1. Decide what kind of look you want your signature to convey.
Do you want something traditional and elegant? Look to the Janet Style alphabet for inspiration. Would you prefer to convey neatness and organization? Consider traditional cursive. Or, do you want to just do something totally off-the-walls? Research others’ signatures (Pablo Neruda and Oscar Wilde have fun, artistic signatures that are worth checking out)!
2. Think of a way to make your signature stand out.
Your signature isn’t like everyday writing, so it doesn’t have to be legible. Instead of focusing on legibility, try to think of ways that you can get the letters to work together in a unique way. Take Barack Obama’s signature, for example — it’s not correct to put the “b” inside the “O” of his last name, but visually, it works well! Walt Disney had that distinctive loop above the “i” in “Disney”. Taylor Swift makes a loopy “T” that only looks like a “T” when you have read the rest of the letters! Point being: you can absolutely choose creative license over legibility.
Interesting fact: according to The Journal of Forensic Research, illegible signatures are actually more difficult to forge than legible ones! The journal also suggests having one style of signature that you use for personal items (e.g. letters) and another style that you use for official items (e.g. signing papers).
3. Break the Rules
Like I said, your signature doesn’t have to be legible, so think outside of the box a little bit. Try a mix of cursive and print, for example, or try adding elements that match your personality. For example, you could dot your “i” with a heart or a star. The tail of one letter, like a “g”, could loop around to cross a “t”. Or, do like my mom and skew all your letters heavily to the left! Consider the proper/legible way that your signature should look as a loose guideline, and take creative license from there.
4. To improve your signature, improve your handwriting.
If you work to improve your handwriting, your signature will reap the benefits! Handwriting practice involves doing drills, experimenting with your grip, and trying on different letterforms to see what styles of writing give you the most pleasure.
TPK has a lot of resources — both free and paid — to help you improve your handwriting and try out new styles:
Cursive Exemplar (free) – This exemplar walks you through how to write a basic cursive alphabet, elementary school style.
Improve Your Handwriting: A Comprehensive Online Course(paid) – This video course takes a holistic approach to improving your handwriting. In it, you’ll find your best pen grip and workspace format and work your way through helpful drills. Then, you’ll try on various cursive and print handwriting styles to develop your own impressive handwriting style.
5. Experiment with writing your signature several different ways.
You’ll never know be sure about the look you want for your signature unless you have a few options to compare it to. Try getting out a piece of paper and writing your signature at least 10 different ways! Once you have a solid collection of prospective signatures, take a look at the qualities that you like best. Do you like how you made a capital letter here? Made a loop out of a tail there? Take note of what you like, then combine all of those aspects to make a couple more samples!
After you’ve found the option that you like, try to commit it to memory. Write it down several times, and maybe take a photo of it on your phone to remind yourself of what your ideal signature looks like.
Once you start paying attention to your signature, it’s fun to notice how people react to your new way of writing it. When you take the time to make an embellished, eye-catching signature on a credit card receipt (for example), more often that not, someone will admire that. Always a great feeling!
Thanks very much for reading TPK, and if you have any tips (or questions) on switching up a signature, please contribute them in the comments! It’s always great to hear from you.
This article was first posted in December of 2018. It has been updated to include a video, new photos, and clearer information.