ELEMENTS OF GOOD HANDWRITING
ELEMENTS OF GOOD HANDWRITING
The composition of good handwriting is not at all complex. Basically, good handwriting gives two main impressions. First is what its appearance tells. Second is what it takes to form that appearance. The overall appearance of handwriting gives a general impression while the formation of overall appearance is a result of working on basics of handwriting. If the efforts on basics lack, the writing is possibly away from goodness. Good handwriting is like a beauty it catches you as soon as you experience its influence. Finally the goal of handwriting is to communicate well. If you are not good with it, you stay uncommunicative. We can divide the elements of good handwriting under two sections 'overall appearance' and 'formation of overall appearance'.
It's the feeling which a particular handwriting gives. You can take it - the domain of both a writer and a reader. If you can't write well, the others can't read what you have written. We are all writer cum reader. So it is very important for us to consider both the perspectives while writing. If the handwriting settles easily and effectively in the flow of a writer as well as in the mind of a reader, it is good.
Distinguishing characteristics of overall handwriting appearance
Is your handwriting capable enough to express itself without hesitation? If it is, you are good with it. Good handwriting always gives you a constant flow whether you are writing or reading. The flow misses its naturalness if it stops you for a while because it is not written or readable in the manner, in which you have started with. Take an example of a ladder, uneven steps will not let you climb it easily. It would give you a very odd feeling.
Readability is the quality of handwriting that makes it easy to read and understand. You can call it the foremost requirement among all its characteristics. No readability, no understanding, what you have written is just a waste.
It doesn't come without accuracy and that should be there in every part of handwritten text. Handwriting legibility stems out of a clear and clean relationship between letters.
It tells about your personality. If it is good, it reflects your personality. Think about a reader when you write. For example, you have a daughter studying in the sixth standard. You are away from home and you want to send a letter to wish her good luck for her examination. The letter can't workout if it has the same tone which you use in your business life. You have to write it according to the reader and occasion. It doesn't mean that you need to change your handwriting. You only need to tune it to the situation.
What you have written tells about your interest in it. If the writing is made under compulsion, it can be easily noticed. Good handwriting shows presence of your interest in the subject. You write it in a hurry if you are not interested in something and miss that flavour of penmanship. Write something and give it to a reader. Definitely, the reader can make out your concern for it. Remember, he could be equally uninterested in it but gets interested by the power of your writing. Your start always matches your end if you write with equal interest all the time.
An inherent ability
Good handwriting constantly looks like an inherent ability. It really doesn't matter how much you have practised for it. Important is you should look very natural with it. You can't always pay special attention to make your handwriting good. If it is good, it is forever.
When it is like that, you are always naturally fast in reading and writing. You don't give too much time to write clean and clear, as it becomes integral part of your personality. It gets you to the condition or quality of being suitable for good handwriting.
Unless your work pleases you, it is not enjoyable. Good handwriting is a pleasure inducer. You enjoy it throughout its course whether you are writing or reading. This is what the essence of handwriting is. It works like leisure where you don't get chance to feel tired easily.
This is one of the finest facets of handwriting. In the situation when your mind doesn't support you, it motivates your mind to write more, as your hand still wants to move on.
Coordination between senses and mind
You always feel displeased when your senses and mind behave differently, and when they take their own routes. That reduces your concentration and you fail to enjoy the subject on which you are working on. After all, how could you concentrate when your senses acknowledge one thing and your mind thinks about the other?
Good handwriting always establishes balance between the senses and the mind. Your senses follow your mind because it holds that liking to understand the need of your senses. Handwriting can't catch your mind unless your senses are caught first. It is good when it makes senses and mind work together.
A glance is enough to notice good handwriting. After that glance, you start reading. When we look at it, we move rapidly from one part to another. This is a decisive factor for our liking or disliking.
If the first impression is positive, your handwriting is appealing. It has no second or last impression. Handwriting attracts impression only once. If the first impression speaks favourably for you, your handwriting is good.
Good handwriting is always delight for hand as well as eyes. Delight for hand because primarily it makes you write. For eyes, you read because of them. If eyes are not comfortable, your handwriting lacks that quality of being good.
They are not only the parts used for writing but the whole body someway helps in writing. Good handwriting comes of a relaxed state of the body. It doesn't demand any special effort or attention.
Sometimes you need someone to work on your behalf. The reason could be many but the most prominent one is that you are not confident about your propensity for that work. Handwriting is no different from this fact.
When this is the case you don't take initiative for little things. On the other hand, if you are good with your handwriting, you don't wait for anyone. You can write - what, when and how you want to.
Formation of overall appearance
Formation of overall appearance exists when you work on handwriting basics. This section gives you significant information about them and how they work in combination. Some of the basic terms and techniques that you need to understand and practise for handwriting are given here. You may refer to the figures in the next few pages for better understanding.
Capital letter : the larger version of any letter
Small letter : the smaller version of any letter
Stem: the main vertical stroke in a letter
Arch: a part of a small letter that emerges out of its stem
Ascender: the stroke of a small letter that goes up from the mean line
Descender: the lower part of a small letter that goes below the base line
Bowl: it is a curved path with both the ends merge in a stem of a letter
Lines if writing: ascender line, capital line, mean line, base line and descender line
Flourish: it is an additional stroke that you give to adorn a letter
Cross-stroke: a horizontal stroke which you see touching the stem
Serzj: a small pen-stroke at the beginning or at the end of a stroke, like a hairline or a hook
Slant: the angle that stem makes on its right or left side
Body : the main part of a letter between mean line and base line
Space: the gap between letters, words or lines of writing
Ratio of ascender and descender
Ascender and descender are very important to give any letter the right symmetry. Too short and too long turn out to be a barrier to reading and writing. Take an example of too short ascender, it can make 'd' giving impression of 'a' and 'h' resembling 'n'. In case, it is excessive long, upper and lower lines appear cluttered. That obstructs you reading it comfortably.
The most acceptable proportion for ascender, body and descender is 1 : 1 : 1, although in some styles it is 2 : 3 : 2. In this ratio body is more prominent than ascender and
In between space
You can't read the lines given below clearly because of the gaps they have between letters, words and lines.
Read them to realize the importance of spacing.
Spacing between letters
Check the gaps between letters. If the gaps are uneven, they make a word look split. They don't let the word appear one word.
In case, they are too far from each other. They give the impression of being-rambling and lacking coherence.
Spacing between words
More or less space between words than the usual gives the lines awkward appearance. Reading them is not an easy task.
Right space between words is one that can fit letter '0' in it. The space should be restricted to its dimension throughout writing although we can take little more space after punctuation, particularly in case of a full stop.
Spacing between lines
Less space between lines gives them characteristic of 'ascender hanging to descender'. When the space is more, it seems you are writing for poster.
Slant or no slant
It is not the question of slant or no slant. Important is whether the strokes are consistent with slant or not. Any slant can work. No matter, it is left or right. If your writing has rhythm, then 'no slant' can also work. Whatever slant you opt for your handwriting, you should always stick to it.
The most appropriate slant is towards right because of a simple reason that we write from left to right. So, the slant should move forward. The backward slant hampers pace of writing. Anything which is moving forward can't give comfortable feeling if you are leaning backward for it.
About no slant, it is very difficult to continue the whole of writing with it. Keep slant which is reader and writer friendly. The best slant is something between five to ten degrees.
We write in italics mostly. It is easy to form letters in italics, as a little slope while moving forward helps us write fast. Making straight oval is not effortless. It's a kind of inconvenience for writing flow. Better is, we should bring elliptical shape in practice.
Genre of letters
Make your letters identical in their origin. That comes when you maintain the same slant, size, curve, shape, spacing etc. Handwriting is not an experiment that you can change it for every letter unless you are practising the making of letters. Take an example, in a group of Indians if there is one American, a glance is sufficient to distinguish him in the group.
Texture of text
Heavy, uneven or light text is not easy to read. So, quality of text that you write is very important. Take care about the point of your writing instrument. It is very important in making your writing readable. Sometimes, dense writing texture is preferred for its attractiveness, but it should not be so dense that you start feeling it an obstruction.
A combination of heavy, uneven and light words always make a text look distorted. Or it can give the impression that your writing instrument was overflowing while writing.
Dots and cross-strokes
Dots are needed for the letters like i and j. Letters like f and t need cross-strokes. The dot should be placed exactly over the stem while the stroke needs to cross the stem maintaining clarity of its existence. You can't ignore and position them inaccurately. If you do that, you would only make your writing difficult enough to be read.
Join when it comes naturally
You can write a word in two different ways. One way is that you can connect the letters in a word. The other way is you leave them unconnected. We join the letters because we want to maintain the speed. Writing in which letters are not connected is more heartfelt. It gives better clarity and appearance. When you don't join a letter, its beginning and finish have nothing to do with the other letters.
As for connecting letters, all of them should come of free flowing. If they need to join each other to maintain pace, then they should be joined. Otherwise there is no need to join them. Usually joining all the letters makes writing difficult.
The size of a letter should not block the way of writing and reading flow. If it is too small, it is an obstruction for reading. In case, it is too big, it looks awkward and takes unnecessary space of the page.
Now you want to know, what is the right size of a letter? Well, one that has about 3mm height is appropriate for convenient writing and reading. With this size, you can write 10 words in a line.
Initially without lines words can slip out of alignment. The time you develop sense for different lines of writing, you start writing in a straight line or in correct relative positions. So, understand what the lines mean for a straight flow.
How good you write doesn't give fine impression unless you put it right. Take care about the margins, they shouldn't be uneven and insufficient. Margins are not just vacant space on a paper, but they are more to protect text from being appeared in such a way that it gets unnoticed. If margins are not proper, text looks either scattered or cluttered.
The space around the house and its boundary makes it a perfect place to live. Layout is that for any text.
There are different styles of setting text on a page. Important is not which are the most accepted ones, rather what makes reading most convenient.
Formation of letter
Correct formation of letter is essential for readability and speed of writing. In fact, it is the most important of all writing requirements. You should know how to begin and how to move it further to end it rightly
One letter can be formed in different ways. Or, we can say every hand IS different for a same letter. Letter formation has many stages. It begins with initiating the stroke, then moving it up or down, after that merging it into the stem, next is giving it a joining hook.
Variations are there in forming the same letter with these moves, but the basic flow and direction is generally common for a particular letter.
You can see here the convenient flow for both capital and small letters, and where to start and end the letters. Keep your flow resembling the movements mentioned here.
Be careful in proportion and equilibrium of capital letters, you need more command for their making than small letters. You can see the most usual flow for all the alphabets and numbers in the coming pages.
It is given in three stages:
(i) Beginning of a letter
(ii) Flow of a letter
(iii) End of a letter