The Importance of Developing Legible Handwriting

It is difficult not to mention digital media when discussing the subject of handwriting. There has been a dramatic shift of focus from handwriting development to establish adequate computer skills. Occasionally to the detriment of the former. There is definite justification as to why competence in both should be encouraged and facilitated.

If a nurse reads a doctors handwriting incorrectly, it can be disastrous. This can result in the wrong dose, the wrong medication or horrifyingly the wrong procedure.

Writing legibly can improve performance. Essays written in more legible handwriting are often awarded higher marks. Teachers make a primary judgement based on the legibility of the handwriting; if the legibility is low the quality of the content will also be assumed to be low. A barrier to accepting the students ideas is raised.

“There is a reader effect that is insidious. People judge the quality of your ideas based on your handwriting.” Steve Graham, professor of education at Vanderbilt University.

A student who is unable to write quickly and legibly will slow their progress. If a student fails in their writing ability they will likely be inept at illustrating and describing their ideas. Slow and clearly thought writing allows for the elaboration of detail. Handwriting trains the brain.

“It seems there is something really important about manually manipulating and drawing out two-dimensional things we see all the time,” says Karin Harman James, assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Indiana University.

There has been a slow irrevocable demise of formal handwriting. It is commonplace for cursive handwriting to be missing from primary school curricula and classic penmanship is a skill that belongs exclusively to the hobbyist. Handwritten letters are no longer the standard for communication. Thoughtfully written celebratory and thank you notes are a thing of antiquity.

Legible handwriting is a requirement of many professions. It is a basic prerequisite.

It looks good. It can add personality to your writing and help your text to flourish. Many advantages are a lot more subtle. People can judge your personality and intelligence based on the quality of your handwriting. By rectifying this your confidence can also be improved.

Having legible handwriting can aid memory and recollection. Many people can be described as being a kinesthetic learner (according to the Fleming VAK/VARK model) and are described as a ‘do-er’. A common way to learn is to associate the object you wish to learn with an action. This action is usually writing and involves repitition and my become something more akin to rote learning. By having legible writing your visionary memory is also activated to a higher degree. Increasing the probability the memory will be recalled with better accuracy.

Being legible allows the reader to focus on the interpretation of the writing rather than having to decipher it. It gets your point across and allows you to focus on the content of your writing, rather than how people will judge, read and perceive it.