How to Write in Old Fashioned Cursive

Written by christina schnell
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share
  • Pin
  • Email
How to Write in Old Fashioned Cursive
At the turn of the century, ornamental cursive graced every letter and note. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Given the use and accessibility of computers, it's no surprise that well-written cursive is a rarity these days. Although ornamental penmanship exists primarily today on wedding invitations and collegiate diplomas, a century ago, educators and professionals considered elaborate cursive penmanship essential for people of all ages. Penmanship leaders like Zaner and Spencer filled elementary schools with writing drills and teaching methods that emphasised endless practice, fine-motor strength, posture and a Zenlike focus to master aesthetically pleasant, legible handwriting. While instructions will help you begin writing in old-fashioned cursive, only continuous drills and practice will give you flawless, ornamental penmanship.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Calligraphy pen
  • Ink
  • Lined paper
  • Stock-card paper
  • Writing exercises

Show MoreHide


  1. 1

    Assume proper posture at your writing desk. Sit with your feet planted firmly on floor and spine erect. Rest your lower forearms on the desk. Do not hunch or slouch, as this will disrupt the flow of your letters.

  2. 2

    Hold the pen and paper at a slant. Slant your paper diagonally left while grasping the pen in your right hand. Slant your right hand so the tip of your pen faces the same direction as your paper. Place your left hand on the edge of paper to keep it steady.

  3. 3

    Connect every letter at the central baseline using numeric formulas for distance and spacing. For example, when forming the letter "f," the upstroke must be twice the length of the downstroke. However, for a shorter letter, such as "e," the upstroke measures two-thirds the vertical length of the downstroke. Practice making proportionate lines and measured letters on narrowly lined paper.

  4. 4

    Turn the flat edge of your ink pen horizontally on the upstroke of each letter. Correct pen positioning enables fluid, rhythmic writing motions without turning your pen or hand.

  5. 5

    Write in a two-beat rhythm so the first beat indicates an upstroke and the second a downstroke. Lean your hand against your pinky finger to attain this controlled, melodic wrist movement. The pinky acts like a steering paddle to your hand while writing ornamental cursive.

  6. 6

    Lift your pen only at the central baseline. Limiting your separation between pen and paper to the baseline creates uniform, flowing cursive letters with equal spacing.

Tips and warnings

  • Practice your ornamental cursive in a penmanship exercise book or on lined paper before wasting expensive stationery.
  • Don't be discouraged if your writing appears differently from what you imagined. One of the reasons ornamental cursive is a rarity in modern society is that mastery requires extensive time, patience and practice.

Don't Miss

  • All types
  • Articles
  • Slideshows
  • Videos
  • Most relevant
  • Most popular
  • Most recent

No articles available

No slideshows available

No videos available

By using the site, you consent to the use of cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie policy.