Handwriting Style: Hereditary or Not ?

Handwriting heredity! How did I get on this subject? Well, years ago, I decided my handwriting resembled my mother’s. Then, a short time ago, my daughter said to me,

A sample of nice handwriting.

“I write like you do, don’t you think so?”  I checked  recently, and found that there are differing opinions on the subject of handwriting heredity.

I learned one thing, that, even with handwriting, you must stay in practice. Mine has been becoming much worse lately. I think that is because, today, I lean more toward email. In fact, I never thought I would see the day when I would prefer email to personal notes, but I do! I even bought the newest in pens, the Uniball, and its smooth flow

Children practicing handwriting.

of ink does help, but there’s no substitute for practice. By the way, my constant use of the computer with its spell checker is not helping my spelling, either. I sometimes type what is close to being correct, and expect the checker to fix it for me. One advantage, though, is that my typing has improved.

These days, children are seldom taught handwriting beyond the third grade. In the 1920’s, because books were printed, there was a trend towards encouraging children to print rather then write. Many people do, but I’ve always thought printing seemed a slow way to write, although I suppose with practice you get faster. Today’s kids text message nearly as much as they talk. We like to blame everything on the arrival of computers but I read that children are growing up as sloppy

A good example of cursive writing.

writers because no one has forced them to write well. The cursive method of writing can be so beautiful, yet some people have never learned it. The thought did occur to me that how will people learn to sign their names? Will signatures become a thing of the past and we’ll go back to using a thumb print?

Getting back to the subject of heredity in handwriting, such  genes, thus far, have not been identified. Getting off track, a bit, there is a “sweet tooth” gene. So if you can’t stay away from chocolate, it may be your mother or father’s fault. The mix of genes we possess, is determined by our parentage which makes us uniquely individual. Think of it this way, we have half our father’s and half our mother’s genes and these are shuffled in different combinations. Some believe because of a person’s anatomy there may be similarities between the handwriting of a parent and their child. For instance, the reason could be a person’s bone structure, hand-eye coordination, mental ability in learning proper penmanship, and other characteristics that are inherited. However, most people believe that as we grow up, we subconsciously copy our parents’

Our daughter Janine’s handwriting at age ten.

handwriting. That simplifies the matter, doesn’t it?  I was ready to accept this theory until I read about a woman who always thought that her handwriting was pretty similar to her mom’s, then she came across writings by her grandfather and found it to be astonishingly similar to hers. He was her dad’s dad, not  her mom’s dad, and she had no memories of ever watching him write or looking at anything he wrote. Now I wonder if handwriting heredity, if there is such a thing, skips a generation?

Pretty crazy, isn’t it!  I’m sorry to let the subject hanging like this. And besides, you may be in a family where every member writes differently. We are safe, though, in encouraging one another to practice penmanship because receiving a legible, hand addressed, hand written letter in the mail is a heartwarming experience.  What are your thoughts on the subject, who’s handwriting does yours resemble? I’d love to hear from you. Click on the headline of this column, then scroll down through it, and through the comments, too, then you’ll find a box where you may type your thoughts.

23 thoughts on “Handwriting Style: Hereditary or Not ?

  1. I have always been able to print better and faster than writing. When I do need to write it is very bad looking. Even signing my name is difficult because I have printed for so long. I was the General Secretary of our denomination for awhile and even recording minutes for sessions I could print as fast as someone who might be writing. This is not quite on the subject of resembling another person’s handwriting, but this is how it made me think.


    • What a nice surprise to hear from you, Gene. So a person can write fast while printing. I think I will just work on what I’ve done all my life, cursive. Part of my problem is hurrying, that’s when my writing get sloppy. Maybe that’s when I should switch to printing.:) Thanks for the information. It’s a fun subject.


  2. shirl, my hand writing was terrible in school, so when my 3 older girls got bad handwriting marks, my mother (June sorber) gave them handwriting lessons. By the time my youngest daughter started school we didn’t live as close to my mom so her handwriting is not very neat. My handwrting only improved because I started taking my time writing letters to my cousins, but I no longer do that, now it is just a quick response to Emails. My daughters only write like my mother because she taught them, I must have wrote like my dad, but improved through practice. Enviroment seem to take precedence over heredity here.


  3. Both of my children’s handwriting is terrible! I have a 16 yr old daughter and 13 yr old son, so gender doesn’t matter. They make fun of me when I am texting because I have a hard time and go so slow. However, I can write in cursive very quickly and have very nice penmanship.


    • Hi Kim: It’s amazing the difference between what’s important in the minds of the young vs.the older .Don’t give up, Kim, someday your kids will decide they can and will improve their handwriting.


  4. Yay for improved typing! But I know what you mean about handwriting getting worse. I am getting so rusty at handwriting! I don’t even write down groceries lists, but rather have them on my phone. I did have our boys learn handwriting, but each one of them seemed to develop their own style of a printing and cursive blend. I felt that learning to touch type was extremely important for them to learn in this age of computer use. I’m glad my writing looks like yours!


    • Hi Janine:You always write such enlightening comments. I’ve been practicing my handwriting lately, so you may have to brush up on yours :). You did a wonderful job homeschooling your boys. I’m most familiar with Jonathan’s handwriting and it’s always clear, precise and easy to read. I wonder if the combination you mentioned is a good way to go.Connecting the printed letters together may be speedier.


  5. What an interesting subject! My handwriting is absolutey horrendous and sometimes I can not read my own writing. I have been using a computer since 1979 and typing comes second nature to me now and is my method of writing/typing. I also have a bit of arthritis and that causes problems, so typing is much easier. However I must say that when I feel a little lonely I will open up the trunk that holds little mementos from my parents (who are no longer on this earth) and I love going through papers and seeing both my mother’s and father’s handwriting–both are much better than mine–their hand written notes makes me feel close to them. Thank you for motivating me to practice my cursive and writing more hand written notes!


    • Hi Phyllis: You’re right about handwritten notes being something we can look back on. What a treasure you have in the notes you saved from your parents. I’m rather surprised that a person can improve their handwriting skills quite simply, but then, you’re arthritic condition makes it more difficult. Thanks for writing. God bless you,


  6. You really did it this time Shirl…I looked up handwriting and what it says about a person. Handwriting reveals hundreds of elements of the persons “personality and character” which I won’t go into…there are over 100 individual traits revealed and an unlimited number of combinations. They claim it can not identify age…gender…race…religion…whether a person is left or right handed…or the future. I’m the worlds worst speller…good thing I always bring along my walking dictionary, my son Ryan. Growing up in a large family I’m the only one who writes in a mixture of cursive and printing. I looked that up too. They claim people who have a combination of both cursive and printing are quite normal. (I don’t believe anyone who knows me would ever refer to me as normal). It indicates a tendency to be in a hurry and be flexible given unusual circumstances. Too much printing-or block printing-indicates a barrier to intimacy and enability to express feelings. ( well that’s certainly not me either). Can’t wait till next week…!!


    • I loved your comments, Karen. I’m sure there are many people relieved that even though their handwriting is a combination of cursive and printing, they are quite normal.Keep writing,I enjoy it all. I only hope you like my next blog as well.


  7. Hi Shirl, I enjoyed your blog! I’m not sure if handwriting style has anything to do with heridity or not. Sometimes I think that my handwriting looks similar to my mother’s, but then there are other times, when I hardly recognize my own handwriting!!! I seem to have different styles of handwriting….depending on my mood and whether or not I am enjoying what I am doing at that moment. (I have a tendency to get sloppy when I am filling out tedious paperwork, that I don’t think is important or seems repetitive). I do believe that email and typing on computers has had a negative impact on good penmanship. You are right about the cursive writing….many of today’s youth print everything and there isn’t as much focus on penmanship in grade school, as there once was. Still, I do enjoy receiving a handwritten letter, as it does seem so much more personal than something that is typewritten. Just think….the bible was all handwritten!! I look forward to your next blog! You think of such interesting subjects! 🙂


    • Hi Colleen: You are right about the Bible being handwritten, and can you imagine constantly dipping your pen into ink? No, they didn’t even have a ball point, gel flowing writing instrument. I thought your comment about having several styles of handwriting very interesting. Do you think that when I’m sloppy, it’s just another style? 🙂 Thanks for the fun. Keep writing.


  8. Hi Shirl,
    The nuns taught us the Palmer style of cursive writing in Catholic grade school. My writing was never good enough for them, and I have the ruler scars on my knuckles to prove it! But most people always though it was pretty good by comparison. Everything is relative.

    I don’t get much practical experience writing, nowadays. And I don’t make any deliberate effort to keep up my handwriting skills. Ironically I spend my time scouring the Internet for digital script-style fonts that resemble imperfect hand writing–not those perfectly printed script-fonts like Victorian or Park Avenue . I use it when I want to “de-computerize” (ie. personalize) a letter or memo!

    I have a collection of semi-sloppy “manly” fonts like Truman, or Cowboy Script, that can coax a comfortably nature handwriting like mine from a computer. If you are someone who writes in a rush, you might want to display your tendencies with a realistically indecipherable script like Physician, Frenzy, or even Mental Patients! Do you have a historical character you admire? Why not feel what it’s like to write with the pen of Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, or John Adams.

    However, if you want the ultimate in natural handwriting, for the paultry sum of 10 bucks you can have your very own, personal, sloppy, frenzied, elegant, classic or whatever your handwriting resembles turned into a digital font. Just think, now your can REALLY pass your handwriting down to your kids and grandkids!


    • I liked what you had to say about handwriting and using fonts to not only improve handwriting, but give it a class of its own. Sounds like fun, but another way to improve your own is to write slowly. These days, who has time for that? Loved hearing from you and the wealth of information you have stored in your head. Amazing!


  9. For many years I have been puzzled because my mother and I have handwriting that is so similar it’s kind of freaky. I have 5 siblings and my sister’s handwriting is just like my dad’s. In addition to that, my sister’s personality is much like dad’s and I am more like my mom. The 3 boys in our family all write like my dad. It’s a conundrum for sure, but I do think there’s some hereidtary traits pushing it. Interesting.


  10. Hi Shirl, I’m not if you will ever get this but i have been looking into this ALOT lately, I’m only 16, and i find my handwriting to be very similar to my mothers, but it is even more alike to my grandfather (my mothers father), i never see him write, and i only ever see his handwriting birthday cards and notes he leaves on books he lends my mother. I might just be copying my mothers handwriting but it is very alike to my grandfathers, loved this post by the way!


  11. I found this after noticing my daughter’s handwriting was strikingly similar to my youngest brother’s and became curious about the hereditary factor. My own handwriting used to be so much like my father’s that my mother often had me sign his checks for him when he was away during pay days. It eventually got much neater and started to look a lot more like her writing style. Now it’s something completely different. If it isn’t hereditary, I wonder if it could at least partially be about seeing and adopting other styles we like. My own handwriting no longer looks like that of either of my parents, but is similar to my high school best friend’s handwriting. I’ve changed certain letters over the years and made it my own based on other things, too. As for my daughter, my brother writes us letters often. Being in prison, for most of the last ten years he didn’t have the option of sending emails (though he does now, if he’s behaving himself), so the only option was to write. That’s the most handwriting she’s ever really seen outside of a classroom, so I think it could be that she admired his writing style and adapted it for her own use… and could partially be genetic.


    • Hi Torilynne: You make some excellent suggestions on why our handwriting is oftentimes similar to a family member’s. I like the thought that you think it’s possible to “want” to write like someone else. Too, I found it interesting that yours has changed a number of times. Thanks for writing. I hope you will continue to find “Shirl and You” interesting and will comment again.


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