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Handwriting Styles

Manuscript, Cursive Handwriting example
Print and Cursive Handwriting example Handwriting instruction:
  1. demonstrates how letters are formed
  2. promotes a good pencil grasp and good posture
  3. encourages regular practice 
Handwriting Styles
How Letters are Formed
“Handwriting is an Art!”, Marie said. The art of forming and spacing letters and numbers has developed over time, and currently focuses on providing children with efficient, graceful methods to write letters and numbers. A handwriting chart or some other reference on how letters are formed (letter cards, alphabet strips, iPad app) is a good reference tool to have available when learning how to write. The following list includes online sources of handwriting charts of the most popular styles used in the US. Styles change over time and new ones emerge. Generally, a manuscript version is taught before advancing to the matching cursive.
Manuscript & Cursive—Zaner-Bloser Zaner-Bloser SimplifiedZaner-Bloser was the standard for many years in the US. After D’Nealian came out, a “continuous stroke”  or “simplified” Zaner-Bloser was introduced. The continuous stroke applies to the manuscript letters—the pencil is not lifted to form a letter, as with the old “ball and stick” method.
manuscript - uppercase & lowercase

Zaner-Bloser - OriginalThe following show the original “ball and stick” style (animated).
manuscript - uppercase
manuscript - lowercase
cursive - uppercase
cursive - lowercase

Modern Manuscript & Cursive—D’Nealian D’NealianD’Nealian starts with slanted manuscript letters and transitions easily to cursive writing. It has gained popularity in many school districts in the United States. Products similar to D’Nealian are sold as “Modern Manuscript” and “Modern Cursive”.
D’Nealian - manuscript and cursive chart
D’Nealian - manuscript only

Print, Slant Print, Cursive—Peterson HandwritingPeterson includes a transition between print and cursive, Slant Print. The cursive letters end without a curve, much like the Italic styles. This program includes a depth of information, prompts and help.  
Slant Print
Printing & Cursive—Handwriting Without Tears Handwriting Without TearsHandwriting Without Tears was developed by an occupational therapist. This popular style is simplified, without a slant. The Handwriting Without Tears program includes many tactile products for writing readiness.
Printing - Handwriting Without Tears
Cursive - Handwriting Without Tears

Italic & Italic LinkItalic is so lovely and appealing! Italic There are several variations: Portland Italic, Barchowsky, New South Wales, Victorian, Queensland.

Italic charts (click “Chart” in the left-hand column)
Barchowsky Fluent

“Without instruction or an example to follow, bright children can come up with some terribly awkward and cumbersome ways of making letters!” — Kim Stitzer

Which Style to Use? A handwriting style is a carefully designed, efficient way of forming letters and numbers, and each style has it’s own character or fits certain needs.
Which handwriting style should your child use?
Ask Your Local School—Schools generally agree on one handwriting style to teach. If your child is eager to write and not yet attending school, contact your local school office or a kindergarten teacher and ask which handwriting style is taught.
Homeschoolers—You get to decide! Show your children the various styles and see which appeals to them.
Keeping it SimpleIf you or the school don’t place a high priority on handwriting, at least introduce a simplified style, like Modern Manuscript (D’Nealian), Simplified Manuscript, Peterson Slant Print, or an Italic style. When given no instruction or example to follow, bright children can come up with some terribly awkward and cumbersome ways of making letters!
Left-Hand ModificationWhatever style a left-handed writer uses, there is a slight modification they can make for smoother writing—Pull the pencil toward the hand when making horizontal lines. (For example, a right-handed writer crosses the letter “t” from left to right. For the left-handed, the letter is crossed from right to left.) The following letters are affected:
Lowercase letters: t, f
Capital letters: A, E, F, H, I, J, T.
Begin with Cursive? Sure! Some programs teach cursive first. When Marie started school in the 1920’s, she learned to write using cursive. Manuscript was used for labeling maps or posters. Today, the A Beka program, used in many Christian private schools, introduces cursive first. See examples of A Beka writing. The Peterson Handwriting System has a “Starting With Cursive” program.
See StartWriteCustomize your handwriting practice sheets with the handwriting style of your choice with StartWrite Handwriting Software. Parents, this computer software is a tool that can be used as your child grows. Teachers, the software gives you a tool to work with the varying abilities within a classroom.
Examples of StylesUse a style that fits your needs and desires! Scroll through examples, like this:

Reader Comments (3)

Hi, This is a nice method how ever you should add more writing styles as well, to upgrade to the next level.........
September 25, 2012 at 1:49 AM | Unregistered
Yes, things certainly keep changing and there are new levels!

I think most parents are not aware that there are "handwriting styles" -- at least it was news to me when my oldest started kindergarten and was told to make her letter "e" differently than I had taught her. My goal is to show that there are a variety of handwriting styles, each carefully designed with its own strengths and character. Some styles come with extra curriculum and tools for teaching and developing handwriting.

Personally, I like to keep it simple. I pick a style that fits the children's needs and I take a little time to understand the basic letter forms for that style. Instruction time is simply demonstrating my own writing (modeling) using the chosen style, while keeping an eye on the children as they write. Also, I check each child's posture and pencil grasp. Simple. I can consistently practice with the kids when I keep it simple.
~ Kim
September 25, 2012 at 10:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterKim Stitzer
December 31, 2013 at 7:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterSALLY

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