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Various examples of different handwritings in different languages throughout history; clockwise from top left: Isaiah Scroll, a breviary, Voynich manuscript, The Communist Manifesto, Constitution of the United States, Description of Greece

Handwriting is the writing done with a writing instrument, such as a pen or pencil, in the hand. Handwriting includes both printing and cursive styles and is separate from formal calligraphy or typeface. Because each person's handwriting is unique and different, it can be used to verify a document's writer.[1] The deterioration of a person's handwriting is also a symptom or result of several different diseases. The inability to produce clear and coherent handwriting is also known as dysgraphia.


Each person has their own unique style of handwriting, whether it is everyday handwriting or their personal signature. Cultural environment and the characteristics of the written form of the first language that one learns to write are the primary influences on the development of one's own unique handwriting style.[2] Even identical twins who share appearance and genetics do not have the same handwriting.

Characteristics of handwriting include:

Medical conditions

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See also: Dyslexia and Dysgraphia § Classification

Children with ADHD have been found to be more likely to have less legible handwriting, make more spelling errors, more insertions and/or deletions of letters and more corrections. In children with these difficulties, the letters tend to be larger with wide variability of letters, letter spacing, word spacing, and the alignment of letters on the baseline. Variability of handwriting increases with longer texts. Fluency of the movement is normal but children with ADHD were more likely to make slower movements during the handwriting task and hold the pen longer in the air between movements, especially when they had to write complex letters, implying that planning the movement may take longer. Children who have ADHD were more likely to have difficulty parameterising movements in a consistent way. This has been explained with motor skill impairment either due to lack of attention or lack of inhibition. To anticipate a change of direction between strokes constant visual attention is essential. With inattention, changes will occur too late, resulting in higher letters and poor alignment of letters on the baseline. The influence of medication on the quality of handwriting is not clear.[3]

Developmental dysgraphia is nearly always accompanied by other learning disabilities and/or neurodevelopmental disorder.[medical citation needed] One common accompanying diagnosis is ADD/ADHD and a study[which?] found children with ADD/ADHD and dysgraphia primarily suffered from motor-dysgraphic impairments.[medical citation needed] Similarly, people with ADD/ADHD have higher rates of dyslexia.[medical citation needed] It is unknown how many individuals with ADD/ADHD who also struggle with penmanship actually have undiagnosed specific learning disabilities like developmental dyslexia or developmental dysgraphia causing their handwriting difficulties.[medical citation needed]


Graphology is the pseudoscientific[4][5][6] study and analysis of handwriting in relation to human psychology. Graphology is primarily used as a recruiting tool in the applicant screening process for predicting personality traits and job performance, despite research showing consistently null correlations for these uses.[7][8][9]

See also


  1. ^ Huber, Roy A.; Headrick, A.M. (April 1999), Handwriting Identification: Facts and Fundamentals, New York: CRC Press, p. 84, ISBN 978-0-8493-1285-4
  2. ^ Sargur Srihari, Chen Huang and Harish Srinivasan. On the Discriminability of the Handwriting of Twins. J Forensic Sci. 2008 Mar;53(2):430-46. link|date=January 2020 |bot=InternetArchiveBot |25 January 2015
  3. ^ Kaiser, M.L.; Schoemaker, M.M.; Albaret, J.M.; Geuze, R.H. (January 2015). "What is the evidence of impaired motor skills and motor control among children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)? Systematic review of the literature". Research in Developmental Disabilities. 36: 338–357. doi:10.1016/j.ridd.2014.09.023.
  4. ^ "Barry Beyerstein Q&A". Ask the Scientists. Scientific American Frontiers. Retrieved 2008-02-22. "they simply interpret the way we form these various features on the page in much the same way ancient oracles interpreted the entrails of oxen or smoke in the air. I.e., it's a kind of magical divination or fortune telling where 'like begets like.'"
  5. ^ James, Barry (3 August 1993). "Graphology Is Serious Business in France : You Are What You Write?". New York Times. Retrieved 18 September 2010.
  6. ^ Goodwin CJ (2010). Research in Psychology: Methods and Design. John Wiley & Sons. p. 36. ISBN 978-0-470-52278-3.
  7. ^ Roy N. King and Derek J. Koehler (2000), "Illusory Correlations in Graphological Inference", Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 6 (4): 336–348, CiteSeerX, doi:10.1037/1076-898X.6.4.336.
  8. ^ Lockowandte, Oskar (1976), "Lockowandte, Oskar Present status of the investigation of handwriting psychology as a diagnostic method", Catalog of Selected Documents in Psychology (6): 4–5.
  9. ^ Nevo, B Scientific Aspects of Graphology: A Handbook Springfield, IL: Thomas: 1986

Further reading