Shorthand size, penmanship and spacing

Hey everyone. Seems like the board is back to its dormant stage
Well, I was wondering if someone could give tips on shorthand size, improving penmanship and how to space the outlines(I skip between lines)
Any advice would be appreciated.

(by zekiel1999 for everyone)

4 comments Add yours
  1. You know, I think shorthand penmanship is like longhand penmanship:  there's a "book model" of what the product should look like in a perfect world, but in the real world the only criterion of success is legibility, not "how close is it to the book?"    And unlike longhand, shorthand generally isn't written to be read by other people.  So the standard of legibility is much narrower.  If you can read it clearly and easily, it's OK.  If you look at shorthand notes taken by real working stenographers they are all over the place, from near "perfect" to very imperfect, large to small, etc.    I'd strive to write as closely to the book model as possible, but wouldn't sweat too much about it.   There is a tiny booklet written by George S. McClure, published in 1909, entitled "Practical Drills in Shorthand Penmanship".  It's pretty closely modeled after business penmanship manuals of the day, such as Palmer, Spencer, or Zaner-Bloser, with repetitive rhythmic practice.    And Fred Gurtler published a 10-volume set entitled "Gurtler's Shorthand Efficiency" (1917) in which lesson two is "Style of Writing", lesson three is "The Writing Process", lesson four is "Facile Writing Elements", and lesson seven, section two, is "Writing Position and Materials".  All of that relates to penmanship, but it's really distant from how we think about writing today.   Alex

  2. Hi zEkiel 🙂 Alex gave some good advice which I second!

    If you ever happen to get a bigger collection of shorthand books, you'll notice huge penmanship differences between them. Zoubek writes small and conservatively, and his style looks rather cramped to me. Beers and Scott write on the opposite end with seemingly huge, graceful notes with deep curves and massive As. And if you ever look back at Pre-Anniversary, you'll see how microscopic the plates usually are!

    I'd say the main element of good shorthand penmanship (beyond mere legibility) is the same as in longhand: consistency. Are the As consistently bigger than the Es? Do the Ps/Bs consistently curve in the same way?

    I'm planning on writing some lessons detailing the specific penmanship (including legibility) issues I've had and techniques to treat them, since that's been my main concern throughout my studying shorthand (and not speed). Until it's up, just post your specific problems in the Penmanship Troubles thread 🙂

    Good luck!

  3. My son has had occupational therapy for his handwriting. He's using a kinesthetic system. My experience with shorthand has helped me sympathize with him. (I've recommended the therapist have non-sympathetic parents try learning shorthand!)

    The goal is to teach the muscles how to write. Eventually, he will think of the letter, and his hand does the rest, rather than having to think about each stroke and watch to see that the pen does what it should.

    Some advice from her, which I think carries over nicely.

    Warm up your muscles before starting each session. Do chair pushups, wings, finger stretches, etc. Make sure all the muscles, shoulder through fingers, are ready to go.

    Start by teaching the shape to your shoulder. Write it on a wall, about 1-2 feet high. Drag your finger on a painted wall or window. (The feel of your finger on the surface gets more parts of your brain involved.) Use dry-erase markers on a window. Or a paintbrush.

    Then teach it to the main joint of your index finger. Write on different surfaces, about 6 inches high. Rice in a baking tray, shaving cream, carpet. Also try writing with chalk the size of a peanut.

    Finally, do the shape with a pen or pencil.

    Start with small shapes (letters), then repetition (iiiiii), then repetition of similar shapes (ititititit), then words. Do the entire sequence with each shape.

    To see if you've mastered each letter / sequence / word, write it with your eyes closed.

    The days he does all this produce a much better final result than the days he skips it.

    The size of the barrel of the pen is as important as the nib. Larger barrels lead to larger writing.

    Try lots of different pens and papers. Sometimes a pen that works when held at one angle won't work at another. For kids with writing difficulties, the sound of the pen on the paper can make a difference; some like it loud, others quiet.

    Exercise all the muscles in the hand. Before even watching him write, she gave him all sorts of finger dexterity and strength tests. Pick up things of different sizes and shapes. Hold things. Move things around in his hand. And then repeat with eyes closed and behind his back.

    Going straight to pen work is a mistake. If the muscles in the hand are not in balance, the stronger muscles will take over and get even stronger, and the others won't do their jobs. Same with tight muscles. If this is the case, don't even use a pen, it will make the problem worse and lead to bad habits. Concentrate on getting the hand in shape first.

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