Enhance Your Cursive Writing Skills: Top Tips

In the digital age, typing and texting have largely replaced handwriting for many people. But cursive writing still offers unique benefits, especially for cognitive development and learning in children. Research shows that the act of writing in cursive activates extensive areas of the brain, improving fine motor skills, memory, and other cognitive functions.

Unlike typing or print handwriting, cursive requires connecting letters together in a rhythmic, flowing way. This process stimulates brain synapses and synchronicity between the left and right hemispheres. The hand-eye coordination, attention, and sequential thinking used in cursive writing builds neural pathways that aid in learning, comprehension, critical thinking, and even creativity.

So even with the dominance of keyboards, cursive remains an important foundational skill with lifelong impacts on brain development and functioning.

Proper Hand Positioning

Proper hand positioning is essential for legible cursive writing. Follow these tips:

  • Relax your grip on the pen or pencil. Holding too tightly can cause hand fatigue and cramping.
  • Curl your fingers gently around the writing instrument. Don’t clench your fingers tightly.
  • Rest the pen or pencil against your middle finger. Your index finger and thumb should grip the sides.
  • Keep your thumb relaxed and positioned behind your index finger when gripping the pen or pencil. Don’t wrap your thumb over the top.
  • Avoid gripping too close to the tip of the writing instrument. Leave some space for fluid movement.
  • Let your wrist and arm hang below the line you are writing on. Don’t rest your palm or wrist on the paper.
  • Keep your elbow close to your body, and move your whole arm when writing rather than just the fingers or wrist.

Following these hand positioning guidelines will help you write cursive comfortably and neatly. With practice, the correct grip will become second nature. Refer to this source for more tips.

Letter Slant

A consistent slant is important for the aesthetic appeal of cursive writing. The standard slant for cursive writing is to tilt letters slightly to the right at an angle of about 5-15 degrees. While a completely upright, vertical slant is acceptable, a rightward slant creates a more uniform and flowing style (Sources: https://www.theottoolbox.com/cursive-writing-slant/).

When all the letters in a word lean in the same direction at the same angle, it creates visual harmony and readability. An inconsistent slant with letters tilting at different angles can look messy and be hard to read. A right slant also enables more speed and fluidity as the hand moves across the page.

A slant guide can help practice a consistent slant until it becomes natural. Slant guides are available commercially, or you can make your own by drawing lines at the desired angle on practice paper. Place the guide under the writing paper to use as a reference. With regular practice, a steady slant will become habit.

Letter Spacing

Proper letter spacing is important for legibility when writing in cursive. You want to leave enough space between letters so that they don’t blend together but not so much that the flow of the word is broken up.

Generally, you want to leave the width of the oval part of letters like “a” or “o” between letters. Between words, leave the space of 2-3 oval widths. This creates a natural rhythm and flow as you write.

If letters are spaced too close together, words will be difficult to decipher. If spaced too far apart, words will look fragmented. Find the right balance for an elegant, legible cursive style.

A good trick is to use the tip of your pencil to measure proper letter spacing as you write. Place the tip in the space between letters – if it fits with a bit of room, you have the ideal letter spacing.

Printable cursive handwriting worksheets like those from Teach Handwriting can provide great letter spacing practice. Copy the words carefully, leaving proper spacing between letters. Good spacing habits will improve cursive writing speed and readability.

Letter Size

When writing in cursive, it is important to use consistent letter sizes that are slightly taller than printed letters. The average size of handwritten letters is around 1 36 points, which is equivalent to 1/2 inch in height. This allows enough room for ascenders and descenders on letters like “l” and “g” without collisions between letters. Using a consistent letter size of around 36 points helps make cursive writing more legible and aesthetically pleasing. The key is keeping ascenders and descenders in proportion while making the main bodies of letters slightly taller than printed text2.

Letter Shapes

Accurately shaping each letter is critical for legible cursive writing. Some letters tend to give people trouble. Here are some tips for proper letter formation:

The lowercase letters a, c, d, g, o, q, and s can be challenging. The a should have a teardrop shape with a loop at the top. The bowl of the c should be rounded, not pointed. The d should have a rounded bowl, not a triangle shape. The g should close at the top. The o should be a smooth oval, not lopsided. The q has a flowing tail that swings below the line. The s should have no sharp points and should curve smoothly.

The uppercase letters L, T, F, E, and P also need attention. The L should not look like I. The horizontal line in T needs to cross the vertical line. The F has a curved cross line, not straight. The E requires three horizontal lines of equal length. The P has an oval shape, not a triangle. Take care that the tops and bottoms of letters have soft edges, no sharp points.

Avoid sticking-out or curving-in lines. Keep the slant and letter size consistent. Reference a cursive alphabet chart for proper shaping. With practice, cursive letters will start to flow more naturally. Check out this helpful visual reference for cursive letter formation: https://littlecoffeefox.com/how-to-improve-cursive-writing/.

Connecting Letters

One of the keys to good cursive writing is learning how to smoothly connect letters together. When writing in cursive, most letters are connected to each other, which creates a nice flow and rhythm. There are some letters that do not connect to the following letter, such as uppercase letters or letters like x and z. But the majority should have a continuous flow.

To practice connections, focus on curves, loops, ascenders, and descenders. Letters like o, v, w all have loops that should connect with the next letter, while letters like f, g, j, p, q, y have descenders that stretch below the baseline. Move through the connectors slowly when first learning cursive to build muscle memory. With practice, the connections will become second nature.

A good technique is to start with 2-letter connections, then expand to 3 letters together, and keep building from there. Drills that connect the entire alphabet are great practice. Over time, transitions between letters will become smooth and legible. Resources like this guide on cursive letter connectors provide worksheets and instructions for practicing connections.

Be patient with cursive connections. Focus on accuracy rather than speed at first. With regular practice, you’ll develop flowing cursive writing.

Writing Speed

When first learning cursive writing, it’s important to start slow and focus on proper letter formation and connecting letters smoothly. As your dexterity and muscle memory improves with practice, you can start to increase your writing speed gradually over time. According to research by Effectiviology, trying to write too fast at first can lead to sloppy writing and difficulty forming letters properly (1).

As you gain confidence in cursive writing, aim to increase your speed through consistent daily practice. The OT Toolbox recommends starting with shorter practice sessions, around 5-10 minutes each, and slowly increasing the length as your hand muscles strengthen (2). Pay attention to any tension or fatigue in your hand as you write, and take breaks as needed. With regular practice, your writing speed will naturally improve.

It’s also helpful to focus on keeping your letters consistently sized and spaced as you write faster. Writing legibly at a reasonable speed is better than sloppy writing at top speed. Be patient with yourself and celebrate small improvements in writing speed over time.

(1) https://effectiviology.com/how-to-easily-improve-handwriting-speed/
(2) https://www.theottoolbox.com/how-to-teach-cursive-writing-speed/

Practicing Consistency

Consistency is key to having readable, beautiful cursive handwriting. To develop uniformity in your cursive, focus on maintaining a consistent slant, letter size, and spacing between letters and words. Daily practice is essential for developing muscle memory and cursive skills.

Always tilt your letters at the same angle, between slanted and vertical. Keep the size of lowercase letters uniform – about 1/5 the height of capital letters. Be mindful of spacing between letters, no more than the width of the oval in “a.” Leave a bit more space between words, about the width of the “o.”

Set aside at least 15 minutes daily to practice cursive writing. Tracing cursive alphabets and words is a great way to reinforce proper letter formation and spacing. You can also copy sentences, quotes or lyrics. Repeating this practice helps your hand get accustomed to cursive penmanship.

Over time, daily repetition will make cursive feel natural and comfortable. Focusing on consistent slant, size and spacing in your practice will translate into lovely, flowing cursive writing.


In summary, learning cursive writing provides many benefits for students. Proper hand positioning, letter shapes, spacing, and connecting letters are key skills to develop. With practice, cursive writing enhances learning abilities, memory retention, reading comprehension, and fine motor skills. Research shows that the process of handwriting, whether print or cursive, activates parts of the brain involved in thinking, language, and working memory more than typing on a keyboard does. Cursive in particular strengthens connections between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. While cursive may take more time to master initially, it is a valuable skill that can enrich students’ educational experiences and development.

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