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How to improve your penmanship today!

HANDWRITING has been the main form of distant communication in the bygone era. Before telephone lines, cellular phones and email were invented, there was the mailman: the man everyone in the village knows.

In today’s digital age, law students probably encounter more use for handwriting than students training for other professions. The bar examinations has been traditionally held in the essay format. Most of our midterm and final examinations are in the essay format too. Laymen and our professors alike would emphasize the need for law students to have a comprehensible handwriting. Here are some tips culled from years of experience and interviews from family and friends with comprehensible, if not visually appealing handwriting.

1. Get a good grip.

Getting smooth lines and curves in your penmanship is largely determined by the width of the body of the pen, as well as the comfort of your grip. While relatively large hands will benefit from a larger pen for grip stability, smaller hands might not, but almost everyone can benefit from a pen with a rigged or rubber grip. In choosing the size of the body of your pens, consider the size of your hands and your ability to grip. What works for your friend might not necessarily work for you.

2. Angle and Pressure.

A lot of us experience hand cramps during examinations. While we attempt to finish up everything that we have to say as the ticks, we tend to press our pens harder on paper. Similarly, the flow of some ballpoint inks will depend on the pressure exerted to press them. For these reasons, pens with steady ink flow such as gel pens, roller balls and fountain pens will reduce the necessary pressure for writing. Exerting more pressure than necessary is also more common when the pen is held closer to the perpendicular angle as the writing hand rests less. Find your sweet spot around the angles between 35 degrees to 60 degrees. Apply pressure near the head of the pen, the further you are from the head, the more unnecessary pressure you need to exert to write.

3. Determine the size appropriate for the writing occasion.

While tiny handwriting is useful for post-its and those tiny notes you write beside the cases and topics in your syllabus, a different consideration should be given when the intended reader is another person such as our professors. While it is easy for us to read our own handwriting (if it is getting difficult, then we really have a big problem there), it is an entirely different matter when other people are tasked with deciphering your work. A bigger handwriting would make the loops and spaces more visible and therefore easier to read. 

4. Ink matters: On size and Ink Type

For tiny handwriting, a finer tip is definitely a must. A smaller space for the loops and curves of your letters: means lesser room for line space.  For bigger handwriting, a choice can be made from fine tip to broad tip. While lesser ink is used per letter on a fine tip pen therefore lesser chance of a bleed through in lower quality paper, a medium or broad tip creates letters that are easier to the eyes. The bumps and imperfections on your handwriting cannot be easily seen on broad lines and therefore, the letters appear to be neater.

5. Choose between cursive and print.

For the Philippine Bar Examinations, the examinee can either use cursive or print. The main goal is to have a readable handwriting for the examinees to easily comprehend the substance of the answers. Cursive has the advantage of taking a shorter period of time to write but this could work to your disadvantage. While connecting letters will probably keep up with the train of thought that one has in answering questions, the readability of each letter can be compromised. Writing in print on the other hand could take a longer period of time, as the pen is raised from the paper for each space, the difference in time could be worth it as readability is crucial in examinations.

Whatever you choose let it be something that you’re comfortable with. Writing the correct answer is a challenge enough as it is, don’t make it a harsher experience by choosing a style of writing that only makes the experience more difficult for you. Happy writing! P

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