By E. C. Mills, Rochester, New York, Practical penman.

The time has arrived when good penmanship is more of a necessity than an accomplishment. But a few years ago many believed good writers were born, not made. Wherever penmanship has been properly taught the results obtained have been very gratifying, and we feel justified in saying that any one who is not encumbered with some physical or mental deformity can learn to write rapidly and legibly. To say that every one can become an artistic penman would be making a broad statement, but it is no longer doubted that almost any one can learn to write a good business style of penmanship.

In order to accomplish this much time and hard work is necessary for those who have acquired incorrect habits and who have wrong ideas of the meaning of good business writing. It is the aim of the author of this series of lessons to present the subject in such a way that the home learner may acquire, during his spare time, a rapid and legible style of business writing in a comparatively short time.

Before Beginning Practice

It is often desirable to compare your work at different times with your previous writing, that an accurate estimate may be made of the improvement made. For this reason we would suggest that you write the following in your very best style and preserve for future reference:

Your Place, State, Date. This is a specimen of my very best penmanship before beginning practice in writing.

{Sign Your Name.)

What Materials to Use

Your progress in penmanship will depend largely upon the materials used. Procure foolscap with a good finish and weight not less than twelve pounds to the ream. Do not try to economize by using poor materials. Ink should be used which flows freely and is black, or nearly so, when first used. Secure a pen that will make a line similar to that of the copies. We would suggest Gillott No. 604 or Esterbrook's A 1 Pen.


The position of the hand and pen in learning to write is of great importance. Study the position of hand and pen in the cut. We do not expect all to assume this position, as no two people hold their pens exactly in the same way. The size and shape of the hand have much to do in regard to this point. It is a pretty safe rule to say that the holder should not be held sufficiently perpendicular to cross the second joint of the first finger, and should not fall much lower than that given in the illustration.



The holder should cross the second finger at the root of the nail, or even just a little higher. The hand should be turned well toward the left, with the third and fourth fingers bent under the hand, resting on their nails. The wrist should not touch the paper.

Position of the Body

The position of the body, as well as the hand and pen, is of utmost importance and requires the attention of every one who has a desire to improve his writing. A good position cannot be overestimated, and when once acquired is much more healthful and conducive to a free action of the muscles of the arm than an incorrect position. Then let all pay particular attention to the matter of position, especially at the beginning of this series of lessons. Eye yourself-closely, as it is not an easy task to rid oneself of habits that have been forming for years, whether they are good or bad.

Take a position at the table nearly square in front, with both arms resting on table, the left with the elbow on the table from two to four inches, the right with the elbow projecting over the edge about two inches. The right arm should rest lightly upon the table and be free to move in any direction, while the body is supported on the left arm. The sides of the paper should be placed parallel to the right forearm. The paper should be held with the left hand above line of writing. Do not lean too far forward or bend over your work, as such a position is injurious to health, but if your eyes are not defective keep them from twelve to fourteen inches from the paper. Sit rather close to the table, but do not lean against it. Keep the feet flat on the floor and see that they do not become entangled with the legs of the table or the rounds of the chair. After reading the above instructions several times compare with the illustrations, then assume this position yourself and be ready for work.


Muscular movement is the foundation for all good, practical writing. Whatever may be said about slant or vertical writing, the system of penmanship that is not based upon free movement for its execution will be a failure if rapid business writing is desired. While a certain amount of form-teaching is commendable, still it is the arm-training that will be of service to the young man or woman in acquiring a rapid style of penmanship.

It is supposed that every one who takes up this series of lessons has a knowledge of the formation of all the capitals and small letters, although many write with a slow, laborious finger movement. It will be our aim to change the habit of writing these letters from the slow, labored style to one of ease and rapidity, with a few changes in the form of some letters. First allow the student to obtain a command of the pen, a control over the muscles of the arm, and he will naturally take enough interest in writing to improve in form also.