How you craft letters and words can indicate more than 5,000 different personality traits, according to the science of graphology, also known as handwriting analysis. To introduce students to the field, graphologist Kathi McKnight has them write She sells seashells by the seashore in cursive. Why cursive? Graphologists say it gives them a better read on a person. Try writing the same sentence now in cursive (even if you usually print), then read on to see how graphologists might characterize you. (Note: Each analysis corresponds to the handwriting sample to its right.)
Large: You have a big personality. Many celebrities have large handwriting. It may suggest that you are outgoing and like the limelight.
Small: You are focused and can concentrate easily. You tend to be introspective and shy.
Average: You are well-adjusted and adaptable.
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If Your Loops Are...
Closed for L (meaning the upstroke overlaps the downstroke): Feeling tense? This implies you are restricting yourself in some way.
Full for L: You are spontaneous and relaxed and find it easy to express yourself.
Closed for E: You tend to be skeptical and are unswayed by emotional arguments.
Full for E: You have an open mind and enjoy trying new things.
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If Your S’s Are…
Round: You are a people-pleaser and seek compromise. You avoid confrontation.
Pointy: You are intellectually probing and like to study new things. The higher and pointier the peaks, the more ambitious you are.
Open at the bottom: You might not be following your heart. For example, you always wanted to be an artist, but you have a career in finance.
Printed: You are versatile.
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If You Want Neater, More Legible Handwriting
Write out this sentence in your normal, everyday style: A quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. (Don’t worry if you use a mix of printing and cursive. By high school, more than two-thirds of people combine them, according to writing specialist Steve Graham.) So how does it look? If it’s a scrawled mess, start by slowing down. In addition to that general rule, experts recommend focusing on five target areas to improve the appearance and the legibility of your handwriting. Read their advice, and study which example they say is the model style (the last sample, in each case). The goal? Script that is easier to read―even “note”-worthy.
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1. Line Quality
If your writing is faint, like a bad photocopy, simply focus on pressing harder. If you pressed so hard that your fingers got sore, correct your grip: Try to hold the pen between the pads of your middle finger and thumb, with your index finger resting on top. If you have trouble retraining yourself, try using an ergonomic pencil grip ($2, pencilgrip.com).
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Does your sentence tilt up or down on the page? If the answer is yes, use an index card to guide you when you write on unlined paper. Use the top of the note card as the base for each line of writing. And use the space between the lines on the card as a reference for the amount of space you should leave between the lines of your note.
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To straighten up a bit, adjust the angle of the paper. Think of your writing space as a clock, with 12 o’clock straight ahead. If you’re right-handed, rotate the page so that the bottom-right corner is at 4 o’clock and the top-left one is at 10 o’clock. For lefties, the bottom-left corner should fall at 8 and the upper-right corner at 2.
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If your letters and words are too close together, they blend into one another. Too far apart and they get lost in space. Imagine a lowercase o split vertically in half. That’s the correct amount of space to leave between each letter. A full lowercase o should fit between words.
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5. Letter Formation
Everyone has a letter or two that manage to get mangled in daily penmanship. Lowercase letters, especially vowels, are the usual suspects. Look at what you wrote and circle the letters that aren’t completely closed or are missing stems. Be more mindful of them and slow down.