Handwriting standard

When I was still in Junior Primary, a new handwriting standard was introduced into schools by the state government educational department. Students in my year level were the first to be taught the then-new standard, South Australian Modern Cursive, and the first to not be taught old-fashioned loopy cursive.

In primary school we were expected to adhere more or less to this standard (though I won’t say this policy was enforced strictly), but when we reached secondary school we were free to write as we wished.

Being educated right at the point of change, I developed an interest in the idea of a personal standard handwriting. Take your handwriting, and abstract away from it things like wobbliness, slantiness, the precise proportions, and other aspects that aren’t under your conscious control. What you’ll have left is the essence of your handwriting, something that could hypothetically be taught to students if you became Emperor. It can be interesting to compare people’s handwriting at this abstract level.

Here is an illustration of South Australian Modern Cursive, the style we were taught. (I’ve left out the number zero from these illustrations because it’s not significantly different from the letter O.)

South Australian Modern Cursive

Now here’s a representation of my personal style. There are a few idiosyncracies, such as the lower-case ‘f’ without a rise. (Note: I sometimes draw the capital “I” with serifs and sometimes not, depending on circumstances.)

Idealisation of my handwriting - static

Below is a dynamic representation of the same; it shows the direction in which the pen moves as I draw each letter. You might like to see how many letters are drawn differently from yours. One thing I consider significant is that almost every letter begins either near the very top, or else near the top of the bit which isn’t the stem (the numbers 4 and 8 are exceptions).

(Don’t try to take in the whole image at once. Just focus on one letter at a time.)

Idealisation of my handwriting - dynamic

Finally, here is an actual photograph of some of my handwriting from when I was nine years old. People would often complain about it.

My handwriting at age 9-10

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5 Responses to “Handwriting standard”

  1. Brittanie Says:

    Just one question: How did you make the animated image?

  2. Flesh-eating Dragon Says:

    The first step was to do a lot of painstaking pixel work in Paintbrush drawing the frames (there are 17 frames). The second step was to put the frames together using a program called UnFREEz (http://www.whitsoftdev.com/unfreez/).

  3. Hussar Says:

    I appreciate that at last somebody in the English-speaking world has taken his/her time to develop a handwriting standard. I need to refer to such standard when my American students are sometimes raising concerns about my handwriting on the blackboard. Basically I follow the nation-wide handwriting standard for the Latin alphabet that existed in the USSR.

    However, there ia two deficiences in the proposal.

    (1) The low-case letter ‘l’ (Lima) is indistiguishable from the digit ‘1’ (One). At least one of these should be modified to make them different. I would prefer the digit having a small “nose” and a “base”.

    (2) The digit ‘0’ (zero) is completely missing. It must be added and it must differ from the upper-case letter ‘O’ (Oscar). Possible solution is crossing the zero with a dash.

  4. Flesh-eating Dragon Says:

    Sure, but I’m not proposing a standard for anyone else. I’m just explaining what my handwriting is like.

  5. Valdas Banaitis Says:

    Dear Hussar, in handwriting, l (Lima) has a linking hook at the bottom. 1 (one) is just 3/4 of height and no nose (or beak) for not to be mistaken for 7. So is 0 (zero) – it is diagonally crossed in bookkeeping to distinguish from Oscar. When I was employed to teach English to Lithuanian 10-year-olds, I was lucky to come across South Australian Modern Cursive, and it improved my pupils’ Lithuanian handwriting. Later on I added Getty-Dubay Italic, Christopher Jarman’s Good Handwriting Rules, and Kate Gladstone’s remarks.


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