Disclaimer:  I am by no means an expert on penmanship

Now that itty bitty detail is out of the way…. I was taught that penmanship defines one’s personality.  Ever since I learned how to write (my first language is Chinese), it is imperative that none of the strokes extended outside of the printed box and I should not fill up each box fully.  One thing that my elementary school teacher uttered the most was “leave some space for heaven, leave some space for earth, as well as left and right.”  The importance of penmanship could not stressed more than it was an integral part of the grade.  Yes, penmanship was graded.  I often felt bad for my classmates who were graded down only because they had less than good penmanship (again, highly subjective.  Teachers are human too).  Couple times when I did correction for my assignment sloppily, I was told to redo the entire assignment and believe it or not, my mom was informed.

As I became older, I found my writing becoming lazy and sloppy, especially after typing everything habitually.  “L” and “e” become literally indistinguishable, “i” is not dotted, or spacing between letters is inconsistent.  Penmanship, like anything else, takes practice.  One way to motivate myself to practice is to copy different things, such as recipes and knitting patterns, in different notebooks.  When the Baker went through Le Cordon Bleu program, it was a requirement for him to put together binders of recipes.  After so many moves, all these binders were reduced to piles of recipes.  Instead of scanning them into PDFs, I copied each recipe by hand, organized them by type of dishes.  Granted it sounds labor intensive, but that gives me an opportunity to practice my penmanship and use my fountain pens, not mentioning salivating over all the recipes I just copied.

Recipes written in a Miquelrius Eco Notebook

Though it is easy to print out knitting patterns, the printouts can be easily misplaces or tossed away by accident.  To prevent looking through pages of patterns later on the Internet, I copy down the patterns that I think I will use again in a Rhodia Webbie.  Again, killing two birds with one stone, a great way to test out new ink.


Like any other practice, pauses in between the process of practice is important.  One should not copy blindly.  Stop and see if there is anything you do not like.  In the next line, try not to repeat the same mistake.  If possible, incorporate the practice into your daily routine.  Repetition makes everything just a tad better. While it is wonderful to try to emulate someone else’s penmanship, it is important to recognize your own style. Everyone’s penmanship will be different and there is beauty in each person’s writing.

Do you have any tips for improving one’s penmanship?


5 thoughts on “A word or two on penmanship

  1. What a great idea! I don't have any tips on improving penmanship, mine is in a sorry state as of late with the lack of writing (and when I did write a lot was taking notes at school and then speed was preferred over aesthetics lol). But I agree, stopping and actually thinking about what you're writing helps, and one could apply it to letters and journals too 🙂


  2. Practice can come in a variety of methods and forms. Since most tasks at work are done on a computer, I need to find other ways to remind myself to write. Though copying is relatively monotonous, it calms the mind and relax you in a way.


  3. This is really good advice. As I get older I find my penmanship getting sloppy too, for lack of practice. More and more, when I have to write something down I'm dissatisfied with the writing, and find it hard to write legibly. My penmanship used to be excellent – I even learned calligraphy as a little girl! You've inspired me to take better care, and write, write, write.


  4. It is commonplace for most of us to find an excuse to write nowadays, since we type most of the time. Even while I write, I need to focus and be conscious of how I pen each letter. Start something small. Instead of printing out a recipe, try copying it down. As you reach for pens more often, I bet the old feeling will come back in no time.

    Thank you for stopping by, Shawna!


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