The Art Of Elegant Cursive Writing: Tips For Beginners

Cursive writing is a style of penmanship in which the letters of a word are connected in a flowing manner. It is distinguished from “printscript” writing, in which the letters of a word are unconnected. Cursive handwriting developed into something approximating its current form from the 17th century, but its use was neither uniform, nor standardized either in England itself or elsewhere in the British Empire (

Learning cursive writing has many benefits for young students. It improves hand-eye coordination, develops fine motor skills, and lays the foundation for legible handwriting. Historically, cursive was considered an art form and a sign of good breeding and education. Today, although debated, many educators continue to value teaching cursive in school (

In this guide for beginners, we will cover essential tips for learning elegant cursive writing. Topics include proper posture, grip, letter forms, technique, spacing, connecting words, building consistency and speed, and additional advice for mastering this beautiful script.

Supplies Needed

When learning cursive handwriting, it’s important to have the proper supplies to allow your handwriting to flourish. Using quality paper, pens, and proper pen grip can make writing cursive much easier and enjoyable.

Quality paper such as Clairefontaine or Rhodia provides an ideal smooth surface for cursive writing. The texture allows pens to glide easily across the page. Look for paper that is 90 gsm or heavier to prevent bleeding and feathering.

Pens are generally preferred over pencils for cursive writing. The continuous strokes flow better with the liquid ink of pens. Fountain pens provide excellent line variation, while rollerball pens offer smooth, skip-free writing.

Ink choices also affect the writing experience. Quick-drying inks like those found in rollerballs prevent smudging. Fountain pen inks come in a rainbow of colors and properties, like shimmering or sheening inks.

Proper pen grip helps writing control and comfort. The tripod grip with thumb and index finger pinching the pen, and middle finger supporting under the pen, allows the greatest dexterity and fluidity.

Posture and Grip

Proper posture and grip are essential for elegant cursive writing. Sit upright with a straight back, keeping your elbow next to your side. Tilt the paper at an angle between 30-60 degrees, allowing your hand to glide across smoothly. Avoid resting your palm or wrist on the paper, which can cause smudging.

Hold the pen lightly between your thumb and index finger, with your middle finger placed underneath for support. Let the pen rest gently against the side of your index finger. Your grip should be relaxed yet controlled. Some penmanship experts advise holding the pen about an inch from the tip for optimal balance and fluidity.

According to research from Lamy, the correct pen grip involves resting the pen between the tips of your fingers, while using your thumb positioned opposite your fingers for control. Allow your fingers to guide the pen in fluid motions rather than tightly grasping it (Lamy). With the proper relaxed grip, your hand will glide effortlessly across the page.

Cursive Letter Forms

When learning cursive handwriting, it’s important to understand the proper letter forms for both lowercase and uppercase letters. Each letter has a specific shape and flow that connects it to the next letter.

For lowercase letters, some important forms to master include:

  • The oval shape of a, d, g, o, q
  • The loop at the top of letters like b, l, t
  • The curve at the bottom of letters like j, y, g
  • The c shape in c, e, s

Uppercase letters in cursive often look more like print letters, but with connecting strokes. Key forms include:

  • The oval shapes of B, D, G, O, P, Q
  • The angles in letters like K, M, N, V, W, X, Y, Z
  • The curves in letters like C, G, J, S, U

Connecting letters smoothly is also an important technique in cursive writing. The goal is to transition from each letter into the next without lifting your pen off the page. Slanted connecting strokes blend the end of one letter to the start of the next.

With practice of proper letter shapes and connections, cursive writing will start to feel more natural and rhythmic.


Writing Technique

Proper writing technique is essential for elegant cursive handwriting. Focus on using steady, smooth strokes without any jitteriness. Your writing should have a rhythmic, flowing movement across the page 1. Maintain a consistent slant and letter size throughout. Do not write individual letters – connect each one fluidly into the next 2.

Keep your grip on the pen light and relaxed. Don’t press down too hard. Let the pen glide across the paper. Lift your pen between words, not during them. Find a writing rhythm that allows you to connect letters and words smoothly.

Focus on keeping your letters consistently sized and slanted. Maintain the natural elliptical shape of cursive letters. Don’t allow your letters to become too compressed or they will be difficult to read. Reference a cursive handwriting guide as needed to check that your letter shapes and connections are standard.

Be patient and practice regularly to develop elegant cursive writing technique. With steady practice, your handwriting will become more graceful and refined.

Spacing and Layout

Proper spacing between letters, words, and lines is crucial for creating elegant, legible cursive writing. Here are some tips on cursive spacing and layout:

Between letters in a word, leave a space about the width of the downstroke of the letter “l.” Avoid having letters touch or overlap each other. According to sources, letters should have designated spaces between them for optimal legibility and flow (

Between words, leave a space about 2-3 times wider than the space between letters. The space between words should be noticeable but not exaggerated. Leaving adequate space between words improves readability and prevents words from running together (

For margins, leave a 1-inch margin on both sides of the page. Top and bottom margins can be around 0.5 to 1 inch. Margins create framing around the writing and prevent a crowded look. Keep writing aligned to margins to maintain neatness.

Be consistent with letter, word, and line spacing throughout a piece of cursive writing. Proper spacing contributes greatly to creating beautiful penmanship.

Connecting Words

One of the keys to creating elegant cursive writing is properly connecting words together. This involves using special ligatures and transition strokes between words so they flow together smoothly.

Ligatures are connecting strokes that join certain letter pairs like “fl” and “st.” For example, when connecting an “f” to an “l,” the top loop of the “f” flows into the top of the “l.” Mastering these unique connections for letter pairs helps make cursive writing more fluid.

It’s also important to use transition strokes between words to link them together. A transition stroke is a small diagonal line drawn between the last letter of one word and the first letter of the next word. Using a consistent transition stroke keeps your cursive writing cohesive.

When practicing connecting words, focus on keeping ligatures and transition strokes small and minimal. Elegant cursive relies on subtle connections rather than large, distracting strokes between words. With time and practice, linking words gracefully in cursive writing will become second nature.

For helpful visual examples and practice sheets for connecting cursive letters and words, check out this resource.

Practicing Consistency

Uniformity in slant, size, and height of letters is essential for developing an elegant cursive handwriting style. As a beginner, focus on consistency through the following methods:

Use lined paper or guides under blank paper to regulate the slant and height of your letters. Most recommend slanting letters at a 52 degree angle for readability. The spacing between letters and words should also remain uniform. Refer to lines or guides regularly as you write until consistency comes naturally.

Practice letter shapes repeatedly to train your hand muscles to recreate them identically. For example, write the lowercase “l” or “t” multiple times on a line without lifting your pen. The goal is to make each instance look identical. This repetition develops muscle memory for consistent shapes.

Slow down your writing speed and focus on precision. Writing too quickly often leads to sloppy, inconsistent letters. Be mindful and deliberate with each stroke. As consistency improves with practice, then work on gradually increasing speed.

Use the Consistent Cursive method of starting with basic strokes and shapes before combining letters and words. Mastering the fundamentals allows fluid, steady cursive to emerge naturally. Their systematic approach develops consistent cursive through repetiton.

Check for uniformity often as you write sentences or paragraphs. If inconsistency creeps in, take a moment to re-establish proper posture, grip, and focus before continuing. Developing elegantly consistent cursive requires diligence, but gets easier with practice.

Building Speed

When first learning cursive writing, it is important to start slowly and focus on proper letter formation and technique. Speed will come with practice as the motions become more familiar. Here are some tips for gradually building speed in cursive handwriting:

  • Start by writing the alphabet and simple words very slowly, making sure each letter is formed correctly. Increase speed gradually as your dexterity improves.
  • Try targeted drills for tricky letter combinations that slow you down. For example, practice writing “minimum” or “anonymous” if connecting m, n, u is difficult. Repeated practice builds “muscle memory” for these letter pairs.
  • Set goals to write faster each week. Time yourself copying a paragraph or page in cursive. See if you can beat your time as your hand muscles strengthen.
  • Write with a smooth, flowing rhythm without pausing unnecessarily between words. Keep your hand moving steadily across the page.
  • Stay relaxed while writing quickly. Clenching muscles or pressing too hard can cause tension and slow you down. Shake out your hand if needed.

With regular practice, cursive handwriting will gradually become more automatic and your speed will improve. But focus first on proper technique rather than speed. Rushing too fast can lead to sloppy writing that is difficult to read. Building up dexterity slowly allows your hand to move fluidly at a natural, comfortable pace.

Additional Tips

For left-handed writers, it can be challenging to write in cursive without smudging. Adjusting your paper angle can help. Rest your wrist just below the line you are writing and tilt the paper clockwise slightly. This prevents your hand from dragging across the ink. You can also look for quick-drying gel pens formulated for lefties.

Common mistakes for beginners include inconsistent letter slant, spacing, and size. Stay focused when practicing and really pay attention to keep your writing neat. Using lined paper can help with consistency. Refer back to exemplars and samples as needed. Over time your cursive style will become second nature.

There are many free cursive handwriting worksheets and printable resources available online to supplement learning and practice. Useful sites include SplashLearn, Worksheet Place, and These provide printable alphabet charts, letter tracing pages, and full cursive passages. Use these resources to supplement hands-on practice in mastering elegant cursive script.

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