Practice Exercises for Adults, Teens, and Older Kids to Improve Handwriting

Updated on October 11, 2016
Handwriting tips for adults
Handwriting tips for adults | Source

Can I Improve My Handwriting as an Adult?

If you are an adult and want to improve your handwriting, it can be done. Don't think it's possible? Simply scroll down to discover some of my handwriting samples and to see the basic exercises I used to improve my writing.

I hated writing notes. I'd text, email, write on walls—whatever it took to avoid leaving a handwritten note, because my handwriting embarrassed me.

A few months ago, I decided to turn my attention to my handwriting. While most people still think my writing is less than spectacular, I am unimaginably proud of my progress. Admittedly, I don't devote enough time to handwriting improvement—I simply don't have the time to practice consistently. Even with my limited time resources, I've managed to improve my handwriting by using a handwriting manual designed for adults and performing specific handwriting improvement exercises.

So, can you improve your handwriting as an adult? Read on to learn more!


Is it Too Late for an Older Child, Teen, or Adult to Improve Their Handwriting?

The answer is no, it isn't too late. A motivated person of any age can improve their handwriting with regular practice. The key words here are motivated and regular.

  • Older kids (middle school age) with poor handwriting can improve their writing with exercises that build fine motor skills. It is also worthwhile, as a parent or teacher, to explore why the child has poor writing. We'll discuss this more below.
  • Teens can use fine motor skill exercises too. The handwriting exercises below will help teens to slow down and focus on making their letters legible.
  • Adults (and teens) can use mobile apps to practice handwriting anywhere. See below for more details.

Handwriting Mistakes to Avoid

When you set out to improve your handwriting or help an older kid, there are a few basic things to avoid. These are common mistakes that will frustrate, not help:

  • Don't use a handwriting manual designed for children. These manuals usually instruct how to write in awkwardly large letters and don't help much. When the writer already knows how to form letters, these guides aren't appropriate.
  • Don't try to simply copy a script you find online.
  • Don't try to practice cursive script by writing the letters in order and attempting to make them join. It just doesn't work well.

What You'll Need to Fix Your Handwriting

  1. Narrow-ruled or college-lined, loose-leaf paper. That's right, narrow-ruled. You might be thinking, "how can having such a narrow space to write in help someone with poor handwriting?" Narrow lines force an older kid or adult to make their letters smaller. Smaller generally means less messy. The trick is to skip lines. This will make it easier to focus on making neat letters, without crowding.
  2. Pencil grippers. Choose whichever shape you like. This will help you keep a good hold on the pencil.
  3. A slant board. Writing at an angle will tilt your wrist upward, which promotes finger movement.

Handwriting Practice Drills

Parallel lines practice drills.
Parallel lines practice drills. | Source

1. Parallel Lines

First, fill a page up with parallel lines. Focus on keeping them parallel and the same length. One of my major handwriting problems was that my letters tilted every which way. Some were straight, others leaned backwards, and still others lunged forward. By practicing these lines, you can better learn to keep down strokes parallel to one another.

Source

2. Horizontal Lines

After filling a few pages with vertical lines, switch to horizontal lines next. Try to fit three horizontal lines on each line of the paper while focusing on making the lines parallel and the same length. This exercise will help you maintain control of your pen.

3. Clouds

The third exercise is more difficult than it looks -- you basically want to create little clouds. I try to make each set of clouds fit inside a line on a piece of college-ruled paper. This will help you form curves and keep letters the same height as other letters.

These three basic exercises are just the beginning. I worked on them for about two weeks before I even looked at the more complex exercises in my handwriting book. I filled page after page with lines and squiggles, and I still practice these drills when I have a free minute.

Improving Handwriting for Middle School Students and Teens

When an older child or teen has poor writing, it pays to ask why.

  • Do they rush? It's worth looking at whether the child tends to rush through most tasks without completing satisfactorily. This is a separate issue that should be addressed.
  • Do they write neatly sometimes? It may be a motivation issue. Do they dislike school or certain subjects?
  • Could fine motor skills be an issue? Try the exercises below.

Fine Motor Exercises for Better Handwriting

  • Get an old newspaper and separate into sheets. Crumple each sheet individually, using just one hand (watch out for the ink this will leave on your fingers!).
  • Get a piece of molding clay. Break into small pieces of the same size, using your writing hand. Then make a triangle with you thumb, pointer, and middle finger. Use these fingers to roll each piece of clay into a small ball.
  • Get a tennis ball. Starting on the floor next to your foot, "walk" the ball up your leg until you reach your hip.

Guides, Books, and Manuals That Work

How-To Books for Improving Writing

A good handwriting manual can do several things for you. It can:

  • Help you self-diagnose your writing problems so you know what to focus on;
  • Give you tips and tricks on how to make yourself more comfortable and relaxed while writing;
  • Demonstrate alternate writing pen grips;
  • Teach you how to correctly form your letters; and
  • Show you ways to join your letters neatly.

I can't over-stress the importance of purchasing a handwriting manual for adults or teens. I've always wanted to improve my writing, but had no idea how to start. I tried copying script fonts and writing the alphabet over and over again, but I grew frustrated, not better at writing. The drills shown above are an important first step to improving your writing but once you've mastered them, you need to follow a handwriting guide if you really want to better your writing.

Handwriting Manual: Teach Yourself Better Handwriting

The main book I use is called Teach Yourself Better Handwriting. I like it because it focuses on helping you maintain a personal writing style, instead of forcing you to conform to some ideal. It also has an easy to follow alphabet, alternative ways to form some letters, and suggestions on how to begin improving your writing if it is so atrocious you can't even follow the basic drills.

Handwriting Manual: Fix It Write

Fix It Write is another fantastic handwriting resource. It comes three-hole-punched and ready to insert in a 3-ring binder. It also focuses on improving an adult's handwriting and has two separate sections -- one for helping those who only print join their letters together, and another for those who want to develop a classic cursive penmanship style. The book provides daily exercises to keep you on track and improving -- it's pretty cool to be able to look back to day 1 and see how far you've come.

Handwriting Samples

I promised handwriting samples, so here they are. I don't practice my writing as much as I'd like, and I tend to write in a semi-cursive manner, so my new writing is not beautiful. It is, however, legible. It is also a work in progress. Hopefully I can continue updating this hub as my writing improves more.

For now, here are the samples:

My "Before" Writing

This is my old writing. Yikes!
This is my old writing. Yikes! | Source

My "After" Writing

These are some notes I jotted down recently - much better than my 'before' notes.
These are some notes I jotted down recently - much better than my 'before' notes. | Source
Beautiful? No. Legible? Yes!
Beautiful? No. Legible? Yes! | Source

Is Handwriting Important?

Many people automatically assume that, in today's high-tech world, handwriting is obsolete. However, this is far from true—handwriting is still an important skill today for several reasons:

  • Your handwriting is uniquely you. It is your way of marking your individuality in an increasingly typed world.
  • Each year, poor handwriting costs businesses a great deal of money. One study in the 1990s by American Demographics estimated $200 millions dollars wasted each year by US businesses because of illegible writing. From un-deliverable mail to misread prescriptions, poor writing is bad for business.
  • Students with legible writing typically will receive higher grades on tests and essays.
  • People might automatically associate poor handwriting with low intelligence/poor education -- no matter how intelligent or well educated the author actually is.
  • Good handwriting can also promote self confidence.

Do you believe good handwriting is still important?

See results

You Can Improve Your Handwriting!

There you have it—proof that even an adult with the world's worst writing can learn to write legibly. Coworkers have actually started commenting on my handwriting and noting its increased legibility! After I master legible, I'm going for beautiful.

If an adult can do it, then so can a motivated middle-schooler or teen!

Does your writing embarrass you? Are you ready to take charge of your writing and turn it into something you're proud of? You can do it!

Questions & Answers

    Comments

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      • profile image

        Mr. 

        5 weeks ago

        Its helpful and motivating

      • profile image

        Jeeva 

        6 weeks ago

        It's useful

      • profile image

        lizziworland@gmail.com 

        5 months ago

        Do you have worksheets to help improve handwriting?

      • profile image

        Felix 

        6 months ago

        Hey thanks for the guide its been really helpful for improving my fine motor skills only I'm still unsure how to actually form my letters. Any suggestions?

      • profile image

        rahim 

        8 months ago

        thank u

      • profile image

        junaid 

        13 months ago

        i live in pakistan (karachi)is there any one who live in karachi

      • profile image

        Manohar Dharphale 173 SAKET NAGAR ,INDORE M.P.INDIA 

        14 months ago

        I am a teacher for the students who want to improve their handwriting.I am second winner of WORLD HANDWRITING CONTEST 2007 IN THE AGE GROUP OF 65 onwords. Since 2000 I am busy in this job and covered about 32camps of improvement of Handwriting.

      • profile image

        Grace 

        16 months ago

        Hi,

        I'm a student. I had a few classmates whose handwritings were absolutely amazing, and although my handwriting is average, will these exercises bring me up to the stellar level?

      • profile image

        ohentse Isaac 

        19 months ago

        Hi guys I hear that everyone is happy about this handwriting improvement.But what should I do or which steps to take so that I can start right away improving my hand writing,cause it's very bad??

      • profile image

        Jeff 

        20 months ago

        It works

      • profile image

        Jose 

        20 months ago

        Yes!!! These exercises helped

      • profile image

        no one 

        2 years ago

        Thanks alot for this it really helped me out

      • Rachel L Alba profile image

        Rachel L Alba 

        3 years ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

        Hi Natasha, My handwriting is good when I'm writing slow but sloppy when I'm writing fast. I know people who's handwriting is the same whether they are writing slow or fast. Thanks for sharing this technique on improving your handwriting.

        Blessings to you.

      • profile image

        Vaibhav Chotaliya 

        3 years ago

        That was some seriously great advice and exercise by u!

        I will definitely start from tomorrow!

      • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR

        Natasha 

        3 years ago from Hawaii

        Thanks! It worked pretty well for me, though I'm due for another round of practicing, I fear.

      • profile image

        Jacobb9205 

        3 years ago

        Great ways to improve handwriting, thank you!

      • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR

        Natasha 

        4 years ago from Hawaii

        Absolutely! You have to be committed to make any positive change work. =)

      • torrilynn profile image

        torrilynn 

        4 years ago

        I would have to say that improving your handwriting begins with practice hard work and commitment. You can change your style of writing if you are willing to learn how to. Overall, thanks for the hub. Voted up.

      • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR

        Natasha 

        4 years ago from Hawaii

        You know, I bet you could if you really wanted to by using a drawing tablet. I've never been able to get the hang of them, though - it's weird to write on one surface and see things appear on something else!

      • profile image

        Alexandre Shimono 

        4 years ago

        Hey nice text!

        I ended up in your blog searching for "how handwriting got worse in kids due to the computer". It seems everyday computers gain more importance (and I am not criticizing!), and maybe children are graduating school with worse handwritting skills than before.

        Also, would it not be cool if we could blog using our own handwriting?

        Regards,

      • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR

        Natasha 

        5 years ago from Hawaii

        I hope it helps! I am still working on mine, but it's getting better.

      • profile image

        swagathika 

        5 years ago

        i was worried about my handwriting . this has given a confidence that i can improve my handwriting . the tips given here are very helpful. this is a very nice post

      • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR

        Natasha 

        5 years ago from Hawaii

        I agree - teachers telling me to write better only made me embaressed because I thought I couldn't! Now that i am teaching kids, I try hard not to complain to them too much (and also work to keep my notes to then legible!).

      • Hendrika profile image

        Hendrika 

        5 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

        I will have to give attention to this! Since I was a child I was ashamed of my writing and teacher complaining did not help to improve it. Good handwriting is important, but we must make sure that the young people end up in the same boat by criticizing their writing too much

      • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR

        Natasha 

        5 years ago from Hawaii

        Thank you for sharing!

        Honestly, I was just bored one night about a year ago and decided to do some research. I have Amazon Prime and got free shipping on a handwriting book. I kept working on it during my downtime at work and was really surprised by the results! Glad you have a book from the same series that's working out for you.

      • profile image

        Alise- Evon 

        5 years ago

        That was really interesting. I would never have thought you could find books for adults on improving their hand-writing, and kudos to you for actually applying yourself to work at it. I am sure this hub will be encouraging to many who want to improve their hand-writing.

        (I rather like mine so I don't think I will pursue it- I have the Teach Yourself Ayurveda in the Teach Yourself series that I'm working on:) )

        Voted interesting, useful, and shared.

      • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR

        Natasha 

        5 years ago from Hawaii

        Ahaha. That's funny! My writing is pretty different from day to day, too. People still have trouble with my writing, but it is so much better than it used to be!

      • Blond Logic profile image

        Mary Wickison 

        5 years ago from Brazil

        I too have poor handwriting. I don't think this is as stressed in the American schools as it is in the British school system.

        I have been told it looks as though 4 different people have written a page when it was just myself! I don't know if this means I am schizophrenic or would make a fantastic forge. LOL

        Your tips are very useful, I'll give them a try.

      • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR

        Natasha 

        5 years ago from Hawaii

        I had teachers all the way until 8th grade trying to reform mine! The control exercises can make a huge difference. Thanks for stopping by!

      • jdw7979 profile image

        John David 

        5 years ago from Middle America

        Solid Hub! My handwriting is far from perfect, but my boy has really bad handwriting. He is 8 and I will utilize this information to help the little guy out. His teacher has already given us her opinion on the matter. In a nice way of course..

      • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR

        Natasha 

        5 years ago from Hawaii

        You are absolutely right! Schools just don't emphasize spelling or writing. I've been practicing more and was just thinking last night that I need to update this. Thanks for reminding me with your comment!

      • DommaLeigh profile image

        DommaLeigh 

        5 years ago

        Very nice post. People don't realize how important hand writing is and the schools don't teach it like they use to, now the kids use the computer and a printer. I still sit down and practice when I can because no matter how good you are, there is always room to for improvement.

      • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR

        Natasha 

        5 years ago from Hawaii

        It may make you feel goofy, but practicing the small, controlled motions over and over really does help! I hope you try them and see some improvement in your writing.

      • livewirez profile image

        Romel Tarroza 

        5 years ago from Pearl of the Orient Sea

        Very nice and informative hub. Honestly my writing is not that good so I think I better try your tips. Thanks..

      • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR

        Natasha 

        5 years ago from Hawaii

        Sure thing! Glad you enjoyed.

      • profile image

        Ashley 

        5 years ago

        This is worth it thanks!

      • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR

        Natasha 

        5 years ago from Hawaii

        Yes, it really does help! My mom's a doctor, so I know what you mean!

      • Desmondlee89 profile image

        Desmond Lee 

        5 years ago from Singapore

        Thanks for the hub:) As someone who writes like a doctor aka chicken scratches =/ penalized during exams (checked) Haha time for a project during the June holidays so salvage my written assignments!

      • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR

        Natasha 

        5 years ago from Hawaii

        Woohoo! That made my day =)

        It takes a lot of work and people may look at your kind of funny if they see you practicing the handwriting exercises, but I've spent so much of my life embarrassed by my writing that I think it's worth it.

      • profile image

        Mattie Mae 

        5 years ago

        I'm so glad I came across this hub. I have the worst handwriting and had no idea there was anything I could do to improve it. I also hold my pen "wrong", always have. My sister has the prettiest handwriting and I was always so jealous. :)

        I plan on using the techniques you mentioned and getting one of those handwriting books.

        I can tell they work because I could barely read your before writing and had no trouble deciphering your after writing!

      • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR

        Natasha 

        5 years ago from Hawaii

        Thank you! I wish I had more time to practice up, but for now I have to be happy with the progress I've made. We've kind of been trained to think we can't change for the better as adults, but that simply isn't true.

      • grand old lady profile image

        Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

        5 years ago from Philippines

        It never occurred to me that there is still hope to improve my handwriting. This is a very helpful article, and has given me a new project to work on. Thank you!

      • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR

        Natasha 

        5 years ago from Hawaii

        No handwriting is truly 'good' because it has no moral qualities. Mine is poor, though, but it's better than it was and that's what counts! It's the improvement and knowing it helps to practice. =)

      • profile image

        Educateurself 

        5 years ago

        Nice hub interesting to read i have enjoyed but your writing on paper is not so good.

      • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR

        Natasha 

        5 years ago from Hawaii

        My sister has a Japanese boyfriend with the world's most amazing handwriting. I admit to being jealous of it!

      • trusouldj profile image

        LaZeric Freeman 

        5 years ago from Hammond

        I get little jealous when I see my kids' handwriting. Much better than mine ever will be. One of my friend's handwriting even looks like calligraphy.

      • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR

        Natasha 

        5 years ago from Hawaii

        Awesome! Thanks for the votes and I'm so glad you found it helpful!

      • KawikaChann profile image

        Kawika Chann 

        5 years ago from Northwest, Hawaii, Anykine place

        Omg, yes it really is helping - I've had similar exercises as a kid growing up - my fall back is writing continuous intercepting circles - perfectly spaced, and fills an entire spaced line. It was much fun in the third grade either, but I find it helps keep my script in some kind of order. Thanks, upvoted/interesting/follow. Peace. Kawi.

      • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR

        Natasha 

        5 years ago from Hawaii

        I think a person who attended school in the 18th or 19th century probably had far better writing than the average school attendee today! You're right - it's not a big emphasis, anode m

      • cloverleaffarm profile image

        Healing Herbalist 

        5 years ago from The Hamlet of Effingham

        Great hub. It is sad that they have stopped teaching cursive in many schools. I do much of my writing on paper first, so I will have to try this. As far as you being "labeled" as having a learning disability, I wouldn't worry about that. Schools do this to get funding, and really has nothing to do with the ability of the person.

        Voted up +.

      • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR

        Natasha 

        5 years ago from Hawaii

        Glad y'all like it and best of luck with your endeavors!

      • rainbd profile image

        Neyamul Muktadir 

        5 years ago from Rangpur, Bangladesh

        Yes it's a awesome hub. I am getting started with this. Thanks a lot for this great hub.

      • Joseph Renne profile image

        Joseph Renne 

        5 years ago from Milton

        Nice Hub. My handwriting is very sloppy, I write much better in cursive.

      • Brooke profile image

        Brooke 

        6 years ago from Oregon

        Great Hub! I have awful handwriting and it is so frustrating because I have felt doomed that it would never improve. Thanks for the tips!

      • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR

        Natasha 

        6 years ago from Hawaii

        I think part of the reason my writing is so poor is because I was home schooled in 3rd and 4th grades. My dad's writing is also pretty poor, so he couldn't really instruct me! As an educator by profession, he did a great job with eveything else, though, so I can't complain too much.

      • profile image

        rmcleve 

        6 years ago

        I LOVE this! Handwriting is such a wonderful way of expressing yourself. It's artistry in the everyday.

        In first grade, I had a very patient teacher sit down and guide me through the process of improving my handwriting. That brief bit of aid gave me a gift. My handwriting is smooth and easy to both read and write. That means I can communicate quickly and accurately when writing by hand, and my teachers could always read my exams.

        I'm always thankful for that teacher's efforts, and wish others had received the same.

        Thank you for openly and honestly sharing your experiences in improving your handwriting. Many people find it an embarrassing topic, but it is worth it to take it upon yourself! Please post more After pictures in the future. :)

      • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR

        Natasha 

        6 years ago from Hawaii

        Yes, it is particularly important to have good handwriting in school. Evidence really does show that more legible papers receive higher grades. I can't believe I passed a standardized test I took last spring - I figured there was no way the grader could decipher my writing and spelling!

      • bridalletter profile image

        Brenda Kyle 

        6 years ago from Blue Springs, Missouri, USA

        My kids started out writing on a readable level, then decided to switch to micro, nonreadable. I keep pushing for what the teacher can read and grade, my daughter is doing much better again. My sons look more like the first example. It is good to know there is room for improving.

      • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR

        Natasha 

        6 years ago from Hawaii

        I don't think I've ever woken up to this many comments before! Thanks, everyone.

        Cclitgirl - If you think my regular writing's bad, you should see it in a real hurry! When I realized I couldn't read my own notes, I decided it was time for change.

        Thanks for stopping by, tinamariemiller!

        I agree, Pavlo. The less we use our writing, the worse it becomes. Good thing you're not a doctor - families have sued (and won) after illegible scripts caused pharmacies to give out the wrong medicine. People have actually died because of that.

        CarlySullens - Hahahaha. Mad scientist! Nice. Problem is I need high school history students to read my writing. Don't worry, though, if I don't pay careful attention, I might be able to bring the earlier writing back.

        Theraggededge - That's what I like about the main book I use - it doesn't try to force you into any one mold. The authors explicitly state time and again that you can slant any way and have legible handwriting as long as the slant is consistent. Sadly, the before isn't even the worst of the befores, but the others pages I thought about scanning were just too terrible! Thanks for stopping by and voting.

      • theraggededge profile image

        Bev G 

        6 years ago from Wales, UK

        I changed my writing when I was in school - my French teacher told me off for a backward slant so I started copying my mother's writing. Last year I bought a book, 'Change Your Handwriting, Change Your Life' and now my writing feels more like 'me'. It's still scruffy though :)

        Interesting take on the subject, Natatashalh, and I love that you are brave enough to show befores and afters :) Voted up.

      • CarlySullens profile image

        Carly Sullens 

        6 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

        Great hub! I relate to not being able to spell. My handwriting is a mixture of cursive and print. Kind of myvery own font. As an artist I like your before handwriting. It reminds me of someone who is creative and has that 'mad scientist' vibe. Though I agree even mad scientists need their work to be read by others if they want all their hard work to be understood. Great hub! Voted up and shared.

      • Pavlo Badovskyy profile image

        Pavlo Badovskyi 

        6 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

        /The more we use computers and write e-mail instead of mails, the worse my handwriting becomes. I do not care much since writing by hand in most cases is not important in my work. I am glad I am not a doctor, otherwise my prescriptions would make trouble to a patient :) But if I decide to improve my handwriting I will come back to use the drills you offer :)

      • tinamariemiller profile image

        tinamariemiller 

        6 years ago from Peoria, AZ

        Awesome blog...gotta go practice! Voted up.

      • cclitgirl profile image

        Cynthia Calhoun 

        6 years ago from Western NC

        Hehe, handwriting wasn't much of a problem...until I got rushed and then it was illegible. What an interesting hub! I love trying to write more nicely but in this computer age, it actually gets hard to practice - everything is typed. Voted up/shared and tweeted.

      • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR

        Natasha 

        6 years ago from Hawaii

        Good spelling? I'm jealous! I recently found out that, if I were in school today, I would be classified as having a learning disability because of my complete inability to spell, even when trying my hardest. I think that's kind of excessive, but, hey.

        I hope you have the chance to try to improve your writing, if you want to. I'm still working on mine but I'm very pleased with the results so far.

      • xstatic profile image

        Jim Higgins 

        6 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

        Well... this is a revelation. While I could always spell really well, I have had terrible handwiting all my life, handwriting reports for years that typists had to read. I always tried to be very nice to them and they were (mostly) forgiving. Apparently, it is never too late. This is great!

      • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR

        Natasha 

        6 years ago from Hawaii

        Oh, no! I suddenly feel a lot better about myself - at least I can try to improve! Thanks for stopping by.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        6 years ago from Olympia, WA

        Very useful suggestions, Natasha! I have nerve damage in my writing hand, so I rarely write any longer because it is very embarrassing....I can't even print with that hand.....but this is a great hub for those who want to improve.

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