Is italic the answer to America’s illegibility?

Hwt" Every young kid suffers through the loop-de-loop of cursive handwriting,
a bumpy and sometimes traumatizing ride.

By adulthood, though, most people have abandoned the torturous exercise
for a slapdash mishmash of printing and script that ranges from barely legible
to completely incomprehensible.

"We have a national affliction, and it’s called cacography – that means
‘illegible handwriting,’ " says Barbara Getty, handwriting expert, former
elementary-school teacher and co-creator of a method she believes can solve the
problem. "That’s why we’re a ‘Please print’ nation. Nobody says, ‘Please write
in your lovely cursive handwriting.’ "

At a time when the computer is king and toddlers type, some educators
believe it’s even more imperative to teach a speedy handwriting technique that
others can read. Enter italic, a zippy hybrid of print and cursive that
Getty and fellow Oregon calligrapher Inga Dubay consider a simple, elegant
solution to the massive modern handwriting malaise…"

"Rewriting Handwriting"
By Lisa Rykman
Rocky Mountain News


[via Anatoli/ Excuse the typo in the title earlier. Thanks Will for pointing it out]

5 thoughts on “Is italic the answer to America’s illegibility?

  1. There’s another thing that fouls up handwriting: biros (or ballpens if you prefer that word).

    I’ve found that keeping to pens and pencils will make my handwriting much more legible. In the case of a pen it’s because you cant shove it across the paper in an angle. As for the pencil, I don’t know what makes the difference.

    But the I both had “handwriting” as a course im primary school (were legibility was king) and I do some calligraphy every now and then.

    Pens and pencils have the maintenance and smearing disadvantages, of course, but I think most people can handle that — if they want to, that is.

  2. This is a topic that really interests me and always has since I – like most of you – have horrible handwriting. I have been actively trying to correct my handwriting for at least a year, but it’s slow goings when trying to undo decades of bad habits. Here’s a link I’ve found helpful:

    My current method of retraining myself had involved mostly what’s described on that page, tho I have been using Print while doing it. Perhaps I should look into this italics and start using that during my retraining process.

  3. I must say that I’m delighted to see italic handwriting given its due. As a boy, I’d see italics printed out in books and try to copy the style. Italic handwriting is a delight with a good fountain pen, and it’s a vur’ vur’ elegant style.

  4. Italic handwriting users/teachers may wish to join the Society for Italic Handwriting, chaired by Nick Caulkin at – ask Nick how to join the Society (abbreviated as SIH). Meanwhile, you can visit Internet pages connected with SIH at:
    (run by another SIH member, Christopher Jarman)
    (run by Nick — here, to get directly to the info on SIH and on its
    quarterly journal WRITING MATTERS, click the words “Calligraphy
    Bodies” near the top of that page …but also do explore the rest of
    each site.)

    Nick also runs an Italic-handwriting listserv-and-page (not limited to
    members of SIH) which has a web-site at — there also exists
    another Italic-handwriting listserv-and-page (less active, and not run
    by Nick) at (I belong to
    both, as well as to the SIH itself).

    Please say “Hello” to Nick and to Christopher from me!

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