Handwriting is the distinctive manner in which each person forms letters and words. Although typewriters and other devices are often used for recording language, much of the world's daily business and communication still depends on messages that are written by hand.
In many schools, children are first taught manuscript writing, or writing in which the letters are unconnected. Since manuscript writing closely resembles printed type, educators believe it is the easiest for children who are learning to read. Later they are taught cursive script, which can be written faster because letters of words are joined. Cursive script is the type of writing commonly used by adults for general correspondence, notes, and signatures.
Although everyone is taught a general type of script, each person develops unique writing characteristics. Individual writing differences are the basis for handwriting identification, which is sometimes important in law suits and crime detection. A handwriting specialist can usually tell if a note or signature has been written by a particular person by comparing it with known samples of the person's writing. Individual writing traits are also the basis for graphology, a study which attempts to analyze a person's character through a study of his handwriting.
History of Handwriting
Styles of handwriting have changed greatly through the centuries. The Latin script, from which most Western systems of handwriting developed, was originally based on square capital letters used for inscribing stone monuments. As people began writing on papyrus, parchment, and paper, the more practical cursive form of writing developed.
Notable styles of early medieval script include the Lombardic style in Italy, the Carolingian style in France, and the Anglo-Saxon style in England. In the late Middle Ages a style of script known as Gothic, or black-letter, became popular in Europe and greatly influenced printed type. During the Renaissance a comparatively simple and neat Italian script replaced the elaborate lettering of medieval scribes.
As the art of writing became widespread, handwriting styles became more adapted to practical use, and speed became a more important factor than appearance. Modern styles of script have continued to develop toward greater simplicity and practicality.