Cursive Writing Tips For Improving Legibility

Cursive writing, also known as script or longhand, is a style of penmanship in which the letters of a word are connected in one fluid stroke. While cursive writing was once a core part of every school’s curriculum, it has become less common in recent decades as schools have focused more on keyboarding and digital literacy skills. However, many argue that cursive writing still has important educational and cognitive benefits that make it worth teaching today.

Research has shown that learning cursive improves fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and reading skills. The flowing motion of cursive writing activates regions of the brain involved in thinking, language, and working memory. Some studies suggest that cursive writing leads to improved spelling, composing skills, and critical thinking compared to printing letters. Cursive also has practical applications, as many occupations require handwriting and cursive is faster than printing.

This article will provide tips and techniques for improving cursive handwriting legibility. Proper posture, letter formation, spacing, and fluency are key to mastering a legible cursive style. With deliberate practice, cursive writing can become a useful and unique form of self-expression.

Posture and Grip

Sitting with proper posture is crucial for legible cursive writing. Sit up straight and tall in the chair, with feet flat on the floor. Avoid slouching or hunching over the paper. Place the paper at an angle on the desk, positioned for the writing hand. Right-handed writers should angle the paper so the top right corner points toward the body. Lefties should do the opposite, angling the top left corner in (1).

Hold the pencil with a proper tripod grip, resting between the thumb, index finger, and middle finger. The thumb and index finger make a circle with the pencil resting on the middle finger. Hold the pencil lightly but securely. Avoid gripping too tightly, which leads to hand fatigue. The pencil should sit about 1-2 inches from the point for optimal control (2).

Keep your wrist straight and avoid bending it as you write. Bending your wrist, called ulnar deviation, strains muscles and tendons. Let the arm move as you write, using your shoulder to guide the pencil across and down the page (3).


Letter Slant

Cursive handwriting traditionally utilizes a slanted style. The angled position of the paper allows for a natural rightward slant when writing. A slant of around 55-60 degrees from vertical is considered ideal for cursive writing. Maintaining a consistent letter slant improves overall legibility and aesthetics.

Right-handed writers will naturally slant letters toward the right, while left-handed writers will slant left. But a rightward slant is generally preferred, even for left-handers, as long as the wrist and hand position remain comfortable (The OT Toolbox). The key is keeping the slant consistent between letters and words.

Letter Size

Consistent letter size is crucial for legible cursive handwriting. Letters that are too big or too small compared to one another can make words difficult to decipher (The Secret to Cursive Legibility is…, 2017). Maintaining the proper size relationship between uppercase and lowercase letters is also important.

A good rule of thumb is to make uppercase letters about 3 times the size of lowercase letters. Using a ruler as a visual guide can help with consistent sizing. Simply place the ruler above the line you are writing on to check that your letters are the appropriate size (The Secret to Cursive Legibility is…, 2017).

Some activities that can help improve size awareness and consistency include tracing letters between lines, writing between highlighter lines, and writing letters to match a model (Size Awareness in Handwriting). With practice, proper letter sizing will become second nature.

Letter Shapes

Getting the accurate shape of each letter is essential for legible cursive handwriting. The specific shape of letters gives cursive its flowing, connected style. It’s important to follow the standard shapes and avoid inventing your own letterforms. A good practice is to use cursive letter shape guides that provide arrows showing the strokes and direction for each letter (Cursive Letter Writing Guide, n.d.).

Pay close attention to the starting and ending points of letters as well as the height, width, and spacing of individual letter shapes. For example, lowercase letters like a, c, and e start at the baseline while letters like b, d, and h start just above the baseline. Be consistent with letter size and slant as this also impacts the overall shape of letters. With practice, cursive letter shapes will start to feel natural.


(Cursive Letter Writing Guide. (n.d.). K5 Learning.

Letter Connections

Smooth connections between letters helps cursive writing feel more natural and fluid. When learning cursive, it’s important to practice connecting letters in different combinations. Focus on keeping your pencil on the page when moving between letters without lifting.

Some helpful tips for improving letter connections include:

  • Practice 2-3 letter combinations like “oi” or “at.” Repeat them until the transition feels smooth.
  • Try connecting all letters of the alphabet in order. Identify any tricky connections and spend more time practicing those.
  • Write sentences using cursive, focusing on keeping your pencil on the paper between words. Lift your pencil up only between sentences.
  • Use cursive letter connection worksheets to guide you through different letter combinations. These provide structure as you learn.

With regular practice, connecting cursive letters will start to feel natural. Mastering letter connections improves overall legibility and flow. Sources:

Word Spacing

Proper word spacing is important for legibility in cursive writing. There should be a consistent space between each word to clearly separate them. The amount of space between words can vary slightly based on writer preference, but in general word spacing should be the width of one lowercase letter.

Maintaining consistent word spacing creates a nice rhythm in cursive writing. Irregular spacing can disrupt the flow and make it harder to distinguish between words. Aim to leave the same amount of space between each word rather than spacing some words closely together and others far apart.

When words have direct letter connections between them, be careful not to let the spacing get too tight. Insert the same comfortable space as you would between unconnected words. With practice, consistent word spacing will become a natural habit.

Line Spacing

Consistent line spacing is important for legible cursive writing. The most commonly recommended line spacing for cursive is between 5-7mm. Spacing the lines too closely together can cause letters to collide into each other and make words difficult to decipher. Conversely, excessively large line spacing can break up the flow of cursive writing. As noted in an article on Fountain Pen Love, even within the same brand, line spacings can vary between grids and lines.

Writing Speed

Developing a proper speed for cursive writing takes time and practice. When first learning cursive, focus on accuracy of letter shapes and connections. Speed will come later as you gain mastery. According to research on Reddit, in theory, cursive is faster than print as the continuous flow minimizes pen lifts. However, it takes time to develop this speed through consistent practice (source).

As you practice cursive writing more, your speed will naturally improve. Aim to write smoothly and fluidly without rushing. Ways to increase your speed include writing short practice sentences repeatedly and timing yourself. Over time, your pace will quicken as the motions become more automatic. Focus on keeping your cursive legible, as speed is useless if writing becomes sloppy. Be patient and keep practicing to gradually build dexterity and flow.


In summary, cursive writing remains an important skill that is worth teaching and practicing even in the digital age. Cursive helps train the brain in how to integrate sensory information and improve fine motor skills and memory ( By improving key aspects of cognition, cursive can make children smarter and more prepared for learning in all subjects ( While technology has changed how we read and write, cursive remains a valuable skill for development. With regular practice, students can improve the legibility, fluidity, and speed of cursive writing.

With improved posture, proper pencil grip, consistent slant and shape, appropriate letter connections and spacing, and a good writing pace, cursive writing can become an enjoyable and beneficial part of a child’s education. The skills developed will aid them throughout their academic career and life.

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