Penmanship troubles

Hello everyone. I’m a perfectionist about my penmanship, and there are some letter combinations that I just can’t seem to write correctly. I was wondering if anybody had any tips or practices that they use to help correct these problems:

1. “to”, “do”, “to do” – I always make the U into an angle. I can get a curve on “to” if I really try, but “do” is hopeless! I nearly died when I saw “what-to-do” in Anniversary (o-t-dt-u).

2. m + a + forward/upward stroke. My “a” becomes a rounded or angular triangle instead of a lovely circle as seen in the manuals. Same thing happens in the word “now”.

3. d + a/e + downward stroke. I realize the “a/e” is supposed to stretch out, but I invariably stretch it so much that the “d” looks like a “t” and the following stroke is illegible (“deep” looks like “tass”, “days” looks like Anni “dares”).

I’m sure I’ll come up with more as I scrutinize my specific problems. Feel free to post about your own and if I have any tips, I’ll share them too!

Thanks for any help 🙂

(by niftyboy1 for everyone)

4 comments Add yours
  1. Good news — those problems are really not that uncommon and in rapid writing they become more evident.

    1. t or d + u-hook: when writing the u, make an effort to write the end of the hook parallel to the d or t.

    2. o-hook + t or d: as you complete the hook with the o, make sure that the up stroke is parallel to the start of the o-hook.

    3. m + a + forward/upward stroke: you are probably slanting the t or d too much. Slant a little less and your triangle will become a nice circle.

    4. d + a/e + downward stroke: you are probably writing the downward stroke too big. Let's take each word:

    deep — d goes to the middle of the space and the p ends on the line. Make the circle really small!

    tass – t goes to 1/4 of the space (barely going up) and the s should end on the line (small stroke).

    tap – to goes to 1/4 of the space (like before) but p ends below the line.

    days – d to middle of space and round up the a with a little left-s

    dares – d and loop back to the middle of the stroke. when you loop, make the downside parallel to the d.

  2. Another tip I've discovered: when you're writing the T/D, make sure it's a comfortable 45 degrees. If you start making it too steep, it starts to resemble the SH/CH stroke (which should be 75-80 degrees) and makes it harder to add U without adding a point also. And let me tell you, if you start making it into a point, the next step at high speeds is to make it into a sharp angle, and then you end up tracing back over the T/D instead of making a distinct U!

    Also be careful not to round the T/D into a TN blend by over-anticipating the U. I pretended the U was a boomerang that goes out, then immediately comes straight back. Drawing two parallel lines, then tracing over them also helped.

    These little things really do matter if you plan on building speed.

  3. The penmanship pointers come mainly from two sources: (1) the Gregg writer had articles on correct penmanship, and (2) studying the writing styles of Winifred Kenna Richmond, Astrid Ramsey, Florence Ulrich, and Harriet Johnson. All of these ladies had a very artistic penmanship. Samples of their work appear in numerous books. "Fundamental Drills in Gregg Shorthand" is one good example, which is available online in Andrew's website (

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