Practical Advice For Improving Cursive Writing

Cursive writing, also known as script or longhand, is a style of penmanship in which the letters of a word are connected in a flowing manner. While cursive writing is not as commonly taught in schools today as it once was, there are still important reasons why learning proper cursive writing skills is beneficial for students.

This article will provide practical advice on how to improve cursive handwriting. Areas covered will include proper pencil grip, correct letter formation, connecting letters smoothly, maintaining consistent slant, proper letter spacing, proper word spacing, writing at an appropriate speed, and good posture and pencil grip. Mastering these basic elements of good cursive writing will allow students to develop a neat, legible, and aesthetic handwriting style.

Proper Pencil Grip

One of the most important aspects of developing good cursive handwriting is establishing a proper pencil grip. The recommended grip for cursive is the tripod grip. With the tripod grip, the pencil rests on the middle finger and is stabilized between the thumb and index finger (source). The remaining fingers are curled under the hand. This allows greater dexterity and control over the pencil movements required for cursive letters.

In contrast, using a fist or full-hand grip closes the web space between the thumb and index finger. This impedes the fine motor movements needed for cursive writing. An improper pencil grip makes it difficult to form smooth, round letter shapes and flowing connections between letters.

The key benefits of a proper tripod grip include (source):

  • Better control and fluency of pencil movements
  • Ability to guide the pencil in all directions needed for cursive letters
  • Avoiding hand fatigue and poor posture from gripping too tightly
  • Allowing the hand and fingers to move freely as letters are formed

Establishing the correct tripod grip from the start prevents the need to retrain muscle memory later on. With practice, it will feel natural to hold a pencil this way for cursive writing.

Letter Formation

Proper letter formation is key for legible cursive handwriting. Each letter is written in a specific way.[1]

For lowercase letters:

  • Letters like a, c, d, g, o, q start at the top line.
  • Letters like b, e, f, h, k, l, t start in the middle zone.
  • Letters like j, p, y descend below the bottom line.

A common mistake is making letters too wide or tall, which makes cursive difficult to read. Focus on keeping letters a consistent size.

For uppercase letters, start each at the top line. Some letters like F, L, T descend below the bottom line. Be sure to close letters like A, D, G, O, Q completely.

Take your time when first forming each letter. With practice, your hand will develop muscle memory for the proper shapes and sizes.


Connecting Letters

Connecting letters smoothly in cursive writing requires practice and repetition. Focus on the exit strokes of letters that lead into the following letter. For example, when connecting “a” to “b”, the exit stroke of “a” should curve around to meet the entrance stroke of “b” (1). Consistent letter shapes and sizing will help connect letters smoothly.

To avoid spacing issues between connected letters, be mindful not to leave gaps between strokes that should connect. Keep a steady, flowing pace as you write each word rather than stopping after each letter (2). Aim for connecting letters in a given word without lifting your pencil off the page. Dropping your pencil between letters creates inconsistent spacing.

Practice connecting letter combinations like “ch”, “ab”, or “id” repeatedly to train your hand. Tracing guides can help ingrain the ideal connections between letters before moving on to writing independently (3). With regular practice, connecting cursive letters smoothly becomes second nature.


Consistent Slant

An ideal slant for cursive handwriting is around 10-15 degrees to the right. This slant helps with fluidity and readability of cursive writing. Maintaining a consistent slant can be challenging but is important for legibility (Source:

There are a few effective drills to help with consistent slant:

With focused practice, a consistent slant will start to feel natural. This will improve cursive writing cohesion, speed, and readability.

Letter Spacing

Proper letter spacing is crucial for legible cursive handwriting. Letters should have even spacing between them – not too close together and not too far apart. Ideal spacing allows each letter to occupy its own space while still being connected in a smooth flow (Santangelo & Graham, 2016).

To space letters evenly:
– Focus on the oval shape of letters rather than individual stroke shapes. Keep ovals consistently sized.
– Don’t let letters crowd each other. Leave a space between them about equal to the width of the oval.
– Keep the spacing between letters in a word consistent. Don’t let them drift together or apart (Santangelo & Graham, 2016).

With practice, proper letter spacing will start to feel natural. Worksheets with guided lines can help develop a sense for even spacing.


Santangelo, T., & Graham, S. (2016). A Comprehensive Synthesis of Handwriting Instructional Practices. In R. B. Maillet & B. Guay (Eds.), Handwriting in the 21st Century.

Proper Word Spacing

Proper spacing between words is crucial for legible cursive handwriting. Avoid running words together by leaving a natural space between each word. According to Word Spacing – Graphology, the size of the space between words can reveal information about a person’s openness. Using a consistent and natural spacing between words will improve overall readability.

Aim for a space about the width of a lowercase “o” between each word. You can practice maintaining consistent word spacing by writing on ruled paper or using a word spacing guide. Take care not to over-space words, as too much space can also disrupt flow. Focus on spacing words evenly while maintaining a natural and comfortable rhythm.

Writing Speed

When learning cursive writing, it’s important to start slowly and focus on proper letter formation before trying to write quickly. As shared by Effectiviology, “The key is to start slow, and speed up gradually as your hand gets used to cursive writing.”1 Trying to write too fast at first can lead to sloppy penmanship.

With practice, writing speed will improve naturally. The OT Toolbox suggests having students do timed cursive writing exercises to work on speed. However, the focus should remain on smooth, legible writing rather than racing through at top speed. As your dexterity and muscle memory develop, your writing will become faster while still maintaining neatness and readability. Proper posture, grip, and letter formation will also help increase cursive writing speed over time.

Posture and Grip

Having proper posture and grip are essential for good cursive handwriting. Sitting up straight with both feet flat on the floor helps keep the core engaged to allow free flow of the shoulder, arm, wrist, and finger movements needed for cursive (Positioning When Writing in Cursive). The angle of the paper should be slightly tilted between 30-45 degrees with the bottom corner pointing towards the writing hand to promote good wrist and finger positioning.

It is also important to hold the pencil in a relaxed grip, not clenching too tightly. Holding too tightly creates tension that inhibits finger dexterity and smooth writing. The pencil should be held lightly between the thumb and index finger resting on the middle finger. The grip should be firm enough to maintain control of the pencil but relaxed enough to allow fluid motion.


In this article, we covered several important tips for improving your cursive handwriting. First, we discussed proper pencil grip and posture to allow fluid letter formation. Next, we went over techniques for connecting letters smoothly, maintaining consistent slant, and proper letter and word spacing. We also talked about the importance of writing at a comfortable speed and practicing regularly to develop muscle memory.

With regular practice using these tips, you can improve your cursive penmanship. Be patient with yourself as you work to build good habits. Schedule short daily practice sessions focusing on one skill at a time. Over time, your handwriting will become more neat, uniform, and legible. Improved cursive writing is an achievable goal if you stay motivated. Follow the advice in this article, and your writing will be noticeably better in no time.

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