Business Penmanship in the early 1900s

When I first attempted to write Gregg shorthand outlines, I realized I didn’t have the same longhand proportions and principles in my 1950s Zaner-Bloser cursive as the business longhand which gave the movement and form Dr. Gregg used in the outlines.

In the book on penmanship which he wrote, with Mary Champion, Dr. Gregg states:

“Form is a result of movement.”

I took the time to learn E. C. Mills’s 1903 book, Modern Business Penmanship.

Having done that, the flow, forms, and energy of the Gregg outlines now make sense to my hand.

Here is a link to Mr. Mills’s book.

The website: IAMPETH has books and lessons on many kinds of penmanship.  The sections on lessons, and rare books, will have other sources for cursive, and for business penmanship.  (International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers, and Teachers of Handwriting.)

The Online Book page at the University of Pennsylvania has many more books:

Here is Miss Champion’s book on Business Writing .  The book she and Dr. Gregg wrote together was published a few years after her own book.


I found it helped me immeasurably to have, in my head, heart, and hand the handwriting which came just after Duntonian and Spencerian script, and before the modern business penmanship was simplified.

Many other penmanship books helped me, too.  The writing style of E. C. Mills appealed to me the most.


I hope this helps someone who would like to have their longhand and shorthand be as closely related as possible.


Best wishes to all.  🙂




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  1. In the December 1918 edition of The Key, a companion periodical to The Gregg Writer, there are two excellent articles on the relationship of good business longhand penmanship and good shorthand penmanship. (The link to that "Key" begins with the September issue on the pdf.)


    The first article is the lead article of that edition, “The Influence of Good Penmanship on the Writing of Shorthand”, by Freeman P. Taylor.  It is the text of “An address to the Second Annual Convention of the Eastern Gregg Shorthand Association, New York City, 1915”.

    The next article is “Discussion” by Catherine A. Miller.

  2. With respect to GS penmanship, I'm curious why one might think Mills' cursive style is a better fit to the penmanship style of GS outlines, rather than either Champion's or Palmer's cursive style? I think all 3 of these styles look very close, visually.

    I'm addressing my question to the entire community and not the OP, Lena, since she hasn't posted here in 24 months.

    If anyone has any thoughts about this, I'd be interested in hearing.

    1. I don't think that Lena meant that Mills method is better suited for Gregg than Champion's. She just liked his approach. The styles are very similar.

      1. I'm glad you think they are similar too because I've been looking at them and they do seem that way to me, and to my eye, both Mills and Champion seem to be just tweaks of Palmer, which is probably where both derive. But GS clearly couldn't derive from either Mills or Champion because both came chronologically after.

        I assume Gregg himself based some of the core shapes, like his ellipses on some longhand cursive script. I'd have thought that might be Palmer, with its looping circles…

        Looping circles and lines from Palmer method

        …but Palmer also invented his method in 1888, the same year Gregg invented his shorthand.

        My longhand cursive penmanship is atrocious because neither my parents, nor my teachers in primary school were lefties or knew how to teach lefties how to write, so I just had to figure out the mechanics by myself based on the Zaner-Bloser cursive script that they taught in school, and I realized I've done it badly. It was a huge personal relief when handwriting got replaced by keyboarding skills in the late 80's.

        It seems natural, as the OP, Lena seems to have done herself also, to upgrade my longhand cursive penmanship at the same time I'm learning GS. I really like the idea of upgrading my longhand cursive penmanship to some style with the same curves, lines, and features that GS has.

        So rather than reference the OP, Lena's, tastes in script, let me re-ask my original question this way: Of the business penmanship methods/styles out there – Palmer, Mills, Champion, D'Nealian, Zaner-Bloser, MacLean, etc. – shares the most features with GS?



        Palmer Method alphabet


        Mills alphabet


        Champion alphabet


        D'Nealian alphabet


        Zaner-Bloser alphabet


        MacLean alphabet

  3. Cursive style to help to write Gregg shorthand? I don’t have the impression that my cursive style and my ‘Gregg style’ are related… Maybe they are.

    I heard that cursive style was less used in the US.

    I just draw my inspiration from Gregg texts I like and try to do the same.

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