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
- 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.
- Pencil grippers. Choose whichever shape you like. This will help you keep a good hold on the pencil.
- A slant board. Writing at an angle will tilt your wrist upward, which promotes finger movement.
Handwriting Practice Drills
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.
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.
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.
Links to Help a Teen or Adult Improve Handwriting
- Cursive Practice on the App Store
Read reviews, compare customer ratings, see screenshots, and learn more about Cursive Practice. Download Cursive Practice and enjoy it on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
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.
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
My "After" Writing
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.
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!
Ravi Kumar Singh on June 18, 2020:
Danielle on May 22, 2020:
I HATE my handwriting. I used to have nice writing but since I had a huge accident where I SHATTERED my wrist and arm, it's gone horrible and I am embarrassed by it. I am trying to improve it by practicing my writing - I write book reviews on my website and things like that. Plus I'm a writer - just, clearly, my motor skills are not as good as they could be. I will take the advice given and also practice my handwriting more. My problem is I cannot turn my arm or wrist - nor can I write for long without being in absolute agony.
Ehize Eghonghon on May 09, 2020:
I want to greatly improve my hand writing. Everybody complains they cannot read my writings. So I want my writings to be easily read by all. Help!
MS dave on May 05, 2020:
Thanks for sharing this useful information! I hope that you will continue with the kind of stuff you are doing.
Vijay on April 25, 2020:
I am 70 years, and my handwriting is atrocious! I am going to try your techniques. For starters, should we use pencil or pen?
Help him on January 31, 2020:
Thanks a lot for this effort!
this no help on January 24, 2020:
at the start it work but after it no work so it rilly bad me no like me give thums down me and my brother are RILLY MAD NOW give use some good stuff rilly mad
nobe on January 10, 2020:
wow did not learn anything boring
Kimbi derick on December 21, 2019:
Lol, this is fantastic. With all the humiliation I've gone through, today I have gotten the answer and I'll do my best. Thank you so much I just pray that as it has worked for you, it's also gonna work for me by the grace of God.
Jay on December 06, 2019:
ASHISH on November 29, 2019:
thanks alot for you are effort
marvelux on October 08, 2019:
Thanks for this...i have hope
gage on September 19, 2019:
Now I'm scared ;) Your "before" handwriting is way better than mine.
Shaan on April 05, 2019:
Very good tips. Thanks
ASHISH on January 20, 2019:
Thanks a lot for u'r effort.
... on December 27, 2018:
Mr. on October 09, 2018:
Its helpful and motivating
Jeeva on October 08, 2018:
email@example.com on May 28, 2018:
Do you have worksheets to help improve handwriting?
Felix on April 26, 2018:
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?
rahim on March 06, 2018:
junaid on October 04, 2017:
i live in pakistan (karachi)is there any one who live in karachi
Manohar Dharphale 173 SAKET NAGAR ,INDORE M.P.INDIA on September 13, 2017:
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.
Grace on July 16, 2017:
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?
ohentse Isaac on April 08, 2017:
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??
Jeff on March 21, 2017:
Jose on March 06, 2017:
Yes!!! These exercises helped
no one on November 28, 2015:
Thanks alot for this it really helped me out
Rachel L Alba from Every Day Cooking and Baking on October 23, 2015:
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.
Vaibhav Chotaliya on July 14, 2015:
That was some seriously great advice and exercise by u!
I will definitely start from tomorrow!
Natasha (author) from Hawaii on February 22, 2015:
Thanks! It worked pretty well for me, though I'm due for another round of practicing, I fear.
Jacobb9205 on February 07, 2015:
Great ways to improve handwriting, thank you!
Natasha (author) from Hawaii on June 20, 2014:
Absolutely! You have to be committed to make any positive change work. =)
torrilynn on June 20, 2014:
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.
Natasha (author) from Hawaii on March 20, 2014:
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!
Alexandre Shimono on March 20, 2014:
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?
Natasha (author) from Hawaii on October 16, 2013:
I hope it helps! I am still working on mine, but it's getting better.
swagathika on October 15, 2013:
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
Natasha (author) from Hawaii on September 19, 2013:
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 from Pretoria, South Africa on September 19, 2013:
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
Natasha (author) from Hawaii on July 02, 2013:
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.
Alise- Evon on July 02, 2013:
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.
Natasha (author) from Hawaii on June 29, 2013:
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!
Mary Wickison from Brazil on June 29, 2013:
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.
Natasha (author) from Hawaii on May 15, 2013:
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!
John David from Middle America on May 14, 2013:
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..
Natasha (author) from Hawaii on April 24, 2013:
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 on April 24, 2013:
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.
Natasha (author) from Hawaii on April 20, 2013:
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.
Romel Tarroza from Philippines on April 20, 2013:
Very nice and informative hub. Honestly my writing is not that good so I think I better try your tips. Thanks..
Natasha (author) from Hawaii on April 10, 2013:
Sure thing! Glad you enjoyed.
Ashley on April 10, 2013:
This is worth it thanks!
Natasha (author) from Hawaii on April 06, 2013:
Yes, it really does help! My mom's a doctor, so I know what you mean!
Desmond Lee from Singapore on April 06, 2013:
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!
Natasha (author) from Hawaii on March 04, 2013:
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.
Mattie Mae on March 04, 2013:
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!
Natasha (author) from Hawaii on March 03, 2013:
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.
Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on March 03, 2013:
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!
Natasha (author) from Hawaii on March 02, 2013:
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. =)
Educateurself on March 02, 2013:
Nice hub interesting to read i have enjoyed but your writing on paper is not so good.
Natasha (author) from Hawaii on February 28, 2013:
My sister has a Japanese boyfriend with the world's most amazing handwriting. I admit to being jealous of it!
LaZeric Freeman from Hammond on February 28, 2013:
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.
Natasha (author) from Hawaii on February 25, 2013:
Awesome! Thanks for the votes and I'm so glad you found it helpful!
Kawika Chann from Northwest, Hawaii, Anykine place on February 25, 2013:
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.
Natasha (author) from Hawaii on December 03, 2012:
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
Healing Herbalist from The Hamlet of Effingham on December 03, 2012:
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 +.
Natasha (author) from Hawaii on November 29, 2012:
Glad y'all like it and best of luck with your endeavors!
Neyamul Muktadir from Rangpur, Bangladesh on November 28, 2012:
Yes it's a awesome hub. I am getting started with this. Thanks a lot for this great hub.
Joseph Renne from Milton on November 28, 2012:
Nice Hub. My handwriting is very sloppy, I write much better in cursive.
Brooke from Oregon on October 28, 2012:
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!
Natasha (author) from Hawaii on October 28, 2012:
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.
rmcleve on October 28, 2012:
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. :)
Natasha (author) from Hawaii on October 28, 2012:
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!
Brenda Kyle from Blue Springs, Missouri, USA on October 28, 2012:
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.
Natasha (author) from Hawaii on October 28, 2012:
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.
Bev G from Wales, UK on October 28, 2012:
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.
Carly Sullens from St. Louis, Missouri on October 28, 2012:
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 Badovskyi from Kyiv, Ukraine on October 28, 2012:
/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 from Peoria, AZ on October 27, 2012:
Awesome blog...gotta go practice! Voted up.
Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on October 27, 2012:
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.
Natasha (author) from Hawaii on October 27, 2012:
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.
Jim Higgins from Eugene, Oregon on October 27, 2012:
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!
Natasha (author) from Hawaii on October 27, 2012:
Oh, no! I suddenly feel a lot better about myself - at least I can try to improve! Thanks for stopping by.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 27, 2012:
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.