Don’t you love a beautiful fountain pen? I got a Mont Blanc, which I had coveted for years, for my 40th birthday. Here are some facts about handwriting from a wellbeing at work piece I wrote on the subject for The National to celebrate National Handwriting Day, celebrated on 23 January since it was established by the Writing Instrument Manufacturers’ Association in 1977 – obviously with the ulterior motive of increasing sales of pens and pencils.
- Today US schools have stopped teaching it altogether (although France still insists on it from the age of six).
- Yet a 2014 study by two US researchers, Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer, published in the journal Psychological Science, found that students who handwrote notes rather than typing in lectures listened, digested and summarised, leading to better comprehension and retention, even a week later.
- Even as we write less, we are still buying fountain pens. Euromonitor found that the volume of pen-buying was down but the value was up, with global sales reaching $431 million in 2015, up seven per cent on 2014. While sales are down in the US and Europe, they are rising in China, it said.
Do we really write so little today?
It would appear so. A 2014 study commissioned by printing and mailing company Docmail found that, on average, none of the 2,000 British respondents had penned anything in 41 days and that one in three had not written a single thing by hand for six months.
Why is National Handwriting Day on 23 January?
It is the birthday of John Hancock, the first person to sign the US declaration of independence in 1776. Because he was the first, he signed it big and bold in the centre of the parchment. To ‘put your John Hancock’ on a form is still used as a way to request a signature.
My writing’s pretty messy…
That’s bad news. Easy-to-read, neat handwriting may mean better grades, according to a Florida International University professor’s research. In a 2014 study, Laura Dinehart found that students with better handwriting got better grades in reading and maths – partly because their work is more pleasant to read.
What does my handwriting say about me?
Research by the US National Pen Company claims handwriting can give clues about 5,000 personality traits. Large letters indicate that the writer is outgoing and outspoken, while small letters show someone to be shy and studious. Writers who scribble without any slant to their words tend to be practical and logical, while slanting to the left indicates keeping to yourself and, to the right, that you enjoy new experiences. But beware: putting a circle over the letter ‘i’, instead of a dot, indicates you are childlike – not a trait for the workplace.
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