How to Master the Art of a Simple Handwriting Style

Imagine a beautifully thought out planner with just the right color scheme, colorful washi tape bordering the pages, and eye-catching stickers in just the right locations. But when you open the planner, all you see are indecipherable scribbles across the pages. If this sounds like your planner or journal, it might be time to learn the art of simple handwriting style penmanship.

In other words, it’s probably time for a crash course in simple handwriting style.

Let’s see if we can improve yours.

A Brief Simple Handwriting Style History


If you love planners, paper, and all that comes with it, hand lettering style differences probably intrigue you. You might be interested to know that each hand lettering style has a unique place in history.

For instance, in the eighth century, monks used a hand lettering style called Carolingian script. It was bold and featured letters that were easy to read.

Then a hand lettering style called black letter came into vogue during the medieval times -- but it was almost indecipherable. So, the Italian scribes in the Renaissance era returned to the Carolingian hand lettering style, but they prettied it up by adding a slant to it and connecting some of the letters with lines. This hand lettering became known as “Italic.”

In the 16th century, a hand lettering style called copperplate came into existence. It was called that because students used copper plates to practice their writing. This hand lettering style had a lot of loops and flourishes and made use of capital letters. This is the hand lettering style used in the Declaration of Independence.

Then the skill moved to America

As Americans become more literate, a man name Platt Rogers Spencer taught a hand lettering style that eventually turned into what we know as cursive. He used nature to teach his students. For instance, he pointed to the waves found in lakes to teach the lines that connect letters and smooth oval stones to teach students how to write the curves found in the letters.

In the years that followed, hand lettering styles slightly changed, but all use Spencer’s style as the foundation.

But then, in the 1900s, typewriters and computers came into being, causing printed text to dominate. Many schools stopped teaching varied hand lettering styles in favor of the text standard.

And that’s what brings us to this lesson.

If you’re going to have a beautiful planner or journal, you need to up your hand lettering style ability.

Here’s what an expert says about the history of and importance of cursive:

How to Improve Your Hand Lettering Style

Now that you understand the fascinating history of hand lettering style penmanship, are you motivated to try and improve yours? After all, you want your planner or journal to be not only beautiful, but functional.

And if you can’t read your simple handwriting style, it’s not going to help you organize your time.

Here are some steps you can take to help improve your hand lettering style.


Let it flow

If you’re going to improve your hand lettering style, you need to write with a quality pen. Don’t frustrate your efforts by using a pen that skips or leaves ugly splotches on the paper. Instead, find one that easily flows while you’re writing.

No white knuckles

Next, you need to think about your grip. If you hold the pen too tightly, it will cause the muscles in your hand to cramp, and that’s no fun for anyone.

Instead, relax the muscles in your hand and hold the pen loosely. This will allow the letters to flow freely and your hand lettering style will dramatically improve. Your pen should rest on your middle finger and your thumb and index finger should hold it in place.

You’ve got to start someplace

Next, you need to begin practicing your hand lettering style. If you learned to handwrite in school, think of this as a refresher. If you’re one of the unfortunate ones who were never taught the hand lettering style, it’s time to learn it.

After all, who wants to see a planner lined with nothing but block letters?

Start out by looking for a hand lettering style course book that teaches American cursive. You can use it to practice and that will help improve your handwriting.

If you’d rather take the lesson online, offers e-workbooks you can use. You’ll also find online lessons at

You can also practice with a free cursive worksheet at

Hold it down

To master hand lettering style perfection, you need to think about the paper placement. When the paper is in the right position, it will allow you to achieve the proper slant with your simple handwriting style. However, the desired placement is different, depending on which hand you use to write with.

If you write with your right hand, the paper’s top right and bottom left corners should line up with your nose. Use your left arm to hold the paper in place.

If you write with your left hand, the opposite is true. The top left and bottom right corners of the paper should line up with your nose. And you’ll use your right arm to hold the paper in place.

Whether you’re right-handed or left-handed, your letters should slant 35 degrees. If they don’t, adjust the position of the paper until you achieve that angle.

Here’s an excellent illustration of how to slant your paper:

Writing Cursive with Rotated Paper from Lindsey Bugbee on Vimeo.

Stay in the zone

When practicing your hand lettering style, you should concentrate on keeping your hands in the writing zone. This area is the four to six inches between your hands as you’re writing.

What happens is this: When you move your hand to the left, right, or bottom of the page, your hands leave the zone. That causes you to strain and put pressure on your muscles to keep up the pace.

Not a very comfortable writing experience.

Instead, use your other hand to move the page to the right, left, or down as you write. For instance, if you write with your left hand, move the page to the correct position with your right hand as you write. And use the opposite hand if you’re right-handed.

The goal is to keep your hands in the zone. Do this by moving the paper with your non-writing hand each time you need to access different areas of the paper. This will eliminate the strain on your hand and result in a prettier hand lettering style.

Don’t give up

If you want to improve your simple handwriting style so that your planner or journal is readable and beautiful, you’ll need to practice the craft. Write in cursive at least a little every day until it comes naturally for you. You can do this with regular practice sessions by setting aside 20 minutes a day. Or you can practice your hand lettering style throughout the day as you write grocery lists, checks, and yes, in your planner or journal.

Three Extra Tips and Tricks to Improve Your Simple Handwriting Style


In addition to all the methods we listed above, here are a few tips and tricks that will result in a beautiful hand lettering style.

1. Take it easy

Don’t press down too hard with the pen — otherwise, you’ll experience hand stain and your simple handwriting style won’t be neat and pretty. Instead, keep your hand loose as you write. And if you use visualization in conjunction with this, you’ll improve even more. Think about free-flowing curves in your mind as you create those loops and capital letters.

2. Get your move on

In addition to your daily practice, you should also spend some time each day doing writing movements. You don’t necessarily have to set aside time each day to do this, because you can do them while you’re talking on the phone, waiting for a meeting to start, or any other time of the day when you have some downtime.

Here’s a great video that shows which writing movements will improve your hand lettering style the fastest.

3. Be smart

When you only use your fingers when writing, it’s easy to become tired and experience hand strain. But there’s a secret that will help you write longer and more comfortably.

When you’re writing capital letters, use your entire hand. Move it up and down the page gracefully as you create the letter. Then, when you’re writing lowercase letters, only use your fingers.

That simple trick will allow you to write in your planner or journal longer and more beautifully.

Hand Lettering Style Made Easy

At first, the idea of learning a hand lettering style may seem complicated and difficult, but as you can see, it’s not. All you have to do is find the right pen, learn to position your paper the correct way and start practicing. Before you know it, you’ll use your hand lettering style to create a beautiful and unique journal or planner.

Have you recently updated your simple handwriting style? If so, we would love to hear about your experience in the comments below. Was it difficult, or did you quickly become a handwriting superstar?

Featured Image: Pixabay License, by Free-Photos

August 26, 2019 — Halie Heindel