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The Student News Site of Rock Ridge High School


The Student News Site of Rock Ridge High School


The Student News Site of Rock Ridge High School


The Lost Art of Penmanship: Rediscovering the Beauty of Handwriting

Everyone’s penmanship is different, but many people aren’t aware that those unique lines on a piece of paper can tell a lot about who they are. Different factors and events throughout people’s lives can lead to the letters you see on notebooks today.
Azciel Goodhart
Colors, contrasts, font, size, neatness, background, context, and more, all contribute to the particular style of one’s handwriting. How far has handwriting, as an art form, come? Taking a look back in history and comparing it to modern-day practices shows how little yet how far the art form has transitioned, especially with its recent booming on digital platforms.

Humans have been communicating through writing for as long as we can remember. It’s a key part of every language. Writing is one of the most common forms of art, from books to drawings, pencils, pens, and paper carry so much weight. The earliest dated ‘writing’ is the Sumerian Cuneiform (cuneiform meaning “wedge-shaped,”) at around 3300 B.C.E. The separated symbols were connected with phonetic meaning, so it was easily translatable from speech to clay wedge, and from clay wedge to speech.

Sumerian cuneiform. People living in lower Mesopotamia wrote with reeds in clay, their writing containing straighter lines and different 3D elements by using depth of the markings alongside direction.
Photo taken by photographer Gavin Collins; courtesy of Creative Commons.

The mediums used historically throughout different cultures severely influenced the way in which languages are written today. In older languages such as Aramaic and Hebrew, and the language derived from them: Arabic, people recorded information on chiseled stone for centuries because paper, papyrus, leaves, and ink weren’t available yet. Because humans are mostly born right-handed, languages that chiseled their words into stone wrote right to left because of the ease of handling a hammer with their right hand. As new innovations arose, such as papyrus and ink, it became much easier for the right-handed population to write left to right as not to smudge the ink on the paper. Tools determined in which direction the languages were written. Occam’s razor: the simplest solution is almost always the best.

 Nowadays, we’re relying less and less upon paper and pen, and as technology continues to work its way into our everyday lives, the art of handwriting is becoming less prominent. However, this special practice has not gone completely out of the window.

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Chinese calligraphy covers five scripts: standard, clerical, seal, running, and cursive. It’s a highly regarded art form in China and is one of the most sought-after skills amongst the literati. Calligraphy by Wang Xianzhi; photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

Calligraphy work is still a widely practiced and respected art throughout the world, particularly in South Eastern Asia, including China and Japan. The art of lettering has also become extremely prevalent across social media, becoming a highly followed content. 

While technology is making its way into our daily lives, there are artists out there making sure the craft stays alive. Instagram influencer, @calligraphyti_.  uses a knife-shaped pen and deep red ink to convey a feeling of horror. The way the blood-like ink splatters across the paper is erratic and unpredictable. Or @calligramer, a talented artist who has more of a gothic aesthetic, uses dark, black ink and wispy feather-like lines. User @mifamiliatattoos specializes in large tattoo lettering. There are so many different types of calligraphy styles that have made their way onto social media platforms and the number continues to grow.

Between the ages of two and four is when a child will begin to figure out which hand is their dominant hand. Doing simple things like giving them a ball or a child-safe spoon while eating are great ways to help them figure that part out. When a child is in their early stages of development, they’re already faced with the rigorous task of trying to figure out who they are. Attempting to alter this natural occurrence could be detrimental to how quickly the child adjusts to the world. Furthermore, elements such as emotions, environments, motor skills, vision, and learned habits, can affect one’s handwriting.

Ratcliff grew up differently; “I remember when I was younger, I started writing with my left hand, and then my teachers got mad at me, so I had to use my right hand,” Ratcliff said.
Photo courtesy of Ryann Ratcliff
In freshman Eliana Kim’s biology vocabulary assignment, each word is cleanly written with a clear double spacing between each line. “I like things neat and aesthetic,” Kim said.
Photo courtesy of Eliana Kim



















Some people think that having such small handwriting could be a hindering factor for the student, and in some cases, it is. “A lot of the time, I get ‘Can you please write bigger’ from teachers; they’ll take points off and everything, [and] I have to say, ‘I can’t, I’m sorry,’” freshman Eliana Kim said. A person who writes smaller is linked to a more introverted personality, while larger letters indicate a more outgoing, bubbly personality. Research also shows that one’s hand-eye coordination is one of the key factors in determining the size and precision of handwriting.

Junior James Cheeks’ extravagant cursive lettering holds a mystical feeling to it, bringing a sharp and investing feeling to his notes for history. “Sharp tips on pencils have always been the best for me,” Cheeks said. Cheeks took handwriting classes in Puerto Rico until he moved to the United States in third grade. He’s been writing in cursive ever since. (Danielle Kimpson)

Others may write in a style called “cursive,” where the pen is rarely lifted, saving time and giving a maximalist, fancy look to their writing, due to the connecting lines and fast, long marks on disconnected or drooping letters such as x, i, t, or g, p, q, and y. This style is often taught to children five to seven years of age. The flowing script gets its admiration and fascination from its continuity. This allows people to read as fluidly as the writing, understanding words rather than letter-by-letter combinations, which lets the mind perceive each and every letter, slowing the mind down from the separations.

Writing is a common way to connect to people around you. Novels, song lyrics, and news articles are just a few of the ways to communicate on a personal level with the reader. The way a person writes can correlate with a person’s personality.

Calligraphy is a form of art, and being able to use different tools and resources to express yourself is a great way to captivate your audience. Many papers, for example, use AP Style in order to give off a more modern, professional approach. The font Times New Roman has become the universal professional font due to its legibility and classic look. On the other side of the font spectrum, fonts such as Comic Sans are known for their comedic value and are considered a ‘silly’ font.

Penmanship is one of the many things that make a person unique and it shouldn’t be taken for granted. Writing is a healthy activity for your mind and your body and is known to help with stress and negative feelings.

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About the Contributor
Azciel Goodhart
Azciel Goodhart, Staff Writer
Azciel Goodhart is a sophomore and this is their first year on staff. In their free time, they enjoy swimming, knitting, and crocheting. They found their love for crocheting in 5th grade when they wanted to create a baby blanket for their teacher. Goodhart participates in the crew and swim team at Rock Ridge, as well as the philosophy club. They also hope to continue their love for chorus through Rockapella. One piece of advice that they carry with them is “one more.” They began to hear it in swim and crew, and they use it day to day to help motivate them to keep pushing.

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