Revisiting the Centuries-Old Art of Handwriting in a Digital Age

By: Cheryl

By: Cheryl Lu, Social Media Coordinator

Happy Handwriting Day! Established in the U.S. in 1977, National Handwriting Day was created by the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association to promote the use of pens, pencils, writing paper and, of course, the art of handwriting. In a world where typing was gradually becoming the mainstream, these manufacturers might have sensed an omen of crisis coming to their industry and wanted to remind their customers of the beauty of handwriting and the poetic value of letting “thoughts flow through your fingers and pour into words.”

Their call could just be on time. The debates around the necessity of good penmanship continued since the invention of typing. In an era when all eyes and minds are fixed on the screens, the days of romantic handwritten love letters seem to be long behind us. Since the past few decades, younger generations in the English-speaking world have been losing their ability to read others’ handwriting. Despite the controversy, many schools in Canada and the U.S. have abandoned the requirement of teaching cursive writing; and many Gen Z students raised in contemporary education systems are no longer able to read historical documents hand-drafted before the time of typewriters. Handwriting or penmanship, once a universal skill, has now become something schools, teachers and parents get to pick sides on.

Though on the verge of fading popularity, multiple scientific studies have proven that handwriting comes with its benefits. Writing on paper, as opposed to documenting on digital devices, has been proven to be more effective in learning, memorizing and retaining information. According to the neuroscience study of researchers at the University of California and Princeton University, students who take notes by hand perform better with conceptual questions than those who do it digitally. The study came to the conclusion that handwriting encourages summarizing and paraphrasing, which ensures more profound thinking, whereas digital note-takers are inclined to absorb information passively.

Writing also helps in reading. According to the study, the optimal development of reading skills is significantly correlated with letter naming and letter writing. This is due to the intimate relationship between the brain’s neuronal circuitry and the hand. Writing by hand can calm down and encourage mental focus. Opportunities for creativity and artistic possibilities are far more readily available while using a pen than they may be when using a keyboard.

Moreover, handwriting is one of the many things that exposes one’s health condition. Through analysis of one’s writing style and pressure, graphologists are able to detect underlying mental or physical illnesses before patients’ conscious awareness. In some ways, maintaining a handwritten journal is similar to keeping track of a health record since blood pressure changes and emotional ups and downs, among many other things, are all hidden in the lines.

Scientific facts aside, handwriting is a beautiful art in its own right. Let’s take a moment to revisit this old-school habit and how it looks in different languages and scripts:

English in Secretary Hand:

secretary hand


Greek handwriting in cursive:



Russian handwriting in cursive:



Hebrew handwriting in cursive:



Arabic calligraphy :



Tibetan calligraphy:



Hindi handwriting:



Chinese handwriting in semi-cursive:



Thai handwriting in cursive:



Mongolian handwriting:



Though digitalization has been the trend, it’s relieving to know that handwriting hasn’t been completely abandoned by people; and through digitalization, these beautiful strokes and dots can be preserved in the modern way. Efforts are taking place:

All this news took place just within the past two months. The future is looking promising. Perhaps handwriting will survive alongside typing for a longer period of time than we anticipate.

With that being said, will you pick up a pen this Handwriting Day?


Read More:

Voluntary or Not, We Now Are All Learning the Greek Alphabet

Diversity of Languages in the World

Fonts and Writing Systems of the Chinese Language: What Went Wrong in Mulan