Left-Handed Handwriting: Mastering Line Spacing

Left-handed people make up about 10% of the general population. While being left-handed is not inherently difficult, most daily tools and tasks are designed for right-handed people. This can present some unique challenges for left-handers when learning to write. Common issues include improper wrist, hand, and paper positioning as well as choosing the right writing tools. Lefties may also mix up letter orientation, write backwards, or smudge words more frequently. However, with practice and a few adjustments, left-handed writers can develop excellent penmanship and handwriting skills.

Line Spacing Basics

Line spacing refers to the distance between each line of text in a paragraph. It is the vertical white space between the lines. Proper line spacing improves readability by making the text easier on the eyes.

The standard guidelines recommend line spacing between 120-150% of the font size used, with 140% considered the ideal line height for maximum readability (https://practicaltypography.com/line-spacing.html). This equates to roughly 1.2 to 1.5 times the font size.

Adequate line spacing prevents the lines from feeling cramped and crowded together. It creates sufficient space between lines so they don’t blend together. This makes it easier for the reader to track from one line to the next without losing their place. Good line spacing improves comprehension and reading speed.

Challenges for Lefties

Left-handed writers face a few unique challenges that can impact line spacing in handwriting:

  • Smudging ink – Lefties drag their hand across fresh ink as they write from left to right, often smudging words. This encourages lefties to keep a wider line spacing to avoid smudging (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMgs7w2lLsw).
  • Cramped text – The natural inclination to hook the hand below the writing line means lefties write very close to the line. This can cram letters close together with inconsistent spacing (https://www.theottoolbox.com/fix-spacing-in-handwriting-handout/)
  • Writing uphill – Lefties write from the bottom to the top of the page rather than top to bottom. This encourages lefties to write larger on an incline which impacts spacing.

Text that drags down or is bunched up can impact readability. Lefties may need to pay special attention to consistent line spacing.

Wider Line Spacing

Increasing the line spacing can make writing much easier for left-handed writers. More space between each line reduces the chances of your hand unintentionally dragging across the line above and smudging the ink or graphite (https://fountainpenlove.com/handwriting/what-is-your-ideal-line-spacing-size/).

Experts recommend increasing line spacing by 2-4mm for left-handed writers. This small change gives your hand more clearance over each line without excessively large gaps between lines (https://www.wordpip.com/articles/tips-for-left-handed-children-beginning-to-write).

When selecting ruled paper, look for options labeled “wide ruled.” These have about 1 cm between lines, providing ample space for lefties. Many notebook brands also offer paper customized for left-handed writing with wider line spacing (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMgs7w2lLsw). Test out some different ruled papers to find the line spacing that works best for you.

Hand Positioning

Proper hand positioning is crucial for left-handed writers to maintain good penmanship and avoid hand fatigue or smudging. Lefties should aim to angle the paper approximately 30 degrees clockwise from the right-handed default in order to give an open and relaxed grip (Source 1). This allows the left hand to move smoothly across the page without bumping into the spiral binding or rings of a notebook.

Good writing posture is also important. The left hand should be positioned below the writing line at about a 30-45 degree angle (Source 2). The wrist and forearm should rest lightly on the page, with the upper arm relaxed at the side. This helps prevent strained muscles and cramping. Sitting up straight at a table will facilitate better alignment. Lapboards can be useful tools for proper slanting on a soft surface like a couch or bed.

Pens and Pencils

Left-handed writers often struggle with ink smearing as they write from left to right across the page. This is because the side of their palm drags across the still-wet ink. To avoid smearing, lefties should choose quick-drying ink pens and pencils.1 Gel ink pens are a great option, as they contain viscosity agents that allow the ink to dry faster on the page. Rollerball pens are another good choice, as they use water-based ink that dries quickly.2

Many lefties also benefit from using specialized pencil grips that position the pencil at a more natural, relaxed angle. Grips with a curved shape allow left-handers to maintain proper wrist alignment and see what they are writing without awkward contortions. Look for grips made specifically for left-handed writers rather than generic universal grips. Proper grip aids pen control and reduces hand fatigue when writing.

Paper Position

One of the biggest challenges left-handed writers face is smudging ink or graphite while writing. This happens because the side of the hand rests on the paper, often smearing the freshly written words. Proper paper positioning can help alleviate this issue. According to Positioning the paper correctly for handwriting, the ideal position is for the hand, wrist and elbow to be below the tip of the pencil and under the writing line for both left and right-handed writers.

For lefties, a helpful tip is to tilt the top of the paper to the right so that the left hand is underneath the writing line. This prevents the side of the hand from rubbing across the newly written words. Some left-handed writers also recommend folding the paper vertically, creating a narrow column to prevent smudging across the whole page. Writing on the back of the page from top to bottom can also help. With some experimentation, lefties can find the optimal paper position to allow for comfortable, smudge-free handwriting.

Fonts and Letters

When choosing a font, left-handed writers should pay extra attention to the spacing within letters and avoid ambiguous characters that are easily reversed. Some tips:

  • Look for wide spacing within letters. Narrow spacing can cause letters to blur together for lefties (cite: Left-handed Fonts – MyFonts).
  • Avoid highly stylized or connected scripts, which can be hard to decipher (cite: Left Handed Fonts – FontSpace).
  • Stay away from fonts with ambiguous characters like “b” and “d” that are easily reversed. Sans serif fonts tend to be clearer.
  • Avoid narrow fonts that may cause letters to run together.
  • Consider using a left-handed specific font like Lefty or Scripturnatural.
  • Practice writing with any new font before using it extensively.

Paying attention to font design helps left-handed writers choose options that reduce smudging and enhance readability.

Practice and Patience

Learning to write with your non-dominant hand takes time and patience. Allow yourself plenty of time to adjust to writing left-handed. Don’t get discouraged if your handwriting is messy or slow at first. With consistent practice, your handwriting will gradually improve over time. According to sources, “Consistency is key when teaching left-handed writing skills. With daily practice, lefties’ handwriting becomes more natural and fluid” (https://lovewritingco.com/blogs/blog/teaching-left-handed-children-how-to-write). Set aside at least 15-30 minutes each day to practice left-handed writing. Work on basic strokes, letters, and words. Over time, your left hand will develop muscle memory for writing. Celebrate small successes along the way to stay motivated. Don’t get discouraged by temporary setbacks. Stick with it and your left-handed penmanship will continue to improve.


In summary, there are several tips left-handed writers can follow to optimize their handwriting and writing experience. Positioning the paper at an angle and keeping the wrist below the writing line helps avoid hooking and smearing. Using wider line spacing, proper hand positioning, and pens designed for lefties can also help. Focusing on good fonts, practicing regularly, and having patience are key. With some adjustments, left-handers can create an ideal writing experience.

By following the tips outlined above, left-handed writers can overcome the obstacles they face and develop neat, legible, and comfortable handwriting. Proper positioning, tools, technique and practice will allow lefties to write efficiently while avoiding hand strain. With persistence, left-handers can make writing by hand an enjoyable experience.

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