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The Interpretation of Handwriting- March 26, 2010

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The Interpretation of handwriting

By: Liora Laufer
CEO and Founder of Callirobics
Handwriting & Self-Esteem

I met “Matthew” in a self-paced class that was part of a dropout prevention program in our local high school. The teachers in that program have noticed that there is a correlation between handwriting and behavior. They were intrigued by the subject and invited me to give a presentation to the class and to work with interested students in improving their handwriting.

I chose Matthew’s handwriting samples for this article because at first look, his handwriting (sample 1) other than being very small seems to be quite ordinary. However, looking at the three most important components in handwriting (space, movement and form), we find it is more complex than we thought.

Matthew’s use of space on paper is very poor, e.g. the letters are very small, retraced and narrow. The space between letters and words is uneven, and the slant is fluctuating. Usually the space component reflects the writer’s self-confidence and his ability to adjust to his surroundings. The movement (pressure and rhythm), which reflects on the drive and energy of the writer, is restrained and fractured. The forms (letter shapes), which reflect on one’s self-image, are sometimes illegible and twisted. In Summary, Matthew’s handwriting revealed his sensitivity, shyness, timidness and insecurity with himself and his surroundings.

He felt very secure with the handwriting exercises program because no one tried to change his handwriting. He worked on writing movements rather than letters, and he worked on his own, independently. He could hardly wait ‘till our next weekly meeting to show what he had done and to get the new assignment.

Six months later (sample 2), his “new” handwriting looked as if it belonged to someone else. There is a flow and spontaneity to it, which means more confidence in himself and in his future plans. The letters are larger and wider, with no retracing. The writing slant stabilized, as did the spacing between words and letters. His first sentence, “I feel good about myself,” best summarizes his feelings and the changes he had experienced within.

[Image: handwriting sample Self-Esteem Article.jpg]

Handwriting and the Thinking Process

“Stella” was an adult diagnosed with a learning disability and an emotional disorder. When I saw her, she was participating in a special program conducted by the a Adult Education Centers in California that offered high school dropouts a chance to get their General Educational Development certificates (GEDs, formerly called the General Equivalency Diploma). Stella felt that her handwriting looked very much like her first grade daughter’s and was anxious to make it look more mature. Stella was right in her observation: her handwriting (sample 1) looked more like that of an eight-or nine-year-old than that of a 24-year old. The slow movement of her writing, her lack of paragraphs and clear spaces between words, and her school-form letters attested to difficulties in concentration, memory and a confused an immature thinking process. Her teachers complained that an assignment that was supposed to take 10 minutes took Stella two hours.

Stella started my handwriting exercise program with great motivation and dedication. A month later, she sent me some of her exercises to check. The printed envelope (sample 2) resembled very much her cursive writing in sample 1. The spaces between words and letters were almost even; the writing was “slow” and the slant inconsistent. The letters were still in school format. However, four months later, (sample 3) brought me a nice surprise. Stella’s spaces had improved in both cursive and print; she had reduced the size of her letters, and her slant was consistent.

Overall, the writing looked more focused, and her teachers testified that Stella’s ability to concentrate had greatly improved. By the end of the year (sample 4), not only had she achieved her goal to have her handwriting look more mature, but also she had enhanced her overall ability to face new challenges. By then, she was able to finish a 10-minute assignment in 30 minutes.

A year later, Stella got her GED.

[Image: Handwriting and thinking process samples.jpg]

Looking at Pressure in Handwriting

Writing pressure is not one of the components that jumps out from the paper and grabs your attention, as would write slant or letter size. Still, it is one of the most important components of handwriting. Actually, of all the writing components, pressure is one of only two non-forgeable qualities.

Writing pressure relates to the force the writer applies t the pen and on the writing surface. When the pressure is light, the ink does not penetrate into the paper. Medium pressure will produce a slight penetration without digging into the underlying sheets of paper or the writing surface. Strong pressure will penetrate several layers of paper.

How do we determine the degree of force in our handwriting? Feeling the original sample with thumb and forefinger is the best way. It is very difficult-almost impossible-to assess pressure from photocopies. It is natural for the upstrokes and the rightward strokes to be somewhat lighter than the down strokes.

Writing pressure, like all other components of handwriting, is basically determined by the personality of the writer.

Pressure tells us how much energy is available for work or for goal directed pursuits, and of the ability to sustain the energy consistently. Light pressure is connected with sensitivity, spirituality and idealism and often with great creativity. However, the potential is seldom fulfilled for lack of vitality and will power to follow through. Medium pressure is the norm. It is an indication of healthy vitality and consistent energy and will power. People with heavy pressure have a great deal of energy available to them and are usually strong willed, firm and easily excited. On the other hand, they can be stubborn and stern. When they are around you cannot ignore them.

Although we would not judge children’s handwriting as we would adults’, it is interesting to observe that kids who have behavior problems and are unpredictable in their work habits also have irregular writing pressure, e.g. sudden changes between light and strong pressure even within one work.

Aggressiveness can be seen when final strokes tend to enlarge toward the end.

[Image: Pressure Graphic.jpg]
Graphic Source: Self Knowledge through Handwriting by H.J. Jacoby, 1941, pp.103-104

This Month's Featured Author: Liora Laufer

Many thanks to Liora for providing us with these articles for our newsletter.

Liora Laufer, Certified graphologist, is the founder of Callirobics, which offers unique, self-guided programs of handwriting exercises to music to improve eye-hand coordination and fine-motor skills. Readers can reach Liora at 1-800-769-2891 or online at

Tags: Handwriting OT Article 26 March 2010 Newsletter