• Does Handwriting Matter?: A Pro-Analog Argument

    Today’s article explores the relevancy of handwriting in today’s world. Does handwriting matter? I argue that yes, it does, for a myriad of reasons.

    Beautiful Cursive Handwriting
    This handwritten note showcases elegant cursive handwriting.

    Earlier this week, a journalist from The New York Times called me to discuss handwriting. Throughout the course of our conversation, we kept returning to one question: does handwriting matter in modern day society? At first glance, the answer might seem to be “no”. Right now, you’re reading my typed words to gain information. We can easily communicate without involving a pen and paper. Dig a little deeper, though, and you’ll find that handwriting is still as relevant as ever. In this article, you’ll learn why.

    1. Handwriting Helps With Memory Retention

    Enter any university lecture hall, and you’ll see illuminated faces in front of screens. Many of us can type nearly as quickly as a professor can speak, so it’s easy to write notes verbatim. However, several studies (like this one) have shown that those typed notes don’t resonate as well with learners as handwritten notes do.

    Using Illustration to Learn a Language | The Postman's Knock
    These are my some of my French notes from university. The layout, colors, and condensed information helped me to learn conjugations.

    As your fingers fly across a keyboard, the information they record doesn’t necessarily lodge into your brain. In many cases, you’re just doing rote recording. Use a pen and paper, however, and you’ll find that you have to condense concepts into handwritten nuggets that make sense to you. Voilà: improved comprehension.

    2. Better Handwriting = Better Academic Performance

    Children who have good handwriting tend to perform better academically (according to this study). It would seem that better fine motor skills — which children with good handwriting have — have a postive effect on tests and schoolwork.

    This is an envelope from my seven-year-old niece. She has good pen control, and perhaps it’s not a coincidence that she performs well in school!

    At the same time, handwriting fully engages a child’s attention. It’s a holistic experience that helps the child to focus in on what they are writing. This study even found evidence that handwriting helps kids learn how to read quicker and more effectively. (As the mother to a four-year-old, this information is a wake-up call.) If you’re interested to learn more about the benefits of handwriting for young kids, see this article on the We Are Teachers website.

    3. People are Judgmental … We Can’t Help It

    There is something commanding and authoritative about beautiful handwriting. We see it, and we think, “Now, there’s a person who’s got it together.” It’s difficult to deny that a person’s handwriting style says a lot about them. I’ve been surprised to see sloppy handwriting from people who I thought would have neat handwriting (and vice versa).

    Elegant Letter Written by Jodean Cooper| The Postman's Knock
    Think about your reaction to this letter. What are your impressions of its author? To me, the writing style emanates grace and elegance. It makes me perceive the author (Jodean Cooper) as someone who is intelligent and trustworthy.

    So: why is good handwriting important? It can positively affect the way that someone sees you. If you go to a job interview and send the interviewer a neatly-written note afterwards, that could very well tip the scales in your favor. If you’re a business owner, try hand-writing notes of appreciation to your clients. You’ll be surprised at much they appreciate it!


    4. Handwriting is a Holistic Activity

    I love the concept of hygge. Hygge is a little bit different for everyone, but it’s that feeling you get when you’re cozy, comfortable, and engrossed in something that makes you happy. For me, the ultimate hygge activity is curling up on a warm couch in the winter, pen and paper in hand, to write a letter.

    Writing Letters on My Couch
    Try using handwriting to boost your hygge. Find an environment where you’re completely relaxed, then write a letter or write in a journal.

    The world is such a distracting place. Analog writing helps you to tune out message notifications, phone calls, and the million other things that demand your attention. Using handwriting to bring your thoughts into focus affords you the rare opportunity to relax and slow down.


    5. Handwriting Makes for Better Keepsakes

    My grandmothers wrote out everything: grocery lists, recipes, letters and postcards. I love looking through my late grandmother’s recipe box because it makes me feel closer to her. There’s something comforting in knowing that at some point in time, my grandmother touched and wrote on the same piece of paper that I can hold in my hand today.

    Emulating My Grandmother's Beautiful Handwriting (Includes Free Worksheet)
    I used a cursive handwriting style based on my grandmother’s writing to make this recipe card. You can find a free worksheet to practice a cursive style similar to this one here.

    The proliferation of apps and ways to communicate digitally makes me wonder about what our children will keep to remember us. For that reason, I keep a handwritten recipe book. Yes, I find my recipes digitally (usually on Pinterest), but I write down my favorites for quick reference and posterity. The reality is that most of us can’t hand-write everything anymore because it’s not practical to do so. But, consider jotting down little things that will matter later. Recipes, a journal, or notes to family members are all good things to create.

    6. Handwriting is a Thoughtful Gift

    There’s a huge focus on efficiency in today’s society. The faster you can get something done, the better! We have grown impatient precisely because we’re used to things happening quickly. The truth is that sending a short email or a text takes minimal time and effort. It’s not an inconvenience in our day.

    Creative Birthday Card Tutorial: Paper Armoire | The Postman's Knock
    This armoire-themed birthday card contains a little hand-written note.

    Writing a note to someone, however, is an inconvenience. It requires time and effort that simply isn’t necessary. That is exactly why a handwritten note shows how much you care about a person or appreciate their actions. The fact that you took the time to sit down and write your thoughts when you could have typed an email instead speaks volumes. Never underestimate the effect that your analog gesture will have on someone.

    Ways to Improve Your Handwriting

    Now you know several ways that handwriting can enhance your life and the lives of others. At this point, you might wonder how to get your handwriting into fighting form and fit for regular use!

    Emulating My Grandmother's Beautiful Handwriting (Includes Free Worksheet) | The Postman's Knock

    1. Practice

    TPK has an online course over how to improve your handwriting. It hones in on maintaining good posture, a relaxed grip, and a comfortable paper position. You go on to complete many basic writing exercises to improve pen control and spacing ability. The core idea of the course is this: the more you write, the more your handwriting will benefit. So, start a journal. Write to More Love Letters recipients. Buy a recipe binder and make hand-written versions of your favorite recipes. Whatever you can do to put pen to paper is perfect!

    Recipe Cards | The Postman's Knock
    I cherish all the handwritten recipes in my recipe book, especially those that were written by friends! Feel free to add these handwritten recipe cards to your recipe book, too.

    2. Vary Your Writing Styles

    Experimenting with different writing styles can keep things fresh and fun. For a challenge, try out a new handwriting style (like elegant cursive) to switch things up. For more of a bite-sized challenge, you can experiment with different ways to write your signature.

    The TPK Elegant Cursive Handwriting Worksheet Set
    The Elegant Cursive Handwriting Worksheet will teach you how to write in a cursive style that’s based on those taught in the early 1900s.

    If you only know how to write in print, don’t despair: TPK has a free worksheet to help you learn cursive basics. You can find it here.

    3. Upgrade Your Pen and Paper

    You’ll always experience the best handwriting success when you write with a smooth-flowing pen on smooth paper. If it’s in your budget, try buying a fountain pen. I love my Pilot Falcon with an extra fine tip. Gel pens are an excellent alternative! Pentel Energel pens are also a delight to write with, and I love Pilot G2 pens (which — bonus — can be used to make beautiful artwork).

    Rice Krispie Treat Recipe Written in Cursive Handwriting
    Notes written with a fountain pen tend to have a delicate, pretty look.

    As far as paper goes, I love to write letters on a ruled Rhodia pad. The paper weight is perfect, and the guidelines are an elegant light gray instead of bright blue.

    I hope that this article encourages you to bring more handwriting into your life. I’d love to hear your reasons for choosing to hand-write certain materials, and what those materials are. Also, what’s your take on handwriting’s relevancy in today’s world? Do you find that it has a place in your life, or is most of your communication done digitally? Let me know in the comments!