriting styles taught in schools, which themselves are not consistent. Styles taught is schools vary from country to county, region to region, and even from school to school.

There is also one very specific type of writing called shorthand. While
it also has many variations, or systems, the main purpose of shorthand writing
is to trade handwritten text readability for much increased writing
speed and compactness. The focus of this article is still on so-called
‘longhand writing’, or just regular handwriting as we know it. Shorthand writing deserves its own post on this blog.

Print vs. Cursive Handwriting Styles

Handwriting styles vary slightly from one to another. The fact that we are able to read someone else’s writing despite they were taught a different writing system basically means that letter formation in different handwriting styles is quite similar. They all contain some basic similarities that everyone can recognize. If styles were too varied, we would not be able to communicate using handwritten words.

When it comes to how letters are interconnected, handwriting styles fall into two major categories. The first one is called print, where letters are not joined. In this context word printing means writing down unjoined letters by hand which is often confused with the use of printing devices so common nowadays.

The other one is cursive, also called running writing or joint writing, where all letters are joined together. In cursive it is quite possible to write the whole words without taking pen away from the paper. Cursive style is more difficult, especially for children, as it requires making strokes in more direction than print writing does.

Manuscript vs. Italics Handwriting Styles

Even though there are so many handwriting styles, in general they fall into two main categories – manuscript and italics.

Manuscript handwriting style is characterized by vertical letter forms that are easy to learn, especially for children, as they need to master only four simple strokes. Manuscript cursive is much fancier, and writing it is quite different from doing printing style.

There are many variations of manuscript styles. The most common are Zaner-Bloser (print and cursive) which is basically that same as Ball and Stick but with a different name, and D’Nealian modern manuscript. While D’Nealian is a slanted form of manuscript, it still has both print and cursive styles. Having slant in both variations makes transition from print to cursive slightly easier. Continuous stroke or simplified Zaner-Bloser that came out after D’Nealian, is different from Ball and Stick in that letters are formed with a single continuous stroke where pencil is not liftet from the paper.

Italics is a slightly slanted style that appears similar to cursive. Unlike manuscript, the letters look similar in both print and cursive, which differ only by letter interconnection. While italics are harder to learn especially for children, as it requires more strokes, print writing evolves seamlessly into cursive writing. Difficulty going from print to cursive disappears almost completely, as italics cursive looks like the extension of italics printing with no changes in letter forms. There are several variations of italics handwriting style: Portland Italic (print and cursive), Barchowsky, New South Wales (print and cursive), Victorian (print and cursive), Queensland (print and cursive).

Handwriting styles and fashions change with time, so in the end it all comes to your personal preference of which of handwriting styles you would like to master. Just remember that amazing handwriting style is a result of patience, practice and eagerness to learn and improve yourself.


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