The Importance of Good Handwriting

The Importance of Good Handwriting

When I was in Primary 6, our teacher gave us a topic to write about for five minutes. Then we repeated the task – but this time, we had to use our left hand (if right-handed) or our right hand (if left-handed). Comparing my passages, I noticed that the one I’d done with my ‘wrong’ hand was better-written. Because I was writing more slowly, I only used long words when a short one didn’t suffice, and my phrasing was clear and to the point.

That was the moral my teacher had been trying to get across: if you pace yourself, you’ll make every word earn its keep. The result is a sharper composition that keeps the reader interested. That’s the first reason to take care over your handwriting. Yes, it takes more time, but that means you’ll cut out the fluff and only commit the best bits to paper. Having a filter can be useful!

The second reason is that writing things down can be a great way of remembering them, especially for visual learners – and the neater your writing, the clearer the image will be in your brain. If it’s hard to tell the difference between your ‘a’ and ‘u’, it will be difficult to remember which one to use in your spelling test!

Thirdly, whether or not it’s fair, people will sometimes judge you by your handwriting. The same essay will often get a higher grade when written in neat cursive than in sloppy longhand. This shouldn’t happen – after all, the content is the same. However, correctors are people too, and sometimes you have to work with their very human tendency to make assumptions. Moreover, teachers can’t give you marks for something they can’t read. When I was in school, I used to hide my confusion over words like ‘effect’/‘affect’ by smudging my pen around the tricky vowels. Sometimes I got away with it, but more often I didn’t!

Finally, because good handwriting requires visual acuity and fine motor skills, it’s great practise for improving your drawing and your creativity more generally. Artists need ideas, of course, but they also need the manual technique to make them a reality. Not all artists have great handwriting (the American painter Jackson Pollock was notorious for his scrawl) but it certainly doesn’t hurt!

Writing carefully can help you to take more care over your phrasing, make more useful notes, wow the examiner with your presentation, and hone your artistic skills. It’s a skill worth cultivating!

I Can Read Viet Nam

Academic Manager,

Michelle Stuart