How to improve your handwriting for hand lettering and calligraphy

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You love the idea of hand lettering and calligraphy. Maybe you want to include your handwriting on some of your blog graphics, or maybe you just want to be able to send a handwritten thank you note that looks like it was written by an adult.

But your handwriting is less-than-pleasing looking. In fact, it may be downright atrocious.

You're definitely not alone in the poor handwriting category. My day to day handwriting is squiggly and uneven, and I have a hard time reading it. The good news? You can practice and improve your handwriting quickly!

Improving your handwriting does take LOTS of practice, especially focused practice. Most importantly, you will need to slow down—even the best hand letterers and calligraphers take their time when working on their craft!

Here are some tips on how to improve your handwriting, and ultimately, your hand-eye coordination for drawing and art.

How to improve your handwriting for hand lettering and calligraphy

First, analyze your handwriting

Write a paragraph or two on paper by copying some text out of a book or from your phone. The more you write, the more you'll be able to see patterns (good and bad). Take your time, but also try to write at your normal pace.

Learn to improve your handwriting

Once you're done, you can start to analyze some things about your writing that you wish to improve:

  • Spacing
  • Slant
  • Style
  • Height of letters
  • Consistent baseline for letters
  • Closing counters
  • Dotting your i's
  • etc

Once your hand recovers from writing so much (ouch!) try writing the same passage again, paying attention to what you want to improve. Here you can see improvements in my writing already. Sure, it took me longer, but the payoff is worth it!

Learn to improve your handwriting

Improve your handwriting by writing more

As a digital society, we tend to stick to our computers and phones when writing notes and emails. Our hand muscles for writing and drawing are going unused! Muscle memory is important for anything we do, even writing with pen and paper. If you don't have regular practice, you're going to have a harder time writing neatly.

Taking 10-15 minutes each day to write neatly and slowly can vastly improve your handwriting. Schedule time into your calendar to write a page or two (like right after a meal or when you wake up). Write as neatly as you can, about anything. Maybe even kill two birds with one stone by keeping a daily handwritten journal.

Consistency with handwriting is key

Improve your handwriting

Consistency is key. No matter what style you practice of your own handwriting, whether it's cursive or not, you want to find a set of letter styles that you like to write and that look good together.

Practice with varying slopes and angles, heights of your letters, roundness of letters, etc. Once you start to see a style pattern in your handwriting, practice the same letter over and over again (literally fill one page with a's and then the next with b's) until you start to feel comfortable.

Experiment with pens and writing utensils

There are seemingly countless brands and types of pens and writing utensils available. It's up to you to find the style of pen that works best for the level of control, line thickness, pressure, and preference you prefer.

For example, some gel pens are too slippery and move too fast. A super fine pen may not work for someone with a heavy hand. Cheaper ballpoint pens may be clumpy and messy.

For basic hand lettering, I prefer felt tip markers and brush pens over any other type of writing utensil, because they provide more friction on the paper and help me slow down. You can even practice with an old fashioned #2 pencil with a duller tip!

Learning calligraphy can help improve your handwriting skills

I know this seems counter-intuitive. It's like I'm telling you to run before you can walk. However, I saw vast improvements with my hand lettering after I studied calligraphy. Learning how to form letters traditionally can help you understand consistency and anatomy.

My recommendation: grab a calligraphy book that isn't for pointed-pen calligraphy (I recommend Calligraphy for Dummies) and a $1 grid composition book or cheap graph paper. Studying this book helped me slow down (super important!!) and focus on consistent letterforms.

Practice, practice, practice!

I can't stress how important regular practice is! If improving your handwriting sounds like a chore to you, try to make it fun. Again, try journaling daily. Or, try writing letters to your friends (because really, everyone would love to receive a handwritten letter!).

Even if you can't dedicate time to daily practice, make it a point to write neatly for everything you write down—notes at work or school, filling out forms, etc. All in all, slow down, pay attention, and work to find your best style and preferred pen type.