Posted by Daniel Tran on 25/2/2016
Whether you’re taking notes in a class or in the middle of an exam, you need to be able to write words on a page. But, if you’re like many students, handwritten words usually turn out to be an unreadable scribble with the odd recognisable letter. It certainly doesn’t help that technology is slowly replacing traditional pen and paper in some schools, which gives students less opportunity to practise and refine their handwriting.
But why should you still care about legible handwriting anyway? For a start, most exams including NAPLAN, the HSC and even university exams still use physical paper to print tests on, so neatening up your handwriting makes the reader’s job much easier when it comes to marking your test paper. Also, physical handwriting also helps you process information and ideas better, since you have to think about what you’re going to write and how it might be written, which helps retain information in the brain.
In that case, what would you do to try and improve your writing legibility? One common measure is to control the pacing of your handwriting.
Just slowing down and taking the time to write out things can easily improve your handwriting legibility. Conversely, you also need to control the speed of your handwriting so that you’re not writing at a turtle’s pace in an exam.
A common action is to attach weights to the end of your writing tool. This is most commonly found as batteries or nuts tied to the end of pens using rubber bands. The intent is to force yourself to slow down by trying to control the pressure you exert onto the page.
Additionally, the size of your handwriting also affects its readability. While having small handwriting lets you put more words in a page, it can also make people reading your handwriting struggle to distinguish between words if they’re not legible enough. Generally, the spacing height of the classic lined paper you would normally use should be a sufficient standard to work by.
Also, your hand and arm posture can play a large role in the neatness of your handwriting. Ideally, you should be “writing with your fingers” while your wrist and arm stay relatively stationary. This can be done by putting weight on your writing hand and drawing out the words, moving your hand as your write along. Make sure to keep your writing utensil is resting on your middle finger, being pinched by your index finger and your thumb. Grip the writing utensil comfortably without excessive pressure.
To some extent, muscular training in your fingers can also help boost your handwriting legibility. Because writing is an activity involving motor skills and muscles, it’s probable that the quality of your handwriting would decline after long periods of writing. Try and work out your fingers through squeezing balls, wrist curls and casual writing on a regular basis to keep your body in the right condition.
In short, your handwriting legibility is good for a variety of purposes and, like any skill, it only improves with practise and perseverance.