Why is handwriting from the past so much prettier than writing now?

It’s some relief to other people who, until today, enjoy daily journaling and using their favorite pens and notebooks in writing down their thoughts and daily happenings in their lives. Back then, mailboxes were stuffed with actual letters, not e-mails.


Your teacher will praise you for having good penmanship, but your classmates might envy you for that skill. Some might probably not be able to relate to these scenarios; however, when you have experienced

handwriting in school, you are lucky to have been part of this historical practice that is slowly dying due to the world’s modernization.

 If you have terrible handwriting, just like some doctors, well, they are known to have quite unreadable penmanship in their prescriptions, you might be able to blame your genes or anatomy. In the past, handwriting used to be a prized art form that required formal training. Today, old writing can be a relic. 


According to Denise Donica, Ph.D., a national handwriting education expert and associate professor at the East Carolina University in North Carolina, initially, the handwriting was a means of preserving information that was orally passed down. Before the birth of the printing press, the copying of information through handwriting was the only way to preserve writings. (click here for more details)


During the 1800s and 1900s, blackboards and chalks were very important tools to teach beginning handwriting skills. In the 1900s, according to Donica, there is one to two preparatory drills to complete before learning to handwrite. Handwriting indeed required formal training and continuous practice as people regarded it as a priced form of art. 


Why does one’s handwriting changes over time? And if to compare, handwriting from the past is believed to be prettier than now. In preschool, we were trained on how to properly grip and use a pencil, draw different lines, along with recognizing each one of them. At a particular time, you learned everything there is to learn about handwriting, and you’ve written enough that you become unconscious of the physical act of forming letters with your hand. However, if you look back through your notebooks when you were in grade school, or in high school, (luckily if you still have them) if you compare it than your handwriting now, there are changes in strokes, thickness, or lightness of the letters and the style that you use.


Handwriting is changeable because, contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t bear any relationship to our inner selves. The handwriting was regarded as pseudoscience because it has nothing to do with the personality of a person, not his mental state and capacity. And British Psychological Society compares it to astrology that has “zero validity.” (click here for more details)

Some situations result in poor handwriting. For instance, among seniors, increasingly illegible handwriting can be a sign of progressing Alzheimer’s. Or it may be dysgraphia occurring on children and adults with ADHD. But otherwise, your handwriting does not define who you are. It’s just a tool that works for you.


Handwriting also changes and evolves to match the needs of a person. According to Laura Dinehart, an education professor at Florida International University, individual needs change, and so handwriting does. And the change is based on whatever works best and is quickest for someone. Sometimes, handwriting will change between contexts within the same time. For example, a message on a card, for instance, will look a lot different than notes you’ve jotted down during a meeting. (click here for more details)


Or maybe one major factor that handwriting is prettier in the past than the present because people back then basically use it every day. It’s their only means of recording their learnings, recording research data, and output, and communicating. 


In the1860s, Spencerian cursive, a decorative writing form developed in the mid-1800s by Platt Rogers Spencer, was taught in schools across the United States. It was replaced by a less ornate style called Palmer method developed by Austin Norman Palmer in 1890. This method arose around the same time as the typewriter’s invention as a response to what Palmer perceived as the need for an efficient handwriting style for America’s fast pace in business. 


In 1921, manuscript writing was brought from England by Margaret Wise and replaced the Palmer method. It is also known as print script, with simple and discrete letterforms that even very young children could master.


By the 1890s, women used typewriters for routine work in large companies, which resulted in the opportunities for business penmen to decline. It has reduced the time and expense involved in creating documents. Even if typewriter did not have much impact on non-professional writing businesses, and in elementary schools, it had affected the future of handwriting in the second half of the 20th century. (click here for more details)


Today, the use of tablets, smart and android phones, and personal computers took the world. They dramatically changed the way people write, record information, and communicate.