Is Handwriting Dying?

Is Handwriting Dying
Image – The dazzling handwriting of the Witty Wordsmith

When was the last time you sat down in front of a piece of paper and purposefully wrote something by hand? Doodling on paper during a boring meeting doesn’t count. Neither do shopping lists.

The idea of handwriting anything of length is an increasingly distant one for our digital digits. Whilst the age of technology is one that has opened countless doors to the way we communicate, are we losing more of ourselves than we think?


Let’s talk about the uniqueness of handwriting. It begins as a giant, barely-legible attempt at writing your own name when you’re a few years old… usually in paint, and not always on paper surfaces. From there, it evolves into meticulously pencil-tracing letters from a school book to earn your right to a pen licence. Eventually, you end up with a finished product that is your own interpretation and rhythm of writing made up of a collection of your experiences and artistic flare. A unique, personal brand that becomes part of your identity.

On a side note, we’re not sure what happened to doctors during this transformation. They have clearly missed a step or bribed someone for a pen licence.

Deciphering the handwriting of others

There aren’t many websites or digital communication devices that have their standard fonts set to cursive or script styles, and let’s be honest, it would be downright annoying if that was the case. But, it only makes sense that with our brains conditioned to identify letter structures mostly used on a digital format, we begin to lose our ability to decipher the different ways they’re presented in the handwritten form. Try reading a letter from 50 years ago. You’ll likely end up squinting at the paper trying to figure out if it’s in English.

Your handwriting is linked to your personality traits

Research conducted by the National Pen Company suggested that how you write by hand can be linked to over 5,000 different personality traits, and even be useful in tracking and diagnosing diseases. The research indicated that slight subtleties in your handwriting can be tethered to interesting personal characteristics such as small letters being indicative of having a shy or withdrawn demeanour, but also a meticulous one. It also links handwriting with the tracking of Alzheimer’s disease (amongst others), suggesting that irregular or altered handwriting along with tremors are indications of deterioration as the disease progresses.

Brain development in children

It’s commonplace to see technology such as laptops, tablets and iPads replacing the ol’ faithful pen and paper in schools today. But, it may not be the wisest move for parents and schools alike. Studies suggest that learning handwriting not only aids children in reading, writing and spelling, but also lays the foundations for advanced (or ‘adult-like’) neural processing that assists us with visual comprehension and processing of words. For all you adult students reading this, studies on notetaking also suggest that handwriting your notes is far more effective for remembering and synthesising information than typing them out.

Edit: we endorse the use of technology for notetaking if there’s a high chance you won’t be able to decipher your own handwriting later, or if your lecturer speaks at an inhumanly fast rate.

But, technology is so much faster! …and then there are the trees…

We know. Technology is remarkable when it comes to the speed and convenience of communication, not to mention the environmental benefits of going paperless. We’re not trying to be the old lecture-giving person of the digital world, shaking our walking stick and giving you a disapproving ‘kids these days don’t know how to handwrite properly’ scowl. But, handwriting deserves some credit in the evolution of communication and cognitive contributions.

It’s an art that would be a shame to let die.